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 735 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 735:
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|Title||Edinburgh sold by Arch. Gilchrist & Co. at their warehouse behind the city-guard ....|
|Imprint||[Edinburgh ; Archibald Gilchrist]|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||This is a fascinating piece of late 18th-century printed ephemera. It is an engraved trade card for the Edinburgh haberdasher Archibald Gilchrist which provides a list of goods that he sold at his "warehouse behind the city-guard". Around the middle of the eighteenth century Gilchrist had moved from Lanarkshire to establish his business in Edinburgh. At that time he was one of only two haberdashers in the city, the other being John Neil.
The business became Archibald Gilchrist & Co. when two of his nephews named Mackinlay became partners. On
Gilchrist's death the company was dissolved and around 1788 his son, also Archibald (c.1766-1804), set up as a haberdasher on the South Bridge.|
|Title||Edinburgh the twenty day of May|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: by John Moncur|
|Date of Publication||1726|
|Notes||This broadside announces the annual Edinburgh archery competition, founded in 1709, for which the prize was a silver arrow. The contest was to take place at Leith Links, in July 1726. Only members of the Royal Company of Archers, a patriotic society with strong Jacobite leanings, were eligible to take part. The winner was to keep the silver arrow for a year, and have his badge fixed to it with the badges of previous winners. When he returned the arrow at the end of that year, he was to receive five pounds. It seems that John Earl of Wigtown was the winner in 1726.
The woodcut headpiece shows the arms and motto of the City of Edinburgh, with the doe and maiden supporters (but not the coronet and anchor). Together with the large historiated initial, this adds to the attraction of a most interesting single-sheet item. Only one other copy of this broadside has been traced.|
|Reference Sources||ESTC T32423
Old Leith at leisure, James Scott Marshall (1976) HP1.77.865
Sports and pastimes of Cotland, Fittis (1975). H2.88.473|
|Title||Edinburgh weekly miscellany.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: J. Elder [J. Colston]|
|Date of Publication||1831-1832|
|Notes||This is the second recorded copy of the complete run (14 issues) of a short-lived Edinburgh newspaper, the other complete run being in the Mitchell Library, Glasgow. The editorial to the first issue reveals that this will be a literary newspaper/periodical with a difference: 'As it is a well known fact, that many possessed of genius, and strong mental power, have, from diffidence, want of opportunity, and a thousand other obvious reasons, confined their efforts to their own solitary perusal, or, at most, to the limited circle of their private friends. To give such an opportunity of placing their productions before the public eye, a column will always be reserved in the Weekly Miscellany'. Despite these fine sentiments, the paper also relied on snippets of works taken from established authors, such as John Galt, Francis Jeffrey and Washington Irving. The "Waterloo directory of Scottish newspapers and periodicals" also notes that the paper continually stresses the evils of intemperance. Issued on a weekly basis, the 8-page long "Weekly Miscellany" appears initially to have been a success. By the time of the fifth number in December 1831 the editor refers to the 'unprecedented demand' for the publication; moreover, the list of agents selling it in Edinburgh grows considerably over the first few issues, with agents appearing in other places in central Scotland by the time issue 7 is printed. By issue 13 the publication date has shifted from Wednesday to Saturday as a result of a delay in producing a masthead (an engraving of the goddess Minerva) for the Miscellany. However, the next issue proved to be the last one, with the editor revealing that some of the agents had been less than forthcoming in paying him for the copies they had sold, leaving him unable to continue to producing the paper. At the end of this final issue is a note by the editor, asking for any unwanted copies of issues one and two, in order to make up complete sets, which were bound up with a general title page and index. This particular copy is a complete set, with a general title page which reveals that the Miscellany was 'conducted by R.C.H.'. The identity of R.C.H., who was presumably the editor and founder of the paper, is not known. The NLS copy has an inscription on the general title page: Janet Howison Craufurd Craufurdland 1833. Craufurdland castle in Ayrshire is the family seat of Howison (Houison) Craufurd family, (Winifred) Janet was a daughter of the then laird William Howison Craufurd. There is a further note in pencil on the title page stating that someone recovered this book from becoming snuff paper.|
|Reference Sources||Waterloo directory of Scottish newspapers and periodicals, 1800-1900 (ed. J.S. North), Waterloo, Ont., 1989, no. 2296|
|Author||Richard of St Victor|
|Title||Egregii patris et clari theologi Ricardi ... de superdivina trinitate theologicu[m] opus. |
|Date of Publication||1510|
|Notes||This is an early Estienne imprint and the first edition of a treatise on the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, which defines God as three divine persons or hypostases: the Father, the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit. It is not included in Richard's "Opera omnia" published four years earlier. The work was edited by Jacques Lefèvre d'Etaples (Jacobus Faber Stapulensis, ca. 1460-1536) who also wrote the commentary. The Augustinian theologian Richard of St Victor (d. 1173?) became prior of the abbey of St Victor at Paris and is supposed to have composed this doctrine after his appointment at St Victor in 1162. Richard was thought from the 16th century onwards to have been a Scot, but there is no concrete evidence to prove this assumption. However, the printing of book is probably an example of how Hector Boece and other 16th-century Scottish scholars sought to promote all things Scottish on the Continent through the agency of the leading Parisian printers of the day. In the same year Estienne printed John Mair/Major's "In Primum Sententiarum" and its sequel "In Secundum Sententiarum" for Josse Bade d'Asch. Estienne would almost certainly have thought he was printing a Scottish author. The text is notable for its six woodcut diagrams variously illustrating the composition of the Trinity.
