Rare Books - Important Acquisitions List All

Rare Book Collections works to build up the national collections through purchases (through dealers or at auction) and donations. This directory gives details of 818 of the most important items we have acquired since 2000. We update it regularly as new material comes in. The description gives information about why it was chosen and what makes it particularly interesting. You can order the list by date of acquisition, author or title.

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Important Acquisitions 226 to 240 of 818:

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Author[Smith, Adam]
TitleFragment sur les colonies en general. Et sur celles des anglois en particulier. Traduit de l'anglois.
ImprintLausanne, Société Typographique
Date of Publication1778
Notes[SMITH, Adam. REVERDIL, Élie Salomon François, translator]. Fragment sur les colonies en general. Et sur celles des anglois en particulier. Traduit de l'anglois. Lausanne, Société Typographique, 1778. [bound with:] [CLERC, Nicolas-Gabriel]. La Boussole morale et politique des hommes et des empires. Dédiée aux nations. Boston, [n.p.], 1780. [and:] [FRANKLIN, Benjamin; SAUNDERS, Richard; PENN, Richard, HANCOCK, John and PENNSYLVANIA]. La Science du bonhomme Richard. Philadelphia and Lausanne, François Grasset & Co., 1778. An important addition to our holdings of Scottish Enlightenment authors in translation, this is possibly the first appearance of any part of Adam Smith's 'The Wealth of Nations' in French. This extract is a translation of Book IV, chapter vii, 'Of Colonies', of the 1776 first edition of Smith's work. In this section, Smith refutes the idea that wealth consists in amassing precious metals. The 'Fragment' appeared in two issues whose priority cannot be determined (the other issue has a Basle imprint). The translator was Élie Salomon François Reverdil (1732-1808), who in 1760 became tutor to the future Christian VII of Denmark, and, following his pupil's accession to the throne in 1766, one of the king's closest advisors. His politics were reformist. In 1772, he returned to his native Geneva and wrote books, including a French translation of Adam Ferguson, 'Institutions de philosophie morale' (Geneva: 1775), of which NLS has a copy at [Ven].8. Because 'The Wealth of Nations' is a large work whose publication in translation would have been regarded as a risky venture, this fragment may have been published to test demand. The 'Avertissement du traducteur' states that he hopes this extract will encourage someone to translate the entire work. (Carpenter, 'The Dissemination of The Wealth of Nations in French and in France 1776-1843', p. 16+). The first full translation into French also appeared in 1778 as 'Recherches sur la nature et les causes de la richesse des nations': NLS already has a copy at RB.s.1251. (Tribe, 'Critical Bibliography of Adam Smith'), pp. 76, 229). The Fragment, however, is rare, and the only other UK copy seems to be the one in the University of Wales, Bangor. The other works are both relevant to Enlightenment thought. With a Boston and Philadelphia imprint, they are both recorded in the English Short-Title Catalogue (ESTC). Clerc's work considers natural law and the rights of man, with chapters on trade and commerce, arguing for freedom of the seas and of trade, largely critical of English policy. The third item is the first edition of this collection of French translations of American authors, bringing together a number of works on trade and political freedom. All three are good copies, bound in a single volume with contemporary Swiss calf-backed sprinkled boards.
Reference SourcesKeith Tribe, 'Critical Bibliography of Adam Smith' (London, 2002) Kenneth Carpenter, 'The Dissemination of The Wealth of Nations in French and in France 1776-1843' (New York, 2002)
Acquired on31/08/06
Author[Smollett, Tobias, ed.]
TitleA compendium of authentic and entertaining voyages digested in a chronological series.
ImprintLondon: R. and J. Dodsley,
Date of Publication1756.
NotesThis seven-volume anthology of travel writing was partially edited by the Scottish author Tobias Smollett. In 1753 he was contracted, for the considerable sum of £150, to complete the work by the following year. Smollett was at the time working on a wide range of literary projects in his roles of translator, editor and critic; he was also living an expensive and hectic social life in London. It is perhaps little wonder that he later admitted that his overall contribution to the work was actually very limited. The seven volumes consist of edited accounts of the trade and military expeditions of major European explorers and adventurers such as Columbus, Vasco da Gama, Magellan, Francis Drake and Cortes. They contain several plates, including portraits and illustrations of exotic places and peoples, such as cannibals in the Caribbean, as well as 20 maps. A second edition appeared in 1766. This particular set of volumes belonged to the library of the Phelip[p]s family of Montacute House near Yeovil in Somerset.
