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 781 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 241 to 255 of 781:
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|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||Elucidatio fabricae ususque astrolabii, Ioanne Stoflerino iustengensi authore.|
|Imprint||Paris: Hieronymum de Marnef, & Gulielmum Cavellat|
|Date of Publication||1570|
|Notes||Johannes Stoeffler (1452-1531) was professor of mathematics at the newly founded University of Tuebingen, who wrote the first German work on the astrolabe. The astrolabe was an inclinometer, a device invented in c. 150 BC by the Ancient Greeks. It had a variety of uses such as locating and predicting the positions of the sun, moon, planets, and stars, determining local time given local latitude and vice-versa, and in surveying and triangulation. Used in Europe from the Middle Ages onwards, Stoeffler's work was a comprehensive manual of the instrument. The first part concerns the construction of the astrolabe. The full page woodcut illustrations are extended by paper strips to almost double the page size and clearly show the various stages in the construction process. The second part explains the use of the astrolabe with equally remarkable woodcut illustrations. First printed in Oppenheim in 1512, 1513 and 1524, further editions were printed in Paris in 1553, 1564,1569 and 1570. NLS already has three 16th-century editions of this work, but this particular copy has been acquired for its provenance. At the foot of title page is the signature "Alexander seton", which indicates that this book was formerly in the library of Alexander Seton (1556-1622), Chancellor of Scotland 1605-1622 and 1st Earl of Dunfermline. Seton came from a pious Catholic family and, as a younger son, was destined for a career in the church. In 1571, when he was about fifteen, he was sent to the Jesuit-run German college in Rome, presumably to avoid the upheaval caused by the Reformation in Scotland. In Rome he acquired an enthusiasm for books and a knowledge of mathematics. From Italy he travelled to France, where he studied law, and presumably purchased Stoeffler's 'Elucidatio fabricae' at this time. By late 1580 he was back in Scotland. Given the political and religious climate in Scotland in the 1580s a career in the church was no longer an option. He did, however, manage to have a successful if somewhat turbulent career in politics, conforming outwardly to the established church while remaining privately loyal to his Catholic faith. In 1604, as the highest ranking official of King James's government, the King made Seton chief Scottish negotiator for the proposed Anglo-Scottish Union. The negotiations failed but James was sufficiently impressed by his conduct to appoint him lord chancellor of Scotland in 1604. He subsequently became the King's principal adviser and agent in Scottish affairs in 1611. As a very wealthy man he had a large collection of books; on his death in 1622 the libraries at his properties at Pinkie and Fyvie were valued at the huge sum of £1333 6s 4d. According to his descendant Walter Seton, writing in 1923, this book "was probably one of his earliest purchases. He was using [this] signature up to about 1586". Walter Seton was then the owner of this book and ten others with the same provenance. |
|Reference Sources||Oxford Dictionary of National Biography; bookseller's notes; Walter Seton 'Some relics of Alexander Seton, Earl of Dunfermline', Scottish Historical Review, vol.20, no.79 (1923) pp.187-89.|
|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).|
|Title||Epistle to the deil by Holy Willie of Prussia. Second edition.|
|Imprint||Glasgow: J. Biggar & Co.|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||Anonymous satirical poem in Scots supposedly by "Holy Willie of Prussia" (German Emperor Wilhelm I)addressed to the devil "dear Nickie-ben". It refers to the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, which led to the defeat of France and the proclamation of King Wilhelm of Prussia as the first German emperor. The poem is written in the style of Robert Burns, and is followed by a full-page appendix "concerning Were-wolves", and a five-page glossary of Scotticisms. The author is clearly anti-Prussian as one verse runs: "Now just confess: through France I've trod O'er men, wives, weans, knee-deep, in blood; On right and justice trampl'd rough-shod, Until they're dead; And when I've blamed a' this on God, Are you no paid?" The author also gets a dig in at Thomas Carlyle, "the psalmist dour of Prussia's course", who was an admirer of German culture and who had written a history of Frederick the Great of Prussia. A contemporary manuscript note at end of poem (p.26) records one reader's dislike of the poem: "one of those thousand jingling dilettante whose jingle dies with the moment of its birth - ". No copy of this edition is recorded on COPAC, and the only other copies traced are published in London.
