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 763 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 256 to 270 of 763:
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|Author||Tytler, Alexander Fraser, Lord Woodhouselee|
|Title||Essay on Military Law|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: b. Murray & Cochrane f. T. Egerton|
|Date of Publication||1800|
|Notes||This 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.|
|Title||Essay on the memory and character of Dorophagus, the great patriot of the North.|
|Date of Publication||[1743?]|
|Notes||This 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." |
|Reference Sources||Oxford Dictionary of National Biography|
|Author||Hall, James, Sir|
|Title||Essay on the origin, history and principles of Gothic architecture|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Printed by Andrew Balfour|
|Date of Publication||1813|
|Notes||This 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.|
|Title||Essay on the origin and principles of Gothic architecture|
|Imprint||From the transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh|
|Date of Publication||1797|
|Notes||Sir 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.|
|Reference Sources||ESTC T101922|
|Author||Headrick, Rev. James|
|Title||Essay on the various modes of bringing waste lands into a state fit for cultivation and improving their natural productions.|
|Imprint||Dublin: Printed by H. Fitzpatrick|
|Date of Publication||1801|
|Notes||This is a survey of various techniques of land improvements and reclamation, with details of experiments carried out by the author in Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, Ayrshire, Dumfries, Galloway and other parts of Scotland. James Headrick later became a clergyman, and published a study of the geology and agriculture of the island of Arran. Headrick states that the majority of his findings were from his own observations and experiments rather than from secondary sources.
Headrick's work has been bound with the 3rd edition of William Curtis's Practical observations on the British grasses, especially such as are best adapted to the laying down or improving of meadows and pastures. Curtis's treatise began as a four-page folio contribution to the sixth fascicle of his Flora Londiniensis, which was printed in 1787. An expanded second edition was published as a pamphlet in 1790. The verso of the final leaf ends with an advertisement for 'the packet of seeds, recommended in this pamphlet, [which] may be had where the pamphlet is published, and at the Botanic Nursery, Bromton, price ten shillings and sixpence.'|
|Title||Etat general des dettes de l'Etat|
|Imprint||Paris: Antoine-Urbain Coustlier|
|Date of Publication||1720|
|Notes||These items are useful additions to the Library's holdings of publications relating to the career and policies of John Law, the Scot turned economist and banker who became controller-general of finances in France. The first item announces the success of the reform of the French financial system, which Law had directed (although these reforms were shortly to result in the disastrous collapse of the 'Mississippi bubble' which ruined numerous investors). Law's biographer Antoin Murphy describes this work as 'Law at his disingenuous best'. The second item is an attempt to justify the measures of 22 May 1720, which had involved a reduction in the price of the paper currency which Law had introduced. Both items are anonymous, but seem likely to be by Law or commissioned by him: certainly they relate to the radical policies which originated with Law. Law eventually fled France in disgrace, and died in exile. His ideas are now considered to have been ahead of their time. See Antoin E. Murphy, John Law (1997), pp. 293+, 244+. These two books are good copies in modern boards.|
|Author||Sir David Young Cameron (1865-1945)|
|Title||Etchings in North Italy|
|Imprint||Glasgow : William B. Paterson|
|Date of Publication||1895-96|
|Notes||The National Library of Scotland has acquired a complete set of David Young Cameron's 'Etchings in North Italy'. Published in Glasgow by William B. Paterson between 1895 and 1896, it consists of a signed engraved title page and 26 signed etchings. Originally issued in a portfolio, this set has been presented in modern mounts and placed within a specially made solander case backed in green morocco. The North Italian etchings are a highlight of Cameron's early career and include some of his greatest prints. Only about 25 sets were published and complete sets are now extremely rare.
Sir D Y Cameron (1865-1945) was born in Glasgow and studied at the Glasgow School of Art between 1881 and 1884, and later at the Trustees' Academy in Edinburgh where he remained until 1887. In 1886 he exhibited for the first time at the Royal Scottish Academy and the Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts.
Cameron began etching at 18 and became known for etched views of architecture and drypoints of mountain and moorland scenery. He would eventually produce around 520 etchings and drypoints of which at least 300 were done before 1900. In a career that spanned forty-five years, he would become with fellow Scots Muirhead Bone and James McBey one of the foremost British etchers of the etching revival of 1880-1930. On the strength of his print 'A Perthshire Village' (1888) he was elected an associate of the Society of Painter-Etchers in 1889 at the age of twenty-three, becoming a fellow six years later.
Cameron's great skill was in the depiction of architectural subjects, conveying not only the beauty of a building but also something of its history and 'soul'. Blessed with superb draughtsmanship and technique, he was a master of detail, mood, shadows and light. Although he was a fine oil and watercolour painter, it is felt that his artistic gifts and abilities are best presented in his etchings.
