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 750 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 376 to 390 of 750:
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|Author||Davies, C. Langdon (ed.)|
|Title||China magazine. Christmas volume|
|Date of Publication||1868|
|Notes||This is a rich source of information about the early activities of the Scottish-born pioneering photographer John Thomson. Thomson is known to have played an important role in the development of the China Magazine, an interesting periodical, which gives valuable information about Chinese literature, British perceptions of the colonial environment, and, in particular, photographic images of China and other Asian countries. Two articles and three of the twenty-four original albumen prints in the Christmas volume of 1868 are clearly identified as Thomson's, and Thomson's contributions are acknowledged in the 'Envoi' at the end of the volume. The first article, 'The Cambodian Ruins' (pp.17-19), gives valuable information about Thomson's photographic explorations in 1866. With Mr. K[ennedy]., Thomson set out from Bangkok towards the Cambodian frontier, armed with a letter from the King of Siam. He describes the photograph which illustrates the article as 'the only good photograph out of six, the others having been spoiled by the violent efforts of a tribe of black monkeys, who persisted in shaking the branches of the trees every time they saw me emerge from my tent to expose the plate'. The second article (pp.80-2) is illustrated by a striking photograph of a stone carving of an elephant. The third photograph definitely by Thomson is of a cup presented to the retiring governor of Macao (p.82). It is, of course, possible that other prints in this volume are by Thomson. The 'Envoi' concludes by announcing that 'new photographic apparatus, additional type and ornamentation are either on their way out from England or already to hand', and appeals for more subscribers to help them foot the bill. The Christmas volume is a substantial publication, which evidently includes articles from earlier issues of the magazine: both the periodical and this special volume are quite uncommon.|
|Reference Sources||Stephen White, John Thomson, 1985.
Richard Ovenden, John Thomson, 1997.|
|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||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||De Serres, Jean/ Buchanan, George|
|Title||Psalmorum Davidis aliquot metaphrasis Graeca Ioannis Serrani. Adiuncta eregione paraphrasi Latinia G. Buchanani.|
|Imprint||[Geneva] Henri Estienne|
|Date of Publication||1575|
|Language||Greek and Latin|
|Notes||This copy of Jean de Serres' translation of the Psalms into Greek verse, with George Buchanan's Latin verse paraphrase on facing pages, was presented by de Serres to Buchanan, that 'most excellent' man, as his inscription on the title page attests. It would be wonderful if such a gift were part of a fruitful exchange between two humanist scholars, but the reality seems a more pathetic tale.
In the printed preface to his Psalms, de Serres explains how Buchanan's psalm paraphrase inspired his own. In 1578, three years later, when he was one of the editors of Estienne's edition of Plato, he wrote to Buchanan, sending him a copy, and again mentioning how he had produced his Psalm translations and the debt he owed to Buchanan, but commenting that he had written before and had not received a reply. This letter is held by the NLS at Adv.Ms.15.1.6.f24. (There is no record that he ever received a reply to this second gift, either.) Buchanan had by most accounts a good relationship with Henri Estienne, the celebrated scholar-printer who published this book - the Estienne family were the original publishers of Buchanan's psalm paraphrases and indeed brought out an edition of that work in the same year, so why he would not reply to a fellow Estienne author, and a Calvinist and classical scholar at that, is unknown.
The obvious conclusion is that this item was sent to Buchanan by de Serres on its publication with a letter of praise and introduction similar to the one that still survives, but Buchanan never acknowledged the gift. However, since it survived and presumably remained in Scottish hands, he must have kept this copy, or at least given it to a good home. This copy is not mentioned in Durkan's Buchanan bibliography.
The whereabouts of this item for the next few hundred years are uncertain; the next recorded owner is Alexander Fraser Tytler, Lord Woodhouselee, (1747-1813) whose signature is on the flyleaf. Lord Woodhouselee was an important figure in Edinburgh legal and literary circles at the end of the 18th century, and the NLS holds a number of other items from his library. This book is considerably earlier than those works, perhaps showing an interest in earlier Scottish authors - Woodhouselee's concern with his literary contemporaries, especially Burns, is well documented.
More recently this book was owned by the modern scholar Elizabeth Armstrong, whose label is inside the front cover. Presumably she acquired this book through her interest in the Estienne family (her book on Robert Estienne first appeared in 1954).|
|Reference Sources||Durkan: Bibliography of George Buchanan 1994|
|Title||Memoirs of Majr. Alexander Ramkins, a Highland officer|
|Imprint||Dublin: Printed for Will. Smith|
|Date of Publication||1741|
|Notes||This is a copy of the rare Dublin edition of the narrative purportedly written by a Scottish Jacobite languishing in a French prison. These memoirs have in fact been widely attributed to none other than Daniel Defoe, partly on stylistic grounds and partly on the coincidence between the hero's 'twenty eight years service' and the 'eight and twenty years' spent by Robinson Crusoe on his desert island. There is also the fact that the fictitious Ramkins at the end of the pamphlet declares his 'intire and unlimited obedience to the present constitution'.
