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 697 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Important Acquisitions 271 to 285 of 697:
Ordered by date acquired |
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|Title||Works of fancy and imagination|
|Imprint||London: Alexander Strahan|
|Date of Publication||1884|
|Notes||This is a ten-volume set of the second collected edition of George MacDonald's early prose and verse. It includes his first book, "Within and Without", and his long dramatic poem, "A Hidden Life", covering his upbringing in rural Aberdeenshire and his life at Aberdeen University. MacDonald (1824-1905) had by the 1880s "achieved an international reputation as a poet, novelist, lecturer, and preacher" (DNB). This set comes complete with a rare publisher's clamshell box of red cloth, designed to house the ten volumes, and also includes part of an autograph note signed by MacDonald himself.|
|Title||An examination of Dr Burnet's Theory of Earth. 2nd edition.|
|Imprint||Oxford: H. Clements and London: S. Harding|
|Date of Publication||1734|
|Notes||John Keill (1671-1721), mathematician and natural philosopher, was born in Edinburgh and was educated at Edinburgh University. He won a scholarship to study at Oxford and while studying there became a devoted follower of Isaac Newton. He was the first to teach Newtonian natural philosophy, developing an innovative course for students which involved 'experimental demonstrations' for the first time in the teaching of science. This is the second edition of Keill's first book, originally published in 1698, in which he criticises Thomas Burnet's book "Telluris Theoria Sacra, or The Sacred Theory of the Earth" and also the work of fellow Newtonian, William Whiston, whose "A New Theory of the Earth" had been published in 1696. Burnet's book on the creation and formation of the earth had appeared in the 1680s and provoked much debate in academic circles. Keill, the scientist, aimed to disprove the views of Burnet, the natural philosopher and schoolmaster, by the application of Newtonian scientific principles. Keill also disagreed with Whiston on how to interpret the Bible. Whereas Whiston accepted revealed scripture, properly interpreted by a Newtonian, as being compatible with Newtonian science, Keill was convinced that there were some aspects of the Bible which no amount of 'scientific' interpreting could square with science. In such cases, for Keill, the Biblical view was always correct. The work contains several plates of scientific diagrams relating to the structure of the earth and movement of celestial bodies.|
|Title||The War in China. 3rd edition.|
|Imprint||London: Saunders and Otley|
|Date of Publication||1843|
|Notes||Duncan McPherson (1812-1867) trained in medicine at Edinburgh University, and was appointed surgeon to the Madras Native Infantry in 1836. When the first Opium War between Britain and China broke out in 1840, he served with the 37th grenadier regiment in China, and was severely wounded at Chuenpe (Chuanbi). He told of his experiences in his book "Two Years in China" (1842). The book gives an account of the military campaign against the Chinese and also includes a chapter on opium and opium smoking. McPherson admits to having tried the drug. He regards it as potentially useful cure-all, and believes that moderate habitual use of it is more acceptable than over-indulging in alcohol. A second edition was published in 1843, followed by this third edition in the same year which had a new title, 'The War in China'. The third edition includes two colour lithograph plates and a map, which were not present in "Two Years in China". It also omits the transcripts of official reports and despatches, which were included in a lengthy appendix in the first two editions. Of particular interest is the additional material in the third edition on the ending of the war, which had yet to be resolved when "Two years in China" was first published. The author now adopts a more positive tone when discussing the Chinese. Gone are the disparaging comments in the first two editions on the Chinese emperor and his "deceitful and lying mandarins"; he even ends the book with the hope that "seeds of Christianity" can be sown "amongst a skilful and intelligent people". This particular copy is a presentation copy from the author to another family member.|
|Title||Quatre Nouvelles. Lismore, ou le minstrel ecossais; Theresa, ou la peruvienne; Lycoris, ou les enchantemens de Thessalie; Eudoxie et Stephanos, ou les Grecs modernes.|
|Imprint||Paris: Chez Cogez, Libraire|
