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 834 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 31 to 45 of 834:

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AuthorJohn Shier
TitlePreliminary report, or Outline of the principal duties of the agricultural chemist to the colony of British Guiana.
ImprintDemerara: Royal Gazette Office
Date of Publication1847
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a rare British Guiana printing of a report by the Scottish agricultural chemist John Shier (1807-1854), who was the first Fordyce lecturer on agriculture at Aberdeen University (1840-45). Shier had recently emigrated to the British colony of Guiana where he was employed as Consulting Agricultural Chemist, tasked with improving agriculture, in particular cultivation of sugar cane. This copy is a presentation copy from the author to the Royal Agricultural Society of England.
ShelfmarkAP.2.216.04
Acquired on18/03/16
Author'Florio'
TitleThe tale of Edward & Anna, a fragment.
ImprintEdinburgh :Printed by William Blair
Date of Publication1816
LanguageEnglish
NotesAn unrecorded Regency novella in its original printed boards. The work by the pseudonymous "Florio" begins with an introduction stating that that manuscript was rescued from a pair of schoolgirls, the elder of the two being in the process of cutting up the paper for "patterns and ringlets". The work itself was subject to harsh criticism in "The Monthly Review" LXXXIII (1817), the reviewer noting that "a turgid and disjointed style marks the composition of this tale, and some Scoticisms and inaccuracies are perceivable ... but the latter part of the story is pathetic ['pathetic' here presumably in the sense of arousing pity]."
ShelfmarkAB.1.216.15
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on18/03/16
Author[Nicholas Breton]
TitleCrossing of proverbs, or A book divided into two parts.
ImprintEdinburgh: Re-printed by A.S.
Date of Publication1710
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an unrecorded first Scottish printing of a book first published in London in 1616. The author Nicholas Breton or Britton (1554/5-c. 1626) from Essex, was a prolific writer in both prose and verse but little is known of his later life. Although he seems to have had enjoyed the patronage of a number of aristocrats, the sheer volume of works he produced indicate that he was a hack author in constant need of funds. In the first two decades of the 17th century he became best known for his verse satires and devotional poems. Breton also wrote three anthologies of proverbial wisdom: "Crossing of Proverbs" (two parts, both 1616) and "Soothing of Proverbs" (1626). "Crossing of proverbs" was printed at least three more times in the 17th-century and ESTC records two further printings from 1720 and 1731, both possibly done in Aberdeen. This 1710 printing by "A.S." who might be the Edinburgh printer Andrew Symson (d. 1712), is unknown. This particular copy, which is bound in a 19th-century blue morocco binding, has had a number of famous owners, as can be seen by the various bookplates and inscriptions. The front pastedown has the armorial bookplate of Sir John Stirling Maxwell (1866-1956) and there is an armorial bookplate on the back pastedown "Keir" with the motto "Proverbs" i.e. Keir House, near Stirling in Scotland. Keir House was inherited by John Stirling-Maxwell's father William (1818-1878) in the 1840s. William Stirling-Maxwell, writer, historian and politician, collected books of proverbs, many of which had "Keir, Proverbs" bookplates affixed to the rear pastedowns. Also on the front pastedown is a manuscript signature in pencil "D. Laing", i.e. David Laing (1793-1878) antiquary and librarian of the Signet Library. There are also manuscript notes on the first two flyleaves followed by the bookplate of "Lt. Colonel V. S. M. de Guinzbourg". Colonel Victor De Guinzbourg assembled a large collection of proverbs and published books on the subject. De Guinzbourg worked in counterintelligence prior to WWII and, according to his family, was known by more than one name during the time. Little is known about him until after the war when he began work for the UN.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2921
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on18/03/16
AuthorWalter Scott
TitleCarle, now the King's come: a song: on His Majesty's visit to Scotland.
ImprintLondon : Hebert
Date of Publication1822
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an unrecorded London edition of a song Walter Scott wrote to commemorate King George IV's visit to Edinburgh in August 1822, the first visit of a reigning monarch to Scotland in nearly two centuries. Scott was in charge of the organising of the festivities surrounding the visit, "Carle, now the King's come" was inspired by the 17th-century song "Carle an the King come" which expressed loyalists' longing for the restoration of the monarchy during the period of the Commonwealth. Scott's song was set to music and published in 1822. It also inspired an anti-monarchy version "Sawney now the King's come" by Alexander Rodger of Paisley. Little is known of the publisher George Hebert and the BBTI does not record the printer, Cox, working at the address given in the colophon "Little Carter Lane, St. Paul's", which would indicate that this was an unauthorised version cashing in on Scott's popularity. This copy has the bookplate of the Ohio industrialist William G. Mather (1857-1951) and has been housed in a silk folder inside a morocco solander case, with gilt tooling, probably by Zaehnsdorf of London, who bound other works of Scott for Mather.
