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 735 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 361 to 375 of 735:
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|Title||Ladies and gentlemen, the contents of this bill are worthy your attention. Comfortable walking. D. Davis, (to be consulted at Mrs. Young's, No.5, College-street, Edinburgh,) the well known extractor of hard and soft corns, bunnions [sic] on the great toes, root and branch, without the least pain or drawing blood ....|
|Imprint||[Edinburgh] : Schaw, printer, Lawnmarket,|
|Date of Publication||c. 1810|
|Notes||Printed ephemera from the hand-press era of printing are particularly scarce, so this Edinburgh-printed handbill from the early 19th century is a welcome addition to the Library's collections. It advertises the medical services of one D. Davis, "well-known
extractor of hard and soft corns, bunnions on the great toes". For potential clients in Edinburgh he provides information on his success in rectifying all manner of foot complaints, rendering the patients "able to walk immediately, although they may have been afflicted many years & he has arrived from Hull, with great testimonials from several highly honourable ladies and gentleman, from the year 1796 to the present period, and is highly recommended in the town of Sunderland; also in the city of Lincoln, Louth, Boston, Gainsbro', Doncaster, Swansey, Carmarthen&"
|Author||Gibb, J. Taylor.|
|Title||Land of Burns: Mauchline town and district.|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||This is a rare Mauchline-ware book signed by the author J. Taylor Gibb. The binding is 'made of wood from the old United Presbyterian Church, Mauchline' which was built in 1793 and demolished in 1884. Mauchline was one of a number of Ayrshire towns where during the nineteenth century, snuff boxes, tea-caddies, napkin rings and cigar cases were made of wood - sycamore or oak. Because of the dominant position of W. and A. Smith in Mauchline in the trade, these wooden objects were referred to as Mauchline ware. The beautifully-crafted sold in vast quantities not only in Britain but throughout Europe and the British Empire until the 1930s.
Robert Burns's association with the town - he lived there with Jean Armour and composed some of his most famous poems locally - meant that many objects were decorated with portraits of the poet. From the 1860s photographs were applied as a decoration to many items of Mauchline ware. It is possible that this binding was made at the Caledonian Box Works founded in Lanark in 1866 by Alexander Brown a keen photographer and an acquaintance of George Washington Wilson.|
|Reference Sources||Baker, John. Mauchline ware and associated Scottish souvenir ware. (Shire Album 140) 1985. HP2.85.3149|
|Date of Publication||1838|
|Notes||William Anderson (1805-1866) was born at Edinburgh. His maternal grandfather was the author of the 'Natural History of the Mineral Kingdom' and his brother John was the historian of the house of Hamilton. Apart from newspaper contributions, his first publication was 'Poetical Sketches' in 1833. By 1838 he was living in London where he moved in literary circles. Later he returned to Scotland, continuing to publish and working for Scottish newspapers.
The DNB characterizes Anderson's poetry as 'generally sweet and tuneful' but 'not characterized by much merit of a literary kind'. These 'Landscape Lyrics' are typical mid-19th century verse in their style and subject. This copy, however, is of particular interest, being the author's proof copy of the first edition, without title page or plates. As the bookseller's catalogue says, 'These pleasantly messy proofs were evidently corrected currente calamo as they came off the press'. As such, they are a good example of writing and publishing practices of the period, and complement the Library's holdings of publisher's archives in this regard. A copy of the publication in its final state is at AB.8.83.5, which would make an interesting comparison.|
|Reference Sources||DNB; Bookseller's catalogue.|
|Author||De Monvel, Roger Boutet.|
|Title||Le Bon Anglais.|
|Date of Publication||c.1918|
