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 697 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.
Please let us know what you think of this resource, if you have information to add about an acquisition, or if you have rare Scottish books that you would like to donate or sell. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Important Acquisitions 226 to 240 of 697:
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|Title||Sixty-six years' residence in South Africa: an autobiographical sketch.|
|Imprint||[Fort Beaufort, South Africa]: Fort Beaufort Printing and Publishing Company|
|Date of Publication||1899|
|Notes||This rare book, crudely printed in the small South African town of Fort Beaufort, documents the experiences of a Scottish emigrant to South Africa. William Ainslie was born c. 1820 in Hawick in the Scottish Borders. His father worked there as a brewer and bookbinder. In 1833 the Ainslie family decided to move to South Africa, on the advice of William's famous uncle Thomas Pringle, who had lived there in the 1820s. Pringle (1789-1834) was a writer and campaigner for abolition of slavery, who became known as the father of South African Poetry, being the first successful English language poet and author to describe South Africa. The Ainslie family eventually purchased a farm in what was then called Kaffraria, the southeast part of what is today the Eastern Cape Province. They inevitably got caught up in the conflicts between European settlers and the native Xhosa people (referred to in the book as 'Kaffirs'). From the late 18th century onwards a series of armed conflicts between the Xhosa, British army and settlers had taken place as more and more settlers encroached on Xhosa lands. In the preface to the book, written by one A. Hanesworth, it is stated that: "No savage people has given Great Britain so much trouble in open fight and secret foray as the Coloured races of Kaffraria". When William Ainslie acquired his own farm, he became a 'burgher' who was obliged to arm himself to defend his property and also to assist the army and the other settlers. As such he was participant in what is now termed the 8th Xhosa War of 1850-53, which he describes at length. In 1859 Ainslie settled in the Fort Beaufort area, where he continued to farm as well as making a brief foray into diamond mining. Ainslie's book documents the struggle of an emigrant to establish himself in an often hostile and unforgiving environment. It was written on the eve of the Boer War and he criticises the Dutch Bond politicians "who are doing everything in their power to cause race-hatred between the Dutch and English".|
|Author||Alcott, Louisa M.|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||This is an uncommon edition of Louisa Alcott's classic children's book with a striking wrap-around
pictorial cover by Jessie M. King. The style of the illustration, which is typical of King with a solitary slender girl in a what appears to be a desert environment is at variance with both the story itself and the Edwardian-style colour frontispiece and title page by an unknown illustrator. Indeed, this design was used for twelve books in the Collins Bumper Reward Books series
Born in New Kilpatrick, Bearsden, King (1876-1949) studied at Glasgow School of Art between 1892 and 1899 - her style mirrors the angular art nouveau concepts of the Glasgow Style Her decorative work in books is often regarded as the counterpart to Charles Rennie Mackintosh's output in the field of applied arts. As early as 1902 she was regarded as the pre-eminent book illustrator in the Glasgow movement. She illustrated nearly 200 books between 1898 and 1949. It has been said that her myopic eyesight allowed her to work in fine detail in her book illustrations, as well as in her jewellery, ceramic and fabric designs, murals and watercolour painting.|
White, Colin. The enchanted world of Jessie M. King. (Edinburgh: Canongate, 1989) H8.90.6|
|Author||Alexander Duncan, 1747-1816|
|Title||A navy sermon delivered on board His Majesty's Ship Venerable of seventy-four guns.|
|Imprint||London : J. Marshall|
|Date of Publication||1798?|
|Notes||This rare pamphlet (only one other copy of this printing is recorded, in the British Library, but none in ESTC) reproduces the text of a prayer of thanksgiving and a sermon given after the naval battle of Camperdown which took place off the Dutch coast near the village of Kamperduin. The author of "A navy sermon" was the Rev. Dr Alexander Duncan (1747-1816), who served as chaplain on the "Venerable", the ship commanded by his cousin and fellow-Scot Admiral Adam Duncan (1731-1804). Admiral Duncan was then commander-in-chief of the British fleet in the North Sea. On 11 October 1797 he attacked the Dutch fleet (the Dutch were allies of France in the French Revolutionary Wars), and after a long and bloody engagement decisively defeated it. Camperdown proved to be the most significant action between British and Dutch forces during the 1790s, giving the British complete control of the North Sea. It was also regarded as the greatest ever victory for a British fleet over an equal enemy force to that date, although it was later overshadowed