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.

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Important Acquisitions 331 to 345 of 834:

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AuthorBillings, Robert William
TitleBaronial and Ecclesiastical Antiquities of Scotland
ImprintEdinburgh & London: William Blackwood & Sons
Date of Publicationn.d.
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an unusual version of the first edition of Billings' magnum opus, a wide-ranging and thoughtful alphabetical discussion of notable early churches, castles and towers in Scotland, with engravings of the author's own detailed drawings. The engravers include some notable figures including John Sad(d)ler; see Rodney K. Engen, Dictionary of Victorian Engravers, Print Publishers and their Works, Cambridge: Chadwyck-Healey, 1979. The printing seems to have been completed in 1852 (the author's'introduction is dated 29 February 1852), although the 240 plates are dated 1847-1848. The National Library already has sets of the first standard edition (shelfmark NE.18.a.34, now rather worn and in need of rebinding; Hist.S.80.B) and of the 1908 version edited by A. W. Wiston-Glynn (shelfmark X.8.b). Like the standard edition, this set is in four volumes, but it is printed in large folio. There do not appear to be any text or plates different to the standard edition, but the plates are positioned differently and are in superior condition due to being printed on fine India paper. A curious feature is that throughout the volumes, one can find the occasional standard-size page inlaid in the folio, rather than printed on the larger paper. The large paper is foxed in places. A manuscript note on the inside of the front cover of the first volume states 'Blackwoods Copy La Folio India Paper Proofs Bt from Brunton 1971'. There does not appear to be other evidence for this, and Blackwood is not mentioned in the list of subscribers to the available versions described as 'Folio proofs and etchings' and 'India proofs'. Bound in blue cloth, with gold lettering. See DNB for Billings.
ShelfmarkFB.el.127
Acquired on09/11/00
AuthorBinning, Hugh, 1627-1653
TitleMr. Hugo Binnnings Predikatien, over dese texten; I Johannis 1 en I Johannis 2
ImprintAmsterdam : Joh. Boekholt
Date of Publication1690
LanguageDutch
NotesRare first (?) Dutch edition of Scottish Presbyterian author Binning's "Fellowship with God, or 28 Sermons on the 1st epistle of John chapters 1 & 2", first published in Edinburgh in 1671. Although Binning never visited Holland during his short life, his works clearly had a deep impact on Protestant theologians in the country, judging by the the number of editions of his works that appeared in Dutch during the 17th and 18th centuries. Not found in HPB or OCLC
ShelfmarkRB.s.2326
Acquired on26/05/04
AuthorBlackwood, Adam, ed.
TitleDe Iezabelis Anglae parricido [sic] varii generis poemata Latina et Gallica.
Imprint[Paris : s.n.]
Date of Publication1587-88
LanguageLatin, French, Italian
NotesThis is a very rare collection of poems in Latin, French and Italian verse lamenting the execution of Mary Queen of Scots in 1587 and attacking Queen Elizabeth and Anne Boleyn. It was probably edited, and partly written, by Mary's Scottish biographer Adam Blackwood. The poems are signed only by initials and were evidently assembled and issued in a number of different forms and arrangements, and were surreptitiously published in the years 1587 to 1588. The first six verses were evidently the first produced, and were also issued separately in quarto but in a different setting, again without title-page (only two copies of this earlier, smaller edition are known: in the Herzog August Library in Wolfenbuettel and in the BL). Some five poems appear only here, among the second sequence of poems, which was presumably issued some time in 1588. Four of the poems in this collection appear in the second (1588) edition of Adam Blackwood's most famous work "Martyre de la Royne d' Ecosse". The third edition of "Martyre de la Royne d' Ecosse", a substantially larger collection of poems, shares 24 poems with the present volume. "De Iezabelis Anglae parricido" is a mixture of elegaic poems for the executed Scottish queen and savage attacks on Elizabeth and her mother Anne Boleyn (the latter is referred to as a 'barbarr putain' [barbarous whore]); anagrams of Mary Stuart and Elizabeth Tudor draw appropriate moral praise or censure, and the French audience is whipped up by the poem 'Exhortation au peuple de France sur le trespas de la Royne d' Ecosse'. The editor of the collection Blackwood (1539-1613) was born in Dunfermline and studied in Paris, where his education was in part funded by Mary. He was appointed by her as counsellor to the parliament of Poitiers (part of her marriage settlement to the dauphin Francois), and was said to have visited Mary during in her captivity in England. Blackwood's pro-Mary propaganda had a major influence on subsequent French and Scottish national histories of the 17th century.
ShelfmarkRB.m.693
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on11/11/09
AuthorBlackwood, Adam.
