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 755 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 301 to 315 of 755:
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|Title||A treatise on forest-trees.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Printed by R. Fleming, and sold by the author,|
|Date of Publication||1775|
|Notes||William Boutcher was a Scottish nurseryman, who had premises at Comely Bank, Edinburgh (his father, William Boutcher, senior, had also been a nurseryman and leading garden designer). "A treatise on forest trees" was his first printed work, dedicated to the Duke of Buccleuch, and was financed by subscription. Boutcher notes in his preface, concerning the subscribers, "the quality, if not the number of those, does me honour, as I can boast of many of the greatest and most respectable names in the kingdom". These names included most of the Scottish land-owning aristocracy. A number of copies for the subscribers were bound by the leading Scottish bookbinder of his day, James Scott of Edinburgh. The Library already four copies, all with different designs, of Scott bindings for this book; this is another example. The boards have a roll-pattern used by Scott from 1775 onwards (Loudon Ro16 (1775)) and the botanical ornaments on the spine recall a tool used by Scott used in other bindings (Loudon Bo.46a). This copy has an early 19th-century heraldic bookplate of Sir James Montgomery Bart. of Stanhope (1721-1803), lord chief baron of the Scottish exchequer who became a baronet in 1801, two years before his death. Montgomery took a keen interest in the science of agriculture and subscribed for two copies of the book.|
|Reference Sources||J.H. Loudon, "James and William Scott, bookbinders" (NY, 1980)|
|Author||Boylan, Grace Duffie|
|Title||If Tam o'Shanter'd had a wheel|
|Imprint||New York: E. R. Herrick|
|Date of Publication||1898|
|Notes||Boylan (1862-1935) was a writer for the Chicago Journal, as well as a poet and novelist. This collection of writings includes poems on religion and social justice as well as short stories set in many lands. The short heroic poem 'The Cuban Amazon' celebrates Inez Cari, the black woman who led a Cuban revolt against Spain. The title of the volume comes from the first poem, which whimsically re-writes Robert Burns's famous poem, imagining instead a young man on a bicycle pursuing a witch-like lady also on two wheels. The scene is depicted on the front cover, with a cyclist in tartan and witches and bats in the background. This acquisition suggests the influence of Burns on radical American literature.|
|Title||Medicinal experiments; or, A collection of choice remedies, for the most part simple, and easily prepared (vols. 1-3)|
|Imprint||London : Printed for Sam. Smith (and J. Taylor)|
|Date of Publication||1692-94|
|Notes||A collection of posthumous publications of the natural philosopher Robert Boyle (1627-91), who was a prolific author in his own lifetime but also left behind a huge amount of unpublished material. In 1688 he had a collection of medical recipes privately printed; "Medicinal experiments" was the first properly published edition in 1692, with sequels appearing thereafter. Vol. 3 in this particular book may be a piracy as it contains much of the material in vols. 1 and 2. Boyle was not impressed with some of the elaborate concoctions produced by medical practitioners of his day and the recipes in "Medicinal experiments" put the emphasis on simple practical remedies for a wide variety of ailments.|
|Reference Sources||ESTC ; DNB|
|Title||Of the reconcileableness of specifick medicines to the corpuscular philosophy|
|Imprint||London : Printed for Sam. Smith |
|Date of Publication||1685|
|Notes||Robert Boyle (1627-1691) was one of the leading scientific figures of the 17th-century. He was prolific author, publishing over 40 works in his lifetime. Boyle had wide-ranging interests in theology, natural history and medicine and carried out an extensive programme of experiments in various fields. This particular work is one of his later publications on medical science, which includes a dscourse on "The advantages of the use of simple medicines".|
|Reference Sources||ESTC; DNB|
|Author||Brewster, David., Somerville, Mary et al.|
|Title||Collection of offprints presented to or collected by James Veitch.|
|Date of Publication||1812-1831|
|Notes||This is a remarkable collection of nine papers written by six scientists (five of whom were Scots) during the early 19th century. What makes this collection so interesting is that all of these papers were presented to James Veitch (1771-1838), the self-educated polymath who was acquainted with these and other prominent contemporary scientists. He was also known to major public figures such as Sir Walter Scott and Francis Jeffrey, editor of the Edinburgh Review.
Veitch came from Inchbonny, near Jedburgh where he made his living as a ploughwright, but he also found the time to dabble in mathematics, mechanics and astronomy. He set up a scientific workshop on the Jedburgh turnpike where he gave lessons to local educated men in these subjects. By the late 1820s he had stopped making ploughs and devoted his time to making telescopes and clocks. His customers for telescopes included Scott, the Earl of Hopetoun, the Earl of Minto, Mary Somerville and Professor Schumacher of the Altona Observatory in Germany. He was also working as the Inspector of Weights and Measures for Roxburghshire.
Veitch is best known today as the man who inspired the young David Brewster (1781-1868), the inventor of the stereoscope and the kaleidoscope, to take an interest in scientific matters. With Veitch's help, Brewster had made his first telescope by the age of ten. Appropriately enough, four of the nine papers in this volume are by Brewster. There is also the first scientific paper by Jedburgh-born Mary Somerville (1780-1872). She was a leading scientific author and the first woman to have a work published in the Royal Society of London's Philosophical Transactions. The other papers are by Basil Hall, the son of the eminent geologist Sir James Hall, John Robison from Edinburgh and Alexander Rogers, who possibly came from Leith. There is also a paper by the Englishman William Hyde Wollaston, inventor of the camera lucida.
|Reference Sources||Gordon, Margaret Maria. The home life of Sir David Brewster. Edinburgh, 1881.
