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 818 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 818:

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AuthorHume, David
TitleHistoire d'Angleterre... par David Hume et ses continuateurs Goldsmith et W. Jones; traduction nouvelle ou revue par M. Langlois
ImprintParis: Jubin
Date of Publication1829-32
NotesThis rare French edition of David Hume's History of England, edited by Alexandre Langlois, brings together extant French translations of Hume's work with continuations designed to bring the narrative down to as recent a date as possible, the accession of George IV (1820). The Avertissement which prefaces vol. 13 explains that it was decided not to present the usual continuation of Hume's work, that by Smollett: 'we recoiled at the necessity of presenting our readers with too many volumes' (there are 16 in all). Instead the first 13 chapters of this volume (covering William and Mary to George II) are taken from the more concise History of England by Oliver Goldsmith. The text for the reign of George III is taken from the now forgotten History of England during the Reign of George III by William Jones, first published in 1825. The Avertissement contains some interesting comments on the translation of a History of England covering the recent period when England and France were at war: 'What recommends this author [Jones] above all is a critical integrity ... he knows how to praise the French'; the translation is faithful apart from the omission of 'some exaggerated epithets' (presumably anti-French) in the English original. Also included, bound at the end of vol. 5, is a separate publication: Justification de quelques passages des IVe et Ve volumes de l'Histoire d'Angleterre par le Docteur Lingard (Paris: Librairie de Carie de la Charie, 1827), a work which defends Hume's account of the Reformation period and his comments on the French history of that period in particular. Volume 12 also contains Abbe Prevost's appendix to Hume's history, which first appeared in his own translation. This edition, therefore, shows a somewhat controversial French reception of Hume's History at this period, with the translator, the editor and the owner (who chose to have Lingard's Justification bound in) all finding it necessary to justify and qualify Hume's original.
Reference SourcesBookseller's catalogue; DNB
Acquired on17/01/07
AuthorHume, David
TitleHistoire de la maison de Stuart [de Tudor]
Date of Publication1761
NotesThis is the first duodecimo edition in French of this part of David Hume's History of Great Britain. This 6-volume set is accompanied by a 6-volume duodecimo set of Hume's Histoire de la maison de Tudor (Amsterdam, 1763). Hume actually wrote the volumes on the Stuarts first, only turning later to the Tudors (and then to the Plantagenets). The Library collects translations of Scottish works written during the Enlightenment, as evidence for the influence of Scottish thought on Europe as a whole. The Stuart set was translated by A.-F. Prevost, the Tudor set was translated by Octavie Guichard (Mme. Belot). This is a handsome set in a contemporary binding; the volumes have both early and later bookplates.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2327 and RB.s.2328
Reference SourcesESTC T229804 Jessop, Bibliography of David Hume, p.32
Acquired on02/07/04
AuthorRobertson, William
TitleHistoire de l'amerique
ImprintMaestricht: Jean-Edme Dufour & Philippe Roux
Date of Publication1777
NotesThe historian William Robertson was one of the many writers of the Scottish Enlightenment whose works attracted interest on the continent of Europe. As part of its mission to document the influence of Scots on the rest of the world, the Library purchases versions of Scottish works printed and translated abroad. Among Robertson's popular works is the History of America, which explores the conquest of America by the European powers. This early translation into French is by Marc-Antoine Eidous. This is a particularly attractive copy, bound in contemporary patterned paper boards.
Acquired on04/06/03
AuthorClaude-Francois-Xavier Mercier de Compiegne
TitleHistoire de Marie Stuart, reine de France et d'Ecosse. Nouvelle edition.
ImprintParis: Mercier
Date of Publication1795
NotesA rare edition of a French biography of Mary Queen of Scots, the author Mercier de Compiegne (1763-1800) originally published the work in 1793 with the longer and somewhat racier title "La vie, les amours, le proces, et la mort de Marie Stuart, reine de France et d'Ecosse". This later edition was divided into two parts and with two plates depicting scenes from Mary's life rather the portrait of her in the earlier edition. The source material of this work appears to have been Nicolas Caussin's (1583-1651) work "La cour saincte" although there may have been other sources used as well.