|Notes||This is one of three works for children with text by Roger Boutet de Monvel and 'pochoir' (stencilled) illustrations by Guy Arnoux published during the later years of First World War. The other titles were 'Nos Freres d'Amerique' and 'Le Carnet d'un Permissionaire'. They were seemingly designed to create a positive impression of their allies among French children and show soldiers in a variety of peace-time settings. Included are two illustrations of Scots - one depicting the Black Watch, the second 'Le Bon Ecossais', which shows a kilted soldier surrounded by flag-waving children. Arnoux (1886-1951) illustrated some 80 books during his lifetime. He studied with the designer Paul Poiret and was a frequent contributer to the fashion magazine 'Gazette du Bon Ton'. In 1921 he was appointed official artist of the French Navy.|
|Author||John Gibson Lockhart|
|Title||Le Ministre Ecossais, ou le Veuvage d' Adam Blair|
|Imprint||Paris: Charles Gosselin|
|Date of Publication||1822|
|Notes||This is an unrecorded French translation of Lockhart's controversial work "Some Passages in the Life of Mr. Adam Blair, Minister of the Gospel at Cross-Meikle". The first English edition was published in Edinburgh in the same year. The identity of the translator is unknown; he/she is referred to on the title page as the translator of "Edouard en Ecosse". This work is presumably the translation of David Carey's "Lochiel; or, the Field of Culloden" by 'baron Vel', which also appeared in 1822. "Le Ministre ecossais", published by Gosselin who also published translations of Walter Scott, was clearly aimed at enthusiastic French readers of Scott and all things Scottish. "Some Passages in the Life ..." was Lockhart's second novel and is generally regarded as his best. It was based on a true story that Lockhart heard from his father about a widowed minister who had an affair with a married woman. Lockhart was criticised for his immorality in recounting the tale; some of the disapproval may also have stemmed from the lack of a happy ending in the novel - the real 'Adam Blair' minister was deposed in 1746, but went on to marry his mistress and was eventually accepted back into the church. This three-volume set is from the library of a French noblewoman Diane-Adelaide Damas d' Antigny, madame de Simiane (1761-1835), former mistress of the marquis de Lafayette, which was housed in the Chateau de Cirey in Champagne.|
|Reference Sources||Bookseller's notes|
|Author||Sir Walter Scott|
|Title||Le miroir de la tante Marguerite et la chambre tapissee, contes.|
|Imprint||Paris: Charles Gosselin|
|Date of Publication||1829|
|Notes||This volume contains the first edition in French of Scott's essay 'On the Supernatural in Fictitious Composition; and particularly on the works of Ernest Theodore William Hoffmann'. The essay was first published, unsigned, in "The Foreign Quarterly Review" (vol. I, no. 1 (1827)); in it Scott criticised the late German author (1776-1822), better known by his pen name E.T.A. Hoffmann, for his unbridled use of supernatural effects and his inability to separate fantasy from reality in fiction. The essay was hugely influential as a critique of the use of the supernatural in literature and a source used by Edgar Allen Poe in "Fall of the house of Usher". The volume also includes translations of three gothic short stories by Scott, translations of: My Aunt Margaret's Mirror and The Tapestried Chamber (both from the literary annual "The Keepsake" for 1828) and Clorinda: or the Necklace of Pearl (from "The Keepsake" for 1829, by 'Lord Normanby' but pseudonymous). The translator was Rosine Mame Gosselin (Lady Lattimore Clarke), wife of the editor and publisher of Scott's works in French, Charles Gosselin. The book is from the library of a French noblewoman Diane-Adelaide Damas d' Antigny, madame de Simiane (1761-1835), former mistress of the marquis de Lafayette, which was housed in the Chateau de Cirey in Champagne.
|Reference Sources||Bookseller's notes|
|Author||Lamont, Sir James of Knockdow|
|Title||Lecture on the Civil War in America, delivered at the Rothesay Mechanics' Institute|
|Date of Publication||1864|
|Notes||An unrecorded (?) lecture stating the case for the Northern Government against the Southern States. The content is interesting for a number of reasons. The lecture begins "Ladies and Gentlemen, when I was crusing last winter in my yacht in the Mediterranean, I had the pleasure of passing an afternoon with the illustrious General Garibaldi." The venue and presumably the audience are interesting.
