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 753 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 email@example.com
Important Acquisitions 316 to 330 of 753:
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|Title||French grammatology: or a course of French.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd|
|Date of Publication||1828|
|Language||English and French|
|Notes||Gabriel 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'. |
|Reference Sources||James Grant, Old and New Edinburgh (Cassell) vol. 3; Bookseller's catalogue.|
|Title||Pferd-Artzney-Kunst, oder, Gruendlicher Unterricht, die aeusserliche und innerliche Gebrechen der Pferde aus dem Grund zu heilen
|Imprint||Stuttgart: Johan Nicolaus Stoll|
|Date of Publication||1753|
|Notes||This is the first edition of an important 18th-century German-language text on horses written by a Scottish horse doctor. The author, Dionysius Robertson, was a man of seemingly humble origins who became one of the leading men in his field in Europe. Little is known of his life apart from the information he provided in the preface to later editions of this work. From an early age he appears to have worked with horses as a groom, which also gave him the opportunity to learn about the diseases of horses; in later life, his military service also gave him experience of treating bullet wounds in horses. In 1735 he entered into the service of lieutenant-general Sir James Campbell of Lawers, Perthshire. Four years later he left Scotland to travel with his master. In 1742 Campbell was sent to Flanders in charge of the British cavalry, when the British army started a military campaign against the French in the War of the Austrian Succession. Robertson accompanied Campbell and was present at the battle of Dettingen. After his master was killed at the battle of Fontenoy in 1745, Robertson went on to serve the Austrian general Graf von Burghausen. He stayed on the continent when the War ended in 1747 and worked for Friedrich, Margrave of Bayreuth-Brandenburg, in Bayreuth. The following year he became the veterinary surgeon and equerry of Friedrich's son-in-law, Duke Carl Eugen of Wuerttemberg, where he stayed until 1753. In that same year, in response to what he regarded as the relative lack of written knowledge relating to breaking in horses and their medical treatment, he published "Pferde-Artzney-Kunst" in Stuttgart, dedicating the work to Carl Eugen. The book was a success and at least eight German-language editions were published in the 18th century. Robertson then went on to serve Friedrich Augustus II, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland. In 1757 he left the Elector and eventually settled in the Prussian city of Landsberg on the river Warthe (now Gorzow Wielkopolski in western Poland), where he practised his veterinary skills. He travelled widely in northern Germany during this period and became particularly renowned for his skill in castrating stallions, introducing the practice of cauterisation to Germany, which was the subject of another published work in 1770. This particular copy of the first edition is from the famous Bibliotheca Tiliana, a collection of c. 12,000 books on hunting and related subjects, assembled by the German collector Kurt Lindner, which was dispersed after his death in 1987.|
|Reference Sources||Louis Georges Neumann Biographies veterinaires (Paris, 1896), available at http://web2.bium.univ-paris5.fr/livanc/?cote=extalfo00016&do=livre|
|Title||A treatise of midwifery. 2nd edition.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Charles Elliot|
|Date of Publication||1785|
|Notes||Alexander Hamilton (1739-1802) from Fordoun, Kincardineshire, spent his working life in Edinburgh, becoming deacon of the College of Surgeons and a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians. In 1772 he was elected physician to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, becoming a renowned practitioner of midwifery and a lecturer on the subject. He was eventually appointed professor of midwifery in the University of Edinburgh, but his progressive views on the study of medicine occasionally brought him into conflict with the more conservative members of the Edinburgh medical establishment. His son James followed in his footsteps as professor of midwifery at Edinburgh University. Hamilton wrote a number of treatises on the theory and practice of midwifery, and on the treatment of the diseases of women and infants. This is an unrecorded variant second edition of his second work on midwifery, which is bibliographically complete but which lacks the brief preface usually found in extant copies of this edition. Of particular interest is the final section which lists various medicines, drinks and foods which can be prepared for "lying-in women".|
|Author||Scott, Sir Walter. |
|Title||[The Legend of Montrose.] Vysluzhivshiisia ofitser, ili voina Montroza, istoricheskii roman. Soch. Valtera Scotta, avtora Shotlandskikh puritan, Rob Roia, Edimburgskoi temnitsy, i proch. Perevod s Frantsuzskago. [The officer on the up, or the war of Montrose, a historical novel. A work by Walter Scott, author of The Scottish Puritan [ie. Old Mortality], Rob Roy, The Edinburgh Dungeon [ie. The Heart of Midlothian], and others. Translated from French].|
|Imprint||Moscow: P. Kuznetsov|
|Date of Publication||1824|
|Notes||This is the rare first edition of the first Russian translation of Sir Walter Scott's The Legend of Montrose. This historical romance set in Scotland in the 1640s was first published alongside The Bride of Lammermoor in 1819. During his lifetime Scott became famous in Russia - just as Robert Burns would become hugely popular there in later years. Many of his novels were translated from French. Kenilworth was the first of his novels to appear in Russian, in 1823. Scott became a major influence on great Russian writers such as Pushkin. Copies of Scott's novels in Russian are rare and this is the first early example NLS has been able to acquire.