by Nelson's victories in the Napoleonic Wars. Admiral Duncan was a deeply religious man and in the aftermath of the battle, with the "Venerable" itself severely damaged, he assembled all of those men fit to attend for a church service to "return thanks to Almighty God for all His mercies showered on them and him." Leading the service was his cousin Alexander, a minister in the Episcopal Church, who in 1795 had become rector of Bolam parish in Northumberland, but who also served in the Royal Navy. In a surviving miniature portrait of Dr Duncan there is a quote attributed to King George III inscribed on the back, "Would to God that all my subjects were as loyal as Dr Duncan." Dr Duncan uttered suitably stirring and patriotic words for the occasion, and was prompted to publish the words of his service by a letter from members of the "Venerable"'s company (the text of the letter is reproduced here as well as a letter from Dr Duncan to his cousin). This 1798(?) printing would appear to have been a private printing solely for distribution to various members of the ship's company (a copy of a later 1799 London printing, by a different printer, is recorded in the library of the US Navy Dept.) This particular copy was a presentation copy for Admiral Duncan, who by this time had been created Viscount Duncan of Camperdown and Baron Duncan of Lundie. It is bound in contemporary tree calf with gold tooling and has a leather label on the front board "Lord Viscount Duncan", reflecting his change in status. It has also has a later gilt stamp on it "Camperdown Library" which indicates that it was at one time held in the family mansion of Camperdown House in Dundee, built in 1828 to replace the old family home of Lundie House, which was demolished that year. Dr Alexander Duncan seems to have retired to the quiet life of a minister, publishing one further work in 1799 "Miscellaneous essays, naval, moral, political, and divine". Four of his nine sons are known to have served in the Royal Navy. |
|Reference Sources||Oxford Dictionary of National Biography;
A. Orr, The Duncans of Dundee and Camperdown: followed in the line of the Reverend Doctor Alexander Duncan DD, [Montrose, 2000]|
|Author||Alexander, James Edward, Sir.|
|Title||On the means of defending farm houses.|
|Imprint||Graham's Town [South Africa]: [s.n.],|
|Date of Publication||1835|
|Notes||This is a rare South African imprint which gives instructions for the defence of farms during the 6th Cape Frontier (or Xhosa) War. The author, James Alexander (1803-1885) was a Scottish army officer, who at the time was serving in South Africa as the as aide-de-camp to Sir Benjamin D' Urban, the then governor of the Cape Colony. Alexander played a key role in organising the defence of settlements such as Grahamstown and leading an exploring party into the heart of South Africa. The 6th Cape Frontier War was one of series of nine armed conflicts between white European settlers (Boers and British) and the native Xhosa peoples of the Eastern Cape area of South Africa, which lasted for around 100 years, from the late 18th to the late 19th century. The 6th war was triggered by the killing of Xhosa chief by a government commando party in 1834. An army of 10,000 Xhosa swept into the Cape Colony the following year, pillaging and burning the homesteads and killing all who resisted. Alexander's pamphlet gives practical instructions, complete with seven illustrations, for farmers on how to defend their property. The war ended with the signing of a peace treaty in 1836. Alexander went on to pursue a long and distinguished career in the army, serving in various parts of the British Empire.|
|Author||Alexander, Sir William, Earl of Stirling|
|Title||Recreations with the Muses|
|Imprint||London: b. Tho. Harper|
|Date of Publication||1637|
|Notes||This collection of the works of William Alexander is of central importance to the development of Scottish literature. Alexander was a member of the 'Castalian band' (named after the mythical spring on Mount Parnassus, a symbol of the inspiration of the muses) of poets at the court of King James VI, along with writers such as Alexander Montgomerie, William Fowler, Robert and Thomas Hudson, and the king himself. When the court moved to London in 1603 with the accession of James to the English throne, the 'Castalian band' was dispersed. Alexander, like other writers who moved to London with the king, began to modify his verse, expunging Scotticisms and adopting the southern English language, so that this publication of 1637 is substantially a book of poetry in English, not Scots. Alexander was highly regarded by James VI and I and by Charles I, and was chosen by James to help him produce a new translation of the Psalms; the translation was published under James's name although it was almost all the work of Alexander. Alexander, who died in 1640, was by 1637 Secretary of State for Scotland; more notable, perhaps, is the fact that he had been granted the colonial territories of Nova Scotia (and, indeed, much of what is now Canada and the USA!). This book is thus a collection of a major Scottish author's writings, and one of the last editions published during his lifetime.