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on07/05/10
Author[Walter Scott]
TitleBirthday chimes from Scott: selections from the poems and tales of Sir Walter Scott.
ImprintEdinburgh : W. P. Nimmo, Hay & Mitchell
Date of Publication1891
NotesThis is a birthday book, compiled by William T. Dobson, which provides a Scott quote for each day of the year with space to enter the birthdays of friends and family. The photographic illustration mounted on the binding is a trimmed reproduction of James Valentine's photograph of the Valley of Tay from Kinnoul, taken in 1882. Kinnoul Hill's Tower, visible in the left margin of the photograph, is a folly built on the cliff's summit in 1829 by Lord Gray of Kinfauns, whose home, Kinfauns Castle, is visible from the hill. Grey also built nearby Binn Tower and used both as observatories. The selection of this image for the cover could be related to the Gray family, as five of the six names entered in ink in this copy share the Gray surname. W. P. Nimmo, Hay & Mitchell produced a total of 22 "Birthday chimes" on various themes, as shown on the publisher's advertisement, including Bible words, Shakespeare and Keats. Purchasers of the series were able to customise bindings (cloth or leather) and finishing details, such as the gilt edges. Presumably this photographic addition was ordered alongside the cloth binding.
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on06/11/15
Author[William Agnew]
TitleThe book of signs
ImprintGlasgow : William Agnew
Date of Publication1880?
NotesThis is unrecorded pamphlet depicts signs to be used for communication with deaf people. The author/artist and publisher, William Agnew (1846-1914) was himself deaf and left school to become a bookbinder, and after nine years went to work for the 'semi-mute' printer Mr A.F. Strathern. He is best known for painting a series of pictures showing Queen Victoria using finger spelling to communicate with a deaf woman on the Isle of Wight. In the pamphlet text Agnew refers to the incident with Queen Victoria that the painting related to, he also mentions the use of sign language by native Americans. Agnew was a keen supporter of using sign-language for educating the deaf, as opposed to using systems based on using articulation and speech, the latter approach being favoured by leading educators of the time. In the pamphlet he argues that oral education of the deaf is ineffective and expensive compared with finger and sign methods. He subsequently became involved in the fundraising for the building of a new Institute for Deaf and Dumb Adults in Glasgow and West Scotland, that would rely on instruction through sign language. Queen Victoria contributed money, and funds from an 1891 grand bazaar raised enough to purchase a site for the new building, with Agnew being made a Director of the Institution.
Reference SourcesH Dominic, W Stiles, "Deaf artist William Agnew" https://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/library-rnid/2011/12/20/deaf-artist-william-agnew/
Acquired on20/11/15
Author[William Douglas]
TitleThe cornutor of seventy-five. Being the genuine narrative of the lives, adventures and amours of Don Ricardo Honeywater. The second edition.
ImprintLondon: J. Cobham
Date of Publication[1748]
NotesA very rare satirical pamphlet by William Douglas (b. 1710/11?), a Scottish doctor who had a prominent medical career in London; at one time he was employed as physician to Frederick, Prince of Wales. Douglas's main claim to fame, or rather notoriety, was not his skill as a physician but the vindictive attacks he made in print on some of the leading physicians of his day. Having already attacked his fellow Scots William Smellie and Thomas Thompson, he turned his attention to the wealthiest, most famous and respected physician in England, Richard Mead (1673-1754). Although already in his seventies, Mead had acquired a reputation for womanising, or rather nocturnal 'impotent fumblings' with young girls of much lower social status. His extra-marital activities and alleged inflated status in the medical world were targeted by Douglas in the first edition of this pamphlet, where Mead punningly became 'Don Ricardo Honeywater'. In 1748 Douglas also produced this expanded second edition, with mock-learned footnotes and enlarged preface and an attack on Mead's translator, Dr Thomas Stack, 'Dr Chimney'. Douglas's pamphlet attracted a powerful response in defence of Mead: "Don Ricardo Honeywater Vindicated", a work attributed to another Scottish doctor and man of letters, Tobias Smollett. It seems to have put an end to Douglas's career as satirist; he later gave up his medical career in London and by 1758 he had returned to Scotland and, according to William Smellie, had gone mad.