This copy is is bound in contemporary Russian marbled sheep, gilt-tooled with an image on the spine of a cart with a plough and sheaves.
|Author||Foott, [Elizabeth Anne] Mrs. James|
|Title||Sketches of life in the bush|
|Imprint||Sydney: George Loxton & Co.|
|Date of Publication||1878|
|Notes||Elizabeth Foott was a Scot who emigrated to Australia and wrote this interesting account of her journey to a new farm settlement on the Darling River. She set out in May 1860, and describes the countryside and the people they encountered while travelling to their new home. She reflects on relations with the native inhabitants, on the role of women in Australian society and on the economic development of the new colony. She describes dramatic events such as being stranded on a hill when floods overwhelmed their house and their servants fled with many of their possessions. Foott seems to have been reasonably well-read, and she mentions the small library they took with them. She includes a chapter on 'Romantic adventures', consisting of a selection of Australian tales, to show that the new colony had its stories as well.
Her Scottish origins are clear, although the way she speaks of visiting England suggests that her family had moved to England before she emigrated. The book is dedicated to her brother, Captain John Tower Lumsden, who was killed at the siege of Lucknow in 1857; this allows us to identify her father, Henry Lumsden, an Advocate from Aberdeen (1784-1856). She quotes Walter Scott (p.9), recalls 'my native land, with its pure fresh air blowing over our Scottish hills, wafting in the breeze the fragrance of the purple heather, blue bell, and sweet wild thyme' (p.20) and she teaches her daughter 'some of our beautiful Scotch paraphrases' (p.40).
The first edition appeared in 1872; all editions are very rare, and there does not seem to be a copy of the second edition in any public library in Britain.
|Title||The Edinburgh Rose.|
|Imprint||London: Joseph Myers|
|Date of Publication||c.1860|
|Notes||This is a remarkable piece of paper engineering from the mid-nineteenth century. At first glance it looks like a cleverly sculpted paper rose coloured in pink and green. However, once opened the viewer sees 28 vignette engravings of Edinburgh and its surroundings including Calton Hill, the Castle, Holyrood Palace, Roslin Chapel and Tantallon Castle. It is contained within an envelope, entitled 'The Edinburgh Rose' with an engraving of the Scott Monument. On one side the imprint reads, 'Joseph Myers & Co., London', and on the other 'C. Adler, Hamburg'. Myers and Adler produced a series of over 100 roses depicting views of places throughout Britain and Europe. |
|Title||Aureum Johannis Woltheri Peinensis Saxonis. Das ist Gulden Arch ...|
|Date of Publication||c.1623|
|Notes||This book is the first and only edition of Johannes Wolther's critique of John Napier's work 'A plaine discovery of the whole revelation of Saint John' (1593), translated into German in 1615. It also includes a partial translation of the work. Napier asserted that the symbols in the Book of Revelation were mathematical ones which could be discovered with reason. Little is known of Wolther, or Walther, as he is sometimes known. He was in born in 1562 in Salzwedel in northern Germany. He probably studied in the university town of Wittenberg, before becoming assistant head teacher of the school in Stralsund. He then, in 1597, moved to take up the same post in the Latin school in Salzwedel, where, a year later he became head (rector). In 1602 he moved to Danzig where he was deacon of the Johanniskirche. He died in Danzig in 1620 from the plague. During his time in Danzig he wrote a series of theological works. He is best known for a comic play he wrote for his pupils in Salzwedel, 'Speculum Josephi', on the biblical story of Joseph, which was based on two older German dramas on the same theme. The play was first performed in 1600 and published in Magdeburg in 1603. Napier (1550-1617) from Merchiston is best remembered now as a mathematician and inventor of logarithms.|
|Reference Sources||Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (Leipzig, 1898), vol.44.|
|Imprint||Philadelphia: Printed and published by William W. Woodward|
|Date of Publication||1800-1801|
|Notes||This is the first collected edition of the works of John Witherspoon (1723-1794), a Scot who emigrated to America and became a leading figure in the Revolution - even signing the Declaration of Independence.
Born at Gifford in Haddingtonshire, Witherspoon studied at Edinburgh University and became a minister in the established Church of Scotland. He fought on the Hanoverian side in the 1745-6 Jacobite rising, and was briefly captured at the Battle of Falkirk in January 1746. Witherspoon became famous as the author of books and pamphlets defending orthodox presbyterian teaching, and in 1766 he was offered the presidency of the Presbyterian College of New Jersey at Princeton. In deciding to accept this post, he and his wife left Scotland for ever. Witherspoon proved a successful college president. His convictions led him to support the American Revolution and he was the only clergyman to sign the Declaration of Independence. He encouraged emigration from Scotland to North America, for which he was heavily criticised by some in his home country.
