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.

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 271 to 285 of 735:

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Author[Smith, Adam]
TitleFragment sur les colonies en general. Et sur celles des anglois en particulier. Traduit de l'anglois.
ImprintLausanne, Société Typographique
Date of Publication1778
LanguageFrench
Notes[SMITH, Adam. REVERDIL, Élie Salomon François, translator]. Fragment sur les colonies en general. Et sur celles des anglois en particulier. Traduit de l'anglois. Lausanne, Société Typographique, 1778. [bound with:] [CLERC, Nicolas-Gabriel]. La Boussole morale et politique des hommes et des empires. Dédiée aux nations. Boston, [n.p.], 1780. [and:] [FRANKLIN, Benjamin; SAUNDERS, Richard; PENN, Richard, HANCOCK, John and PENNSYLVANIA]. La Science du bonhomme Richard. Philadelphia and Lausanne, François Grasset & Co., 1778. An important addition to our holdings of Scottish Enlightenment authors in translation, this is possibly the first appearance of any part of Adam Smith's 'The Wealth of Nations' in French. This extract is a translation of Book IV, chapter vii, 'Of Colonies', of the 1776 first edition of Smith's work. In this section, Smith refutes the idea that wealth consists in amassing precious metals. The 'Fragment' appeared in two issues whose priority cannot be determined (the other issue has a Basle imprint). The translator was Élie Salomon François Reverdil (1732-1808), who in 1760 became tutor to the future Christian VII of Denmark, and, following his pupil's accession to the throne in 1766, one of the king's closest advisors. His politics were reformist. In 1772, he returned to his native Geneva and wrote books, including a French translation of Adam Ferguson, 'Institutions de philosophie morale' (Geneva: 1775), of which NLS has a copy at [Ven].8. Because 'The Wealth of Nations' is a large work whose publication in translation would have been regarded as a risky venture, this fragment may have been published to test demand. The 'Avertissement du traducteur' states that he hopes this extract will encourage someone to translate the entire work. (Carpenter, 'The Dissemination of The Wealth of Nations in French and in France 1776-1843', p. 16+). The first full translation into French also appeared in 1778 as 'Recherches sur la nature et les causes de la richesse des nations': NLS already has a copy at RB.s.1251. (Tribe, 'Critical Bibliography of Adam Smith'), pp. 76, 229). The Fragment, however, is rare, and the only other UK copy seems to be the one in the University of Wales, Bangor. The other works are both relevant to Enlightenment thought. With a Boston and Philadelphia imprint, they are both recorded in the English Short-Title Catalogue (ESTC). Clerc's work considers natural law and the rights of man, with chapters on trade and commerce, arguing for freedom of the seas and of trade, largely critical of English policy. The third item is the first edition of this collection of French translations of American authors, bringing together a number of works on trade and political freedom. All three are good copies, bound in a single volume with contemporary Swiss calf-backed sprinkled boards.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2627(1)
Reference SourcesKeith Tribe, 'Critical Bibliography of Adam Smith' (London, 2002) Kenneth Carpenter, 'The Dissemination of The Wealth of Nations in French and in France 1776-1843' (New York, 2002)
Acquired on31/08/06
AuthorHay, John.
TitleFragstuck des christlichen Glaubens an die neuwe sectische Predigkanden.
ImprintFreyburg in Uchtlandt: Abraham Gemperlin,
Date of Publication1585
LanguageGerman
NotesThis is the first German translation of the treatise "Certaine demandes concerning the Christian religion" by the Scottish Jesuit John Hay (1547-1607). Hay moved from Scotland to Rome in 1566 and spent most of the rest of his life on the Continent, returning to Scotland in 1579, where, in the light of fears about the Jesuits and their teaching, his presence attracted much controversy. He based himself in Aberdeenshire, where the Counter-Reformation movement was already well established, before returning to France. "Certaine demandes" was first published in Paris in 1580 and consisted of 166 questions on points of religious controversy; it was highly influential on the Continent and a key text for supporters of the Counter-Reformation. The lack of a response to the work in Hay's homeland helped to strengthen Catholicism in North-Eastern Scotland. A French translation appeared in 1583, followed by this German translation two years later by the Swiss Catholic theologian Sebastian Werro (1555-1614). This particular copy has the added significance of being a presentation copy from Werro to the Swiss nobleman Ludwig von Afry. The contemporary binding contains a stamped inscription in Latin on the front board recording the presentation of the book by Werro. The text of Werro's dedication of the book to Afry is also repeated in MS on the front pastedown, in Werro's hand. There are also a number of MS corrections to the text which are possibly done by Werro.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2774
Reference SourcesShaaber H110; VD16 H843; Allison & Rogers, Counter Reformation, I, 648.