|Date of Publication||1818|
|Notes||This rare publication is a set of four short novels by the minor French novelist Rene-Jean Durdent (1776-1819) which perhaps testifies to the early European enthusiasm for the novels of Walter Scott. How else to account for a tale set in 14th-century Perth to be laid alongside three other short novels in more exotic-sounding Peru, Thessaly and Greece? The story recounts the tragic love affair of the aristocratic Clara and the talented minstrel Lismore. A brief introduction asserts the historical likelihood of such a relationship taking place in an age when minstrels wandered from castle to castle, and quotes Sophie Cottin: 'They love; therefore it is necessary that they experience some great catastrophe.'|
|Author||Mounier, Jean Joseph|
|Title||On the influence attributed to the philosophers, Free-masons, and to the Illuminati, on the Revolution of France.|
|Date of Publication||1801|
|Notes||This is the rare English edition of Mounier's "De l'influence attribuee aux philosophes aux franc-macons et aux illumines sur la revolution de France" published in the same year as the first edition in French. The author, Jean Joseph Mounier (1758-1806), was a French lawyer and politician, who had been a leading figure in the first stages of the French Revolution in the summer of 1789. He proposed the famous Tennis Court Oath, which asserted the right of the French people to have a written constitution despite the French king's opposition, and helped to frame the Declaration of the Rights of Man. Mounier, however, quickly became disillusioned with the political intrigues of Paris. In 1790 he secretly left France using an assumed name. He moved around Europe, living in Switzerland, England, Italy and Germany for the rest of the decade, thus avoiding the excesses of the Revolution. In this polemical work he attacks the conspiracy-theorists who had explained the French Revolution in terms of the malign influence of the Freemasons and Illuminati (secret societies). In particular, the book is a detailed refutation of the influential "Memoirs Illustrating the History of Jacobinism" by the Jesuit priest Augustin Barruel, first published in 1797. The translation of Mounier's manuscript was undertaken in Germany by a Scot, James Walker (c. 1770-1841), Scottish Episcopal minister and scholar (and later Bishop of Edinburgh). Walker spent two or three years travelling in Europe, after becoming tutor to Sir John Hope Bt, of Craighall in 1800. He presumably met Mounier when the latter was living and teaching in Weimar. As well as having his book published 1801, Mounier also felt sufficiently secure in that year to end his exile, returning to a France which was now ruled by Napoleon.|
|Title||The ten little travellers.|
|Imprint||Glasgow: John S. Marr & Sons|
|Date of Publication||c.1880|
|Notes||This is a colourfully illustrated children's book published by the Glasgow firm John S. Marr & Sons in the 1880s. This company published a large variety of material including biographies, poems and song books, from the 1860s to the 1890s. The book consists of ten pages (counting inside covers), each with a full page colour lithograph by Maclure & Macdonald of Glasgow, and 8 lines of text for the traditional counting rhyme beginning 'Ten funny little travellers, took ship across to France...'. By the end of the book the ten have been reduced to none.
The book is very much of its time in its portrayal of one of the travellers - a stereotypical black traveller, who invariably does all the work and ends up the last one left.
|Title||A new version of the Psalms of David , fitted to the tunes used in churches.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Printed for William Gordon|
|Date of Publication||1761|
|Notes||This Edinburgh edition of the Psalms has been acquired because of the rarity of the edition, the sumptuous nature of the herrringbone binding and its provenance. Only one other copy - at Aberdeen University Library - is recorded. It appears to have been bound for Margaret, Countess of Dumfries, who married the 6th Earl of Dumfries in 1771; 'M. Dumfries' is inscribed in cut-out letters at the head of the title page. It was later owned by the Countess's grandson, Lord James Stuart, younger brother of the second Marquess of Bute and M.P. for Cardiff during the early 19th century. The binding, which retains the brightness of the original crimson morocco, is tooled in gilt. There are two sets of endpapers - one the original Dutch gilt and pasted onto them, 19th century marbled papers.
