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 727 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 rarebooks@nls.uk

      

Important Acquisitions 256 to 270 of 727:

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AuthorArchimedes
Title[Works]
Imprint[Foulis Press?]
Date of Publication[1743-1749?]
LanguageGreek
NotesThe exploits of the Foulis Press are always intriguing, and this latest discovery is no exception. Here is a single, uncut sheet consisting of two identical folio leaves. The text is the half-title and first page of a work by Archimedes, the ancient Greek scientist and mathematician, 'On the sphere and the cylinder'. Clearly the sheet was to be cut in half and then each leaf placed in a volume of Archimedes. But why was this extra leaf printed, and what has this got to do with Glasgow's Foulis Press? At shelfmark K.33.b, the Library has a copy of the first edition of Archimedes, printed at Basle in 1544. This edition was based on a defective manuscript, so the text at the start of 'On the sphere' was not included. At some point in the eighteenth century, an attempt was made to supply this lacuna, possibly by the mathematician and book-collector William Jones (1675-1749). This extra leaf was specially printed, probably by Glasgow's Foulis Press, using the Greek 'Great Primer' font cut for them by Alexander Wilson around 1743. It is not known how many copies were corrected in this way - the copy now at K.33.b. is among those corrected. It was received by the Advocates' Library some time between 1742 and 1776. Perhaps the correction was made for the 200th anniversary of the first printing of Archimedes?
ShelfmarkRB.l.143
Reference SourcesGaskell, Foulis Press Archimedes, Opera, ed. Heiberg DNB
Acquired on16/07/04
AuthorAssociation for Promoting the Discovery of the Interior Parts of Africa
TitleProposals for printing by subscription ... Travels in the interior parts of Africa
Imprint[London: G. Nicol]
Date of Publication1798
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an unrecorded single sheet, dated June 4th 1798, outlining the conditions for subscribing to the forthcoming publication of Mungo Park's "Travels in the interior districts of Africa". The young Scot (1771-1806) had been appointed by the Association for Promoting the Discovery of the Interior Parts of Africa (African Association) to lead an expedition to 'ascertain the course, and if possible, the rise and termination' of the river Niger. Park set out for Africa in 1795 and returned home two and a half years later, having survived a series of arduous adventures in which he was able to ascertain that the river flowed inland to the east. An abridged account of his expedition was privately printed for African Association members in 1798 while Park returned to his home town of Selkirk and wrote up his notes for his planned book, which was to be published by subscription. This sheet reveals the completed book would "form one handsome volume in quarto" and would be ready "early in the ensuing season". Subscribers would pay an initial guinea for which they were likely to get the book in boards along with the engravings, but may have to pay an extra half guinea for any additional expenses in printing and engraving. They would also have their names printed. Subscriptions were to be received by the London bookseller George Nicol, who was already exhibiting a map of Park's route in his shop (the map engraved by James Rennell showed the Niger flowing eastward, but, incorrectly, also showed it petering out into an inland swamp). Park's "Travels" was published the following year and would prove to be a bestseller, going through three editions in its first year of publication.
ShelfmarkAP.5.212.01
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on18/11/11
AuthorAudubon, John James
TitleOrnithological biography: or an account of the habits of the birds of the United States of America
ImprintEdinburgh: Adam & Charles Black,
Date of Publication1831-1849[i.e.1839]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a complete 5-volume set of Audubon's "Ornithological biography" in their original salmon-pink cloth bindings (the existing set in NLS is incomplete, lacking vol. 5). The work was written by Audubon in collaboration with the Scottish naturalist William MacGillivray; it was intended as a text companion to the elephant folio volumes comprising the plates of "Birds of America". Audubon's last three visits to Scotland in the 1830s were primarily devoted to working with MacGillivray in Edinburgh on the book. The text was published separately from the plates to circumvent the Copyright Act, which would have required that Audubon deposit sets of "Birds of America" with the UK legal deposit libraries.