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on22/04/16
TitleHistoria regalis divi Iacobi VI. regis semper augusti
Date of Publication1626
NotesThis is an unusual rarity for which no extant copies could be found in RLIN, ESTC, OCLC, CURL, or the British Library, Library of Congress, Harvard University Library or the Bodleian. It is a 30-cm. tall folio, bound in calfskin vellum with the word/name 'Solon' written in manuscript at the head of the top board. There are 13 unnumbered preliminary leaves and 89 numbered pages of text. The text ends with the inscription 'Libri Primi Finis' although there is no bibliographic evidence that any additional volumes were ever published. The preliminary leaves close with the signature of Bernardinus ab Angelis. The identity of this person or his nationality has not been determined. There is an emblem on the title page of a woman's head with cornucopias, which resembles devices used by both the publishers Vautrollier in London and Andro Hart in Edinburgh. However, the emblem incorporated by both these publishers does not match precisely the emblem appearing this book. There are indications in the Latin text that the book may be Parisian in origin although no record for it could be located in the Bibliothèque nationale de France. The work has a number of interesting textual and bibliographic anomalies. For example, on the recto of leaf e2 a slip of paper with the words 'Inclitissime Princeps Pietatis & Sanctitatis' has been pasted in to complete this missing line of text. Later, on page 36 a larger compositor's error was corrected by pasting in a new sheet of text over the existing erroneous text. There is a blank space at the beginning of the text on page 1 caused by the omission of the initial capital letter. The fourth leaf has been excised, as it was presumably blank. Lastly, the stub of the back pastedown and the stub of what would have been Z2 have been folded before signature Y. These occurrences suggest that the volume may have been a proof copy for a work that was never taken further to the publication stage. Both the title page and the recto of the opening free flyleaf have the manuscript signature of Georg Rodolph Weckherlin (1584 -1653). Weckherlin is widely regarded as the greatest German poet of the period preceding the stylistic reforms later introduced by Martin Opitz (1597-1637). Weckherlin was born in Stuttgart, studied law at the University of Tübingen and later immigrated to England where he married Elizabeth Raworth in 1616. He entered the royal service shortly before the accession of Charles I in 1625 and served as secretary to all of Charles's Secretaries of State prior to the Civil War as well as serving as Under-Secretary for the German, Latin and French Tongues. His diary also shows that he was often called upon to act as personal secretary to the King himself. Weckherlin broke with the King around 1642 and was in Parliamentary service by 1643. In February 1644 he was officially appointed to the important position of Secretary for the Foreign Tongues. He retired at the end of 1648 and was replaced by Milton although he was later recalled and served as Milton's assistant during his blindness. In March 2003 one of our readers read the text and concluded that it is indeed likely to be French, as there are many references to contacts between Scotland and France, including a story that Henri III tried to kidnap James. The text holds up James as the ideal example of kingship to the new King Charles. It is possible to speculate that Weckherlin is the author. He is known as a Rosicrucian, and much of the symbolic language in the text may stem from this; even the name Bernardinus ab Angelis could be a code-word of this cult movement. It might be useful to compare this with a work in the John Rylands library: James, I, King of England, 1566-1625. - Kurtze Summarische / vnd Wahrhafftige Beschreibung / der Geburt / Lebens vnd. - [S.l.], 1625, shelfmark R19122.
Reference SourcesSotheby's London Thursday 14th December, 1989. The Trumbull Papers, the property of the Most Honourable the Marquis of Downshire.
Acquired on25/09/02
AuthorIsthvanfius, Nicolaus
TitleHistoriarum de rebus Ungaricis
Date of Publication1622
NotesNote: This stunning goatskin binding, bound for King James I (James VI of Scotland), has been attributed to the royal binder John Bateman. The spine and the covers have been entirely tooled in gilt fleur de lys within roundels enclosing small flowers, with the royal arms gilt tooled in the centre of both covers. Appointed as royal binder in 1604, Bateman probably also used a number of quite angular cornerpiece tools in addition to thistle and other smaller ornamentations. Fields (or semis/semées) of fleur de lys were very much in vogue on French bindings from the 1540s onwards and this style was used by English* binders during the late 16th and early 17th centuries. According to Davenport, this form of ornamentation (thistles, tridents, and stars were also employed) was used for James more than for any other sovereign. These distinctive and dominant semis of