William Gordon, who is named in the imprint, worked as a bookseller in Edinburgh from the 1750s until the 1780s. He also had the distinction of being sued on at least two occasions by other booksellers for selling pirated editions of other works.
|Reference Sources||ESTC; Scottish Book Trade Index|
|Title||A catalogue of books, lately imported from abroad ... which will be sold by way of auction ...|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Printed for David Randie|
|Date of Publication||1726|
|Notes||An extremely rare 1726 sales catalogue printed for David Randie. Randie was postmaster in the Canongate according to a manuscript annotation on the title page. The catalogue is stitched as issued, is 48 pages long, and features 755 lots which are arranged by bibliographical format. The auction took place 'in the little Plain-stone Closs opposite to the foot of Marlin's Wynd in the Cowgate' on Thursday the 13th of January 1726.
The catalogue is extremely clean with leaves D3-4 partially uncut suggesting that the item was never actually consulted. The catalogue is not listed on ESTC.
|Title||1951 Exhibition of Industrial Power - Kelvin Hall, Glasgow - Festival of Britain. |
|Date of Publication||1951|
|Notes||This striking catalogue marks one of Scotland's contributions to the celebrations for the Festival of Britain. The 1951 festival marked a moment of national self-confidence as the austerity of the war years started to come to an end. As the text makes clear, this is not a commercial trade fair, but a celebration of Britain's technical and economic development, and its contribution to civilisation. However, many of the firms involved have included colourful advertisements for tools, heavy machinery, power generation and financial services. One of the most interesting features is the emphasis on the generation of electricity from renewable resources: hydro-electricity and wind power are discussed and promoted. The hope is expressed that engineers 'will be able to produce in Scotland by wind-power alone as much electricity as is being produced in the country at present by any other means'. The publication suggests an optimistic and ambitious society looking to a prosperous future: unfortunately, not all the hopes expressed in 1951 have yet been fulfilled.|
|Title||Psalterium Sancti Ruperti (Vollstandige Faksimile-Ausgabe im Originalformat des Manuale) |
|Imprint||Graz, Austria : Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||This is a facsimile of the miniature codex 'Psalterium Sancti Ruperti' from the library foundation of St. Peter in Salzburg. The pages measure only 37 x 31 mm in size and the Carolingian minuscule is easily legibile in spite of a font size of 1.5mm and a maximal line-spacing of only 1.2mm The original Psalterium was most likely written in the third-quarter of the 9th century in north-eastern France. All 117 folios of the facsimile are according to the original border cuttings. The binding closely follows the details of the original and feature front and back book covers out of wood, two authentic, bicoloured trusses and a hand-stitched headband with exposed book spine. |
|Title||An humble attempt to promote explicit agreement and visible union of God's people in extraordinary prayer.|
|Imprint||Boston, MA: D. Henchman|
|Date of Publication||1747|
|Notes||This work by Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), the American theologian and philosopher, testifies to the close connections between Scottish and American thought in the eighteenth century, and the textual traffic between the two countries. Edwards, the most important theologian of his day, who would end his life as third President of the College of New Jersey (later Princeton) was concerned with the revival movement known as the 'Great Awakening', and in this book draws on the example of Scottish clergymen who drew up a plan for a 'Concert for Prayer', or prayer meetings arranged internationally to take place at scheduled times. In doing so, he reprints in full the text of a 'Memorial publish'd by a number of Ministers in Scotland', which was only circulated in manuscript in Scotland at the time, and printed in an American edition of which only one imperfect copy is recorded in ESTC. This book is therefore the most important witness to the 'Concert for Prayer', and is cited as such both by Edwards' Scottish contemporaries (John Gillies: Historical Collections (Glasgow, 1754) and John MacLaurin, Sermons and Essays (Glasgow, 1755)) and by scholars today. The contemporary references testify that Edwards' book had a Scottish circulation in his lifetime, where Edwards was held in great esteem, but this is the only recorded copy in Scotland today. Unusually, it is survives in a contemporary brown paper wrapper, with the inscription 'Madam Johnson's book' on the front cover. |
|Reference Sources||DNB; George M. Marsden: Jonathan Edwards: A Life (New Haven, 2003); Matthew Smith: 'Distinguishing Marks of the Spirit of God: Eighteenth-Century Revivals in Scotland and New England'(www.star.ac.uk/Archive/Papers/Smith_C18.Revivals.pdf)|
|Author||Byron, George Gordon, Lord|
|Title||Waltz: an apostrophic hymn. By Horace Hornem, Esq. (The author of Don Juan.)|
|Date of Publication||1821|
|Notes||This rare pirate edition contains not only Byron's poem 'Waltz', first printed in 1813, but also five more of his poems, including 'To Jessy' ('addressed by Lord Byron to his Lady, a few months before their separation'), 'Adieu to Malta', and 'On the Star of the Legion of Honour'. The poems 'Lines to Tom Moore' and 'Lines to Hobhouse', both occasional verse, were first published in this edition or in the other pirate edition of 'Waltz' produced in the same year by T. Clark (NLS shelfmark AB.3.86.15) - it is unknown which was first printed. Unlike the Clark edition, this Benbow edition is not included in the standard Byron bibliography by T.J. Wise. This copy is in the original paper covers, with an inscription dated London, April 1822 on the title page.