This fictitious character was born in the north of Scotland in 1672 and was educated at Aberdeen University. He participated in most of the major Jacobite battles --Killiecrankie, the Boyne, Limerick, Aughrim before retiring to France. It is a rattling good tale --though it is not clear why it was resurrected in Ireland 20 years after it was first printed.
The first edition was printed in London in 1719 and it was re-issued a year later with a new title page beginning 'The life and surprizing adventures adventures ...' - exactly as the title of Crusoe's tale began. An edition was also printed in Cork in 1741 (copy at Hall.187.j) but only one other copy of this Dublin edition is known (held at the Royal Irish Academy).|
|Date of Publication||1726|
|Notes||Acquired for the fine contemporary binding, which appears to be an early example of a Scottish wheel binding. Red-brown goatskin, gold-tooled wheel design surrounded by semi-circles, flowers and stars, all within a fillet and wave roll border. The spine is also tooled, with panels containing saltires. The board edges and turn-ins are tooled as well. The endpapers are marbled, and there are bookplates of John Hely-Hutchinson and W.A. Foyle. The book was apparently seen by NLS when it was sold at Sotheby's in 1956, as a rubbing was taken and is held in the Rare Books bindings folders. NLS did not bid and the book was bought by Maggs for £16. The National Library already has a copy of the text, ESTC T138471, at shelfmark Saltoun 522.|
|Author||Denham, Dixon, Clapperton, Hugh & Oudney, Walter|
|Title||Beschreibung der Reisen und entdeckungen im Noerdlichen und Mittlern Africa|
|Imprint||Weimar: Im Verlage des Landes-Industrie-Comptoirs|
|Date of Publication||1827|
|Notes||First edition in German of a classic travel book "Narrative of the travels and discoveries in Northern and Central Africa in the years 1822, 1823 and 1824". The author, an Englishman, Dixon Denham, had set out on a mission for the Colonial Office with two Scots, Hugh Clapperton and Walter Oudney, to do what Mungo Park had failed to accomplish, namely to trace the course of the Niger River. Unlike Park, who travelled eastwards from the west coast of Africa, the three explorers set out from North Africa in 1822 and travelled southwards. They failed in their mission but did explore areas of Central Africa hitherto unknown to Europeans, including Lake Chad, and they were able to establish that the Niger did not flow into it. Relations between Denham and the two Scots quickly deteriorated during the expedition and they went their separate ways. Oudney died in Africa in 1824 and Denham and Clapperton eventually reunited to make it back to Tripoli in 1825. While Clapperton returned to Africa to resume exploring, Denham returned to Britain and wrote this account of their expedition, in which he made little mention of his travelling companions and claimed some of their achievements and discoveries for his own. This German edition includes 3 plates: a map of the area covered by the expedition, and representations of Central African tribesmen|
|Reference Sources||DNB; Fergus Fleming "Barrow's Boys"|
|Author||Deschamps, Emile & Wailly, Gustave de.|
|Title||Ivanhoe : opera en trois actes, imite de l' anglais.|
|Imprint||Paris : Vente|
|Date of Publication||1826|
|Notes||"Ivanhoe" is probably Sir Walter Scott's most successful and enduring novel. Several musical adaptions of the work were produced in the 19th-century, the first being the opera performed in Paris in 1826. This is the first edition of the libretto by Emile Deschamps and Gabriel-Gustave de Wailly for a pasticcio created, with Rossini's permission, by Antonio Pacini as a means of introducing Rossini's music to Paris. Rossini had already written "La donna del lago" in 1819, the first Italian opera to be based on one of Scott's works, which would inspire other composers to create works based on Scott's novels. Scott was himself in Paris to see the opera, remarking: "It was superbly got up, the Norman soldiers wearing pointed helmets and what resembled much hauberks of mail, which looked very well. The number of the attendants, and the skill with which they were moved and grouped on the stage, were well worthy of notice. It was an opera, and of course the story greatly mangled [Rowena and Richard the Lionheart do not appear, for example, and Ivanhoe marries Rebecca], and the dialogue in a great part nonsense. Yet it was strange to hear anything like the words which I (then in an agony of pain with spasms in my stomach) dictated to William Laidlaw at Abbotsford, now recited in a foreign tongue, and for the amusement of a strange people" (Journal, 31 October 1826). This particular copy of the Ivanhoe libretto has the library stamp of the Chateau de la Roche-Guyon in northern France on the title page and is attractively bound in red calf with lyre-shaped gilt cornerpieces.
|Reference Sources||Bookseller's notes|
|Title||Collection of etchings after the most eminent masters of the Dutch and Flemish schools|
|Date of Publication||1803|
|Notes||These two volumes contain 361 fine etchings in the style of the old masters of the Low Countries as well as contemporary character studies, fashion plates, scenes of rustic life and genre scenes of Edinburgh life. The plates were drawn on thin India paper and mounted on thick cream paper and bound in contemporary straight grain morocco with decorative borders in gilt and blind. Though published in 1803, the etchings are dated between 1783 and 1802. Deuchar's etchings were published in a number of formats. The National Library has a single small volume with 168 etchings (M.99.b). Other versions with 369 India paper etchings in 4 quarto volumes and 381 etchings printed directly onto wove paper in 3 folio volumes (both in private hands) have also been traced.