ShelfmarkRB.m.760
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on18/03/16
AuthorAgnes Bowie Shanks
TitleThe colonel's mistake
ImprintGlasgow: Nisbet
Date of Publication1883
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a privately-printed novella by Agnes Bowie Shanks (d. 1920), wife of the Rev. David Shanks (1828-1887), Minister of Craigrownie Church, near Helensburgh. Agnes would go on to have her diary of her trip to the Middle East with her husband printed in 1887 ("Diary of a trip to Egypt and Jerusalem, 1886"). This is one of only two recorded copies, this one being a presentation copy from the author to her son Alfred in 1888.
ShelfmarkAB.1.216.12
Acquired on19/02/16
AuthorNiel Douglas
TitleProbable consequences of a successful invasion; and the most effectual means of defeating it.
ImprintGreenock: W. Johnston
Date of Publication1803
LanguageEnglish
NotesIn 1803 and subsequent years, the Niel Douglas (1750-1823), Minister of the Relief Church in Greenock, poet and polemicist, issued several pamphlets or tracts expressing his displeasure over certain issues. The pamphlet "Probable consequences" was printed by William Johnston for the author, and resembles a sermon. The work is full of stark warnings addressed to the nation of the expected invasion of Napoleon. Douglas also uses the opportunity to mention the national sin of slavery, and advocates financial prudence, particularly in the article of gunpowder, which, he alleges, would go far to alleviate the burden of the national debt. He thus condemns the practice of discharging artillery on certain days, in saluting admirals and great men, which he thought might produce, in the course of a year, the amount of £3,000,000 at least, of the public revenue. No other UK copies of the pamphlet are recorded on COPAC.
ShelfmarkAP.2.216.08
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on05/02/16
AuthorAnon
TitleBiographical sketch of Mr. Morison, the hygeist.
Imprint[London]: G. Taylor
Date of Publication[1837?]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis 8-page pamphlet is about James Morison (1770-1840), pill manufacturer, originally Bognie, Aberdeenshire. Morison claimed to have suffered incessant poor health until his fifties, which doctors were unable to cure and which eventually led him to develop his "Universal Vegetable Pill" in the 1820s. He sold his pills through a network of agents and local retailers throughout Europe and the USA. After a series of sudden deaths attributed to his pills, Morison having advocated taking his pills in large doses, he moved to Paris in 1834. Despite this setback affecting sales of his pills he continued to market his product aggressively, this being one of a series of pamphlets he produced, which includes a portrait of the man himself.
ShelfmarkAP.1.216.21
Acquired on29/01/16
AuthorFabre, Jean Raymond Auguste
TitleLa Caledonie, ou, La guerre nationale.
ImprintParis: Didot
Date of Publication1823
LanguageFrench
NotesThis is an epic poem by French poet and journalist Jean-Raymond-Auguste Fabre (1792-1839), written, in 12 books, in the style of Homer and Virgil and with some Ossianic flavour. Fabre worked as editor of the periodical "La semaine" and "La tribune" in the 1820s and was an ardent republican who drew inspiration from peoples' struggles against monarchy and tyranny. "Caledonie" is loosely based on ancient legends and on the text of Roman author Tacitus' work "Agricola" which covers the conquest of Great Britain, including the invasion of the northern part of the island, later to become Scotland. The poem depicts brave Caledonian warriors, with suitably Ossianic names, Olgar, Olnir, Fergus etc. fighting against the Roman invaders. Fabre also wrote a poem in a similar vein based on contemporary events, namely the siege of Missolonghi in 1825-26, during the Greek war of independence from the Ottoman empire. This copy is bound in contemporary polished calf in gilt and blind by the firm of Bradel of Paris with their label, and has the gilt initials 'P.B.' on the covers. It was subsequently owned by two famous book collectors who added their book labels to the front pastedown. The first of these is Mortimer Loeb Schiff's red morocco gilt book label. Schiff (1877?1931), sometimes known as Mortimer Leo Schiff, was an American banker who assembled an important collection of decorative bindings, illustrated books and signed bindings. The book was sold at auction by Sotheby's on 5 July 1938 (lot 784) and purchased by the English bibliophile Major J.R. Abbey. He in turn added his own green morocco gilt book label. The book was sold again by Sotheby's in 1967 (June 20th, lot 1846).