Of enormous symbolic importance is the fact that this copy contains a fine impression of the extremely rare portrait of Alexander. On the portrait is the manuscript inscription 'Liber Fra: Kinaston ex dono Nobilissimi Authoris'. Sir Francis Kynaston (1587-1642) was an influential English poet of the court of Charles I, and an appropriate recipient for this collection of Anglicised works by a Scottish-born writer. The bookseller describes the portait as one of the 'black tulips' of early English print-making, and there does not seem to be another copy with the portrait in any UK public library. This copy is of some bibliographical importance, as the inscription indicates clearly that the portrait was issued with the book (it had been argued that the rarity of the portrait was a consequence of its having been issued separately). An eighteenth-century facsimile is also bound in this copy. Another interesting bibliographical feature of this and at least two other copies is that two leaves (X1 and X6) were missing due to an error in printing early copies of that sheet; here they have been supplied from another copy.
The book is attractively bound in early nineteenth-century green morocco with gold-tooled decoration and lettering on the spine; the edges of the leaves are gilt. A note on a front flyleaf signed 'H.C.' probably indicates the ownership of the nineteenth-century collector Henry Cunliffe.
The National Library of Scotland had two copies of this text already (H.29.a.3, H.29.a.4), but the additional features of this copy enable us to claim that our holdings of this important book now approach bibliographical completeness. This will enhance further our standing as a centre for studies of early Scottish literature.|
|Author||Alfred, King of England|
|Title||The will of King Alfred|
|Imprint||Oxford : Clarendon Press|
|Date of Publication||1788|
|Notes||A remboîtage in a Scottish red morocco herringbone binding. The front and back boards have been elaborately tooled in gilt. The spine features 7 compartments with the title in gilt in compartments two to four. The textblock is gilt-edged. The front and back openings feature Dutch floral endpapers.|
|Title||Travels in the Cevennes|
|Date of Publication||1998|
|Notes||Note: This is no.27 of a limited edition of 50 special copies of this beautifully produced and tastefully illustrated private press book. Printed using 14-point Cochin on Arches mould-made paper it differs from the 'standard' edition of 150 copies with the inclusion of two additional pochoir-coloured illustrations. This hand coloured illustration process was first used in 15th century and revived in France in the late 19th century. A monochrome outline of the design is printed by letterpress or lithography. As many as 20 to 30 celluloid stencils are cut out for the various parts of the design and special brushes with gouache and watercolours are used for the colouring.