fleur de lys are found only on folios bound for James and at least four other folios in this style have been attributed to Bateman. As the royal binder he bound many works for James as well as for his sons Charles (when he was Prince of Wales) and Henry, who died in 1612. The designs for these bindings were relatively simple, usually with the respective coats of arms tooled in the centre of the covers. John Bateman was one of only two binders active during the reign of Elizabeth I whose name and work is known. He was the son of John Bateman a London clothworker. Beginning on 29 September 1567, Bateman served a 12 year apprenticeship, and became free of the Stationers' Company in January 1580. He seems to have run a large bindery and is recorded as taking on a number of apprentices between 1584 and 1605. John and his son Abraham received the appointment of royal binder (for life) to James I by warrant dated 3 May 1604 for a yearly fee of £6. Little is known about Abraham. He was apprenticed to his father and was freed by patrimony on 13 April 1607. He took his first apprentice in June 1608 and two further apprentices are recorded. In the Wardrobe accounts between 1609 and 1615 there are frequent mentions of payment made to John Bateman for binding a variety of religious and secular books. Of particular interest is a mention in a warrant to the Great Wardrobe of 1613 of a number of books 'in Turquey lether wrought over wth small tools'. Bateman was one of a few binders using goatskin imported from Turkey. He was still royal binder during Charles I's reign and was last issued with a livery in 1639/40. However no bindings made by him for King Charles survive. The last Bateman binding was for a book printed in 1635. The text of the volume is also noteworthy as it provides further evidence of James's interest in European affairs. It would have provided him with some context for events unfolding in central Europe in the early stages of what was to become the Thirty Years War (1618-1648). Featured on the title page engraved by Balthasar Behrvazin (?), is a central medallion portrait of Ferdinand II, the Holy Roman Emperor, King of Hungary and Bohemia. It was his conflict with Frederick V, the Elector of the Palatinate and husband to James's daughter Elizabeth, which sparked this long series of wars. This book constituted an important addition to James's extensive collection of printed material relating to the affairs of the Palatinate and of the German Empire in general. The book is the first edition of this seminal history of Hungary, covering the period 1490-1607, a time when the Turks were exerting enormous pressure on strongholds of European Christendom. Hungary in fact had been annexed by Sulieman the Magnificent in 1540. The author, Nicolaus Isthvanfius (also known as Miklos Istavanffy, 1536-1615), in addition to being an historian was also a statesman and a soldier, who both fought against and negotiated with the Turks. Much of the work, which he wrote after his retirement from public life, deals with events that Isthvanfius actually witnessed or learnt about at first hand. It is one of the principal source books for the history of the Turks in 16th century Europe. Another edition, riddled with errors, and with an account of the siege and relief of Vienna (1683) was published in 1685. Aside from the binding, the book itself is a significant addition to the Library's collection of continental books. This is a rare text: only 4 other copies of this book have been traced, one of which is in Britain (BL). Provenance: King James I, Chichester Cathedral Library, W.A. Foyle (bookplate on upper flyleaf) -- lot 449 at Foyle sale July 2000, sold for £2350 **The Library now holds the following items belonging to James: Bdg.m.104 Chard, Simon. Germanicarum rerum quatuor celebriores vetustioresque chronographi. (Frankfurt, 1566) With Scottish royal arms Adv.Ms.19.2.6. Stewart of Baldynneis, John. Ms. of Ane abridgement of Roland Furious translait out of Ariost, etc. (c.1585) Bdg.m.89. Bellarmine, Robert, Saint. Disputationum Roberti Bellarmini Politani. (Ingolstadi, 1601) Fanfare binding by Simon Corberan, Paris, with Scottish royal arms Gray.645 Camden, William. Brittania. (London, 1607) with non-royal coat of arms K.99.a Cotgrave, R. A dictionary of the French and English tongues. (London, 1611) with non-royal coat of arms Adv.Ms.33.3.4 -- early 17th century copies in French of treaties between France and her allies 1552-1615 With royal coat of arms Ry.III.a.11. James I. The workes of the most high and mighty Prince Iames. (London, 1616) with non-royal coat of arms RB.2081(1). James I. A meditation upon the Lords Prayer. (London, 1619) RB.2081(2). James II. Two meditations of the King Maiestie. (London, 1620) Adv.Ms.33.3.3 Anonymous English treaties about the war with Spain. (c.1621) with non-royal coat of arms *See H.25.b.10 - James Keppler, Harmonices mundi libri V (Lincii Austriae, 1619), bound for Charles as Prince of Wales, binding decorated with coat of arms in centre on field of large fleur de lys within a border of thistles.