ShelfmarkRB.m.741-745
Acquired on19/10/12
AuthorBaillie, Joanna
TitleCollection of Poems
Date of Publication1823
LanguageEnglish
NotesBought with [Walter Scott, Letter on Landscape, 1831], $600.00. This item transferred to MSS. Two very unusual Scott items, both from the collections of the Scott bibliographers William B. Todd and Ann Bowden: in the bibliography, these are items 166A and 256A.1 respectively. Baillie encouraged many poets to submit original unpublished works for inclusion in her volume, among whom were Scott, Wordsworth, Southey and Campbell. This copy has been purchased because it was apparently given as a present by Scott (see the publisher's note on title-page), and it is finely bound with Scott's personal portcullis device in gilt on the spine. No other examples of such a binding are known outside Scott's own library at Abbotsford. The second item is a curious facsimile of a Scott letter. At some point this copy has been included in a collection of forgeries, but it seems unlikely that anyone would be fooled for long: although the postmark is dated 1830, the paper is watermarked 1831! The National Library holds what is probably the original of this letter, MS.23141.f.9. A comparision of the two suggests that great labour went into the production of the facsimile, for no very obvious reason.
ShelfmarkBdg.s.879
Reference SourcesWilliam B. Todd & Ann Bowden, Sir Walter Scott – a bibliographical history, 1998.
Acquired on24/01/02
AuthorBain, Alexander.
TitlePetition of Alexander Bain.
ImprintLondon: Chapman and Hall,
Date of Publication1846
LanguageEnglish
NotesAlexander Bain (1810-1877) was a clockmaker and inventor from Caithness who moved to London in 1837. He began to attend lectures, exhibitions, and demonstrations on the principles and practices of electrical science and was one of the first people to consider how clocks could be driven by electricity. As the 'father of electrical horology' he took out five patents in this field between 1841 and 1852, including one in 1846 on picture telegraphy which would enable copies of drawings to be sent electrically from one place to another. In 1845 a bill was proposed by Sir William Fothergill Cooke and John Lewis Ricardo, MP, for founding an Electric Telegraph Company in the UK, the world's first public telegraph company. Bain opposed the formation of the Company on the grounds that some of his patents would be infringed and took his case to Parliament. This book sets out his case for saving his patents, reproducing the evidence he gave to select committees in both Houses of Parliament. In the end an agreement was reached whereby the Electric Telegraph Company paid Bain £7500 for his patents.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2754
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on11/06/09
AuthorBarbour, John, d.1395
TitleThe life and acts of the most victorious conquerour Robert Bruce King of Scotland.
ImprintEdinburgh: Gedeon Lithgow
Date of Publication1648
LanguageEnglish
NotesJohn Barbour, the fourteenth century poet, churchman and scholar wrote this famous poem probably during the 1370s. In 1377 King Robert II awarded Barbour the princely sum of £10 for writing this stirring and patriotic work. Only two intact copies of the poem on Robert the Bruce are known.Barbour was probably born in Aberdeen and spent most of his life there. He was Archdeacon of Aberdeen from 1357 until his death in 1395. He did spend some time outside of Scotland - studying in Oxford and Paris. In 1372 he was appointed Clerk of Audit in the household of Robert II.The work was first printed by Robert Lekprevik in Edinburgh in 1571. This edition was printed by Gedeon (or Gideon) Lithgow who was appointed printer to Edinburgh University in 1648 in succession to J. Lindesay.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2570
Reference SourcesAldis 1307, Wing B712
Acquired on04/04/05
AuthorBarclay, John
TitleJohann Barclayens Argenis Deutsch gemacht durch Martin Opitzen.