The book is an account by author and illustrator Peter Allen of his life as a farmhand on a goat farm in the Cevennes and his subsequent travels in the footsteps of Robert Louis Stevenson. There are frequent echoes throughout the text of Stevenson's Travels with a donkey in the Cevennes, but unlike the Scots scribe Allen travelled by car and not by donkey.|
|Imprint||Glasguae: R. & A. Foulis|
|Date of Publication||1751|
|Notes||This is a beautiful Scottish edition of a classic, and a fine example of the aesthetically innovative and well-constructed books produced by Glasgow's Foulis Press. It measures 84 x 51 x 11 mm. Anacreon, the 6th-century BC Greek poet who wrote on wine, women and song, is here celebrated in a neat miniature version.
This copy is remarkable as it is printed on silk of four different colours, blue, pink, yellow and cream. The silk is not backed with paper, which makes the pages of some books printed on silk quite thick and rigid; here the silk is limp and the sheets are neatly sewn around the edges.
There is an ink inscription on the first (blank) leaf: "This Book was given to Mr. Baker by the Revd Mr Lumley Jan 10th 1771". A few sheets are a little spotted but the overall condition is delightful. Bound in contemporary red goatskin, gilt, with double gilt embossed endleaves (of two different patterns).
ESTC T85607 notes 4 copies on silk. See Bondy, Miniature Books, p.24, and Gaskell, Foulis Press, no. 181. The bookseller notes 'It doesn't appear in Book Auction Records and neither Houghton (who had a great miniature book collection) nor Getty ever found one.' The opportunity to acquire such a book is unlikely to recur.
NLS has a copy printed on paper, ABS.1.84.108. We also have a copy of Anacreon's Odes printed on silk by Hamilton, Balfour and Neill (1754), Nha.Misc.47. Other copies of books on fabric in NLS are at F.5.g.31 (limp white linen, not sewn at the edges) and F.6.b.4 (limp white silk, interleaved with paper, not sewn at the edges). There seems to have been a minor cult of printing on silk in Scotland at this period; see Brian Hillyard, 'Books printed on silk or linen', Factotum 28 (1989) pp.19-20. In 2000 we bought an unrecorded Aberdeen thesis printed on silk in 1675.
The National Library of Scotland has purchased this as an item of outstanding importance, which demonstrates how much Scots of the eighteenth century loved and admired their books. It is also a fine example of the Scottish cult of printing on silk, and of the Scottish tradition of producing miniature books, which arguably culminated in the work of David Bryce of Glasgow at the start of the 20th century.|
|Reference Sources||Gaskell, Foulis Press.
Bondy, Miniature Books.|
|Author||Anderson, Alan and Jennie|
|Title||Blue remembered hills|
|Imprint||Loanhead: Tragara Press|
|Date of Publication||2004|
|Notes||The Tragara Press was founded by Alan Anderson in Edinburgh in 1954 who has, remarkably, continued to produce fine work for fifty years. The National Library has always collected Tragara books, and has marked-up copies of the two bibliographies of the press. Alan Anderson has donated many of the Tragara books we hold, and has now given us this, the last book which will be printed by Tragara. It is a selection of verse by Alan and Jennie Anderson (the title comes from A. E. Housman's 'A Shropshire lad'). This edition is limited to 20 copies, hand-set in Garamond type and printed on paper made by Amatruda of Amalfi. It is a fine conclusion to half a century of Scotland's most enduring private press.|
|Reference Sources||Alan Anderson, 'The Tragara Press', 1979; 1991.|
|Title||Observations on the means of exciting a spirit of national industry; chiefly intended to promote the agriculture, commerce, manufactures, and fisheries, of Scotland.|
|Imprint||Dublin : S. Price, W. and H. Whitestone, |
|Date of Publication||1779|