Reference SourcesESTC; DNB; R.A. Day, The cornutor of seventy-five and Don Ricardo Honeywater vindicated, The Augustan Reprint Society publication no. 224-225, Los Angeles, 1987
Acquired on24/11/06
Author[William Henry Dick-Cunyngham]
Title[Album of 94 albumen prints]
ImprintS.n, s.d.
Date of Publication[c. 1875 - c.1882]
NotesAn album of 94 albumen prints probably compiled by William Henry Dick-Cunyngham (1851-1900). Dick-Cunyngham served with the Gordon Highlanders in India then Afghanistan, winning a Victoria Cross in the Second Afghan War of 1878-80. The album contains photographs relating to his time in India, as well as views of the family home at Prestonfield House in Edinburgh, all of which are captioned. The first half of the album comprises commercially produced views in India and towards the end are a few commercial Scottish views by Valentine and Wilson. In between are photographs that relate specifically to army regiments, including an interesting series of military group portraits identified as: pipers, 93rd Sutherland Highlanders, Windsor 1882; group of Sutherland Highlanders (93rd?); officers of the Sutherland Highlanders including Colonel MacPherson and Colonel Nightingale; Captain Dick-Cunyngham VC, Gordon Highlanders and the men of his company, taken at Edinburgh Castle. The photographs showing Dick-Cunyngham and companions posing with hunting trophies may have been taken by John Burke (1843-1900), a leading commercial photographer based in North-West India who is best known for his photographs taken during the Second Afghan War (two of the photographs in this album show men and officers of the 92nd Highlanders in Kabul in 1880). Dick-Cunyngham went on to serve in the Boer War in South Africa where he died of wounds incurred in action at Wagon Hill in Natal.
Reference SourcesJ. Falconer " India: Pioneering Photographers 1850-1900" London, 2001. Auction catalogue.
Acquired on21/04/08
Author[William Sotheby]
TitleTo His Majesty's ship Barham, appointed by the King to convey Sir Walter Scott to Naples.
Imprint[London : s.n.]
Date of Publication1831
NotesThis single sheet poem of 42 lines is by 'W.S.', William Sotheby (1757-1833), a poet and translator. The poem is dated 18 November 1831 at the end, with the address of Fair Mead Lodge, Epping Forest, which had been Sotheby's home since the early 1790s. Sotheby had been in the army in his youth and had been stationed in Edinburgh in the 1770s, where he came to know Walter Scott, then only a boy. The two remained friends; Scott may not have greatly esteemed Sotheby's talents as a poet but he had a sincere respect for the elder man. By the summer of 1831 Scott had suffered three strokes and reluctantly agreed to go on a tour of the Mediterranean to improve his declining health. In the poem Sotheby addresses the man-of-war HMS Barham, which had been provided at the command of William IV to take Scott to Malta and Naples rather than have him undergo an arduous overland journey. The ship had set sail in October, and Sotheby anticipates its return with its precious cargo, hoping, in vain, that the famous author will return restored to full fitness. In fact, Scott had a fourth stroke on the return journey, which was overland, and by the time he reached London in June 1832 he was dying, surviving long enough to return to Scotland and to die in his beloved Abbotsford. Only one other copy of this printing is recorded, in the British Library.
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on16/10/15
Author[Winter, W. Jefferson]
TitleIn Memory of Frank Worthing Actor
ImprintNew York: [s.n.]
