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.
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Important Acquisitions 286 to 300 of 697:
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|Title||Reportata clarissima in quattuor sancti Bonaventure ... Sententiarum libros Scoti subtilis secundi|
|Imprint||Basel : Jakob Wolff von Pforzheim|
|Date of Publication||1501|
|Notes||Three early Duns Scotus-related volumes (others at RB.s.2065, RB.s.2067), bought at the most recent sale of books from the Donaueschingen Court Library in Germany. All three volumes are in contemporary blind-stamped pigskin bindings and in fine condition. All of them bear the ink stamp of the Fuerstliche Hofbibliothek Donaueschingen on the verso of the title page, but also show earlier marks of ownership.
Note: Not in Adams. A complete copy of RB.s.2067(1), with Wolff's device on the title page hand-coloured. Bound in contemporary pigskin over wooden boards, with the remains of two clasps. Both boards are decorated with blind double fillets arranged in a panel design, with the large central panel filled with lozenge-shaped compartments. The top compartment on the upper board has been stamped (probably at a later date) with the initials LCV of the Franciscan Convent at Villingen (south-west Germany). The spine has five raised bands and a paper label in the top compartment. A second, short work has been removed from the volume, leaving the lower board detached from the text block. Otherwise this, too, is a clean copy with the text in superb condition.|
|Title||Baptistes, sive calumnia tragoedia|
|Imprint||Edinburgi: Apud Henricum Charteris|
|Date of Publication||1578|
|Notes||One of four items acquired from the sale of the library of the eminent historian Hugh Trevor-Roper, Lord Dacre (1914-2003), which included a substantial number of early modern Scottish items.
This volume is an important acquisition for three reasons: it represents a rare opportunity to add to the Library's collection of pre-1600 Scottish imprints; it is an addition to our holdings of the writer and political figure George Buchanan; and it is a fascinating document of early modern book ownership.
This edition of Buchanan's Latin biblical drama about John the Baptist has an Edinburgh imprint, but apart from the title page it is identical to one produced in the same year by the London printer Thomas Vautrollier - Durkan lists both as item 62 in his Buchanan bibliography. The name on the Edinburgh imprint is that of Henry Charteris, who was a bookseller as well as a printer, so he may well have imported copies of the London edition for the Scottish market. Relatively few copies of books with Charteris' imprint survive, and there are many gaps in the Library's holdings of them from this decade, so even in its imperfect state (lacking 14 out of 64 pages) this item is a valuable addition to the Library's holdings of early Scottish books (ESTC S116192; Aldis 147).
Baptistes is the second of four works by Buchanan bound together in one volume, with many contemporary notes and inscriptions . The works were produced over a period of 20 years and come from a variety of European cities, while the owners were English or Scottish. However, it is difficult to ascertain the chronological order of these early owners, and at what point the items were placed together. The other three items are:
Euripidis poetae tragici Alcestis... (Argentorati: Josias Rihelius, 1567), Buchanan's translation into Latin of Eurpides' play; Georgi Buchanani Scoti Franciscanus et fratres... (Geneva: Petrus Sanctandreanus, 1584), a collection of his secular poetry; Sphaera (Herbornae: Christophori Coruini, 1587), an unfinished cosmological poem.
These items may simply have been bound together because of their similiar size. The binding is early modern, but more recent repairs have been carried out.
The inscriptions include the names Wilkie (on the title page of Alcestis and Baptistes); James Fox (a marginal note in Alcestis); Gilbert Eliot (Alcestis and Baptistes); Georgius Scotus (Baptistes); Robert Elliott (Franciscanus). There are other inscriptions which are faint and almost indecipherable, but which might yield further information. These owners have written their names, marginal notes, Latin verse, and scribblings perhaps to test their pens throughout the volume.
Bought with: A bill for the better ordering of the militia forces in that part of Great-Britain called Scotland (c.1760). Possibly a draft of a bill not enacted, this item is not in ESTC. Bound with Alexander Carlyle, The question relating to a Scots militia considered. (Edinburgh: Gavin Hamilton and John Balfour, 1760) ESTC T121729. Also with Trevor-Roper's book label.