|Notes||This is the first Irish printing of a work originally published in Edinburgh in 1777, which contains one of the earliest critiques of Adam Smith's recently-published "Wealth of nations". The author, James Anderson (1739-1808), was a landowner and farmer. As well as devoting himself to agricultural matters, Anderson also had a strong interest in the subject of political economy and published a large number of articles in newspapers, pamphlets and other people's publications, often using a pseudonym. In his lengthy preface to this work, he reveals that he had considered remaining anonymous but thought that it would be "a somewhat mean and disingenuous appearance to keep himself concealed". The work consists of a series of letters outlining his thoughts on the future of Scotland's economic output, with special reference to the economically depressed Highlands. Letter XIII in volume two of the "Observations" is largely devoted to arguments put forward in the "Wealth of nations". Anderson refers to Smith's "very ingenious treatise", before proceeding, very politely, to take serious issue with Smith's "entirely fallacious" thinking on aspects of Britain's Corn Laws. Smith had been critical of the existing legislation, which was designed to protect major English landholders by encouraging the export and limiting the import of corn when prices fell below a fixed point. Anderson the farmer and landowner preferred to defend the status quo. Anderson dedicated his work to the Duke of Buccleuch, a major landowner who took a keen interest in Scottish agriculture, but who also happened to be a former pupil and a patron of Adam Smith.|
|Title||Enquiry into the nature of the Corn-Laws; With a View to the New Corn-Bill Proposed for Scotland|
|Imprint||Edinburgh, Mrs Mundell|
|Date of Publication||1777|
|Notes||8vo pp. 60  author's apology,  blank with an inscription 'To Barond de Podmaniesky, From the Author' on the verso of the flyleaf facing the title.
Yet another key text composed by a Scot that explained for the first time one of the main components of economic theory. According to Schumpeter, Anderson 'invented the 'Ricardian' theory of rent' and 'had to an unusual degree what so many economists lack, Vision'. Further praise came when in 1845, J. R. McCulloch wrote 'Though published nearly at the same time as the 'Wealth of Nations', Dr Smith, to whom they might have been of essential service, did not profit by them in revising any subsequent edition of his great work; and so completely were they forgotten, that when, in 1815, Mr Malthus and Sir Edward West published their tracts exhibiting the nature and progress of rent, they were universally believed to have, for the first time, discovered the laws by which it is governed [however] the true theory of rent had been quite as well and as satisfactorily explained by Dr Anderson in 1777 as it was by them in 1815.'
Anderson was born in 1739 in Hermiston At age 15 he began working on a farm in Aberdeenshire where he invented the Scotch plough. In 1780 he took an LL.D degree at Aberdeen. In 1783 he had privately printed observations on fisheries in the West of Scotland; between 1790-1793 he edited the journal 'The Bee' which contained many informative papers on economic development. He lived in London from 1797 and died 1808.|
|Title||Neues Constitutionenbuch der alten ehrwuerdigen Bruederschaft der Freimaurer|
|Imprint||Frankfurt: In der Andreaeischen Buchhandlung|
|Date of Publication||1743|
|Notes||This is the second, enlarged edition of the German translation of James Anderson's "The Constitutions of the Free Masons; containing the History, Charges, Regulations, &c. of that Most Ancient and Right Worshipful Fraternity. For the Use of the Lodges", which was first published in 1723. Organised freemasonry became established in 1717 when four London lodges formed themselves into a Grand Lodge. In 1721 Anderson, himself a freemason, was asked to produce a rulebook, the Constitutions, which passed through several English editions and was translated into German. The Constitutions are based on a manuscript rulebook which existed in several handwritten copies, dealing with the masons' duties and regulations as well as the history of masonry from the creation.