Date of Publication1912
NotesThis is a memorial volume containing glowing tributes to the late actor Frank Worthing (1866-1910), who was born as Francis George Pentland in Edinburgh. Worthing became a student at Edinburgh University with a view to a career in medicine but by 1884 abandoned his studies in favour of the stage. By the late 1880s he had made it to London and was securing leading roles there, acting alongside the likes of Lily Langtry, before moving on to the USA in 1894. He worked in America for the rest of his career, in latter years playing the leading man in productions with the actress Grace George. Worthing collapsed when stepping on stage in Detroit for the opening act of the comedy "Sauce for the Goose", and died shortly afterwards. He had been suffering from tuberculosis for a number of years but had insisted on carrying on acting, despite collapsing on stage on two previous occasions. One of his notable roles was as Lieutenant Pinkerton in the original 1900 production of "Madame Butterfly", the play which would later be adapted by Puccini for his famous opera. Among the contributors to the volume is the actor Tyrone Power, Sr. (father of the well-known Hollywood actor of the same name). The printing of the volume was organised by W. Jefferson Winter (1878-1929), an American actor and friend of Worthing. Winter's father, the drama critic William Winter (1836-1917), supplied a brief biography and elegy for the deceased. This copy contains the bookplate of the author Eric Salmon, and of the American printer William Frederick de Dopff Morey (b. 1858).
Reference SourcesNY Times Digital archive
Acquired on09/02/09
AuthorA Lady
TitleThe ladies' science of etiquette by a lady
ImprintEdinburgh: Paton and Ritchie
Date of Publicationc1850
NotesVictorian society was famously governed by strict codes of etiquette which were supposed to be the defining marks of members of polite society. This meant that many guides to these rules were produced, aimed at those who were anxious about whether their own behaviour met these exacting standards. This is one of the rarest surviving examples of such a conduct book, in its original coloured paper covers. Although here the work is published anonymously, it seems to be a reprint, originally written by the author and socialite Baroness E.C. de Calabrella, who was part of the circle surrounding the Regency dandy Count D'Orsay. This may account for the tone of this volume: where many such etiquette guides were written by and for the expanding Victorian middle class, and reflected bourgeois stolidity, The Ladies' Science of Etiquette discusses questions such as whether a lady should walk to a ball ('superlatively ridiculous' - if stuck in a provincial town without a carriage, take a sedan chair) and whether it is acceptable for a lady to carry a small dog about town ('altogether vulgar').
Reference Sourceshttp://www.worldcat.org/identities/np-calabrella,%20e%20c%20de$baroness
Acquired on30/09/09
AuthorA.B. Fleming & Co.
TitleSpecimen book of fine colours for letterpress and lithographic printers.
Imprint[Leicester: Raithby, Lawrence & Co.]
Date of Publication[1893?]
NotesThe firm A.B. Fleming & Co. was founded c. 1854 and was initially based in Salamander Street in Leith. The firm developed a technique of producing much cheaper newspaper ink which led to a rapid expansion of the business. By the 1880s they could claim to have the largest printing ink works in the world in Caroline Park, Granton, north of Edinburgh city centre. This specimen book is one a series of specimen books produced from the 1870s onwards to showcase their wares nationally and internationally. The book also includes the text of a lecture 'The chemistry of colour printing' given to the Edinburgh Branch of the British Typographia in 1891 by Robert Irvine (d. 1902), who was a chemical director of A.B. Fleming & Co. This copy has an American provenance, containing the embossed stamp of one F. Grant Schleicher, who was superintendent of the W. D. Wilson Printing Ink Company in Long Island City, N. Y.
Acquired on14/10/09
AuthorA.M. graduate in Physic [Tobias Smollett]
TitleDon Ricardo Honeywater vindicated.
ImprintLondon: E. Pen
Date of Publication[1748]
NotesIn 1748 the eminent English physician Richard Mead was viciously attacked in print by the London-based Scot William Douglas in the pamphlet "The cornutor of seventy-five". This withering response to Douglas's pamphlet appeared in the same year and includes a comprehensive rebuttal of Douglas's aspersions and a damning biography of Douglas, referred to here as 'Doctor Salguod'. The authorship of this rare satirical pamphlet has been convincingly attributed to Tobias Smollett. As a fellow Scot in London, Smollett must have been acutely aware of the prejudices against Scots in the wake of the recent Jacobite uprising, and was anxious to prevent Douglas from stirring up more trouble by attacking the most respected medical man in England. This pamphlet is signed on the final page 'Gill Blas', the same moniker used by Smollett, who had done an English translation of Lesage's work "Gil Blas", in his pamphlet "Thomsonus Redivivus". Smollett's stout defence of Mead appears to have ended Douglas's literary career and no doubt enhanced Smollett's standing in the medical and literary community of London.