Reference SourcesBirrell, T.A. English monarchs and their books: from Henry VII to Charles II. (London, 1987) Davenport, Cyril. 'Royal English bookbindings', in The Portfolio. (London, 1896) Foot, Mirjam. The Henry Davis Gift: a collection of bookbindings ? v.1 Studies in the history of bookbinding. (London, 1978) Foot, Mirjam. Studies in the history of bookbinding. (London, 1993) Horne, Herbert P. The binding of books (London, 1915) Maggs. Bros. Bookbinding in the British Isles: sixteenth to the twentieth century. (Cat. 1075) (London, 1987) Nixon, Howard M. Five centuries of English bookbinding. (London, 1978) Nixon, Howard M. and Foot, Mirjam. The history of decorated bookbinding in England. (Oxford, 1992) Royal English bookbindings in the British Museum. (London, 1957) Specimens of royal fine and historical bookbinding, selected from the Royal Library, Windsor Castle. (London, 1893)
Acquired on28/06/01
AuthorMaclean, Hector
TitleHistory and Travels
Date of Publication1769
NotesThis is one of the most significant and interesting (not to mention expensive) chapbooks that the National Library of Scotland has purchased in recent years. Hector Maclean's autobiographical account of his sea-faring life is packed with extraordinary information about how one eighteenth-century Scot saw the world. Hector was born in Argyleshire in 1728, but the story really begins when he stowed away on his brother's ship at the age of eight. He ended up in Greenock, which struck him as such an amazing place that he wandered the town until it was dark, and got lost. Not speaking any English (presumably because his native tongue was Gaelic), Hector ended up being taken in by various families, who put him to work as a farm servant. After some years he managed to return to his family, and was taught to read and write: the urge to travel, however, was still strong, and he took ship for Virginia. The account of the North American coast which follows is full of keen observations, particularly of the wildlife. The curious behaviour of opossums, sharks, alligators and insects is presented to the Scottish reader. Maclean is also informative about the native Americans; he describes a group presenting a British Governor with the scalp of an enemy. The Portuguese, however, come in for the most scathing criticism, being described as violent thieves. This is apparently the second edition of the first installment of Maclean's account (there is a 1768 edition in the British Library). We already have a copy of the second installment, (L.C.2811(2)), published in 1771. Any other installments have not been traced. It sounds as though Maclean paid for the printing of these chapbooks himself, so the rarity of the surviving copies may be a result of their being printed in very small numbers. When placed together, the first and second installments of Maclean's History and Travels constitute a truly fascinating account of a Scottish traveller, with some genuine literary merit. The two pamphlets combined would be excellent candidates for a short publication.
Reference SourcesLauriston Castle chapbook catalogue
Acquired on04/11/02
TitleHistory of King Pippin
ImprintGlasgow: A. Paterson
NotesThis is a delightful chapbook in very good condition. It was published by Archibald Paterson, an engraver and copperplate printer in Glasgow. Between 1820 and 1825 he published a number of small children's books with high quality engravings. "The history of King Pippin" contains 10 wood-engraved illustrations and is in its original printed wrappers with wood engravings to both covers.
ShelfmarkAPS 2.203.030
Reference SourcesSBTI
Acquired on23/06/03
TitleHistory of Master Jackey and Miss Harriot
ImprintGlasgow: A. Paterson
NotesThis is a lovely chapbook in very good condition. It was published by Archibald Paterson, an engraver and copperplate printer in Glasgow. Between 1820 and 1825 he published a number of small children's books with high quality engravings. "The history of Master Jackey and Miss Harriot" contains 9 wood-engraved illustrations and is in its original printed wrappers with wood engravings to both covers.
Reference SourcesSBTI
Acquired on23/06/03
TitleHistory of the horrid and unnatural murders, lately committed by John Smith in the parish of Roseneath, and shire of Dumbarton
Date of Publication1727
NotesThis is an 8-page pamphlet bearing the stamp of the Birmingham Law Society. No bibliographic record for it can be found in ESTC or in other bibliographic databases. It details the pathetic life of John Smith who was hung in 1727 at the age of 29 for the murder of both his sister and his wife. He was born in Greenock and had an early prosperous career running clandestine goods to Ireland. He later left this for the more honest life of a tenant farmer on land adjacent to that owned by his step-father John Campbell. Campbell was an honest and prosperous gentleman who had married Smith's mother upon the death of her husband, John's father. In order to secure a more prosperous and secure future, Smith proposed to marry John Campbell's daughter Margaret. He anticipated inheriting a portion of Campbell's estate, as Campbell had no children by his mother. The marriage took place even though Smith had been secretly courting a young woman called Janet Wilson. Smith and Janet Wilson kept up a clandestine correspondence during Smith's marriage and Smith also made promises to Janet Wilson that if his wife were dead he would surely marry her. He had also promised Janet Smith the sum of 1000 merks if she would refuse to marry a particular suitor. Smith's financial situation became such that he could not give the 1000 merks to Janet Wilson as promised and so he murdered his sister Katherine in order that the bulk of Campbell's estate would revert to himself. About a year later Smith murdered his wife Margaret so that he could then keep his promise of marriage to Janet Wilson. Smith later confessed to the murders as suspicions mounted against him and he was hung in Dumbarton on the 20th of January 1727.
