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 750 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 750:

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TitleEngineer 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.
ImprintGlasgow
Date of Publication1856
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis 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.
ShelfmarkABS.10.201.01
Acquired on26/07/00
AuthorLord Byron
TitleEnglish Bards and Scotch reviewers. A satire.
ImprintLondon: William Benbow,
Date of Publication1821
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis 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.
ShelfmarkAB.2.212.07
Reference SourcesG. 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
Acquired on17/02/12
AuthorAnderson, James
TitleEnquiry into the nature of the Corn-Laws; With a View to the New Corn-Bill Proposed for Scotland
ImprintEdinburgh, Mrs Mundell
Date of Publication1777
LanguageEnglish
Notes8vo pp. 60 [1] author's apology, [1] 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.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2084
Acquired on06/10/00
Author[MacFait, Ebenezer]
TitleEntwurf von Platon's Leben, nebst Bermerkungen ueber dessen schriftstellerischen und philosophischen Charakter.
ImprintLeipzig: Dyk,
Date of Publication1797
LanguageGerman
NotesThis 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).
Shelfmark AB.3.210.07
Acquired on23/04/10
AuthorAnon
TitleEpistle to the deil by Holy Willie of Prussia. Second edition.
ImprintGlasgow: J. Biggar & Co.
Date of Publication[1871]
LanguageScots
NotesAnonymous 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.
ShelfmarkIN PROCESS
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on16/05/14
AuthorWilliam Bruce
TitleEpistola Gulielmi Brussii Scoti. Ad illustrem D. Johannen Gostomium.
ImprintGoerlitz, s.n.
Date of Publication1596
LanguageLatin
NotesBy 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.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2843
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes. J.K. Fedorowicz, England's Baltic trade in the early seventeenth century, (Cambridge, 1980).
Acquired on25/05/12
AuthorErasmus, Desiderius.
TitleEpitome colloquiorum Erasmii Roterodami
ImprintEdinburgh: Joannes Reid
Date of Publication1696
LanguageLatin
NotesThis 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.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2311
Reference SourcesSBTI; Catholic Encyclopedia online
Acquired on15/10/03
AuthorDurdent, R.J
TitleEpoques et faits memorables de l'histoire d'Angleterre
ImprintParis
Date of Publication1820
LanguageFrench
NotesAlthough 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.
ShelfmarkBdg.s.862
Acquired on02/05/00
AuthorDavid Hume
TitleEsposizione della contestazione insorta fra il Signor Davide Hume e il Signor Gian Jacopo Russo.
Imprint[Venice] : Appresso Luigi Pavini,
Date of Publication1767
LanguageItalian
NotesThe quarrel between the two 18th-century philosophers, David Hume and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, is one of the famous incidents in the history of Enlightenment Europe. In 1763 Hume had gone to Paris as under-secretary to the newly appointed British ambassador, Lord Hertford. He quickly became a celebrity in the French capital, moving in court circles and among the literary salons. In 1765 he offered to find a home in England for Rousseau, as the latter found himself persecuted in France and his native Switzerland for his radical views. The two men met for the first time in December 1765, and Rousseau accompanied Hume on his journey home to England. Initially both philosophers were full of admiration for each other, but once in England the relationship quickly soured, despite Hume's efforts to secure him a royal pension and suitable residence. At their final meeting in March 1766, the notoriously belligerent Rousseau accused Hume of conspiring against him. In June he wrote to Hume, accusing the Scot of bringing him to England to dishonour him. Hume, sensing that Rousseau would try to destroy his reputation in France, fought back angrily in a war of words. He then collected his correspondence with Rousseau, had copies made, and sent one set over to Paris, where in October that year was published, the "Expose succinct de la contestation qui s'est elevee entre M. Hume et M. Rousseau". An English version appeared the following month, and this very rare Italian translation, by an unknown translator, appeared the following year. Baron von Grimm, a German man of letters based in France, famously remarked 'A declaration of war between two great European powers couldn't have made more noise than this quarrel'. Hume was later to regret publication of the work, as public opinion was largely on the side of Rousseau, who returned to France in 1767.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2842
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on29/06/12
AuthorQuentin Craufurd, 1743-1819
TitleEssais sur la Litterature Francaise, ecrits pour l'usage d'une Dame etrangere compatriote de l'auteur
ImprintS.L.
Date of Publication1803
LanguageFrench
NotesThis is an extremely rare edition of only 100 copies to have been distributed among the friends of the author. The first part, taking up the entirety of the first volume and pages 1 to 289 of the second, examines various French literary styles and their most representative authors. Craufurd was particularly critical of Voltaire. The rest of the second volume gathers the essays of such French authors as Montesquieu, Voltaire, Diderot, Rousseau, Raynal, Mably, Condillac and D'Alembert, etc. This work was republished in 1815 and 1818 with additions. Quentin Craufurd, the younger brother of Baronet Sir Alexander Craufurd, was born on 22 Sept. 1743 at Kilwinnock, Renfrewshire. He entered the East India Company's service at a young age, and after making a large fortune returned to Europe in 1780. He eventually settled in Paris where his wealth allowed him to become an active collector of books, pictures, prints and manuscripts. He was a loyal friend and supporter of the French royal family after the revolution of 1789, and was received with favour at the court of the Bourbons after the Restoration on account of his behavior between the years 1789 and 1792. He published his first work in 1790 and over eight others followed. He died in Paris on 23 Nov. 1819.