|Reference Sources||Booksellers' notes; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography|
|Title||El Grafico, 16 Junio 1923|
|Date of Publication||1923|
|Notes||This Argentinian weekly sporting magazine contains a double page spread on Third Lanark's first game of their South American tour in the summer of 1923. Thirds were in fact the first Scottish side, strengthened by some guest players, to visit South America.
They lost this encounter against an 'Argentine Select' 1-0 in front of 20,000 screaming fans in the Palermo Stadium in Buenos Aires. What the brief report does not mention was that at one point after Thirds had been awarded a corner, missiles - including knives and live ammunition - were thrown onto the pitch. The Scots walked off in protest but were later persuaded to return and finish the game.
In all Third Lanark (who are not named in the magazine) played eight matches in Argentina and Uruguay, winning four of them.
Third Lanark Athletic Club were formed in 1872 by members of Third Lanark Rifle Volunteers and was one of Scotland's foremost football clubs until they went into liquidation in 1967.|
|Reference Sources||Bell, Bert. Still seeing red: a history of Third Lanark A.C. Glasgow, 1996.|
|Title||Eleanora, or a Tragical but true case of incest in Great Britain.|
|Imprint||London: M. Cooper, 1751.|
|Date of Publication||1751|
|Notes||A very rare (only 4 known copies of this edition, another being printed in Dublin in the same year) and very bizarre novella reportedly transcribed from a manuscript compiled by the anonymous author/editor's grandfather in 1685. The main action in the book takes place in Scotland, where the main pseudonymous protagonists, the widow Eleanora and her son Orestes, through an extraordinary and unbelievable chain of events 'enjoy' a night of passion - Orestes believing in the darkness that the woman he is bedding to be another, Arene. The Oedipal encounter results in the birth of a daughter, Cornelia, who when she reaches adulthood meets Orestes and marries him, much to the horror of Eleanora. A few years later Orestes encounters Arene, who tells him that she was not the one he slept with all those years ago. The truth is revealed, and Eleanora dies of shock as does Cornelia, a devastated Orestes commits suicide.
The "Monthly Review" for September 1751 notes very sternly that this work is clearly a piece of fiction and that "the publication of cases of this sort ought never to be encouraged, even if proved to be fact; as the knowledge of such unnatural, and (happily) uncommon crimes, cannot possibly be attended with any good consequences: as examples, they will probably never deter others, but may inspire people with thoughts of such practices as otherwise might never have entered their imaginations."!
There is little attempt to disguise the fictive nature of the torrid prose of "Eleanora", only a few specific events are mentioned: Orestes' father Eugenio dies at the siege of "Fort St. Martins in the Isle of Ree" (Lough Ree in Ireland?); Orestes, after studying at Glasgow University, serves on the Parliamentarian side at the battle of Naseby in 1645; he goes on to enjoy a career in the army which is ended by the Restoration of Charles II; about 7 years after the Restoration he helps a friend to get elected as MP for Pontefract [elections in Pontefract were held in 1661 then 1679).