John Major: Historia Majoris Britanniae, tam Angliae quam Scotiae ... editio nova. (Edinburgh: Apud Robertum Fribarnium, 1740). A subscription edition by the Edinburgh publisher Robert Freebairn, including his receipt for the subscription of James Sinclair (d.1762) of Rosslyn. The book contains Sinclair's armorial bookplate and his crest is on the binding. Sinclair, from a notable Scottish family, was an important figure in the British army of the period, besides being an M.P.
(Also bought with George Conn: De duplici statu religionis apud Scotos, which is a separate Report item)|
|Reference Sources||John Durkan: Bibliography of George Buchanan; DNB|
|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|
|Author||Buerger, Gottfried August. |
|Title||Ellenore, a ballad originally written in German by G.A. Buerger.|
|Imprint||Printed in Norwich by John March.|
|Date of Publication||1796|
|Notes||This an unrecorded folio, large-paper, printing of a translation of a German poem that would help launch one of the great Scottish literary careers. The short poem "Lenore", written by Gottfried August Bürger, was originally published in German in 1774. It is a Gothic ballad dealing with the return of a young man, William, presumed killed in battle, to his grief-stricken fiancee, Lenore, in the middle of night. William asks Lenore to accompany him to their bridal bed. After riding at breakneck speed through the night, they reach a cemetery where the bridal bed is revealed to be William's grave and he himself has mutated into the figure of Death, the grim reaper. Lenore meets her end surrounded by the ghosts of the dead who tell her not to quarrel with her fate and to hope for forgiveness. "Lenore" was an instant hit and was hugely influential on the European Romantic movement in literature. The first English translation to appear in print was this one by William Taylor of Norwich. Taylor (1765-1836) was an important propagandist of German literature in the romantic period. He began his literary career in 1789 with an accomplished translation of Goethe's "Iphigenie auf Tauris" (published in 1793), then in 1790 he translated Lessing's "Nathan der Weise". His translation of Bürger's "Lenore" was first published in 1796 in The Monthly Magazine, then was printed separately by John March of Norwich. Taylor's free translation was actually done in 1790 and had been circulating widely in manuscript in literary circles since then. It was commonly regarded as the best translation at that time, and is important as having inspired Walter Scott to do his own translation, the starting point of Scott's whole poetical career (a copy of this Norwich 1796 printing can be found in Scott's library at Abbotsford). In 1795 Scott had heard about the enthusiastic reception given to a reading of Taylor's version done by Anna Laetitia Aikin at a party given by Dugald Stewart, and he subsequently attempted to acquire a manuscript of Bürger's original. When he finally acquired a German text the following year he immediately set about the task of translating it; 'He began the task ... after supper, and did not retire to bed until he had finished it, having by that time worked himself into a state of excitement which set sleep at defiance' (Lockhart, Memoirs of the life of Sir Walter Scott, 1.235). Scott was sufficiently pleased with the reaction of his friends that he proceeded to translate another Bürger poem, "Der wilde Jäger", and the two were published together anonymously as "The Chase and William and Helen: Two Ballads from the German of Gottfried Augustus Bürger" in November 1796, priced 3s. 6d. The "German-mad" Scott's literary career had begun.|
|Reference Sources||Oxford Dictionary of National Biography|
|Title||A pronouncing dictionary of the English language
|Imprint||Glasgow: Chapman & Duncan, |
|Date of Publication||1777|
|Notes||This is the only known complete copy of the first edition of John Burn's English dictionary. The compiler (d. 1793) taught English in Glasgow and is best known for his work "A practical grammar of the English language", first published in 1766. In his introduction to the dictionary Burn refers to the 'several laudable attempts' of predecessors to settle the orthography and pronunciation of the English language, but notes that a pocket dictionary addressing these needs has so far been wanting. He also comments on the fluctuating state of English pronunciation and hopes for greater uniformity in future. Interest in correct pronunciation was of particular interest for some ambitious Scots of the period, who were keen to soften or eliminate their Scottish accents and to remove any Scotticisms from their speech in order to be accepted by English society. Indeed Burn states that his principal aim for this "compillation [sic]" is to "enable one to read or deliver written language with so much propriety, as not to offend even an Englishman of the most delicate ear". The rarity of the 1777 edition indicates either a very limited print-run, or, a more likely scenario, copies of the dictionary were heavily used by its owners and have simply not survived; it was reprinted in 1786 which is evidence that there was demand for such works in Scotland.
