Rare Books - Important Acquisitions List All

Rare Book Collections works to build up the national collections through purchases (through dealers or at auction) and donations. This directory gives details of 735 of the most important items we have acquired since 2000. We update it regularly as new material comes in. The description gives information about why it was chosen and what makes it particularly interesting. You can order the list by date of acquisition, author or title.

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Important Acquisitions 256 to 270 of 735:

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AuthorBuchanan, George
TitleEuripidis poetae tragici Alcestis ... Tum ... Jepthes, Tragoedia
ImprintArgentorati Excudebat Josias Rihelius
Date of Publication1567
LanguageLatin
NotesThis 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.
ShelfmarkRB.2305(1)
Reference SourcesDurkan: Bibliography of George Buchanan 1994 no.61
Acquired on06/03/03
AuthorAbercrombie, John.
TitleEvery man his own gardener.
ImprintLondon: Printed for W. Griffin,
Date of Publication1767
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis 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.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2727
Reference SourcesHenrey, Blanche. British botanical and horticultural literature before 1800. (London, 1975); Oxford Dictionary of National Biography online
Acquired on13/10/08
Author[Mercer, John]
TitleExact abridgement of all the public acts of assembly of Virginia.
ImprintGlasgow
Date of Publication1759
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis 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.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2172
Acquired on21/05/02
Author[Anon]
TitleExcise a comical hieroglyphical epistle
Imprint[London]: I. Williams
Date of Publication1763
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis 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.
ShelfmarkAP.6.213.06
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on30/08/13
AuthorRigaud, John Francis
TitleExecution de Marie Stuart, reine d' Ecosse, en sept estampes
Imprint[London?: s.n.]
Date of Publication[1791?]
LanguageFrench
NotesA 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.
ShelfmarkRB.m.520
Reference SourcesDNB, not in ESTC
Acquired on12/10/04
TitleExpress from Scotland; with an Account of Defeating Two Thousand of the Rebels
ImprintDublin: b. J. Whalley
Date of Publication1715
LanguageEnglish
NotesAn 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.
ShelfmarkRB.m.450
Acquired on30/01/01
AuthorScott, James
TitleExtracts from lectures on phrenology: delivered to the Hampshire Phrenological Society, Portsmouth, in 1834. + Testimonials in favour of James Scott.
ImprintGosport: J. Hammond
Date of Publication1838
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis volume contains three works, presumably printed for the author James Scott (1785-1860), on the occasion of his application for the post of superintendent physician at the Middlesex Lunatic Asylum. It contains two copies of his "Extracts from lectures on phrenology" as well as 63 pages of lengthy testimonials from colleagues. Scott was a Shetlander, born in Sandness on the Mainland. In 1803 he joined the Navy, seeing action in the Napoleonic Wars. He continued to serve after the Wars as a ship's surgeon, with a spell studying medicine on half-pay at the University of Paris. In 1826 he was appointed lecturer to the Royal Navy Hospital at Haslar at Gosport in Hampshire, and became curator of its medical museum. Scott was an influential supporter of phrenology in mental health diagnosis and treatment. By the time of these publications he was principal of the lunatic asylum at Haslar. The extracts from his lectures cover a wide range of topics from the development of phrenology, the philosophy of the mind and treatment of individual cases during his time at Haslar. In 1829 he met Sir Walter Scott, which took place around the time when the latter was preparing a new revised edition of his Shetland-based novel "The Pirate", for the 'Magnum Opus' edition of Scott's novels. The two men subsequently corresponded, with James Scott providing for the novelist a transcription of an account of the Sword Dance of Papa Stour. Walter Scott makes an appearance in "Extracts" in the section devoted to cranial dissection. In a long footnote on pp. 40-41 James Scott discusses the dissection of the author's brain. Quite what Walter Scott, who during his lifetime was dismissive of phrenology, would have made of this is another matter. Despite James Scott's impressive C.V. and breadth of learning he was unsuccessful in his application for the job in Middlesex. This particular volume appears to have been a family copy, containing his bookplate bearing his initials and the family motto 'Doe weell and let them say'.
ShelfmarkAB.1.213.30(1-3)
Reference Sourceshttp://shetlopedia.com/James_Scott_R.N.; Bookseller's notes
Acquired on17/08/12
AuthorLenoir, Alphonse
TitleFaits divers, pensées diverses, et quelques réponses de sourds-muets précédés d'une gravure représentant leur alphabet manuel et de notions sur la dactylologie ou le langage des doigts, avec des détails intéresssants sur une sourde-muette-aveugle Francaise, et sur un Sourd-Muet-Aveugle Écossais.