ImprintBreslau: David Mueller
Date of Publication1626
LanguageGerman
NotesThe Scotsman John Barclay published his political novel "Argenis" in Latin in 1621, one month prior to his death. This long romance, which introduces the leading personages of international importance, has been called the prototype of a courtly roman a clef. Martin Opitz made his, the first German translation, from a French version of "Argenis" between 1626 and 1631. This two volume edition is bound in contemporary vellum over wooden boards. It has 24 engraved plates with scenic illustrations, as well as a portrait of Barclay in volume 2. Martin Opitz (1597-1639) was the foremost German Baroque poet. He was considered the authority on the best metrical pattern in all genres. Johann Christoph Gottsched called him the father of German poetry. In Vienna in 1623, Opitz was awarded the position of an imperial poet on account of an extempore poem. He received a knighthood from the Austrian Emperor in 1627. The first volume is Opitz's translation of Barclay's text, whereas the second volume contains the translation of a second instalment by A.M. de Mouchemberg.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2310
Acquired on23/07/03
AuthorBarclay, John
TitleMaximo potentissimo que monarchae, Iacobo primo ... carmen gratulatorium
ImprintLutetiae Parisiorum [Paris]
Date of Publication1603
LanguageLatin
NotesA very rare copy (there have hitherto been only two recorded copies of this work, neither of them in Scotland) of an early work by John Barclay (1582-1621), one of the foremost neo-Latin authors of his day. Although Barclay himself was born and brought up in France, his father was Scottish and he himself was proud of his Scottish ancestry. His first published work appeared in 1601 and two years later he composed this poem congratulating James VI on his accession to the throne of England and on the Union of the Crowns. The timing of the poem was propitious. In 1606 the Barclay family moved to England and Barclay was successful in gaining royal favour and financial support for his literary works, as well as carrying out diplomatic missions for James on the Continent. Barclay remained at James's court until 1615, when he moved to the papal court in Rome. The widespread popularity of Barclay's works throughout Europe is a testament to the continuing importance of Latin as a language of literature and culture in the early 17th century. The acquisition of this particular work is a worthy addition to the Library's extensive holdings of editions of Barclay's works.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2599
Reference SourcesDNB Shaaber "Checklist of Check-list of works of British authors printed abroad, in languages other than English, to 1641" (New York, 1975)
Acquired on27/04/05
AuthorBarclay, John
TitleEuphormionis Lusinini.
ImprintOxford: Henry Cripps,
Date of Publication1634
LanguageLatin
NotesThis is an early English edition of the works of Scottish author John Barclay (1582-1621) which consists of five separate works: both parts of his satirical work "Euphormionis Lusinini Saytricon", the "Apologia" he wrote to defend the work, his "Icon Animorum", and the "Veritatis Lachrymae", an attack on the Jesuit order, which was actually written by the French author Claude-Barthélemy Morisot. The book has been bought for its provenance. As well as marginal readers' marks, it has annotations in a 17th-century hand on the front and back pastedowns and final leaf which show that the book was also used for the conveying of messages between Scotland and England. The back pastedown has a MS list of towns in South West Scotland and North West England (presumably stops on a drove road, the distances between each of the towns in miles appear to be written next to them) and an inscription on the final leaf informs a Robert Watson that a John Andrew will be arriving in Carlisle with a "8 or 9 pack[s]" but will not be arriving until Friday, so Watson is asked to keep any packs destined for Scotland until he arrives.
ShelfmarkAB.1.210.005
Acquired on19/01/10
AuthorBarclay, John.
TitleL' Argenide di Giovanni Barclaio.
ImprintVenetia [Venice]: Pietro Maria Bertano,
Date of Publication1636
LanguageItalian
NotesThe Library has recently acquired a number of early editions of the Franco-Scottish author John Barclay to increase its holdings of one of the most widely-read and influential literary figures of 17th-century Europe. This Italian translation of Barclay's political romance "Argenis" was made by Carl' Antonio Cocastello and edited by Christoforo Tomasini. First published in Turin in 1630, it followed another Italian translation made by Francesco Pona that was originally published in Venice in 1629. "Argenis" was Barclay's last work, completed only days before his death, and his greatest one. Composed in Rome as Barclay was working at the papal court at the time, but printed in Paris in 1621, Barclay's novel, describing the story of Princess Argenis and her suitors, offered an allegorical presentation of European history in transition from the 16th to the 17th centuries.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2803
Reference SourcesShaaber B144
Acquired on29/05/10
AuthorBarclay, John.
TitleEuphormionis Lusinini Satyricon.