On the front pastedown of this copy is (a) an old bookseller's slip which notes that this story was used by Horace Walpole for his play "The Mysterious Mother" (1768) (this is unconfirmed) (b) a book label of Diana Maria Dowdeswell (possibly a daughter of the politician William Dowdeswell, a friend of Horace Walpole).|
|Reference Sources||J. Raven "British Fiction 1750-1770" 69|
|Author||Scott, Robert Eden (1770-1811)|
|Title||Elements of Rhetoric|
|Imprint||Aberdeen: b. J. Chalmers|
|Date of Publication||1802|
|Notes||Robert Eden Scott was an important figure in the Aberdeen Enlightenment. Born in 1769 or 1770, he studied at Aberdeen and Edinburgh (where he was taught by Dugald Stewart, among other notables), eventually returning to his native Aberdeen to teach at King's College. Scott taught a wide range of topics, including mathematics and geology, moral philosophy and rhetoric - he even became involved in the Ossian controversy. Scott was well informed and interested in new scientific developments, but his traditional Christian beliefs led him to take a stand against many new theories. He associated the theory that the earth was older than the traditional interpretation of Genesis would permit with the violence of the French revolution.
Scott became the first Professor of Moral Philosophy at King's, and this work seems to have arisen from private classes he held while in that position. Scott analyses the workings of language, style, taste, and the different effects of different kinds of writing. The book is extremely rare, with two copies at Aberdeen University Library only. As Scott's first published work, it is an important addition to our holdings of Scottish philosophy and literary theory.|
|Reference Sources||Jessop, Bibliography of David Hume, 1938, p. 169.
Wood, Paul B., The Aberdeen Enlightenment, 1993
|Title||Elements of the art of dancing.|
|Date of Publication||1822|
|Notes||This is the only known copy of this book in Britain - the only other recorded copy is at the Library of Congress. It is one of the earliest and most important manuals devoted to the performance of 'la danse de la ville', better known as the quadrille, which came to Britain from the salons of Paris around 1815.
In the preface Strathy, a dancing master about whom little is known, opined that 'dancing may be to the body what reading is to the mind'. The book is divided into two parts. Part one contains an extensive account of exercises for the improvement of one's deportment. Part two provides precise descriptions for more than twenty steps for the quadrille, including a number of new steps added by the author. The book concludes with directions, given in French and English for eleven quadrille figures.|
|Title||Elena Duglas ili Deva Ozera Lok-Katrinskago [Lady of the lake]|
|Imprint||Moscow: V Universitetskoi Tipografii|
|Date of Publication||1828|
|Notes||This is an early Russian translation of Sir Walter Scott's narrative poem "The Lady of the lake", first published in English in 1810. The poem was an immediate and huge success, selling 25,000 copies in 8 months, and helped spread Scott's fame beyond English-speaking lands. He became probably the most popular foreign author in Russia in the 19th century, the first Russian translation of his works, some extracts from "Ivanhoe", appeared as early as 1820. His influence can be seen not only in the development of the Russian historical novel, but also in the vogue for wearing tartan and dressing up as characters from his novels. This translation (the name of the translator is unknown) is in turn taken from a French translation, possibly the 1813 translation by Elisabeth de Bon. |
|Author||Buerger, Gottfried August. |
|Title||Ellenore, a ballad originally written in German by G.A. Buerger.|
|Imprint||Printed in Norwich by John March.|
|Date of Publication||1796|
|Notes||This an unrecorded folio, large-paper, printing of a translation of a German poem that would help launch one of the great Scottish literary careers. The short poem "Lenore", written by Gottfried August Bürger, was originally published in German in 1774. It is a Gothic ballad dealing with the return of a young man, William, presumed killed in battle, to his grief-stricken fiancee, Lenore, in the middle of night. William asks Lenore to accompany him to their bridal bed. After riding at breakneck speed through the night, they reach a cemetery where the bridal bed is revealed to be William's grave and he himself has mutated into the figure of Death, the grim reaper. Lenore meets her end surrounded by the ghosts of the dead who tell her not to quarrel with her fate and to hope for forgiveness. "Lenore" was an instant hit and was hugely influential on the European Romantic movement in literature. The first English translation to appear in print was this one by William Taylor of Norwich. Taylor (1765-1836) was an important propagandist of German literature in the romantic period. He began his literary career in 1789 with an accomplished translation of Goethe's "Iphigenie auf Tauris" (published in 1793), then in 1790 he translated Lessing's "Nathan der Weise". His translation of Bürger's "Lenore" was first published in 1796 in The Monthly Magazine, then was printed separately by John March of Norwich. Taylor's free translation was actually done in 1790 and had been circulating widely in manuscript in literary circles since then. It was commonly regarded as