ImprintParis: Rue Racine, 15
Date of Publication1850
LanguageFrench
NotesThis book is the rare second edition of a selection of writings on deaf-mutes by one of the leading French educators in the field, Alphonse Lenoir. Revised and expanded here, it was first published as Dactylologie, ou Langage des Doigts (1848). Lenoir, himself hearing-impaired, was a teacher at the Institution Nationale de Paris who did much to pioneer and advocate the education of the deaf, and was involved in the founding of the first official deaf organisation - the Societe Centrale (1838) which later became known as the Societe Universelle des Sourds-Muets in 1867. The book includes a description of sign language, with a frontispiece illustrating the signed alphabet, and descriptions of the lives and achievements of deaf-mutes. There are accounts of heroic behaviour during the events of 1848 in Paris and famous deaf mutes in the fields of literature, art, and other walks of life. Among these is an account of the Scot James Mitchell, who was brought to public attention by the Enlightenment philosopher Dugald Stewart in a paper entitled 'Some Account of a Boy born Deaf and Blind' published in the Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, 1812. Stewart had been interested in Mitchell and his family, but his paper concentrated on what Mitchell's case could teach about the development of ocular sense-perceptions: Lenoir's account emphasises how in spite of his sensory isolation, he had a fully developed moral, intellectual and emotional sensibility.
ShelfmarkAB.1.210.060
Reference SourcesBookseller's Catalogue; Collected Works of Dugald Stewart, vol. 4 (Edinburgh: 1854), pp.300-370.
Acquired on23/08/10
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
AuthorKer, Patrick, fl. 1691
TitleFlosculum Poeticum. Poems divine and humane. Panegyrical, satyrical, ironical.
ImprintLondon, Printed for Benjamin Billingsley at the printing press, near the Royal Exchange,
Date of Publication1684
LanguageEnglish
NotesKer, Patrick was a Scottish Episcopalian poet who migrated to London during the reign of Charles II. 'Flosculum Poeticum. Poems divine and humane. Panegyrical, satyrical, ironical' is a volume of ultra-loyalist verse. Although the work is only signed with only the initials 'P.K.', it can safely be attributed to Ker due to the fact that the verso of the leaf A4 features a complex triangular depiction of the Trinity which also appears in another work, 'The Map of Mans Misery' (1690), with the author's name, P. Ker, in full. The 'Flosculum' features a grotesque woodcut of Charles II in the oak on leaf D2, accompanied by verses equally grotesque, and a number of scurrilous rhymes and anagrams on Oliver Cromwell. The inkstamp of Alexander Gardyne (1801-1885) is on the verso of the title page.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2325
Reference SourcesDNB ESTC R17623
Acquired on16/06/04
AuthorWestminster Assembly
TitleFoirceadul aith-ghearr cheasnuighe [The shorter catechism]
ImprintGlas-gho: Anna Orr
Date of Publication1776
LanguageScottish Gaelic
NotesBooks in Scottish Gaelic are a key part of the National Library's collections, and we acquire such items wherever possible. This is a good copy of an eighteenth-century catechism, which also includes the alphabet, the Ten Commandments, various prayers, and a guide to numbers in arabic and roman. It was clearly designed for educational purposes. The book is particularly interesting as it was printed for a woman publisher, Anna Orr.
ShelfmarkABS.1.205.031
Reference SourcesSBTI Scottish Gaelic Union Catalogue 2769
Acquired on13/09/05
AuthorBriscoe, John
TitleFollowing proposals for, and accounts of, a National Land-Bank having been printed at London.
ImprintEdinburgh: John Mosman
Date of Publication1695
LanguageEnglish
NotesOne of the core missions of the Rare Books Division is to collect the printed output of Scotland. Of particular value are books produced in the period of Harry Aldis's bibliography of books printed in Scotland up to 1700. Although this is an Edinburgh reprint of a London title it takes one step closer to having a copy of the complete printed output of Scotland before 1700. This is a proposal for the establishment by subscription of a National Land Bank, whose assets would include the land of its subscribers. John Briscoe, the proposer of the Bank, claims that he could double the value of Freeholders estates if they subscribe to his Land Bank. To do this, he would 'turn their estates into a living stock'. Briscoe's proposals were also aimed at addressing the high interest rates that were crippling commerce in this period.
ShelfmarkRB.m.516
Reference SourcesRichard Saville, Bank of Scotland: a history (1997) (in GRR) Anon, Royal Bank of Scotland: a history (1997) (in GRR)
Acquired on02/07/01
AuthorWilson, Alexander
TitleForesters: a poetic account of a walking journey to the Falls of Niagara in the Autumn of 1804.
ImprintNewtown, P.A.: Bird & Bull Press
Date of Publication2000
LanguageEnglish
NotesAlexander Wilson (1766-1813) was born in Paisley in 1766 and emigrated to the American colonies in 1794 after being imprisoned for publishing a severe personal satire against a local dignatory. He had many occupations, including weaver, packman, printer, school teacher, but his obsession was with ornithology. Wilson is best known for his magnum opus American Ornithology the first major attempt to describe and illustrate the birds of America which ran to nine volumes and was illustrated with Wilson's own drawings. Before he undertook that work, Wilson embarked on a walking tour to Niagara in 1804 that inspired the long poem giving an account of the journey, The Foresters. It first appeared in serial form in Philadelphia's leading literary magazine The Port Folio and came out in book form in 1818. The present edition is produced by the Bird & Bull Press of Newtown Pennsylvannia, the same town where The Foresters first appeared in book form. It is illustrated throughout with wood engravings in the classic British style by the Canadian artist, Wesley W. Bates. The book is composed in Dante type, printed on Arches mouldmade paper, quarter bound in morocco and enclosed in a cloth-covered slipcase.