ShelfmarkBdg.s.964
Reference SourcesSeymour de Ricci, British and miscellaneous signed bindings in the Mortimer L. Schiff collection, New York, 1935, vol. II, 152
Acquired on29/01/16
AuthorAgnes Bowie Shanks
TitleDiary of a trip to Egypt and Jerusalem, 1886.
ImprintGreenock: W. Hutchison
Date of Publication1887
LanguageEnglish
NotesUnrecorded private printing of the diary of Agnes Bowie Shanks (d. 1920), wife of the Rev. David Shanks (1828-1887), Minister of Craigrownie Church, near Helensburgh. Rev. Shanks undertook the trip to the Middle East to restore his failing health but died in 1887, the year after the trip. Accompanying the work are two letters, one from the Rev. James A. C. Murray, dated 14/06/1916, to Agnes Shanks, thanking her for lending him the volume, the other is a modern note concerning the loan of the book. The signature of the author is at the head of the title page and also the front wrapper.
ShelfmarkAP.2.216.07
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on22/01/16
AuthorJohn Forbes-Robertson
TitleVerses on the centenary of the birth of Robert Burns.
Imprint[Glasgow?]: Maclure, Macdonald, & MacGregor
Date of Publication1859
LanguageEdinburgh
NotesForbes-Robertson (1822-1903) was an art critic and journalist, who wrote this poem for The Caledonian Society of London, a society formed in 1837 and dedicated to the advancement of Scottish cultural and philanthropic interests. The poem was privately printed in Glasgow by Maclure, MacDonald, & MacGregor, and presumably distributed to members of the society. No copies are recorded elsewhere.
ShelfmarkAP.3.216.03
Acquired on08/01/16
AuthorThomas Christie
TitleAn account of the ravages committed in Ceylon by small-pox.
ImprintCheltenham: J. & S. Griffith
Date of Publication1811
LanguageEnglish
NotesRare printing of a detailed report by Scottish physician Thomas Christie (1773-1829) of the effects of smallpox epidemics in Ceylon (modern day Sri Lanka). Christie had served as medical superintendent-general on the island in the early 1800s and had introduced a successful programme of free of charge inoculation to counter the ravages of the disease. Although the native population were initially reluctant to be inoculated, they became gradually convinced so that by end of 1806 more than 50,000 people had been inoculated, and more than 25,000 in 1809 alone. Christie returned to Britain in 1809 and graduated as a doctor of medicine at Marischal college, Aberdeen, 24th June, 1809, he settled in Cheltenham, and published his account there.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2918
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on18/12/15
AuthorJean Scott
TitleA trip to the land of my ancestors: I visit my Scotch cousins.
Imprint[South Dakota? : s.n.]
Date of Publication[1894?]
LanguageEnglish
NotesAn unrecorded and privately printed travel account of a visit to Scotland made by a Jean Scott a school teacher of Armour, South Dakota during 1893-94. The author explains her motivations on the first page: "In 1844 my parents emigrated from Perth, Scotland, to Kenosha, Wisconsin, where they lived the remainder of their lives, loyal citizens to the country of their adoption. I think that they never regretted the removal or desired to return, except for to visit. When I first remember them, they had become quite Americanized, having readily adopted the ways and manners of the country and people. yet their former home and friends were not forgotten by them, but were often spoken of in glowing and affectionate terms, until I had a great desire even when very young to see that wonderful and much famed country, the land of the birth of my parents and of their ancestors for generations. Yet the opportunity did not present itself till the spring 1893 ...". Scott sailed from New York to Scotland, where she saw relatives and visited a variety of tourist destinations, including Perth, Kirkcaldy, Bridge of Earn, Falkland, St Andrews, Dundee, Glenfarg, Kinross, Milnathort (her mother's birthplace), Lake Leven, Inverness, Burns Country and Glasgow and Edinburgh. After Scotland she travelled by train to London then returned to North America in 1894 via Canada.