Following are the contents of the set, together with the corresponding reference numbers from Frank Rinder's 'Illustrated catalogue of Cameron's etchings and dry-points, 1887-1932': (202) North Italian Set, portfolio label; (203) North Italian Set; title page;
(204) St. Mark's, Venice, no. 1; (205) Veronica; (206) The Monastery; (207) A Venetian Convent; (208) Paolo Salviati; (209) Tintoret's House; (210) A Venetian Fountain; (211) Via ai Prati Genoa; (212) The Confessional; (213) San Giorgio Maggiore; (214) Two Bridges; (215) The Butterfly; (216) A Soldier of Italy; (217) A Lady of Genoa; (218) Two Monks;
(219) Church Interior, Venice; (220) Venice from the Lido; (221) Sketch of Venice; (222) Farm Gateway, Campagnetta; (223) The Bridge of Sighs, Venice; (224) The Ponte Vecchio, Florence; (225) The Palace Doorway (Palazzo Dario, Venice); (226) Porta del Molo, Genoa; (227) The Wine Farm; (228) Pastoral; (229) Landscape with Trees
|Reference Sources||The etchings of DY Cameron by Arthur M Hind (London, 1924);
D.Y. Cameron: an illustrated catalogue of his etchings and dry-points, 1887-1932 by Frank Rinder (Glasgow: 1932)|
|Title||Euphormionis Lusinini Satyricon.|
|Imprint||Paris: Franciscum Huey, |
|Date of Publication||1605|
|Notes||This 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.|
|Reference Sources||Oxford Dictionary of National Biography;
D.A. Fleming, "Euphormionis Lusinini Satyricon (Euphormio's Satyricon 1605-1607)"
|Imprint||Oxford: Henry Cripps,|
|Date of Publication||1634|
|Notes||This 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.|
|Title||Euripidis poetae tragici Alcestis ... Tum ... Jepthes, Tragoedia|
|Imprint||Argentorati Excudebat Josias Rihelius|
|Date of Publication||1567|
|Notes||This item is a significant addition to the Library's holdings of Buchanan's writings. It seems to be the only copy of this edition in Scotland, although we and other libraries have various separate editions of Jephthes and Alcestis.
Buchanan was a leading figure in the divine poetry movement, and this rare publication of his own biblical tragedy Jephthes side by side with his translation of a classical drama indicates the complex relationship between sacred and secular literature for Buchanan and his wider Protestant humanist circle. The editor, Joannes Sturm, talks in his preface of Buchanan's talent and his own pleasure in reading him, and hopes that his publication will spread Buchanan's fame through France and Germany.
The sacred and secular theme is continued in the other two items bound with this work - the neo-classical comedy Acolastus, and the 'sacred comedy' Joseph, by the Renaissance scholars Cornelius Gnapheus and Cornelius Crocus.
The three items may first have been put together by the 'M. Boereau' whose signature appears on the Buchanan and Crocus works, on which the name 'Geo. King' also appears. But in their current state they were bound together for the 18th-century English scholar-collector Michael Wodhull, whose arms are on the binding. Wodhull translated Euripides into English himself, and he may have used Buchanan's work for reference, two hundred years after it was first published.|
|Reference Sources||Durkan: Bibliography of George Buchanan 1994 no.61|
|Title||Every man his own gardener.|
|Imprint||London: Printed for W. Griffin, |
|Date of Publication||1767|
|Notes||This book is a rare copy of the first edition of John Abercrombie's most popular work.
Abercrombie (1726-1806) from Prestonpans, near Edinburgh was the son of a market
gardener, whom he worked for from the age of 14. In 1751 he went to London and
worked at Kew Gardens, Leicester House and a host of other noblemens' gardens.
At an early age, Abercrombie started the habit of noting down various horticultural
observations, which formed the raw material for this book. His name does not appear
on the title page or elsewhere in the publication. Instead he had asked his friend,
Thomas Mawe, gardener to the Duke of Leeds in return for £20 to prefix his name to the
book so that it would sell. It was a huge success and by the seventh edition of 1776,
Abercrombie's name appeared on the title page.Its popularity continued for many years, a thirty-fifth edition appearing in 1857. This copy has the ownership inscription of John Lamiman, 1767 and it is possible that he had the book put into a protective chemise, possibly so he could take it out into the garden with him.
|Reference Sources||Henrey, Blanche. British botanical and horticultural literature before 1800.