Reference SourcesNot in ESTC
Acquired on04/04/02
AuthorCrouch, Nathaniel
TitleHistory of the kingdoms of Scotland & Ireland.
Date of Publication1685
NotesNathaniel Crouch who wrote under the pseudonym of R.B. ? Richard or Robert Burton, was a prolific author of books for both adults and children. He is credited with writing, editing or rewriting over 40 books during his long life (c.1632-c.1725). These included emblem books, fables, riddle books, travel narratives and histories. The simplicity of his prose style was praised by Samuel Johnson and he is regarded as one of the first authors to attempt to provide children with entertaining as opposed to purely moralistic reading matter. Crouch had already written about the recent history of the three kingdoms as well as a more exhaustive history of England. In his preface he stated he aimed at 'plainness and brevity' in describing the history of Scotland and Ireland, with particular emphasis on the late medieval period. The book is illustrated with crude woodcuts, some of which are repeated in the text.
Acquired on19/10/00
TitleHoly Bible, containing the old and new testaments
Date of Publication1769
NotesA contemporary Scottish binding in fine condition of brown morocco, gilt tooled with a herringbone design in the centre of both boards; this is contained within a rectangular panel displaying elaborate tooling in gilt of thistles, arabesque, annular and plain dots, and fleurons. With worn marbled endpapers and corners bumped. Otherwise a very good example of an 18th-century Scottish binding.
Acquired on17/03/00
TitleHoly Bible
ImprintNorth Hatfield
Date of Publication1999
Notes2 vols. 1 of 400 copies Over the years the Library has been building an impressive collection of Private Press books produced throughout the world. Many have been donated, for example, the Paterson and Gregynog Press collections, and others have arrived through legal deposit and purchase. In this area recently, and due to funding constraints, the Library has reduced its purchasing but has tried to acquire 'landmark' publications as well as works by Scottish authors published abroad. The present work falls into the former category, and has been described as the last great private press book of the 20th Century. It is an illustrated folio edition of the King James Bible on Zerkall paper (Germany) and printed in GALLIARD type, on a vellum spine binding with handmade paper over the boards. The 235 engravings by Barry Moser were done using a new medium called Resingrave, a white polymer resin, that has been championed by Mr Moser. The design, layout and feel of the publication recalls the famous Doves Press Bible of 1903-1905. The Pennyroyal Caxton Press is a partnership between Barry Moser and Bruce Kovner, a patron of the arts living in New York.
Acquired on19/05/00
TitleHoly Bible
Date of Publication1764
NotesAn unusual contemporary binding for a 1764 Edinburgh-printed edition of the Bible. It is the first of two (or possibly three) volumes. A small number of similar floral bindings were produced in the 1760s and 1770s usually in crimson or red morocco (F.4.e.17) but occasionally in green, as in this example. The library holds two similar, though not identical, bindings with this motif. It is noteworthy for a number of reasons: the spine does not have any raised bands or compartments; it has bold block-printed Dutch gilt endpapers and most strikingly the foredge is tooled in blind, with the petals decorated in red (now faded) in a complementary floral design. On the upper pastedown is the bookplate of James Drummond, possibly dating from the 1880s. (Bookplate also in RSM.23, acquired 1887).
Acquired on23/01/01
TitleHoly Bible
Date of Publication1647
NotesBound with New Testament, London, 1647 and Psalms of David in meeter, Edinburgh, 1647. An unspoilt example of a simple binding which is likely to have been produced in Scotland in the second quarter of the seventeenth century. The tool in the centrepiece, though it resembles a thistle, is more likely to be a carnation. The crudeness of this tool and the fact the volume includes Psalms printed in Edinburgh strengthens the plausability of it being a Scottish binding. The centrepiece is typical of the kinds of tools that developed towards the end of the centrepiece period, c.1640, which is quite late by London standards. This edition of the 'Psalms of David in meeter' printed by Robert Bryson is not recorded in Aldis or Wing. He was primarily a bookseller and he began printing in 1640. He was also a bookbinder, though definitive examples of his bindings have not been traced. Bryson died in 1645, so this imprint is somewhat erroneous. The business was taken over by his heirs in 1646.
Acquired on10/04/01
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