the best translation at that time, and is important as having inspired Walter Scott to do his own translation, the starting point of Scott's whole poetical career (a copy of this Norwich 1796 printing can be found in Scott's library at Abbotsford). In 1795 Scott had heard about the enthusiastic reception given to a reading of Taylor's version done by Anna Laetitia Aikin at a party given by Dugald Stewart, and he subsequently attempted to acquire a manuscript of Bürger's original. When he finally acquired a German text the following year he immediately set about the task of translating it; 'He began the task ... after supper, and did not retire to bed until he had finished it, having by that time worked himself into a state of excitement which set sleep at defiance' (Lockhart, Memoirs of the life of Sir Walter Scott, 1.235). Scott was sufficiently pleased with the reaction of his friends that he proceeded to translate another Bürger poem, "Der wilde Jäger", and the two were published together anonymously as "The Chase and William and Helen: Two Ballads from the German of Gottfried Augustus Bürger" in November 1796, priced 3s. 6d. The "German-mad" Scott's literary career had begun.|
|Reference Sources||Oxford Dictionary of National Biography|
|Author||Johann N.C. Buchenroeder|
|Title||Elliots Leben: nebst practischen Bemerkungen aus dessen Leben gezogen zur Bildung junger Krieger und anderer Personen vom Stande.|
|Imprint||Hamburg: Moellerische Buchhandlung|
|Date of Publication||1783|
|Notes||This is a second edition of a German biography by Johann Nicolaus Carl Buchenroeder of the celebrated Scottish army officer, George Augustus Eliott, later to become first Baron Heathfield of Gibraltar (1717-1790). Eliott was born in Stobs, Roxburghshire, the seventh son of the baronet, Sir Gilbert Eliott. He studied on the continent before beginning a long and illustrious military career, seeing active service as a volunteer in the Prussian army. Eliott also served in the British army on the Continent during the War of the Austrian Succession and Seven Years War, but is now best remembered for his leadership of the British garrison of Gibraltar. He arrived as governor in 1779 and supervised the improvement of fortifications before the impending attack by French and Spanish forces. The garrison had in 1775 also been reinforced by three battalions from Hanover in Germany (King George III being king of Hanover as well). For two and a half years the 6,000 British and German troops were subject to heavy bombardment and a blockade by the French and Spanish floating batteries. The garrison managed to hold firm, despite existing on starvation rations, until the lifting of the siege in 1783. This German biography appeared in the wake of Eliott's triumph and is illustrated with six plates, four of which are folding plates which show plans/battle scenes of Gibraltar, the other two being portraits of George III and Eliott himself. (In this copy the plates have all been hand-coloured). The foreword to this second enlarged edition states that the first edition of 1,500 copies had not been deemed sufficient to meet the demands of the wider German readership, hence the publication of the second edition of 2,000 copies, which includes a poem written on behalf of 'German patriots' in praise of the 'defender of Gibraltar'. The publication of a German biography is a testament to the role the Hanoverian soldiers played in the epic defence of this strategic outpost. It also plays on the close links between the German states and the British Hanoverian monarchy, united against the common foe, France, as well as Eliott's own connection with Germany throughout his career, which is presented as a model one for young German soldiers to follow. The link between Hanover and Gibraltar was maintained by the Hanoverian army; to honour the survivors of the siege, the three battalions that served there were authorised to wear a blue cloth cuff-title embroidered with the name of Gibraltar. Even after Hanover, and its army, was assimilated by Prussia in 1866, the soldiers of the Hanoverian fusilier regiment no. 73 wore the Gibraltar cuff-title right up to the end of the 1st World War. The Gibraltar regiment served on the Western Front throughout the war, ironically fighting against British forces most of the time, with its most famous member being the author Ernst Juenger, author of war memoir "Storm of steel".|
|Reference Sources||Oxford Dictionary of National Biography|
|Title||Engineer and machinist's assistant: being a series of plans, sections, and elevations, of steam engines, spinning machines, mills for grinding, tools, etc., etc., taken from machines of approved construction at present in operation.|
|Date of Publication||1856|
|Notes||This is a 'new and improved edition' of a book first published by Blackie in 1847. Lavishly illustrated with 138 engravings, it was intended to provide a broad range of information and practical examples for the instruction of the many aspiring mechanical engineers and millwrights to extend what they had learned in theory during their arduous apprenticeships. The scale of the engravings are sufficiently large 'to render them available as working drawings for the reproduction of similar machines' (preface). The plates, with very detailed accompanying explanatory text, are preceded by essays on the steam engine, mill gearing, machine tools and water wheels.