Acquired on24/11/09
TitleFrancis Garden Lord Gardenstone
Imprint[Edinburgh? : s.n.]
Date of Publication[18--]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis broadside commemorates the eccentricities of Francis Garden, Lord Gardenstone (1721-1793). It is printed on French laid paper with the watermarks Papier a la main and Auvergne with a flower and sprouting heart. However, the quality of printing suggests that the broadside is in fact a product of the mid- to late nineteenth century. It is possible that it was printed as a deluxe version for the centenary of the erection of St. Bernard's Well at Stockbridge in 1789, which had been financed by Lord Gardenstone. Born and educated in Edinburgh, Francis Garden was admitted an advocate in 1743 and appointed a lord of session in 1764. Notwithstanding his convivial propensities during his early practice at the bar, he was characterised by A.F. Tytler as an "acute and able lawyer". As a philanthropist he is remembered fondly for buying the estate of Johnston in Kincardineshire in 1762 in order to build a new village; he also founded a library and museum there for the use of the villagers, not to mention an inn. However, Lord Gardenstone is probably best remembered for his particular taste for social hilarity and his many peculiarities, one of which was an extreme fondness of pigs. Some anecdotes are retold in the broadside; another one recalls the occasion of Garden's involvement in the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion: serving under Sir John Cope, he and a companion preferred wine and oysters to watching and warding, tarried too long in a bar at Musselburgh and were captured by an enemy patrol. About to be hanged, they were released when they were seen to be completely drunk and incapable. Lord Gardenstone died in Morningside aged 72 and is buried in Greyfriars churchyard in an unmarked grave.
ShelfmarkRB.l.227
Reference SourcesOxford DNB, www.electricscotland.com
Acquired on14/06/05
AuthorSurenne, Gabriel
TitleFrench grammatology: or a course of French.
ImprintEdinburgh: Oliver & Boyd
Date of Publication1828
LanguageEnglish and French
NotesGabriel Surenne was French master at the Scottish Military and Naval Academy, according to the title-page of this volume, an Edinburgh institution 'for training young men chiefly for the service of the royal and East India Company's services, and to all the ordinary branches of education were added fortification, military drawing, gun-drill, and military exercises' (James Grant, Old and New Edinburgh, vol. 3, p. 138). It was closed in the late 19th century, when at around the same time a new system of army entrance examinations was introduced, and the site was required for the Caledonian Railway Station (now the Caledonian Hilton). His French textbooks were reprinted throughout the nineteenth century, but this copy used in a class taught by Surenne himself, as the inscription on all volumes testifies: 'Alexander Graham at Mr Surenne's Class, Military Academy, May 18th 1831'.
ShelfmarkAB.1.208.003
Reference SourcesJames Grant, Old and New Edinburgh (Cassell) vol. 3; Bookseller's catalogue.
Acquired on04/12/07
TitleFull, true, and particular account of the trial and condemnation of Wilson Potts, late Captain of the Dreadnought Privateer, belonging to Newcastle, who was sentenced to be hanged at the Stood Mark, near Leith, on Wednesday the 13th of February next
ImprintEdinburgh
Date of Publications.n., 1712 or 1723?
NotesA broadside, printed recto only in two columns with a woodcut of a ship at head of title. It concerns Potts' trial for rape, theft, robbery and piracy. The first three charges were not proven but he was found guilty of the latter and sentenced to be hanged at the Stood Mark "a rock about two miles in the sea". No year is given but it appears to be early 18th century with February 13th falling on a Wednesday in 1712 and 1723.