Reference SourcesESTC; DNB; R.A. Day, "The cornutor of seventy-five and Don Ricardo Honeywater vindicated", The Augustan Reprint Society publication no. 224-225, Los Angeles, 1987
Acquired on24/11/06
AuthorAbercrombie, John.
TitleEvery man his own gardener.
ImprintLondon: Printed for W. Griffin,
Date of Publication1767
NotesThis book is a rare copy of the first edition of John Abercrombie's most popular work. Abercrombie (1726-1806) from Prestonpans, near Edinburgh was the son of a market gardener, whom he worked for from the age of 14. In 1751 he went to London and worked at Kew Gardens, Leicester House and a host of other noblemens' gardens. At an early age, Abercrombie started the habit of noting down various horticultural observations, which formed the raw material for this book. His name does not appear on the title page or elsewhere in the publication. Instead he had asked his friend, Thomas Mawe, gardener to the Duke of Leeds in return for £20 to prefix his name to the book so that it would sell. It was a huge success and by the seventh edition of 1776, Abercrombie's name appeared on the title page.Its popularity continued for many years, a thirty-fifth edition appearing in 1857. This copy has the ownership inscription of John Lamiman, 1767 and it is possible that he had the book put into a protective chemise, possibly so he could take it out into the garden with him.
Reference SourcesHenrey, Blanche. British botanical and horticultural literature before 1800. (London, 1975); Oxford Dictionary of National Biography online
Acquired on13/10/08
AuthorAbernethy, John
TitleSeelen Artzney. Das ist: Ein schoener und nuetzlicher Tractat, in welchem die Kranckheiten der Seele, ihre Ursachen, Zeichen, Zufaelle und Prognostica ordentlich beschrieben und zugleich angezeigt wird ?
ImprintHanau: David Aubry; Frankfurt: Clemens Schleichen und Peter de Zetter
Date of Publication1634
NotesThis is the second German edition of Abernethy's seminal "Christian and heavenly treatise containing Physick for the soule" of 1615; the first German translation was published in 1625. This edition is bound in contemporary vellum with blind tooling and gauffered edges. John Abernethy became Bishop of Caithness in 1616, but was deprived of the See in 1638; he died in 1639. His "Physick" deals with original sin as the source of spiritual illness, and with the cure or "Artzney" for different sins such as jealousy, impatience, fear, intemperance or hatred. The treatise is modelled on medical books detailing cures for certain diseases, and indeed draws on diseases of the body as parallels, such as the "cancer of heresy". The translator of the German edition is unknown, but he has added comments and enlarged the original English version.
Reference SourcesScott, H. Fasti ecclesiae Scoticanae, 1928: |b vol. 2, p. 125
Acquired on23/07/03
AuthorAdam Ferguson
TitleSaggio sopra la storia delle societa civile [Essay on the history of civil society]
ImprintVicenza: nella stamperia Turra
Date of Publication1791-92
NotesThis is the rare (no copies recorded outside Italy) first Italian translation of Adam Ferguson's "Essay on the History of Civil Society", one of the main works of the Scottish Enlightenment, and regarded as the first work of empirical sociology in English. The work was first published in English in 1767 and made Ferguson famous as a philosopher and historian throughout Europe. The present translation, by the Vicenza-based lawyer Tomasso Cerato, is taken from the French translation of 1783. A further Italian translation was published in Venice in 1807.
Acquired on21/06/13
AuthorAdam Smith
TitleThe theory of moral sentiments. 2nd edition.
ImprintLondon : A. Millar
Date of Publication1761
NotesThis is one of the 750 copies printed of the second edition of the "The theory of moral sentiments". The second edition is notable for the inclusion of replies to criticisms of the first edition by David Hume. Commonly regarded as the work that established Smith's international reputation, he himself always considered it his finest work. First published in 1759, it was an immediate success and eventually ran to six editions, the last of which Smith extensively revised just before he died in 1790. It is often said that we cannot properly understand the "Wealth of Nations" without a knowledge of "The Theory of Moral Sentiments". The other two copies of the second edition in NLS's collections are held in deposited collections, so the purchase of this copy ensures that NLS has its own copies of all the English-language editions of the work printed in the 18th century.
Acquired on25/01/13
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