No copy in GUL online cat.|
|Title||Leichte und ganz neue Art Pferde zu englisiren [sic] [+ 1 other work]|
|Imprint||Arnheim: Felix Grundlieb|
|Date of Publication||1770|
|Notes||This volume contains the second work by the 18th-century Scottish horse doctor, Dionysius Robertson, which the Library has acquired in recent years (the other being the first edition of his ground-breaking work "Pferde-Artzney-Kunst" AB.1.208.004). Nothing is known of his early life, but we do know that in 1735 he entered into the service of lieutenant-general Sir James Campbell of Lawers, Perthshire. In the 1740s he served with the British army on the Continent in the War of the Austrian Succession. Robertson stayed on the continent when the War ended in 1747. He later worked for Friedrich, Margrave of Bayreuth-Brandenburg, in Bayreuth and for Friedrich's son-in-law, Duke Carl Eugen of Wuerttemberg. In 1753, in response to what he regarded as the relative lack of written knowledge relating to breaking in horses and their medical treatment, he published in Stuttgart his work "Pferde-Artzney-Kunst". 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 Europe during this period and became particularly renowned for his skill in castrating stallions and for introducing the practice of cauterisation to Germany. In this work of 1770 he describes how cosmetic surgery could be carried out on horses to improve their appearance. He outlines the process of 'Anglicising', i.e. docking, the tail of a horse by cutting and raising the tail of a horse while the animal is kept in its stall. By using a system of weights and pulleys the docked tail could be pulled upwards until it had a pleasing erect appearance. He Robertson then gives directions on how to carry out an operation to reduce the size of a horse's ears, as well as tips and recipes on curing common ailments which afflicted horses. The tail and ear operations are illustrated with folding engraved plates. Bound in with Robertson's work is another anonymous German work of 1774, "Von der lieflaendischen Pferdezucht und einigen bewaehrten Pferdecuren" on horse-breeding as practised in Liefland (i.e. Livonia - a Baltic state now incorporated into Estonia and Latvia) and on various cures for horse ailments.|
|Title||Les annales et croniques de France|
|Imprint||Paris: Barbe Regnault|
|Date of Publication||1560|
|Notes||This book has been donated from the collection of the late John Buchanan-Brown (d. 2011), author and translator of French books. It includes a typescript article by him on the provenance of the book and in particular of one its owners, John Somer. The book also has a notable Scottish provenance, the contemporary calf binding being gilt-stamped with the name "Franciscus Stevartvs", presumably Francis Stewart, 5th Earl of Bothwell (1562-1612). Francis was a son of John Stewart, Lord Darnley, Prior of Coldingham, who was an illegitimate child of James V of Scotland by his mistress Elizabeth Carmichael. The first owner of the book, however, was John Somer (1527?-1585), an English diplomat, who probably purchased the book when he was in Paris in 1559 to 1562, serving Sir Nicholas Throckmorton, the English ambassador to the French court. Somer has signed the title page of vol. 1 of the book and and also written his motto "Iuste. Sobrie.pie" 'Soberly, righteously and godly' - taken from The Epistle of Paul to Titus in the New Testament. Somer has also made occasional corrections and annotations to the text in a neat and minute italic hand. Somer became a highly-regarded diplomat, being involved in negotiations with the French court during the reign of Queen Elizabeth and was renowned for his skills in deciphering letters written in code, such as the ones written by Mary of Guise to her brothers in France in 1560 which had been intercepted by the English. Ill-health prevented Somer from taking up the post of ambassador to the Scottish court in 1583, but his final job in 1584 was linked to Scotland, namely acting as one the minders of the captive Mary Queen of Scots; his skills as a code-breaker no doubt acting as a deterrent to Mary's supporters trying to send messages to her. He died the following year shortly after having managed to secure release from his job due to his ill health.|
|Author||Contant D'Orville, Andre-Guillaume|
|Title||Les fastes de Grande Bretagne, contentant tout ce qui s'est passe d'interessant dans les trois royaumes d'Angleterre, d'Ecosse, & d'Irelande…|
|Imprint||Paris: J. P Costard|
|Date of Publication||1769|
|Notes||These two volumes claim to describe 'everything interesting that happened in the three realms of England, Scotland, and Ireland, from the foundation of the monarchy until the peace of 1763. In practice, the work has a decidedly Anglocentric focus - the author explains in his preface that he decided to write about England because of the importance of its relationship with France. However, Scottish history is covered in greater detail after the Union of the Crowns in 1603. In short, this book contains an interesting 18th-century French perspective on events such as the Jacobite risings and 'the most brilliant part of Queen Anne's reign ... the union of Scotland and England'.