This is the first edition of Witherspoon's collected works. It is a good set, including the scarce Volume Four which was printed later. There is a loose note in Volume Three advertising the fourth volume and urging subscribers to sign up for it. All four volumes are bound in early calf and have contemporary ownership inscriptions.
The works include his sermons, lectures, selections from his letters and speeches to Congress. Volume Four is particularly interesting as it includes several works relating to Scotland, including Witherspoon's defence of encouraging emigration to North America.
It is extremely surprising that there are no other copies of this important edition recorded in a public library outside North America.
|Reference Sources||ESTC W2749|
|Title||[Street traders' silhouettes]|
|Imprint||[s.l. : s.n.]|
|Date of Publication||c. 1840s?|
|Notes||This is a collection of 25 woodcut engravings of silhouettes of street traders, ten of which are Scottish. The woodcuts have been removed from other publications and mounted on bigger sheets.
Three of the street traders are well-known Glasgow characters: The blind fiddler and poet Alexander MacDonald called Blind Alick, the ballad singer and speech crier James McIndoe called Jamie Blue, and The Major, a street singer and kind of dancer who performed together with Coal Mary. The silhouette of the Glasgow Bellman may well be a likeness of the Glaswegian Bell Geordie. The other Scottish street traders depicted are Jemmy the showman, Billy Bain (Bill Porter) and Geordie Moore from Edinburgh, Willie Collie (Buttery Willie) from Aberdeen, Jamie Stephen from Montrose and the carter Willie Harrow from Dundee.
From the 1820 onwards silhouettes tended to be full-length rather than just portrait size. The ones we have acquired are a mix of both kinds, although the portrait depictions outnumber the full length ones.
We have not been able to establish which publications the silhouttes were taken from originally.|
|Reference Sources||D. Whitaker: Auld Hawkie and other Glasgow characters. Glasgow, 1988 [HP4.88.1771]
[Collection of press-cuttings on pedlars and chap-books]. Dundee, c. 1900-1920 [RB.m.141]
R. Collison: The story of street literature. London, 1973 [NG.1195.f.9]
L. Shepard: The history of street literature. Newton Abbot, 1973.
P. Hickman: National Portrait gallery silhouettes. London, 1972.
|Title||Essais sur le commerce, le luxe, l'argent, l'interet de l'argent, les impots, le credit public, etc.|
|Imprint||Paris: Chez Guillaumin et Cie Libraires|
|Date of Publication||1847|
|Notes||This is a French translation of the essays by David Hume first published in Political Discourses (1752). Hume's essays were first published in France soon after their original appearance in English: this edition is part of the series Collection des principaux economistes edited by Eugene Daire and G. de Molinari, and appears in a volume in that series with the half-title Melanges d'Economie Politique (volume 1). Also in the volume are works by Forbonnais, Condillac, Condorcet, Lavoisier, and Benjamin Franklin. De Molinari contributes a general introduction to the volume which praises Hume's economic ideas; Daire writes a 'Notice sur D. Hume', which discusses Hume's life. He explains the history of the translations of the Political Discourses, saying that this volume uses the translation of Mademoiselle de La Chaux with some corrections from the translation of L'abbe Blanc. He also states that Of the Jealousy of Trade, originally published in 1760, is translated here for the first time. |
|Reference Sources||Bookseller's Catalogue; Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy (http://www.iep.utm.edu/h/humeessa.htm)|
|Title||T'Eyland Ceylon in sijn binnenste, of 't koningrijck Candy|
|Imprint||Utrecht: Wilhelm Broedelet|
|Date of Publication||1692|
|Notes||Robert Knox (1641-1720) was an English merchant, who made two journeys with his father, a ship's captain, to India. During the second journey, their ship put in at the island of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) for repairs in 1659. The Knoxes offended the ruler of the island, the king of Kandy, as they failed to follow royal protocol by not announcing their arrival or sending suitable gifts. Relations at this time between the native inhabitants of Ceylon and European visitors were very strained, and consequently both men were both detained on the island, forbidden to leave without the king's approval. Knox's father died shortly afterwards and Knox himself spent the best part of twenty years living on Ceylon before finally managing to escape. On his return journey to England he wrote the first detailed account of Ceylon, "An Historical Relation of the Island Ceylon, in the East Indies", which was illustrated with sixteen plates. The book was published in 1681 and was a big success, being translated into German, Dutch and French in his lifetime. It was also a source of inspiration to Daniel Defoe when writing "Robinson Crusoe". Knox resumed his career as a merchant, visiting the East again a further five times. The acquisition of this Dutch edition complements the Library's extensive holdings of works relating to the Indian sub continent and to Sri Lanka (see the Alexander Mackie Collection). The six plates in the book are particularly interesting as they are substantially different to the plates that appeared in the English 1681 edition, although clearly inspired by them.|