Clarke, T.N. et al. Brass & glass: scientific instrument making workshops in Scotland. Edinburgh, 1989.
|Title||Following proposals for, and accounts of, a National Land-Bank having been printed at London.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: John Mosman|
|Date of Publication||1695|
|Notes||One 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.|
|Reference Sources||Richard Saville, Bank of Scotland: a history (1997) (in GRR)
Anon, Royal Bank of Scotland: a history (1997) (in GRR)|
|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||Venerabilis magistri fratris Stephani Brulefer ... Formalitatum textus unacum ipsius commento perlucido|
|Imprint||Basel : Jakob Wolff von Pforzheim|
|Date of Publication||1501|
|Notes||Three early Duns Scotus-related volumes (others at RB.s.2065, RB.s.2066), 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.
Bound with (in front):
Brulefer, Etienne. Reportata clarissima in quattuor sancti Bonaventure ... Sententiarum libros Scoti subtilis secundi. Basel : Jakob Wolff von Pforzheim, 1501 (imperfect)
Note: Following several incunable editions, this is a rare early 16th-century edition of Brulefer's Formalitates in doctrinam Scoti, printed by the Basel printer Jakob Wolff, who began his business in ca. 1489. He printed the same work again in 1507, an edition that seems to be slightly more common. (The present edition not in Adams). His large and attractive printer's device -- an angel holding the Basel coat of arms and the printer's mark -- appears on the title pages of both works in the volume. The copy is bound in contemporary blind-stamped pigskin over wooden boards with a still functioning central clasp. The binding has been assigend to an anonymous binder in Ulm who has been credited with a number of other bindings. Amongst the tools used on the binding, there is a rather unusual one of a sitting owl. The spine in four compartments, lettered in ink in the second one. The first compartment shows traces of a label. The paper is clean and fresh, and the volume generally in excellent condition.|
|Title||Euripidis poetae tragici Alcestis ... Tum ... Jepthes, Tragoedia|
|Imprint||Argentorati Excudebat Josias Rihelius|
|Date of Publication||1567|
|Notes||This item is a significant addition to the Library's holdings of Buchanan's writings. It seems to be the only copy of this edition in Scotland, although we and other libraries have various separate editions of Jephthes and Alcestis.
Buchanan was a leading figure in the divine poetry movement, and this rare publication of his own biblical tragedy Jephthes side by side with his translation of a classical drama indicates the complex relationship between sacred and secular literature for Buchanan and his wider Protestant humanist circle. The editor, Joannes Sturm, talks in his preface of Buchanan's talent and his own pleasure in reading him, and hopes that his publication will spread Buchanan's fame through France and Germany.
The sacred and secular theme is continued in the other two items bound with this work - the neo-classical comedy Acolastus, and the 'sacred comedy' Joseph, by the Renaissance scholars Cornelius Gnapheus and Cornelius Crocus.
The three items may first have been put together by the 'M. Boereau' whose signature appears on the Buchanan and Crocus works, on which the name 'Geo. King' also appears. But in their current state they were bound together for the 18th-century English scholar-collector Michael Wodhull, whose arms are on the binding. Wodhull translated Euripides into English himself, and he may have used Buchanan's work for reference, two hundred years after it was first published.|
|Reference Sources||Durkan: Bibliography of George Buchanan 1994 no.61|
|Title||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|
|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||Poems, chiefly in the Scottish dialect. 2nd edition.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh & London: Creech and Cadell|
|Date of Publication||1793|
|Notes||This is a copy of the 2-volume second edition of Burns's "Poems chiefly in the Scottish dialect" with a noteworthy provenance. It is a presentation copy from Burns's good friend William Nicol (1744-1797) to a Mrs Bain. Nicol has inscribed the front free endpaper of vol. 1, presenting the book as "a sincere friend and admirer of her virtuous, learned and highly ingenious husband". The inscription is dated "Edinr. 27 September 1793". The identity of Mrs Bain and her husband is not known; there is no recorded correspondence between Burns and anyone of that name, so the Bains may have been only friends of Nicol. A William Bain, who was teacher in Anderston, Glasgow, was the author of a work titled "The family instructor: being, an attempt to illustrate the principles of Christianity" (Glasgow, 1788). Nicol was at this time employed as a schoolmaster at Edinburgh High School, a post he occupied until 1795, so it may be that he knew Bain as a fellow-teacher. Nicol, himself, was an irascible character who tended to polarise opinions amongst those he met and worked with. He became a friend of Burns at some point in the 1780s. In a letter written on 1st June 1787, Burns, on his Border tour, addressed his only surviving letter in Scots to 'Kind honest hearted Willie'. Nicol would provide moral support (and a useless old bay mare when Burns was farming at Ellisland) to Burns for the rest of the poet's life. Burns, in return, would name one of his sons after his friend.|
|Reference Sources||Burns Encyclopedia (http://www.robertburns.org/)|