TitleDe principis Augustissimi Francisci Ducis Guisiani obitu. Paris, 1563 BOUND WITH Blackwood, Adam. In Novae Religionis Asseclas Carmen Invenctium Ad virum illustrissimum & 9 Others
ImprintParis
Date of Publication1563
LanguageLatin
NotesIt is unusual to acquire eleven mid-16th Century poems printed in Paris most of which have survived in one or two copies only. Bound together in late 17th-century sheepskin, this collection of separately printed short poetical pieces covers a range of subjects including the deaths of Henri II, the Duke of Guise and Nicholas Boileau. The principal interest to the National Library is the inclusion of two neo-Latin poems by Adam Blackwood (1539-1613). Educated at Paris University, Blackwood acquired considerable prowess in the composition of Latin poetry and enjoyed the patronage of Robert Reid, Bishop of Orkney (his great-uncle) and, most famously, Mary Queen of Scots. He is best remembered for his Apologia pro Regibus of 1581 which confronted George Buchanan's justification for Regicide, in certain circumstances, and his Martyre de la Reyne d'Ecosse of 1587 which described the harsh treatment accorded Mary Stewart during her long imprisonment in England. Blackwood was a frequent visitor to Mary during her imprisonment and his name will always be linked to her. The first of the poems in this volume is on the death of Mary's maternal Uncle, Francois, Duke of Guise at the hands of a Hugenot assassin in 1563 and the second criticises the Protestant religion and ends with a series of short verses, including four epigrams, to Mary, James Beaton, Catholic Archbishop of Glasgow, Walter Reid, Abbot of Kinloss, John Reid, John Sinclair, Dean of Restalrig and his own brother Henry Blackwood. Provenance: 1. Contemp ink signature on title of no. 1 'P. Jamisier'; Charles Spencer, 3rd Earl of Sunderland (1674-1722); by descent to Dukes of Marlborough, with Blenheim Palace shelfmarks in ink 'D.8.112' and pencil '91 F.13' thence through the sale rooms Sunderland Library Sale, Sotheby's 1881-1883, lot 10,046. 2. Theological Institute of Connnecticut, with oval blindstamp at the beginning and end. 3. Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, with bookplates of The Woodruff Collection and Pitts Theology Library.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2086
Acquired on24/10/00
AuthorBlair, Hugh, 1718-1800.
TitleHugo Blair's Vorlesungen uber Rhetorik und Shone Wissenshaften.
ImprintLeignitz und Leipzig: Bey David Siegert
Date of Publication1785 - 1798
LanguageGerman
NotesThis is a handsome four-volume copy of the scarce first German translation, by K. G. Schreiter, of Hugh Blair?s Lectures on Rhetoric. Blair?s popular Lectures held and important place in the Scottish Enlightenment canon and were read in the University of Edinburgh for over twenty years. They were originally designed for the initiation of youth in the study of belles lettres and composition.
ShelfmarkAB.2.205.018
Acquired on11/04/05
AuthorBlair, James Law
Title[Photographs taken by James Law Blair in and around Bandawe when employed by the African Lakes Company circa 1900.]
Date of Publication1900?
LanguageEnglish
NotesThe volume contains 132 black and white photographs. Bandawe settlement was funded from Glasgow on a commercial/evangelical basis. It was then called Nyasaland but is now Malawi. The African Lakes Corporation was a British company originally set-up in 1877 by Scottish businessmen to co-operate with missions in what is now Malawi. Despite its original connections with the Free Church of Scotland, it operated its businesses in Africa on a commercial rather than a philanthropic basis, and it had political ambitions in the 1880s to control part of Central Africa. Its businesses in the colonial era included water transport on the lakes and rivers of Central Africa, wholesale and retail trading including the operation of general stores, labour recruitment and landowning.
ShelfmarkPhot.med.125
Acquired on09/05/14
AuthorBlaxland, Gregory.
TitleJournal of a tour of discovery across the Blue Mountains, New South Wales in the year 1813.
ImprintAngus & Robertson: Sydney
Date of Publication1893.
LanguageEnglish
NotesA line for line reproduction of the rare original edition of 1823 which recounts the first European crossing of the Blue Mountains in 1813 and the discovery of the pastures to the west of the ranges.
ShelfmarkGB/A.3616
Acquired on06/09/01
AuthorBlind Hary
TitleThe acts and deeds of the most famous and valiant champion Sir William Wallace, Knight of Ellerslie.
ImprintEdinburgh : [s.n.]
Date of Publication1648 [1758]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis copy of an 18th-century printed edition of Blind Har(r)y's famous poem of William Wallace contains an apparently unique survival of a variant title page for an edition actually published in 1758. The 1758 edition, some copies of which were apparently issued without a title page, does not give any indication of the bookseller or printer. The most likely explanation of this, as is indicated in a manuscript note in one of the Library copies of the 1758 edition, is that sheets were actually printed in Edinburgh by Robert Freebairn, the former King's Printer, over 40 years previously in 1714 or 1715. Freebairn chose to join the failed Jacobite uprising in Scotland in 1715, acting as the printer for the 'Old Pretender' in Perth. One consequence of this decision was that the sheets for his printing of Blind Harry's poem were impounded in a warehouse until 1758 when they were finally bound up and sold, either without title page or with an imprint bearing the date 1758 (there are also two copies recorded with an imprint date of 1757). This particular copy is a further variant, with the imprint date printed as 'MDCXLVIII' (1648). There was indeed a 1648 printing of the Blind Harry's poem in Edinburgh by Gideon Lithgow, but in a different format. The only explanation for this date is an error on the printer's part. A previous owner has tried to erase the offending 'X' from the imprint date, perhaps intending to write in a 'C' in its place, but seems to have given up quite quickly with the result that the false date is still clearly visible.