ShelfmarkAPS.4.202.38
Acquired on22/05/01
TitleFull Report of the Proceedings at the Meetings of Messrs. Thompson and Borthwick, at Dalkeith
ImprintGlasgow: George Gallie & W. R. M'Phun
Date of Publication1833
LanguageEnglish
NotesGeorge Thompson and Peter Borthwick both gave lectures in Dalkeith on 22 March 1833, on the subject of the future of slavery. The anti-slavery movement was close to victory at this point, with the Emancipation Act which abolished slavery throughout the British colonies to be passed in August 1833. This small pamphlet recounts with unconcealed glee the hostile reception given to Borthwick's defence of the system and the applause for Thompson's appeal for emancipation. Borthwick's talk was given shortly after noon, and hissed by about 300 people. Thompson spoke at 7pm before about 1500 people, who seem to have cheered every other word. These antagonists seem to have confronted each other several times in the 1830s, and other publications containing their speeches and related discussions can be found. Thompson's speeches in 1833 led to the formation of the Edinburgh Society for the Abolition of Slavery; in 1834 he travelled to American to campaign against slavery, thereby placing his life in some danger. (DNB)
ShelfmarkAPS.1.201.027
Acquired on26/06/01
AuthorLaw, John
TitleGedancken vom Waaren und Geld-Handel [translation of Money and Trade]
ImprintLeipzig: Jacob Schustern
Date of Publication1720
LanguageGerman
NotesThe Library has a strong collection relating to John Law (1671-1729), particularly in the Lauriston Castle collection, and has purchased actively Law-related materials in recent years. As a Scottish-born financier (his family lived at Lauriston Castle) who had a huge impact on the French economy in the short-term, and on the development of the paper-money system in the longer term, Law is a key figure to collect. We have several copies of the 1705 English edition of Money and Trade, a copy of the second English edition of 1720 (L.C.2539), and two copies of the 1720 French edition. There are no copies in Scotland of the first German edition which we have now acquired. As well as two copies in North America, there is a copy in the University of London Library, which matches the description here. Our new copy is very good and in contemporary boards. Antoin Murphy, John Law: Economic Theorist and Policy-Maker (1997) discusses the French translation as being a work of some importance, but does not mention a German edition. It is quite possible that this translation may shed new light on how Law was seen in 1720, the year that the Mississippi Bubble burst and his schemes collapsed. As Law's main written work, it is important for the Library to have comprehensive holdings in this area, and thus this is a most desirable acquisition.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2312
Reference SourcesAntoin Murphy, John Law, 1997
Acquired on21/10/03
AuthorRamsay, Allan
TitleGentle Shepherd
ImprintGlasgow: by A. Foulis
Date of Publication1788
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a most unusual binding, with elements that suggest the influence of the style of James Scott of Edinburgh. The chequerboard design has alternating panels of tree and sprinkled calf, and the central panel has a gilt-bordered oval containing a stencilled star-burst within which is a gilt design of musical instruments and player's mask. The binding is probably Scottish, but we do not have anything comparable. The sense of structured design, and the use of the musical instruments within the oval, do suggest James Scott's work. The book contains aquatint plates by the Scottish artist and engraver David Allan, and also has two additonal plates (after p.14 and before p.93).
ShelfmarkBdg.m.156
Reference SourcesGaskell 688
Acquired on10/06/04
TitleGenuine copy of a letter from a merchant in Stockholm to his correspondent in London. Containing an impartial account of Doctor Alexander Blackwell, his plot, trial, character, and behaviour, both under examination, and at the place of execution
ImprintLondon
Date of Publication1747
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis rare and probably spurious pamphlet, describes the involvement of 'Doctor' Blackwell in the machinations of Swedish politics in the 1740s. It also contains a scaffold speech, which seems also to be a fabrication. Sweden was divided between a dominant French and a smaller English faction. The pamphlet, written ostensibly by a supporter of Blackwell's, describes the sequence of events leading to his execution. Blackwell 'a petty doctor of physick' was accused of plotting to poison the heir in an effort to alter the succession to the Swedish crown. If the alleged plot had succeeded the Duke of Cumberland would have ascended the throne. The unfortunate doctor 'endured for several days the torture of the pill with great resolution and constancy of mind, but upon the rack he confessed some intercourse with foreign courts'. He managed to put his head on the wrong side of the executioner's block, remarking that 'it was the first experiment he had made in that way'. Blackwell was born in Aberdeen, and studied medicine at the University of Leyden, though it is doubtful if he ever completed his degree. He spent some time in the Hague and Sweden before working as a printer in Aberdeen and London. On becoming bankrupt in 1730 he spent two years in a debtors prison. Blackwell also worked for the Duke of Chandos as director of his agricultural improvements at Canons, Middlesex and published a pamphlet on 'A new method of improving cold, wet and barren lands' in 1741. He collaborated with his wife Elizabeth in producing 'A curious herbal' in two volumes in 1737. Clearly, a man of many parts, Blackwell was employed as a physician by the Swedish king and involved himself in further agricultural projects in Sweden prior to his demise.