ShelfmarkAP.2.216.01
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on11/12/15
AuthorAdam Smith
TitleTheorie des sentimens moraux ou Essai analytique sur les principes des jugemens
ImprintYverdun : Pierre Kuppner
Date of Publication1799
LanguageFrench
NotesThis an unrecorded French-language edition of Adam Smith's "Theory of moral sentiments" with a Swiss imprint. It consists of the sheets of the Paris 1798 edition, which is the third translation of the work, by the marquise de Condorcet (NLS copy of this edition: ABS.2.87.36), but with new cancel title pages. The imprint is almost certainly false, as there is no record of a Pierre Kuppner publishing books in Yverdun (Yverdon-les-Bains) or anywhere else at the time. Yverdon-les-Bains in Switzerland was an intellectual and printing centre in the 18th century (a 1781 edition in French of the "Wealth of Nations" was published there), with a long established literary and typographical society, where intellectuals such as Rousseau, Pestalozzi and Fortune-Barthelemy de Felice stayed. This particular copy is in a contemporary full-leather binding and has a Polish provenance with the bookplate, dated 1821, of the Bibliotheca Sobolevskyana.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2919-2920
Reference SourcesJean Pierre Perret, "Les imprimeries d?Yverdon au XVIIe et au XVIIIe siècle" (Lausanne, 1945)
Acquired on11/12/15
Author[John Fletcher-Campbell]
TitleNotes, respecting the situation and improvements of the lands of Boquhan, parish of Gurgunnock
ImprintStirling: C. Randall
Date of Publication1793
LanguageEnglish
NotesAn unrecorded, early Stirling printing relating to the hamlet of Boquhan in Stirlingshire, Scotland, together with an account of new farming and land-management techniques introduced there at the end of the eighteenth century. The author was probably General John Fletcher-Campbell FRSE (1727-1806), a local landowner who built Boquhan House in 1784. The work was dedicated to the Rev. Mr. George Robertson, minister of Gurgunnock (now known as Gargunnock), the preface is signed "I.F.C.", suggesting the authorship of General John Fletcher-Campbell FRSE. Fletcher-Campbell was a founder of the Gargunnock Farmers Club in 1794. This text is full of literary quotes and classical allusions, but there are also references to innovations in agriculture such as turnip husbandry, trials of new grasses, corn feed, a threshing-machine, a weigh-bridge, top dressing with lime, experiments with gypsum and the management of labourers working on the estate. The text has been bound in late nineteenth-century blue morocco, with marbled endpapers and gilt dentelles, and gilt edges.
ShelfmarkAB.2.216.02
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on04/12/15
AuthorAnon
TitleThe wandering piper.
ImprintNewcastle: Douglas and Kent
Date of Publication1833
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an unrecorded, illustrated broadside, printed in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1833, which gives details of the 'Wandering Piper', who roamed throughout Britain and Ireland in the 1820 and 1830s. There are several contemporary accounts of the piper in provincial newspapers, one of which, from the Bury & Norwich Post, for November 21, 1832, describes him as follows: "He is a tall figure, and his air and carriage evidently indicate a rank superior to his occupation, in spite of the disguise of a carroty wig, a pair of green spectacles, and a shabby Highland costume. He has now piped in every market-town in the three kingdoms, except a few in Suffolk, Lincoln, York, Durham and Northumberland, all of which he must visit before next February. During his ramble he has given upwards of 700 l. [£] to different charities." Some newspaper accounts speak of him as a former Scottish army officer who served in the Napoleonic Wars, who in 1825 accepted a bet with a Frenchman with whom he had been to school with in Scotland, to see how much money he could raise through busking in every town in Britain and Ireland. Other newspapers dismiss the story of the wager as bogus. Whatever his motivation, there seems to have been no attempt by the piper to profit personally from his playing. As the Newcastle broadside states, "when playing in the streets he endeavours to observe the strictest disguise; he never stands nor solicits money, but receives any sum that is given him." All the money he received was distributed to local charities once he covered his own board and lodgings. The piper's travels only began in earnest in 1828, with the intention being that he would travel for three years and total up how much money he had raised. However, a stage coach accident in Ireland left him incapacitated for over 15 months, which meant that by early 1833 he still had not finished his epic journey. The broadside reports his arrival in Newcastle on January 21, 1833 and notes that he only has six more towns to play in, with Glasgow being his final destination. Along with the broadside this copy also contains a handwritten note from the piper himself, dated January 3, 1833. Addressed to the mayor of Durham, the piper requests permission to play his pipes through the streets of Durham, and stresses that he does not solicit money and that any money he receives goes to charity. The note is signed 'The Wandering Piper/Address Captain Stuart'. The identity of 'Captain Stuart' and why he went to the lengths of wearing a forerunner of a wig and tinted spectacles to disguise himself, remain a mystery to this day. He may have worn Highland costume but in the portrait of the piper on the broadside he appears to be playing Lowland, bellows-blown, pipes rather than the Highland pipes traditionally played by pipe bands in Scotland and throughout the world today. Although the broadside states that the piper was "heartily tired of his frolic", no sooner had he finished his British and Irish travels than he was off to the USA and Canada, where he continued to travel and raise money. He returned to Britain in 1837 and continued to play. A Dublin newspaper records a 'Graham Stuart' dying in Dublin on February 17, 1839, worn out by his travels.
ShelfmarkRB.l.287
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on20/11/15
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