The author, Andre-Guilliaume Contant d'Orville, (1730-1800), wrote novels and histories, and was influenced by the historical methods of Voltaire. The volumes are in the original stiff paper wrappers, with an 18th-century armorial bookplate (possibly Swedish) inside each front cover.|
|Reference Sources||Booksellers' catalogue|
|Title||Les jeux, caprices, et bizarreries de la nature. Par l'Auteur de Ma Tante Genevieve.|
|Imprint||Paris: Barba, Libraire, Palais-Royal|
|Date of Publication||1808|
|Notes||This is a rare copy of the first edition of Les jeux, caprices et bizzarreries de la nature, a novel by the French author Louis-François Archambault (1742-1812) . Better known by his stage name, Dorvigny, and rumoured an illegitimate son of Louis XV, this prolific author first became famous as actor and playwright, creator of the famous characters 'Janot' and 'Jocrisse'. This novel, whose leading characters are the Scottish 'Sir Jakson Makdonnal' and his family, is a light-hearted tale centred on characters who illustrate the 'games, caprices and peculiarities of nature': 'Sir Jakson', for instance, has the ears of a wild boar, and his French valet the tail of a deer. These peculiarities, never explained or mocked, drive the story, as Sir Jakson leaves Scotland first for Paris and then for America: the bulk of the book consists of his adventures there with his brother's daughter 'Miss Makdonnal' (who has horns) and a tribe of Iroquois Indians. Realism is not the point of this fictional representation of Scotland and Scottish characters, produced just before Scott's novels spread through Europe. Although at one point Sir Jakson's bearded great-niece returns to Scotland and spends time contemplating 'the rural and romantic location of her principal manor, surrounded by woods and mountains' (Vol. III, page 95), she is easily persuaded by another character to leave this 'savage solitude' and visit France, 'country of all kinds of liberty' - but not until she has erected a memorial chapel to her uncle, complete with priest to say Mass for his soul every day (pages 102-3). To a modern reader, the main interest of this book probably lies in the last section, where the bearded heroine, forced to disguise herself as a man, becomes romantically involved with a girlish youth raised to wear female clothes, and they happily live like this till a bout of smallpox restores both to the normal appearance of their genders and they can get respectably married. |
|Reference Sources||Charles Monselet: Oublies et dedaignes: figures litteraires de la fin du 18E siecle (1861); bookseller's catalogue.
|Title||Les types Russes|
|Imprint||[St. Petersburg: s.n.]|
|Date of Publication||c. 1860-1870]|
|Notes||An album of 24 carte-de-visite photographs pasted onto folding boards, making up a portfolio. William Carrick (1827-78) was born in Edinburgh but moved to Russia the following year when his father set up a timber business in Kronstadt, the port of St. Petersburg. William visited Scotland in 1857 where he met a young professional photographer, John MacGregor, who encouraged him in his plans to set up a photographic studio in St Petersburg. Carrick's studio opened in 1859 and MacGregor joined him to work together in the business. When they were not taking commissioned portraits, Carrick would invite people from the street in to have their photographs taken. He called these portraits his 'Russian types' and he and MacGregor photographed a broad cross-section of Russian society, from nuns, to street hawkers, coachmen and soldiers. These photographs found approval with the Russian court, Carrick getting a diamond ring from Tsar Alexander II. It is unusual to find Carrick 'Russian types' photographs in this album format. The title in French on the front cover suggests that the album may have been produced for the Russian court as French was the main language of the court.|
|Reference Sources||F. Ashbee & J. Lawson, "William Carrick 1827-1878" [Edinburgh, 1987] (Scottish Masters series no. 3)|
|Title||Letter from Col. Alexander Beatson - containing remarks upon a paper lately printed; entitled "Observations relative to the island of St. Helena".|
|Imprint||St. Helena: Printed for Solomon and Company, by Coupland and Hill|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||A very rare imprint from the first commercial press to be established on the island of St. Helena, which was shortly to become famous as the last home of Napoleon Bonaparte.