ShelfmarkAB.2.201.01
Acquired on05/10/00
AuthorJosephus, Flavius
TitleGenuine Works
Imprint6 vols., Edinburgh: for William Coke
Date of Publication1777
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a fine set of an interesting edition of William Whiston's translation of the works of Josephus. Whiston's famous translation of the Jewish historian's writings had its first Scottish publication in Scotland in 1777. There seem to have been two issues; the Library already has a copy of the issue printed for Alexander Donaldson. (VV.1/2). ESTC N64882 records only one copy of the issue printed for the Leith bookseller William Coke, which is at the University of Texas. According to SBTI, William Coke had fomerly been Alexander Donaldson's clerk, and was a witness in the case of Donaldson v John Reid in 1767. All six volumes are bound in contemporary polished calf; each spine has raised bands between gilt rules and a red morocco label, gilt lettered. Each volume has the attractive armorial bookplate of Thomas Lowndes.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2274
Acquired on12/06/02
AuthorWurtisen, Christian (editor)
TitleGermaniae historicorum illustrium
ImprintFrankfurt: apud heredes Andreae Wecheli
Date of Publication1585
LanguageLatin
NotesThis intricate and elaborate early 17th century Scottish binding (c.1620-1630) has an interesting history. It is part of a well-known set of early blind-stamped Scottish bindings produced for Sir Thomas Henryson, (or Henrison) Lord Chesters, who was knighted and appointed as an Ordinary Lord of Session, in 1622. The armorial stamp, with the initials 'MTH' on the covers is an early state - the later stamps had an 'S' added, presumably to indicate 'Sir'. About a century and a half (circa 1778) after the book was first bound, the doyen of Scottish binders, James Scott was commissioned by William John Kerr, 5th Marquess of Lothian, to relabel and embellish with gilt tooling the spines of about 400 volumes in the family library at Newbattle Abbey. It is probable because of the volume of books involved that Scott worked in situ at Newbattle. The book remained in the Lothian family until 1951 and subsequently was sold by Christies and Maggs (twice) and for a few years it was in the collection of J.R. Abbey.
ShelfmarkBdg.m.148
Acquired on05/09/00
AuthorMennie, Donald.
TitleGlimpses of China: a series of Vandyck photogravures illustrating Chinese life and surroundings.
ImprintShanghai: A.S. Watson & Co.,
Date of Publication[c. 1920]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a welcome addition to the Library's holdings of photographically illustrated books on the Far East. Not much is known about the early years of Donald Mennie (d. 1941), the photographer who produced this book. He appears to have been of Scottish origin, later becoming an American citizen. He arrived in China in 1899 and worked initially for the firm Mactavish & Lehman & Co., one of the first producers of picture post-cards of Shanghai, before moving to the Shanghai-based company of A.S. Watson & Co. Watson's had been founded by a Scot in 1828, as a chemists and druggists, and had branched out into wine and spirits and photographic services (the firm still exists to this day as the largest health and beauty retailer in the world). Mennie became a managing director of the firm and a leading entrepreneur in China in 1920s and 30s, but he also had a passion for photography. He was able to use his position in Watson's to get his photographs published, being best known for his books "The pageant of Peking" (1920) and "The grandeur of the Gorges" (1926). Both of them were expensively produced, with handsome bindings, and with hand-coloured photogravures in the pictorialist style. Mennie specialised in depicting the faded grandeur of imperial China and the eye-catching landscapes of China's gardens, rivers and mountains. "Glimpses of China", while still using the same photogravure process, is a more modest affair. Produced in oblong quarto format, with plain cloth covers, it is possibly an early work by Mennie or a spin-off from "The pageant of Peking". Of particular interest are the street scenes of ordinary Chinese people which are reminiscent of the street-photography of the early Scottish photographic pioneer in the Far East, John Thomson.
ShelfmarkPhot.sm.145
Reference SourcesWorswick & Spence, "Imperial China: photographs 1850-1912" (London: Scolar Press, 1979)
Acquired on29/05/10
AuthorCoultershoggle, Mungo (pseud.)