ShelfmarkFB.s.758
Acquired on14/11/00
AuthorElton, Lady (Mary Stewart)
TitleFour panoramic views of the city of Edinburgh, taken from the Calton Hill, by Lady Elton
ImprintEdinburgh
Date of Publication1823
NotesThis fine and uncommon set of four lithographs provide a sweeping 360° panoramic view of Edinburgh and the surrounding areas from Calton Hill. Edinburgh was the birthplace of the panorama – indeed the first panorama ever produced was taken also from Calton Hill, by Robert Barker in 1787, thus setting in train a fashion for this type of topographical painting. In 1822, the artist, Mary Stewart, had produced a set of four views of the city from Blackford Hill. She was the daughter of Sir William Stewart, of Castle Stewart, Wigtownshire, and she married Sir Abraham Elton of Clevedon, Somerset in 1822. The views were drawn on stone by William Westall the skilled topographical illustrator and printed in London by Charles Hullmandel, one of the foremost lithographic printers. Lithography was very much in its infancy in Scotland, the first examples using this method not being printed until 1821. In two of the views can be seen tented encampments of troops, assembled to honour the royal visit of King George IV to the city in August 1822. The panoramas also provide detailed evidence of the development of the city in the early 19th century.
ShelfmarkRB.el.6
Acquired on16/01/01
AuthorGeorge Combe
TitleFour views of the skull of Robert Burns : taken from a cast moulded at Dumfries, the 31st day of March 1834.
ImprintEdinburgh : W. & A.K. Johnston
Date of Publication1834
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis rare pamphlet, only one other copy is recorded, bears witness to the extraordinary hold that the pseudo-science of phrenology had on popular and medical opinion in the first half of the 19th-century. On 26 March 1834 Robert Burns's widow, Jean Armour died, her funeral on 1 April attracting, according to the Dumfries Courier, an "immense crowd of spectators". Her body was interred in the family mausoleum in St Michael's churchyard, Dumfries, which had been built in 1815 after a public subscription had produced sufficient funds for its construction. The opening of the family mausoleum to accommodate her coffin also finally enabled phrenologists and the merely curious to gain access to the prize specimen of the poet's skull. Their hopes of doing so in September 1815, when Burns's body had been exhumed from its modest resting place and moved to the impressive Grecian-style construction at the other end of the cemetery, had been thwarted. The moving of the body had been done privately, before sunrise, to attract as little attention as possible from the public, so only those carrying out the move had had the privilege of seeing Burns's corpse. In 1834, however, the phrenologists were not to be denied. Having obtained consent from surviving members of the Burns family, the night before Mrs Burns's funeral a party of men, including John McDiarmid, editor of The Dumfries Courier, the surgeon, Archibald Blacklock, and James Bogie, who had assisted in the move of the poet's coffin in 1815, entered the mausoleum. The skull was located, cleaned and a plaster cast taken. It was deemed to be of an extraordinary size as none of the hats of those present fitted over it. The skull was then placed in a lead casket and replaced where it had been found. With a suitably melodramatic flourish The Caledonian Mercury's account of the exhumation of the skull, abridged from the Dumfries Courier, records that at the end of their work, just as the men were about to go their separate ways, the clock struck one. The existence of a plaster cast of Burns's skull gave the phrenologists, who had previously had to make do with an imaginary cast based on a portrait of the poet, all the material they needed to formulate theories on Burns's character. This particular pamphlet contains remarks by the leading British phrenologist of the time, Edinburgh lawyer George Combe (1788-1858), whose manuscripts and collection of phrenology books are now held in NLS. Combe's observations on Burns's character and cerebral development also appeared in The Phrenological Journal in September 1834, but this appears to have been a separately published pamphlet, illustrated with engravings taken from drawings of four views of the skull done by the Scottish artist George Harvey (1806-1876). Combe argues that Burns's skull "indicates the combination of strong animal passions, with equally powerful moral emotions" and that "Burns must have walked the earth with a consciousness of great superiority over his associates in the station in which he was placed". Combe's conclusions are tinged with class superiority and presumably influenced by the popular view of the poet as a man with a weakness for alcohol. He regrets that circumstances conspired to prevent Burns, the farmer, flax-dresser and excise man, entering the "higher ranks of life", and that his lowly birth denied him a liberal education and the chance to be employed in pursuits "corresponding to his powers" so that "the inferior portion of his nature would have lost part of its energy".
ShelfmarkAP.3.213.08
Acquired on01/06/12
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