Examples of the designs of the foremost British (and some French) manufacturers are portrayed at a time when Britain, in the wake of the Great Exhibition of 1851 was very much regarded as the 'workshop of the world'. The designs of James Nasmyth's steam hammer and steam pile driver and William Fairbairn's corn mills, steam frigates and water wheels are among those of Scots engineers whose work features. Also included are designs by Caird & Co, Greenock, James Smith of Deanston, and Robert Napier, Archibald Mylne, Robert Sanderson & Co. from Glasgow. The book belonged to John Fowler, probably of John Fowler and Co., the Leeds based builder of railway and rolling stock.|
|Title||English Bards and Scotch reviewers. A satire.|
|Imprint||London: William Benbow,|
|Date of Publication||1821|
|Notes||This is one of several pirated editions of Byron's famous satirical poem "English Bards and Scotch reviewers" printed in England after 1816, when Byron had left the country, never to return. "English Bards" was first published in 1809 as a riposte from Byron to a stinging review in The Edinburgh Review of his first published volume of poetry "Hours of Idleness". Four official editions of the poem were printed by his publisher Cawthorn, between 1809 and 1811, to meet the large popular demand for it. However, by 1812, after contemplating but rejecting the publication of a fifth edition, Byron decided to remove the poem from circulation. He then decided to switch his patronage to the publisher John Murray, which led to Cawthorn continuing to print "English Bards" in defiance of his instructions, all without payment to the author. In 1816 Byron was granted an injunction preventing Cawthorn from continuing to print the work. The injunction, however, failed to stop piracies by other printers, such as this one by William Benbow, subsequently appearing on the market. Benbow (1784-c. 1852) was a political radical, who had set up in business in London in 1820 as a bookseller and publisher of pornography. During his relatively brief, but eventful, career as a bookseller and publisher, he regularly found himself in trouble with the law due to his relaxed attitude towards the laws of libel and copyright. Between 1821 and 1825 he published piracies of a number of Byron's works, including another printing of "English Bards" in 1823. In 1822 he was prosecuted, unsuccessfully, for a pirated edition of Byron's "Cain". This particular copy of Benbow's 1821 edition, of which only three copies are recorded in COPAC, also contains two MS letters connected with a former owner of it, J. Aitken. One is a letter dated August 1922 by John Murray (IV), the publisher, thanking Aitken for alerting him to the existence of the 1821 Benbow edition, which is not listed Ernest Hartley Coleridge's bibliography of the works of Byron despite Coleridge taking "infinite pains to make that bibliography complete". The other letter, from 1938, is a copy of one sent to the American librarian and bibliographer Gilbert H. Doane (1897-1980) at the University of Wisconsin. Aitken writes to Doane having been informed that the latter was preparing a bibliography of Byron (there is no record of a published bibliography by Doane). He gives details of the 1821 edition, pointing out that it has different pagination and contents to the 1823 Benbow edition (which is recorded in Coleridge's bibliography), and offers to send it to Doane to help him with the bibliography. He concludes his copy letter by announcing his intention, ultimately, to present his book to the National Library of Scotland; over 73 years later the book has finally made it to NLS.|
|Reference Sources||G. Redgrave, "The first four editions of 'English Bards and Scotch Reviewers'" in The Library series 2, v.1 (December 1899), pp. 18-25.
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography|
|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||Entwurf von Platon's Leben, nebst Bermerkungen ueber dessen schriftstellerischen und philosophischen Charakter.|
|Date of Publication||1797|
|Notes||This is the first German translation of "Remarks on the Life and Writings of Plato", which was originally published in Edinburgh in 1760 by the obscure Scottish scholar-physician Ebenezer MacFait (d. 1786). MacFait's book focuses particularly on Plato's "Republic", and includes a defence of Plato's ideas against the criticisms which appeared in the scholarly works published by the 18th-century English politician Viscount Bolingbroke. The translation was the work of Karl Morgenstern (1770-1852) then professor of philosophy at the university of Halle, who had published his own commentary on the "Republic" in 1794; it is augmented with his own notes on Plato. This particular copy has doodles in pencil on the paper covers, including four faces in profile, and the word 'Tennemann' written in several places, which suggests that this book may have once been owned by a student of the Platonic scholar Wilhelm Gottlieb Tennemann (1761-1819), who himself had written a four-volume work "System der Platonischen Philosophie" (Leipzig, 1792-95).|