|Title||Works of fancy and imagination|
|Imprint||London: Alexander Strahan|
|Date of Publication||1884|
|Notes||This is a ten-volume set of the second collected edition of George MacDonald's early prose and verse. It includes his first book, "Within and Without", and his long dramatic poem, "A Hidden Life", covering his upbringing in rural Aberdeenshire and his life at Aberdeen University. MacDonald (1824-1905) had by the 1880s "achieved an international reputation as a poet, novelist, lecturer, and preacher" (DNB). This set comes complete with a rare publisher's clamshell box of red cloth, designed to house the ten volumes, and also includes part of an autograph note signed by MacDonald himself.|
|Title||An examination of Dr Burnet's Theory of Earth. 2nd edition.|
|Imprint||Oxford: H. Clements and London: S. Harding|
|Date of Publication||1734|
|Notes||John Keill (1671-1721), mathematician and natural philosopher, was born in Edinburgh and was educated at Edinburgh University. He won a scholarship to study at Oxford and while studying there became a devoted follower of Isaac Newton. He was the first to teach Newtonian natural philosophy, developing an innovative course for students which involved 'experimental demonstrations' for the first time in the teaching of science. This is the second edition of Keill's first book, originally published in 1698, in which he criticises Thomas Burnet's book "Telluris Theoria Sacra, or The Sacred Theory of the Earth" and also the work of fellow Newtonian, William Whiston, whose "A New Theory of the Earth" had been published in 1696. Burnet's book on the creation and formation of the earth had appeared in the 1680s and provoked much debate in academic circles. Keill, the scientist, aimed to disprove the views of Burnet, the natural philosopher and schoolmaster, by the application of Newtonian scientific principles. Keill also disagreed with Whiston on how to interpret the Bible. Whereas Whiston accepted revealed scripture, properly interpreted by a Newtonian, as being compatible with Newtonian science, Keill was convinced that there were some aspects of the Bible which no amount of 'scientific' interpreting could square with science. In such cases, for Keill, the Biblical view was always correct. The work contains several plates of scientific diagrams relating to the structure of the earth and movement of celestial bodies.|
|Title||Quatre Nouvelles. Lismore, ou le minstrel ecossais; Theresa, ou la peruvienne; Lycoris, ou les enchantemens de Thessalie; Eudoxie et Stephanos, ou les Grecs modernes.|
|Imprint||Paris: Chez Cogez, Libraire|
|Date of Publication||1818|
|Notes||This rare publication is a set of four short novels by the minor French novelist Rene-Jean Durdent (1776-1819) which perhaps testifies to the early European enthusiasm for the novels of Walter Scott. How else to account for a tale set in 14th-century Perth to be laid alongside three other short novels in more exotic-sounding Peru, Thessaly and Greece? The story recounts the tragic love affair of the aristocratic Clara and the talented minstrel Lismore. A brief introduction asserts the historical likelihood of such a relationship taking place in an age when minstrels wandered from castle to castle, and quotes Sophie Cottin: 'They love; therefore it is necessary that they experience some great catastrophe.'|
|Title||The War in China. 3rd edition.|
|Imprint||London: Saunders and Otley|
|Date of Publication||1843|
|Notes||Duncan McPherson (1812-1867) trained in medicine at Edinburgh University, and was appointed surgeon to the Madras Native Infantry in 1836. When the first Opium War between Britain and China broke out in 1840, he served with the 37th grenadier regiment in China, and was severely wounded at Chuenpe (Chuanbi). He told of his experiences in his book "Two Years in China" (1842). The book gives an account of the military campaign against the Chinese and also includes a chapter on opium and opium smoking. McPherson admits to having tried the drug. He regards it as potentially useful cure-all, and believes that moderate habitual use of it is more acceptable than over-indulging in alcohol. A second edition was published in 1843, followed by this third edition in the same year which had a new title, 'The War in China'. The third edition includes two colour lithograph plates and a map, which were not present in "Two Years in China". It also omits the transcripts of official reports and despatches, which were included in a lengthy appendix in the first two editions. Of particular interest is the additional material in the third edition on the ending of the war, which had yet to be resolved when "Two years in China" was first published. The author now adopts a more positive tone when discussing the Chinese. Gone are the disparaging comments in the first two editions on the Chinese emperor and his "deceitful and lying mandarins"; he even ends the book with the hope that "seeds of Christianity" can be sown "amongst a skilful and intelligent people". This particular copy is a presentation copy from the author to another family member.|