ImprintParis: Franciscum Huey,
Date of Publication1605
LanguageLatin
NotesThis is the extremely rare first edition (or at least the first surviving edition) of John Barclay's best-selling picaresque novel 'Euphormionis Lusinini Satyricon', a work dedicated to King James VI/I. Only two other copies have been recorded, both in Germany: one in Schwerin, in the Landesbibliothek Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, and the other in Weimar, in the Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek; however, the latter is assumed to have been destroyed in the fire there in 2004. The author John Barclay (1582-1621) was born in Lorraine, France, where his father, a Scot, worked as professor of civil law. Barclay appears to have been very proud of his Scots ancestry and is today commonly regarded as a Scottish author. He was educated at a Jesuit school in France, but he later became hostile to the order which eventually led him to write the irreverent satire 'Euphormionis Lusinini Satyricon' in c. 1605. Written in elaborate Latin prose, Barclay's first major work deals with the story of Euphormio, a citizen of an ideal realm who arrives in 17th-century Europe, and his subsequent adventures. The characters he encounters are based on contemporary figures: Neptune, a benevolent and powerful figure in the novel, is thought to be James VI/I, and Acignius, an anagram for 'Ignacius' (Ignacius Loyola) represents the Jesuits. The 'Satyricon' is now regarded as one of the most important works of prose fiction published in Europe in the early 17th century. Barclay produced a second part in 1607 with further racy adventures of Euphormio. The work was immediately successful; within his lifetime six editions of the first part and five editions of the second part appeared. Indeed around fifty editions have been identified, printed in the major countries of Europe for well over a hundred years after the initial publication date. This copy shows the text in its earliest form (there have been claims that an edition was printed in London in 1603 but no copy has been discovered). What is traditionally described as the first edition in scholarly works on Barclay is another from the same press issued in the same year, with a different pagination and the statement on the title page reading "Nunc primum recognitum, emendatum, et variis in locis auctum" (i.e. revised and enlarged). The success of the Satyricon enabled Barclay to ingratiate himself at the court of James VI/I in London, where he continued to write and act on behalf of James in literary matters. Barclay left England in 1615 to move to the papal court in Rome. He died there in 1621, in the same year his most famous and popular work, the romance 'Argenis', was published in Paris.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2758
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography; D.A. Fleming, "Euphormionis Lusinini Satyricon (Euphormio's Satyricon 1605-1607)" Nieuwkoop, 1973.
Acquired on14/08/09
AuthorBarrie, J. M.
TitlePeter Pan.
Date of Publicationc.1914
LanguageEnglish
NotesTwenty large-format cards tell the story of Peter Pan. This rare set of cards may be associated with 'Peter Pan's ABC' published by Hodder and Stoughton with illustrations by Flora White around 1914. The only other known set is held at the British Library. Little is known about Flora White. Between 1915 and 1925 she illustrated other children's books, usually depicting fairies, as well as postcards with pictures of children. 'Peter Pan, or the boy who never grew up' was written by the Kirriemuir-born author J.M. Barrie and first published in 1904.