ShelfmarkAB.2.216.11
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on27/05/16
AuthorBoswell, James
TitleBicentenary edition of Pitman's extra illustrated Boswell's Johnson
ImprintIsaac Pitman & Sons
Date of Publication1909
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis edition of Boswell's Johnson was published in twenty weekly instalments beginning on Saturday September 18, 1909 and finishing on Saturday January 29th, 1910. The text is supplemented by the inclusion of over 560 illustrations offering information on people, places, documents and events associated with the narrative. The National Library's copy of this edition is notable for two reasons. Firstly, all twenty of the individually published parts are accounted for. Secondly, all of the front and back paper wrappers are present and in excellent condition.
ShelfmarkH8.202.0878
Acquired on15/04/02
AuthorBourne, Samuel (1834-1912) and other photographers
TitleAlbum of Photographs of India, Burma, and the Andaman Islands
Date of Publication1863-1899
LanguageEnglish
NotesAn important group of early photographs assembled between 1850 and 1867 by James Bruce, 8th Earl of Elgin, and his son Victor Alexander Bruce, the 9th Earl, providing a visual record of the distinguished careers of the two earls as diplomats, military strategists, and politicians in India and the Far East. The four Elgin albums form a valuable source for the study of colonial and imperialist expansion, global commercial travel, and, not least, the rapid growth of commercial photography. The purchase was made possible by generous contributions from the Heritage Lottery Fund (National Heritage Memorial Fund) and the National Art Collections Fund.
ShelfmarkPhot.la.13
Acquired on08/02/00
AuthorBoursalt, Edme, (1638-1701)
TitleMarie Stuard, Reine d'Ecosse, Tragedie.
ImprintParis: Jean Guignard
Date of Publication1691
LanguageFrench
NotesThe first edition of this remarkable addition to the canon of French Mary studies: a hot-blooded re-imagining of the life and execution of the Queen of Scots. Thought to be the earliest surviving work to contain the wholly fictional meeting between Elizabeth I and Mary. Boursault's tragedy is able to count its place in a certain lineage of French Mary plays, beginning with Montchrestien (1601) and Regnault (1634) and extending well into the 19th century. Like its predecessors, Marie Stuard amply reflects the age in which it was written: the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1683 (the year in which Boursault's play was first performed) officially ended the toleration of Huguenots, somewhat explaining his extreme vilification of Elizabeth and his tendency to idealize Mary. Nevertheless, Paulson et al. find it to be of significant theatrical and historical value. The plot of Montchrestien's play seems relatively simple and Reganult's shows scarcely much more complexity. Boursault, utilizing a novelesque approach and profiting from the advancements in theatrical technique, presents a complex series of intrigues... Norfolk's love affair with Mary, Morray's hatred of his sister and love of Elizabeth, Newcastle's betrayal of Norfolk and the abandonment and betrayal of Elizabeth add life and interest to the play. We feel that for this reason alone, it would be interesting and rewarding for Marie Stuard to be performed by a modern repertory group, which would revive Boursault's work from an unjust oblivion. Boursault is also guilty, however, of severe historical anachronisms, the least among them the inclusion of characters killed long before Mary's execution (Norfolk and Morray). Far more glaring, however, is the entirely made-up personal meeting between Elizabeth and Mary  an episode which enjoyed an important and enduring legacy, as Paulson et al. point out.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2908
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes. M.G. Paulson, The Queens' encounter: the Mary Stuart anachronism in dramas by Diamante, Boursault, Schiller, and Donizetti, New York: Lang, 1987
Acquired on16/01/15
AuthorBoutcher, William.
TitleA treatise on forest-trees.
ImprintEdinburgh: Printed by R. Fleming, and sold by the author,
Date of Publication1775
LanguageEnglish
NotesWilliam 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.
ShelfmarkBdg.m.172
Reference SourcesJ.H. Loudon, "James and William Scott, bookbinders" (NY, 1980)
Acquired on03/06/11
AuthorBoylan, Grace Duffie
TitleIf Tam o'Shanter'd had a wheel
ImprintNew York: E. R. Herrick
Date of Publication1898
NotesBoylan (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.
ShelfmarkAB.2.206.003
Acquired on06/06/05
AuthorBoyle, Robert
TitleOf the reconcileableness of specifick medicines to the corpuscular philosophy
ImprintLondon : Printed for Sam. Smith
Date of Publication1685
LanguageEnglish
NotesRobert 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".
ShelfmarkRB.s.2652
Reference SourcesESTC; DNB
Acquired on28/02/07
AuthorBoyle, Robert
TitleMedicinal experiments; or, A collection of choice remedies, for the most part simple, and easily prepared (vols. 1-3)
ImprintLondon : Printed for Sam. Smith (and J. Taylor)
Date of Publication1692-94
LanguageEnglish
NotesA 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.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2651(1-3)
Reference SourcesESTC ; DNB
Acquired on28/02/07
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