(London, 1975); Oxford Dictionary of National Biography online
|Title||Exact abridgement of all the public acts of assembly of Virginia.|
|Date of Publication||1759|
|Notes||This collection of early acts passed by the assembly of colonial Virginia covers legislation from 1660 to 1758. Chronological tables give summary information, but the bulk of the text is taken up with an abridgement of the acts under alphabetical headings such as 'Deer', 'Duty on Slaves', 'Executions', 'Madeira Wine', 'Runaways' etc. A detailed index ensures that this is a highly practical reference work. Mercer had produced his first collection of acts in 1737, which was printed in Williamsburg, Virginia. Presumably this edition was printed in Glasgow in order to give Scottish traders information about the community with which they were making commercial transactions. However, most copies seem to have found their way to North America, with the result that this is a rare book in the British Isles; no copy is found in the Advocates' Library.|
|Title||Excise a comical hieroglyphical epistle|
|Imprint||[London]: I. Williams|
|Date of Publication||1763|
|Notes||This is an unusual satirical broadside attacking the unpopular Scottish prime minister John Stuart, third Earl of Bute (1713-1792). Engraved throughout, it takes the former of a rebus letter from 'Beelzebub' to the Earl of Bute. It is headed by representations of the Devil (Beelzebub) with a fork for a foot, and a portrait of Lord Bute, which, unusually, is not a caricature but is a faithful representation of Allan Ramsay's portrait of Bute. The letter suggests, through the liberal use of engraved symbolic illustrations, that following Bute's 'diabolic' conclusion of the peace with France in 1762 and the 'master stroke' of the cider tax, Bute should introduce taxes on other food and drink, "for why should the Vulgar (who are no more than Brutes in your Opinion) have anything to Eat above Grass without paying Tribute to their Superiors". The cider tax had actually been proposed by Bute's chancellor of the exchequer as a means of paying off the government's debts that it had accrued whilst waging the Seven Years War. Bute defended it in the House of Lords and it was passed on 1 April 1763. The tax was hugely unpopular, as it gave excise men the right to search private dwellings; riots broke out in the West Country and in the streets of London, where Lord Bute's windows were smashed. This broadside, dated "Pandemonium 1st April 1763", was part of the protest against Bute and his government. His opponents did not have long to wait to see Bute's downfall. Only 8 days after the bill was passed Bute had resigned from office, wearied by all the vicious attacks on him. The cider tax was eventually repealed in 1765, but Bute remained the target of satirists throughout the 1760s, being suspected of influencing the government behind the scenes.|
|Reference Sources||Bookseller's notes; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography|
|Author||Rigaud, John Francis|
|Title||Execution de Marie Stuart, reine d' Ecosse, en sept estampes|
|Date of Publication||[1791?]|
|Notes||A set of 7 engraved plates, printed in brown, depicting in highly melodramatic fashion episodes in the life of Mary, Queen of Scots, from her imprisonment and execution in Fotheringhay Castle in 1587 to her burial. The plates are taken from paintings by John Francis Rigaud (1742-1810), born in Italy to French parents, who arrived in London in 1771. Rigaud became a member of the Royal Academy and made a career out of decorative painting in the country houses of the nobility and in producing depictions of classical, literary and historical subjects. The plates were engraved by William Nelson Gardiner (1766-1814) and published by Tebaldo Monzani (1762-1839) an Italian music-seller, publisher and instrument-maker in London; 4 are dated April 20 1790, the other 3 May 1, 1791.
The plates appear, printed in black and in a slightly different form, in a Monzani publication entitled "A representation of the execution of Mary Queen of Scots in seven views" (ESTC T167320 & T170736) which included music composed for each view by Willoughby Bertie, Earl of Abingdon. Monzani then appears to have reissued them in this publication, this time with explanatory text in English under each engraving - the same text which appears in letter-press at the beginning of the aforementioned Abingdon book - but also with a four page brochure in French which translates the captions to each engraving. It may be that this publication was intended for export to the continent. It appears to be a very rare item, there is no record of it in ESTC (NB there are also only 5 library locations in total for ESTC T167320 & T170736).
The choice of topic was especially relevant when this work was published in view of the fate of the French king, Louis XVI, who had been captured in 1791 by the French government after attempting to escape France and who would be executed in 1793. Moreover, the life and fate of Mary Queen of Scots had become a source of historical debate within late 18th-century Britain, in particular her alleged complicity in the murder of her first husband, Lord Darnley, which appeared to be confirmed by the infamous casket letters written to Lord Bothwell.|
|Reference Sources||DNB, not in ESTC|
|Title||Express from Scotland; with an Account of Defeating Two Thousand of the Rebels|
|Imprint||Dublin: b. J. Whalley|
|Date of Publication||1715|
|Notes||An apparently unique copy of a single-sheet item relating to the Pretender, James III, and the abortive uprising of 1715. This item is a Dublin newsletter printed by John Whalley in October 1715, reporting the defeat of forces sent by the Earl of Mar to capture Edinburgh, by the Duke of Argyle. The paper also reports an attempt to proclaim the Pretender in Dublin, and a verbal proclamation in County Galway. Whalley, whose newsletters appeared two or three times a week, seems to have been fiercely hostile to Ireland, being of English descent, and to Catholicism, the Pretender's religion, going so far as to petition the House of Lords in 1719 for the castration of priests (See M. Pollard, Dictionary of Members of the Dublin Book Trade 1550-1800, Bibliographical Society, 2000, pp. 603-4; R. L. Munter, Hand-List of Irish Newspapers 1685-1750, Cambridge Bibliographical Society, 1960, no. 57).
This work, which provides an important Irish perspective on the rebellion, is not recorded in ESTC.|