ShelfmarkRB.m.655
Acquired on06/08/07
AuthorBeatson, Alexander
TitleOn the importance of introducing agriculture in the island of St. Helena
ImprintSt. Helena: Printed by Hill and Brimmer
Date of Publication[1812]
LanguageEnglish
NotesA very rare imprint from the first commercial press to be established on the island of St. Helena, which was shortly to become famous as the last home of Napoleon Bonaparte. Alexander Beatson (1759-1830) was a Dundonian who had served as an army officer in the East India Company, writing a famous account of the war against Tippoo Sultaun which was published in 1800. After returning to live in England, Beatson was appointed to the governorship of St. Helena, a post he held from 1808-13. The island, which belonged to the East India Company, was in a very poor state. The population had nearly been wiped out by a measles epidemic and the c. 3000 survivors, a mixture of English settlers, Africans and Chinese coolies, were living in wretched conditions. Beatson set about improving the island, recognising that agriculture needed to improve not only the lot of the inhabitants but also to benefit British ships which depended on the island for fresh water and provisions when making the long voyage back from the East Indies. Agriculture was of particular interest to Beatson himself; before arriving in St Helena he had purchased 4 farms in Sussex. On his return to England he published his "Tracts relative to the island of St. Helena" which have later been descibed as major contribution to the beginnings of global environmentalism, and he continued to pursue his work in experimental agriculture on his Sussex farms right up to his death in 1830. Amongst the improvements carried out by Beatson was the introduction of a printing press, which, as can be seen with this pamphlet, was rudimentary, but which enabled him to publish 4 tracts during his time as governor and to contribute to a local periodical, the "St. Helena Monthly Register". In recognition of his achievements on the island, Beatson was promoted to the post major-general in 1813; he returned back to England a few months later.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2347
Reference SourcesDNB
Acquired on12/10/04
AuthorBeatson, Alexander
TitleLetter from Col. Alexander Beatson - containing remarks upon a paper lately printed; entitled "Observations relative to the island of St. Helena".
ImprintSt. Helena: Printed for Solomon and Company, by Coupland and Hill
Date of Publication[1812]
LanguageEnglish
NotesA very rare imprint from the first commercial press to be established on the island of St. Helena, which was shortly to become famous as the last home of Napoleon Bonaparte. Alexander Beatson (1759-1830) was a Dundonian who had served as an army officer in the East India Company, writing a famous account of the war against Tippoo Sultaun which was published in 1800. After returning to live in England, Beatson was appointed to the governorship of St. Helena, a post he held from 1808-13. The island, which belonged to the East India Company, was in a very poor state. The population had nearly been wiped out by a measles epidemic and the c. 3000 survivors, a mixture of English settlers, Africans and Chinese coolies, were living in wretched conditions. Beatson set about improving the island, publishing this pamphlet to correct the many errors he found in a tract by his predecessor Colonel Robert Patton. In it he gives a history of the island, of its mismanagement, his justification for his improvements, and alludes to recent difficulties, namely a garrison mutiny in 1811 which was largely brought about by the British authorities suppressing the islanders trade in arrack, a potent spirit made from palm trees. Amongst the improvements carried out by Beatson was the introduction of a printing press, which, as can be seen of this pamphlet was rudimentary, but which enabled him to publish 4 tracts during his time as governor and to contribute to a local periodical, the "St. Helena Monthly Register". In recognition of his achievements on the island, Beatson was promoted to the post major-general in 1813, he returned back to England a few months later.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2345
Reference SourcesDNB
Acquired on12/10/04
AuthorBeatson, Alexander.
TitleFlora Sta. Helenica
ImprintSaint Helena : J. Boyd
Date of Publication1825
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis adds to the Library's collection of material by the Dundonian Alexander Beatson (1759-1830) relating to Saint Helena. Beatson was an army officer; he had served in India and from 1808 to1813 he was governor of St .Helena. The island, which belonged to the East India Company, was in a very poor state. The population had nearly been wiped out by a measles epidemic and the c. 3000 survivors, a mixture of English settlers, Africans and Chinese coolies, were living in wretched conditions. During this time Beatson established a printing press on the island. This item is one of four works he had published. The others dealt mainly with the agriculture on the island. In recognition of his achievements on the island, Beatson was promoted to the post of major-general in 1813; he returned to England a few months later. Beatson acknowledges the contribution made towards the work by a Dr. W. Roxburgh, who compiled a catalogue of his own during a year-long stay on the island. The work also includes Roxburgh's 'Directions for taking care of growing plants at sea'. Beatson comments that the island, due to its elevation and to 'having its situation within the Tropics, possesses varieties of climate appropriate to very different plants'. He describes St Helena as being akin to a depot for plants journeying from one region to another. Unfortunately botanical knowledge was in its infancy then, and the arrival of exotic plants from other parts of the world did far more harm than good on an island which today has just over 60 endemic species. Only three copies of this work have been traced in the UK, none of which are in Scotland.
ShelfmarkRB.m.630
Acquired on18/04/06
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