The provenance of this volume is also worthy of note. It bears the armorial bookplate, and inscriptions, of the Gardiner family of Gardiners Island, a small island at the eastern tip of Long Island, New York state. The island was granted to Lion Gardiner, an English settler, in 1639, the first colonial English settlement in present-day New York state, and it has remained in Gardiner family hands ever since. John Lyon Gardiner (1770-1816), a later proprietor of the island, evidently used here the bookplate of his grandfather John Gardiner (d. 1764), inserting an 'L.' between the words 'John' and 'Gardiner' of the bookplate. John Lyon Gardiner was only four years old when his father, David Gardiner, died and he inherited Gardiner's Island. His uncle, Colonel Abraham Gardiner, served as his guardian until he reached his majority in 1791 and became the seventh proprietor of the island. It is probable that this book was used in his education and for subsequent generations of the family. J.L. Gardiner would achieve some fame during the war of 1812 between Britain and the USA. During an excursion of the British fleet to the island to buy provisions, some British sailors were captured by the local inhabitants. The British then came to arrest John Lyon Gardiner, holding him responsible for what had happened. Gardiner, who was a delicate man, adopted the 'green room defence' where he stayed in a bed with green curtains surrounded by medicine to make him look feeble. The British, not wanting a sick man onboard their ships, decided not to proceed with the arrest.
|Reference Sources||Bookseller's notes|
|Title||Kabul. Schilderung einer Reise nach dieser Stadt und des Aufenthalts daselbst.|
|Imprint||Leipzig: T.D. Weigel|
|Date of Publication||1843|
|Notes||This is a German translation of Alexander Burnes's 'Cabool: being a personal narrative of a journey to, and residence in that city in the years 1836-38', published posthumously in 1842.
Burnes was born in Montrose in 1805 and educated at Montrose Academy. He had extraordinary linguistic abilities, learning Hindustani and Persian within one year in Bombay. At the end of 1836 Burnes was dispatched by the British government on a mission to Kabul, where he stayed until 1838. During these two years he collected the material for his book. In 1839 he returned as an officer with the British Army and acted as second political officer in Kabul. Towards the end of 1841 the political situation deteriorated but Burnes was unprepared for the ferocity of the Afghan revenge. On 2 November 1841 an infuriated crowd besieged his house in Kabul and murdered him. This event marked the beginning of Britain's disastrous retreat from Afghanistan.
|Author||Burnes, Alexander, Sir, 1805-1841|
|Title||Voyages de l' embouchure de l' Indus [etc]|
|Imprint||Paris: Arthus Bertrand|
|Date of Publication||1835|
|Notes||French translation of Alexander 'Bokhara' Burnes's "Travels into Bokhara ..." first published in 1834. Burnes, a native of Montrose and relative of Burns the poet, enjoyed rapid success in his career in the army and civil service of British India. In 1832 he was one of the first Westerners to explore the Punjab, Afghanistan, Bokhara, Turkmenistan, Caspian sea and Persia. His aforementioned account of his travels won him fame and awards and an audience with King William IV, "Travels into Bokhara" was also translated into German and Italian. Burnes returned to India in 1835, was knighted, and eventually ended up in Kabul as deputy to Sir William Macnaghten, Britain's envoy to the court of Shah Shujah. His flamboyant and womanising conduct did little to ease the tensions between the Afghans and the British garrison and in the uprising of 1841 he was dragged from his residence in Kabul and hacked to death by a mob.