ShelfmarkABS.8.204.07
Reference SourcesDNB
Acquired on23/05/04
AuthorHume, David
TitleEssais sur le commerce, le luxe, l'argent, l'interet de l'argent, les impots, le credit public, etc.
ImprintParis: Chez Guillaumin et Cie Libraires
Date of Publication1847
LanguageFrench
NotesThis is a French translation of the essays by David Hume first published in Political Discourses (1752). Hume's essays were first published in France soon after their original appearance in English: this edition is part of the series Collection des principaux economistes edited by Eugene Daire and G. de Molinari, and appears in a volume in that series with the half-title Melanges d'Economie Politique (volume 1). Also in the volume are works by Forbonnais, Condillac, Condorcet, Lavoisier, and Benjamin Franklin. De Molinari contributes a general introduction to the volume which praises Hume's economic ideas; Daire writes a 'Notice sur D. Hume', which discusses Hume's life. He explains the history of the translations of the Political Discourses, saying that this volume uses the translation of Mademoiselle de La Chaux with some corrections from the translation of L'abbe Blanc. He also states that Of the Jealousy of Trade, originally published in 1760, is translated here for the first time.
ShelfmarkAB.4.207.17
Reference SourcesBookseller's Catalogue; Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy (http://www.iep.utm.edu/h/humeessa.htm)
Acquired on17/10/07
AuthorTytler, Alexander Fraser, Lord Woodhouselee
TitleEssay on Military Law
ImprintEdinburgh: b. Murray & Cochrane f. T. Egerton
Date of Publication1800
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis copy of the first edition of Tytler's work on military law is particularly important as it was owned and corrected by the author. It has his initials on the title-page, and extensive ink annotations throughout, sometimes on inserted pages. There is also a printed correction slip pasted to the verso of the title-page. The second edition, for which the author's corrections were apparently made, appeared in 1806. Tytler (1747-1813) was professor of history at the University of Edinburgh, then judge-advocate for Scotland, and eventually a lord of the Court of Session. This copy shows that he was a careful editor and reviser. A detailed comparison between these corrections and the printed text of the second edition would reveal how many of the author's changes were actually incorporated.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2307
Reference SourcesDNB
Acquired on26/03/03
Author[Anon]
TitleEssay on the memory and character of Dorophagus, the great patriot of the North.
Imprint[London?: s.n.]
Date of Publication[1743?]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis anonymous satirical pamphlet is a savage attack on 'Dorophagus' (from the Greek for 'devourer of [financial] gifts') a.k.a. John Campbell, second Duke of Argyll and Duke of Greenwich (1680-1743). Argyll had a long military and political career, which was marked by several quarrels not just with his political enemies, but also with family and friends. As early as 1714, a contemporary who knew him personally, George Lockhart of Carnwath, wrote in his "Memorials Concerning the Affairs of Scotland" that Argyll "was not, strictly speaking, a man of sound understanding and judgement; for all his natural endowments were sullied with too much impetuosity, passion, and positiveness". This pamphlet, presumably printed after Argyll's death in October 1743, is a lot harsher in its criticism of his character. The author depicts Argyll as man without principle and motivated only by financial gain, concluding that, "upon the whole: a character more compleatly [sic] immoral never appeared in this part of the world."
ShelfmarkAP.3.210.12
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on23/04/10
AuthorHall, James, Sir
TitleEssay on the origin, history and principles of Gothic architecture
ImprintEdinburgh: Printed by Andrew Balfour
Date of Publication1813
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an unrecorded copy of Hall's privately published influential work on Gothic architecture. An edition (with 150 p. as opposed to 74 p. in this edition) was also published in London by John Murray in the same year. The etched frontispiece is signed 'W. & D. Lizars Edinr.' and shows a miniature Gothic cathedral built by Hall in wattle-work. The first exposition of his theory - that the origins of Gothic architecture can be traced to simple wattle buildings - was published as a 27 p. paper with 6 plates read before the Royal Society of Edinburgh (of which he was also President) in 1797. Hall was born in Dunglass, East Lothian in 1761. He studied as geologist for many years on the continent and submitted papers to the Royal Society of Edinburgh on the subject. Between 1807 and 1812 he was an MP for a borough in Cornwall.
ShelfmarkRB.l.140
Acquired on16/02/04
AuthorHall, James
TitleEssay on the origin and principles of Gothic architecture
ImprintFrom the transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh
Date of Publication1797
LanguageEnglish
NotesSir James Hall (1761-1832) gave this paper to the Royal Society of Edinburgh on 6 April 1797. A geologist and chemist, who was actually President of the Royal Society, Hall argued that the characteristic shapes of Gothic architecture had their roots in the forms of nature. The plates which illustrate this volume show Hall's attempts to demonstrate the evolution of design from simple construction based on the natural forms of wood to the elaboration of Gothic stone arches. Hall went as far as to experiment with building a miniature Gothic church out of pieces of wood, which took root and grew. Such interdisciplinary work, of relevance to the arts and the sciences, is now seen as highly important. This is an uncommon book (the expanded version of 1813 seems to be more common). Our copy is particularly fine, being a presentation copy inscribed to the Bishop of Durham, and bearing the bishop's bookplate. Bound in tree calf, with the spine gilt with various architectural tools.
ShelfmarkRB.m.510
Reference SourcesESTC T101922
Acquired on21/07/03
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