There were many pirate editions of Byron's poems in the early nineteenth century. William Benbow, who also printed other poems by Byron and Shelley, was a radical bookseller who 'seized on pirating as a form of proto-class warfare' (Neil Fraistat, 'Illegitimate Shelley: Radical Piracy and the Textual Condition as Cultural Performance, PMLA 109(3), 409-423). Presumably he approved of the satirical 'Waltz', written in the persona of a smug 'country gentleman' but full of Byron's political wit.|
|Reference Sources||Bookseller's catalogue|
|Author||Royal Company of Archers|
|Title||[An engraved membership certificate on vellum, admitting Andrew Duncan to the Company of Archers on 13 July 1771]|
|Date of Publication||[1771?]|
|Notes||This certificate is printed on vellum. It is completed in manuscript with Andrew Duncan's details and signed by James Hardie, S.G.R.S. The remains of a papered wax seal are attached. The seal shows an archer with bow and arrow beneath a tree; on the verso is cupid with a bow and arrow.
The Royal Company of Archers was formed in 1676. In 1822 it was appointed as the Sovereign's 'Body Guard in Scotland'. Membership is by election. Members need to be Scots or at least have strong Scottish connections.
Andrew Duncan, the elder (1744-1828), became Professor of Theory of Medicine at Edinburgh University as well as President of the Royal College of Physicians in 1790. Having witnessed the poor treatment of the mentally ill, he proposed the erection of a public Lunatic Asylum, which was built in 1807 and eventually grew into the Royal Edinburgh Hospital.|
|Author||Barrie, J. M.|
|Date of Publication||c.1914|
|Notes||Twenty 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.|
|Author||William Smellie (1697-1763)|
|Title||Traite de la theorie et pratique des accouchemens, et observations sur les accouchemens ...|
|Imprint||Paris : Delaguette|
|Date of Publication||1754-1765|
|Notes||This is a three-volume French translation of William Smellie's classic 'Treatise of the Theory and Practice of Midwifery' published between 1754 and 1768.
The man-midwife, William Smellie, was born in the parish of Lesmahagow, Lanarkshire on 5 February 1697 and died in 1763. His medical training was prolonged and peripatetic: he received some medical instruction from John Gordon, a Glasgow surgeon and also spent time serving as a naval surgeon (March 1720-November 1721) on the Sandwich before setting up as an independent apothecary in Lanark in 1722.
He remained in practice in Lanark for the next fifteen years and it was during this time that Smellie gained practical experience in midwifery. On 5 May 1733 he became a member of the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow. However, it was not until 18 February 1745, at the age of 48, that he was awarded his MD degree by Glasgow University.
Stimulated by his desire for further education, Smellie moved to London in 1739 and set himself up as a teacher with his lectures specializing in all aspects of pregnancy and labour. Over the next ten years he taught over 900 male students and an unknown number of female ones.
Based upon records of his cases, Smellie published in 1752 'A Treatise of the Theory and Practice of Midwifery'. This was supplemented two years later by a volume of illustrations entitled 'A Set of Anatomical Tables, with Explanations'. Smellie's treatise describes the physiology of pregnancy and the mechanisms of both normal and abnormal labour with far more exactitude than any previous writer. In addition to French, the work was later translated into German and Dutch and became a classic in obstetric literature thus making Smellie the best-known name in 18th century midwifery.