This particular edition is entirely separate from a one-volume French translation/digest of Burnes's work "Voyages a Bokhara et sur l' Indus" which was also published in Paris in 1835. It includes in a separate volume 11 illustrated plates, which depict Burnes in native dress and also the giant Buddha statues at Bamiyan in Afghanistan which were blown up by the Taliban in 2001. The plates are based on but are not exact copies of the lithographic prints used in the English 1834 edition; the map does not appear in the English edition. The translator of this edition, Jean-Baptiste-Benoît Eyries (1767-1846), is best known for his edition of German ghost stories, "Fantasmagoriana", which had a great influence on the development of the British Gothic novel.|
|Title||The jolly beggars : a cantata.|
|Imprint||[London? : s.n.]|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||This pamphlet published as a guide to an exhibition of eight figures by the Scottish sculptor John Greenshields (1792-1835) in illustration of Burns's poem "The jolly beggars". The sculpture was one of the best known of Greenshields's works, attracting the attention of Sir Walter Scott. The author happened to meet Greenshields in 1829, when visiting Clydesdale. Scott wrote in his journal that he had met "a man called Greenshields, a sensible, powerful-minded person", who "had at twenty-eight ... taken up the art of sculpture. ... He was desirous of engaging on Burns' Jolly Beggars, which I dissuaded. Caricature is not the object of sculpture." However, Greenshields was not to be dissuaded and when Sir Walter eventually saw the finished work he declared that the young artist had caused an old man to reinterpret a lifelong understanding of this particular Burns cantata. After exhibition in Edinburgh, the statues were transported to London for public viewing in the Quadrant, Regent Street, and later purchased by Baron Rothschild for the gardens of his property at Gunnersbury Park. The pamphlet itself is in three parts: the first part consists of the text of the poem; the second part reveals that the statues have been visited by nearly 20,000 people in Edinburgh, quotes reviews of the statues in the Edinburgh newspapers and reprints Walter Scott's article on the poem for the Quarterly Review; also included is a folded broadside titled "Jolly beggars, with the description in Burns' words", consisting of four passages from the poem which presumably relate to the sculptures. It is probable that broadside was also available separately.|
|Imprint||Alnwick: by W. Davison|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||This is an attractive set of the works of Burns, published with engravings by Thomas Bewick, and bound in brown gilt crushed morocco by the late 19th-century binder Joseph William Zaehnsdorf. The date 1812 is found on the original boards of our existing copy at shelfmark X.171.h. The two volumes were formerly owned by the noted collector of Scottish books John Gribbel.
All this, however, is put into the shade by the fact that the first volume has the title-page inscribed 'Robert Louis Stevenson'. Stevenson is known to have owned various copies of Burns' poems, but this one does not seem to have been previously noted. It has not been traced in the various auctions of Stevenson's books. The signature has his characteristic looped 'L' and the long cross-bar of the 't' in 'Stevenson'.
Stevenson and Burns are two of the best known names in Scottish literature, although Stevenson had reservations about Burns. In his essay 'Some aspects of Robert Burns', published in 1879, Stevenson refers to the personal remarks in Burns' poetry as 'his own pitiful apology for such a marred existence and talents so misused and stunted'. There are, nevertheless, many striking parallels in the lives of the two writers, not least their passionate rebellion against orthodox morality and their early deaths.
It is enormously plesasing that the National Library of Scotland now has a set of Burns with Stevenson provenance.|
|Reference Sources||Egerer 130|
|Author||Burns, Robert [et al.] + Armstrong, John.|
|Title||Poems chiefly by Robert Burns, and Peter Pindar, &c. &c. To which is added the Life of Robert Burns. + The Oeconomy of love [by John Armstrong]|
|Imprint||London: Printed for the booksellers, |
|Date of Publication||1798|
|Notes||This small volume contains two unrecorded editions bound together; the first is an anthology which contains nine of Robert Burns's most famous poems, as well as works from other poets including John Wolcot 'Peter Pindar'; the second is an Oxford printing of Scottish poet John Armstrong's erotic poem "The oeconomy of love", a bestseller in the 18th century. The Burns edition is probably a piracy, appearing under the convenient, catch-all imprint "Printed for the booksellers". The composition of the book suggests that it was hastily put together. The contents page lists a 'Life of Robert Burns' on pp. 3-4 but in fact on pp. [v]-xx there is an unacknowledged reprint of Robert Heron's "A memoir of the life of the late Robert Burns" which had first appeared the previous year, 1797, the earliest printed biography of the poet. In addition to the Burns poems there are the following: four poems by 'Peter Pindar'; an unacknowledged printing of Matthew Lewis's "Alonzo the brave"; Thomas Holcroft's satirical song "Gaffer Gray" which first appeared in print in 1794; two Border ballads "Lord Gregory/The lass of Loch Royan" (which both Burns and Wolcot produced versions of) and "The battle of Otterburn"; four anonymous poems "Saint Genevieve of the Woods" (which was first printed in Warrington, c. 1780, under the title "The saint of the woods, or the loves of Siffred, and the maid of Brabant"), "The contented cottager", "Poem translated from the Persian" and "The blind boy".|