This edition has a beautiful folded frontispiece engraving representing the armorial sword. The sword plays an important part in Masonic ceremonial and the Grand Sword Bearer leads all processions of Grand Lodge carrying a similar sword.|
|Title||The true interest of Great Britain considered.|
|Imprint||[London?: J. Anderson]|
|Date of Publication||1783|
|Notes||In 1783 the agriculturist and political economist James Anderson (1739-1808), having already written a number of important pamphlets and articles on a wide range of subjects, turned his attention in this treatise to the regeneration of the economy in northern Scotland and the Hebrides. The printed "advertisement" at the beginning indicates that the work was written in 1782 and that plans to publish it in London the following year were initially shelved due to the British government being preoccupied with the drafting of the peace treaty to end the American War of Independence. Anderson therefore had printed a small number of copies for private circulation amongst his friends in the hope that they might provide him with some constructive comments. No place of printing is given; it is likely to have been either London, where Anderson made frequent visits and where the intended readership among the political classes for his work was based, or Edinburgh, where Anderson had moved to in 1783 after farming in Aberdeenshire for several years. In the work Anderson describes the limited possibilities for economic growth in the Highlands and urges the government to protect and subsidise the local fishing industry. He hoped that the creation of "large and populous marts" would lead to an increase in towns and villages on the Scottish coastline, which would in turn stimulate economic growth. Anderson's protectionist stance led to a temporary falling-out with his friend Jeremy Bentham, who had attempted to stop Anderson publishing the treatise. This particular copy has been bought for its copy specific features. It is printed on special thick paper and includes an extra printed dedication leaf to Henry Dundas, first Viscount Melville (1742-1811), then lord advocate and unofficial minister for Scotland, who was endeavouring to restore the fortunes of the Highlands after the damage done to the economy and social order after the Jacobite uprising of 1745/46. The leaf is not present in at least two of the two of the four recorded copies in ESTC(the British Library copy and copy held in a collection on deposit in NLS). Moreover, the work has probably been bound by one of the most celebrated Scottish bookbinders of the eighteenth century, James Scott of Edinburgh. It may have been specially commissioned by Anderson for presentation to Dundas and may have been one of Scott's last bindings, as the latest binding that has been assigned to him dates from 1784. The binding is not recorded in J.H. Loudon's work "James Scott and William Scott, Bookbinders", however the tools employed are visible on various bindings illustrated in Loudon's book: the Greek key roll on the boards, the floral roll on the boards and the urn cornerpieces.|
|Reference Sources||Oxford Dictionary of National Biography; J. H. Loudon "James Scott and William Scott Bookbinders" (London, 1980)|
|Date of Publication||1838|
|Notes||William Anderson (1805-1866) was born at Edinburgh. His maternal grandfather was the author of the 'Natural History of the Mineral Kingdom' and his brother John was the historian of the house of Hamilton. Apart from newspaper contributions, his first publication was 'Poetical Sketches' in 1833. By 1838 he was living in London where he moved in literary circles. Later he returned to Scotland, continuing to publish and working for Scottish newspapers.
The DNB characterizes Anderson's poetry as 'generally sweet and tuneful' but 'not characterized by much merit of a literary kind'. These 'Landscape Lyrics' are typical mid-19th century verse in their style and subject. This copy, however, is of particular interest, being the author's proof copy of the first edition, without title page or plates. As the bookseller's catalogue says, 'These pleasantly messy proofs were evidently corrected currente calamo as they came off the press'. As such, they are a good example of writing and publishing practices of the period, and complement the Library's holdings of publisher's archives in this regard. A copy of the publication in its final state is at AB.8.83.5, which would make an interesting comparison.|
|Reference Sources||DNB; Bookseller's catalogue.|
|Author||Andreini, Giovanni Battista.|
|Title||La Florinda, Tragedia|
|Imprint||Milan: Girolamo Bordone|
|Date of Publication||1606|
|Notes||Rare first edition of this illustrated tragedy, the first work for the stage and the only tragedy by Giovanni Battista Andreini (1579-1654), regarded as the most important Italian dramatist of the 17th century. Andreini is considered especially important as a link between the Commedia dell' arte tradition, with its mixing of dialects and improvisational tendencies, and the emerging genre of opera. The tragedy is set in a Scottish forest (pictured on an illustrated plate), with the plot centering on a domestic tragedy cocnerning Ircano king of Scotland and his wife Florinda, countess of "Angusa" (Angus?). Tha play ends typically with a succession of suicides.