Alexander Beatson (1759-1830) was a Dundonian who had served as an army officer in the East India Company, writing a famous account of the war against Tippoo Sultaun which was published in 1800. After returning to live in England, Beatson was appointed to the governorship of St. Helena, a post he held from 1808-13. The island, which belonged to the East India Company, was in a very poor state. The population had nearly been wiped out by a measles epidemic and the c. 3000 survivors, a mixture of English settlers, Africans and Chinese coolies, were living in wretched conditions. Beatson set about improving the island, publishing this pamphlet to correct the many errors he found in a tract by his predecessor Colonel Robert Patton. In it he gives a history of the island, of its mismanagement, his justification for his improvements, and alludes to recent difficulties, namely a garrison mutiny in 1811 which was largely brought about by the British authorities suppressing the islanders trade in arrack, a potent spirit made from palm trees.
Amongst the improvements carried out by Beatson was the introduction of a printing press, which, as can be seen of this pamphlet was rudimentary, but which enabled him to publish 4 tracts during his time as governor and to contribute to a local periodical, the "St. Helena Monthly Register". In recognition of his achievements on the island, Beatson was promoted to the post major-general in 1813, he returned back to England a few months later.|
|Title||Letter from Governor Pownall to Adam Smith being an Examination of several points of doctrine, laid down in his 'Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations'.|
|Imprint||London: J. Almon|
|Date of Publication||1776|
|Notes||4to, , 48 p. Without the errata slip, sometimes pasted onto the verso of the half-title.
According to ESTC (English Short-Title Catalogue) and discussions with the main central belt libraries, there is no copy of this work in a public institution in Scotland. Reference to ABPC (American Book Prices Current) and BAR (Book Auction Records) demonstrates that no copy has come up for sale in the last twenty-five years (1975-1999). There are two imperfect copies in the British Library and a complete copy in Cambridge University Library, and there are a number of copies in the USA and one in Germany. The majority of copies are either lacking the half-title or errrata slip, or both.
This is one of the earliest, if not the earliest, criticisms of Adam Smith's An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations [hereafter Wealth of Nations] which was published earlier the same year. The author, Thomas Pownall (1722-1805), known as 'Governor Pownall' was Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Company between 1757 and 1759, very briefly Governor of South Carolina (late 1759 to early 1760) and, after quitting the American Colonies, sat as an MP between 1767 and 1780. In Parliament, and in his publications, Pownall was liberal in his views towards England's relationship with the American Colonists. He published on a wide range of subjects including the administration of the colonies, international trade and law.
The publication of the Wealth of Nations in 1776 provoked an immediate response from Pownall and within a few months he produced 'A letter from Governor Pownall to Adam Smith ... being an Examination of several points of doctrine, laid down in his 'Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations'' which though disagreeing with key elements in Smith's arguments remained very complimentary throughout and even prompted Smith to address him a letter of thanks for "his very great politeness" (DNB; Gent. Mag. 1795, ii, 634-5). Pownall's critique of Smith's book is one of the earliest to appear in print. His criticisms of the Wealth of Nations have been well summarised by a recent biographer of Smith:
Pownall had a clear perception of Smith's system of political economy as a form of 'moral Newtonianism', and he thought that if it were corrected on the salient points he brought up, it might become an institutional work on which could be based lectures 'in our Universities'. The chief criticisms in the Letter were at Smith's formulations concerning price, patterns of trade, restraints on importation, and the monopoly of colony trade. (Ian Simpson Ross, The Life of Adam Smith (Oxford, 1995), p.346).
Given the Library's strengths in material by and relating to Adam Smith and our international reputation as a repository for Enlightenment texts and manuscripts, this is an excellent addition.|
|Title||Lettre au sujet de l'arrest du Conseil d'État|
|Date of Publication||1720|
|Notes||These items are useful additions to the Library's holdings of publications relating to the career and policies of John Law, the Scot turned economist and banker who became controller-general of finances in France. The first item announces the success of the reform of the French financial system, which Law had directed (although these reforms were shortly to result in the disastrous collapse of the 'Mississippi bubble' which ruined numerous investors). Law's biographer Antoin Murphy describes this work as 'Law at his disingenuous best'. The second item is an attempt to justify the measures of 22 May 1720, which had involved a reduction in the price of the paper currency which Law had introduced. Both items are anonymous, but seem likely to be by Law or commissioned by him: certainly they relate to the radical policies which originated with Law. Law eventually fled France in disgrace, and died in exile. His ideas are now considered to have been ahead of their time. See Antoin E. Murphy, John Law (1997), pp. 293+, 244+. These two books are good copies in modern boards.|