|Author||Burrard, S.G., Heron, A.M.|
|Title||Sketch of the geography and geology of the Himalaya Mountains and Tibet.|
|Imprint||Delhi : Manager of Publications|
|Date of Publication||1933|
|Notes||Revised and updated edition of the 1907 work by Burrard and Hayden which had been produced to mark the centenary of geographical and
geological exploring expeditions of the Himalaya Mountains. This had become an invaluable reference work for surveyors and explorers. The present work, which revises and updates it, is equipped with a large number of plates, maps and illustrations.|
|Reference Sources||Yakushi : Catalogue of the Himalayan literature|
|Author||Byron, George Gordon |
|Title||Correspondance de Lord Byron avec un ami.|
|Imprint||Paris: A. et W. Galignani|
|Date of Publication||1825|
|Notes||As the publishers of this work say, 'Everything concerning this great poet & cannot fail to excite the most lively interest'. R.C. Dallas' 'The Correspondence of Lord Byron' has a curious history. An author himself, Robert Dallas (1754-1824) was connected to Byron by marriage (his sister married Byron's uncle). The two corresponded in the early years of Byron's career, and Dallas had an editorial role in Byron's early poetry. In return Byron gave him the copyright to the first two cantos of Childe Harold's Pilgrimage and The Corsair, although later he seems to have dropped the personal and literary friendship. In possession of Byron's letters to his mother during his eastern travels, as well as of their own correspondence, Dallas prepared an edition of all these letters which he planned to publish after Byron's death in 1824. However Hobhouse and Hanson, Byron's executors and self-appointed keepers of his memory, took legal action to prevent its publication. Dallas died soon after, and his son published 'The Correspondence' in Paris in 1825: as the French publishers point out, the attempt to suppress the book only served to whet the public's appetite for it.
While the English edition of this book is well known, copies of this French translation are scarce (none are recorded in COPAC). The publishers state that they had originally obtained the French rights to the book and had intended to publish it at the same time as the English edition; their translation was delayed by the legal action, and now they are publishing the two at the same time. These two volumes therefore provide eloquent testimony both to Byron's continental popularity, and to the controversy he was still capable of arousing after his death.
|Author||Byron, George Gordon |
|Title||Lord Byron's saemmtliche lyrische Gedichte. Uebersetzt von Ernst Ortlepp.|
|Imprint||Stuttgart: Hoffman'sche Verlags-Buchhandlung.|
|Date of Publication||1839|
|Notes||This edition of the German poet Ernst Ortlepp's translations of Byron's lyric poems seems to be unrecorded in Byron bibliographies. Ortlepp produced the first complete translation of Byron's works into German, also published by Hoffman in 1839-40; this volume may have been incorporated into that edition. The copy is still in its original paper wrapper.|
|Author||Byron, George Gordon|
|Title||Bruden Fran Abdyos. En Osterlandsk Berattelse i Tvanne Sanger, af Lord Byron|
|Imprint||Stockholm: Zacharias Haeggstrom|
|Date of Publication||1830|
|Notes||This is the first Swedish edition of Byron's dramatic poem The Bride of Abydos, one of his Turkish Tales. The poem first appeared in 1813, a tragic love-story which perhaps is founded on Byron's own love for his half-sister Augusta: in this tale, the lovers Zuleika and Selim are cousins, but were half-brother and sister in the original draft. This Swedish edition testifies to the popularity of even Byron's lesser-known poetry across continental Europe, and unusually survives in its original paper wrappers, complete with details of the price. No copy is recorded in COPAC.|
|Reference Sources||COPAC; Oxford Companion to English Literature|
|Author||Byron, George Gordon Byron|
|Imprint||Santpoort [Netherlands]: Mercator |
|Date of Publication||1985|
|Language||Dutch and English|
|Notes||The Chanson was originally written by Lord Byron (1788-1824) in Venice and sent to Thomas Moore in a letter dated 24 December 1816. It was first published posthumously in 1830.
The present edition was produced on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the Netherlands Byron Genootschap. The poem is accompanied by a Dutch translation by Joop van Helmond and was hand-set in Garamond and printed on Zerkall-Bütten in October 1985. This is number 79 of a limited edition of 100 copies.