|Reference Sources||Bookseller's notes|
|Title||Epistola Gulielmi Brussii Scoti. Ad illustrem D. Johannen Gostomium.|
|Date of Publication||1596|
|Notes||By the end of the 16th-century there was a large number of Scottish emigrants living in Poland and lands adjoining the Baltic Sea. One of the most prominent was the Scottish Catholic William Bruce. Born in Stanstill in Caithness around 1560 and educated in France, William Bruce worked in universities there before moving to Rome and then on to German city of Wuerzburg to take up the Chair of Law. Bruce's academic career was interrupted by a spell serving as a mercenary soldier when he joined the military campaign against the Ottoman Empire on the Slovak-Hungarian front. In 1595 he arrived in Poland and shortly afterwards he accepted the Polish Chancellor Zamoyski's offer of teaching Roman law at his recently inaugurated Humanist academy in Zamosc. During this time he had printed at least three pamphlets, including this one dated Torun, 12 February, attacking the Turks and stressing their threat to the Christian kingdoms of eastern and central Europe - the other two works are: "Ad principes populorum Christianum, de bello adversus Turcos gerendo" (Leipzig 1595) and "De Tartaris diarium" (Frankfurt, 1598). After the Union of the Crowns in 1603, Bruce would became James VI/I's royal agent to Poland, securing trade links between Britain and Poland and protecting the rights of Scottish and English settler in Poland and Prussia.|
|Reference Sources||Bookseller's notes.
J.K. Fedorowicz, England's Baltic trade in the early seventeenth century, (Cambridge, 1980).|
|Title||Epitome colloquiorum Erasmii Roterodami|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Joannes Reid|
|Date of Publication||1696|
|Notes||This is an extremely rare and hitherto unrecorded printing of Erasmus's Colloquia by the Edinburgh publisher John Reid. No copies have been traced in ESTC, OCLC or the British Library and it is not recorded in Aldis.
It is an abridged version of one of the Dutch humanist's (1466-1636) most popular works and was first published in a collected form in Basle in 1518 as 'Familiarium colloquiorum formulae'. The Catholic Encyclopedia describes the colloquies as 'a kind of textbook for the study of the Latin language, and introduction to the purely natural formal training of the mind, and a typical example of the frivolous Renaissance spirit. The defects of ecclesiastical and monastic life are in this work held up to pitiless scorn; moreover, he descends only too often to indecent and cynical descriptions.' Even Luther condemned Erasmus for scattering 'poison' and declared that if he died he would forbid his children to read the work.
Another edition of this work was printed in Edinburgh in 1691 by Societatis Bibliopolarum and the John Reid's printing of this edition a few years later indicates that there was some appetite for Erasmus's writings in Scotland at the time. Reid was active in Edinburgh from 1680 until 1712. Early in his printing career Reid had been imprisoned for not serving his full apprenticeship. He had also incurred the wrath of another printer for stealing type.
This copy is lacking some text on the final leaf and it is clear that is was well used. It is signed by one 'William Horsburgh' in 1754.|
|Reference Sources||SBTI; Catholic Encyclopedia online|
|Title||Epoques et faits memorables de l'histoire d'Angleterre|
|Date of Publication||1820|
|Notes||Although the Library has a number of bindings by Alexander Banks jnr (for example, NC.314.a.10; Hall.1.f ; ABS.2.80.64) we do not have one on green leather. His entry in SBTI reads: BANKS, Alexander junior bookbinder 5 North Bridge 1833-45 and stationer 29 North Bridge 1850. Green leather, covers with a gilt and blind roll-tooled design on the border of the covers. The spine is decorated in gilt to an arabesque design; oval morroco label with letters in gilt.
The binding is signed in the lower margin of the upper inner board.|