TitleGoslington Shadow
ImprintNew York: Collins & Hannay et al
Date of Publication1825
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an extraordinary acquisition, a two-volume novel published in America which has most of the dialogue in Scots. The work is extremely rare and the British Library only has a microfilm. This presumably explains why it seems to have escaped critical and literary recognition. The unknown pseudonymous writer also wrote 'Leslie Linkfield' (1826). It seems overwhelmingly likely that he was a Scottish emigrant; the descriptions of the Scottish countryside, and the dialogue, could hardly have been written by someone who had not spent many years in Scotland. The plot is rather reminiscent of Scott's 'Redgauntlet': a naïve youth comes to discover that he is the heir of a powerful aristocratic family, which had fought for the Jacobites. The preposterously-named Goslington Shadow emerges as a hero and lover of noble blood. In terms of literary constuction, this novel is most curious. The narrator adopts a high prose style in flowery English, full of sentimental reflections on landscape, rather like Gothic writers like Mrs. Radcliffe. The tone is frequently knowing and ironic, which can make it an irritating text to read. When the characters speak, however, the language used is serious Scots, and hard to read for a non-native speaker. The plot develops in the most meandering way, introducing numerous picaresque figures whose relevance is rarely immediately clear. I would conjecture that this novel was received in New York in 1825 with utter bafflement. This novel would repay serious study. It seems to me that this is a major attempt at literary innovation, of real significance in the development of Scottish literature. The result is certainly not an unqualified success. Some passages are wonderful and horrible stylistic failures, so bad as to be rather good. Yet the overall wit and intelligence of the writer shine through (see, for example, the debate over the reading of 'Paradise Lost' towards the end of vol. 1). Certainly, compared to some of the examples of 'Scottish literature' currently in print, 'Goslington Shadow' has much to recommend it.
ShelfmarkABS.2.203.005
Acquired on08/04/03
AuthorCarnegie, Andrew
TitleGospel of wealth.
Imprint[London]
Date of Publication[1890]
LanguageEnglish
Notes'The gospel of wealth' was first published as a pair of articles - 'Wealth' and 'The best fields for philanthropy' in the 'North American Review' in 1889. W.T. Stead, better known subsequently as editor of 'The books for the bairns' re-titled the first article 'The gospel of wealth' when it was reprinted in the 'Pall Mall Gazette' in 1890. Ten years later, Carnegie had published his most famous work, a collection of magazine articles, under the title 'The gospel of wealth'. In the first article, Carnegie, the Dunfermline-born philanthropist, addresses the question of the administration and disposal of wealth, concluding with the then novel idea that the rich man should give away his fortune while he is still alive and asserting that 'the man who dies ...rich, dies disgraced'. W.E. Gladstone was one of a number of prominent individuals, who praised this article and urged its wide circulation in Britain. The erstwhile Prime Minister did have some reservations about 'The best fields for philanthropy', in which Carnegie listed the best ways in which millionaires should dispose of their largesse --establishing universities, libraries, hospitals and financing public parks, swimming baths, concert halls and churches. This is a presentation copy from the author to Cardinal Henry Manning, which forms part of a diverse collection of sixteen pamphlets on socialism and 'labour' in general published worldwide between 1873 and 1891. Manning was well known as a champion of the poor and in 1889 had played a major role in mediating between the opposing factions in the London Dock Strike. In dealing with the problem of the abuse of money and power, in an article entitled 'Irresponsible wealth' published in the 'Nineteenth century' in December 1890, Manning was indirectly criticising Carnegie's Darwinian approach to economics.
ShelfmarkABS.3.201.001(6)
Acquired on05/12/00
AuthorGray, John
TitleGray's annual directory and Edinburgh almanac
ImprintEdinburgh: [printed by Andrew Shortrede for] John Gray
Date of Publication1836
LanguageEnglish
NotesDirectories are a very important resource for anyone wanting to track down a particular person known to have lived in a town at a certain time. This volume consists of an almanac, with information for the year ahead such as tide times, followed by a street directory and a list of Edinburgh inhabitants in alphabetical order, with addresses. The map is unfortunately missing, but it is still easy to use this directory to find out where someone lived in 1836. Various curious advertisements follow the main text, including one for 'Improvements in hats' ('It must be obvious to every one that a hard heavy hat is not only disagreeable to the head, but that it also prevents the free egress of the heated air arising therefrom, thus keeping the head in a perpetual stew, and causing headache, loss or injury to the hair, &c.') The directory was clearly aimed at professionals and tradespeople. This particular copy is signed on the title-page by 'John Murray Jun.' and dated 1847. This is presumably John Murray III, the famous publisher.
ShelfmarkABS.3.204.017
Acquired on03/08/04
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