It seems likely that this scarce work was produced for private circulation among friends, including the artists David Allan, John Brown and Alexander Runciman. In many of the plates Deuchar showed 'appreciation of the quality of the etched line' and 'had an influence on the later etchings of Wilkie and Geddes' (Cursiter)
Deuchar (1743-1808) from farming stock, worked as a Edinburgh seal-engraver in Edinburgh. A gifted amateur, he played an important role in encouraging Henry Raeburn to become an artist. Deuchar frequented the shop of James Gilliland, the jeweller and goldsmith, where the young Raeburn was an apprentice. After giving Raeburn some drawing lessons, Deuchar urged him to become a portrait painter.|
|Reference Sources||Caw, James L. Scottish painting past and present. Edinburgh, 1908 (Art.S.45.2)
Cursiter, Stanley. Scottish art to the close of the nineteenth century. London, 1949 (Art.S.45.C2|
|Author||Dickson & Mann Ltd.|
|Title||[Trade catalogue advertising coal cleaning and sorting machinery etc.]|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Morrison & Gibb|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||This is an early illustrated trade catalogue, which includes photographic illustrations of products produced by the firm Dickson & Mann at their Bathville steel works in Armadale, West Lothian. Dickson & Mann introduced the steel industry to the area and became specialist manufacturers of surface conveying and coal-handling equipment to the coalmines in the Armadale area, as well as other parts of Britain. Conveniently situated near to the railway level crossing on the Bathville and Bathgate Road, the steel works was electrified in 1893 to keep pace with the demands of the coal industry. This fourth edition of the firm's catalogue also includes illustrations of the works itself. Founded in 1876, Dickson & Mann became an incorporated company in 1892 and continued in business until 1969; their business records are now housed in the National Archives of Scotland.|
|Author||Diego de Torres Bollo|
|Title||De rebus Peruanis, R di P. Dieghi de Torres, Societatis Iesu Presbyteri commentaries a Ioanne Hayo.|
|Imprint||Antwerp: Martin Nutius|
|Date of Publication||1604|
|Notes||This work is an account of Jesuit Father Diego de Torres Bollo's missionary activities in Peru. After joining the Jesuit order Torres Bollo (1550-1638) had hoped to be chosen for the China missions; instead, his superior general sent him to the fledgling mission of Peru in South America. There he eventually became the Provincial of Peru and sent out missionaries throughout the continent. Torres Bollo was also instrumental in the development of the famous 'reductiones' of Paraguay, small utopian-like communes created by the Jesuit fathers for the native peoples, but which were eventually destroyed by the Spanish colonists. The work also includes interesting details and anecdotes of the continent, such as when the volcanoes spewed out such a great quantity of ash the peoples had to walk through the cities with a lantern at noon. According to Sabin's bibliography of books relating to America it is probable that Torres Bollo wrote his account in Spanish; but the earliest recorded printed editions are in Italian, published in Milan, Venice and Rome in 1603. Subsequent Latin and German versions state that they are translations from the Italian. This Latin translation is one of several editions to be published a year following the first Italian edition and is distinguished from the Mainz Latin translation published the same year in that it is the work of John Hay (1547-1607), a Scottish Jesuit and exile living on the Continent. Hay had entered the Society of Jesus in 1566 and became noted for his polemical treatises written whilst living in France. In his later years he was based in the Low Countries where he translated Jesuit mission reports, such as these, into Latin.|
|Reference Sources||Bookseller's notes; Oxford DNB (John Hay); Sabin (96257)|
|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||The palis of honour|
|Imprint||London: William Copland|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||This is a rare copy of the earliest known edition of one of Gavin Douglas's (1474-1522) best known works. The first Edinburgh edition was published in 1579. Other Scottish editions may have been printed prior to 1543, when Florence Wilson imitated the 'Palice of Honour' in his 'De Tranquillitate Animi', but they cannot now be traced. An article in the Transactions of the Edinburgh Bibliographical Society, vol.III, part I, 1948-9, describes fragments of an Edinburgh edition printed prior to 1540 by Thomas Davidson (Aldis 20) which is held in Edinburgh University Library.
This copy lacks the final two gatherings and contains contemporary scribbles, though not annotations.
'The palis (or palice) of honour' which was written in 1501 was dedicated by the poet, Gavin Douglas to James IV. It is his earliest known work and presents a mirror for princes, spelling out princely duties and ideals. This poem is very much in the European tradition of courtly allegory and reflects Douglas's knowledge of Latin and Italian poetry and his preoccupations with the themes of love, poetry and honour. It also shows influences of Chaucer and Langland.
Around this time Douglas became Provost of the Collegiate Church of St. Giles in Edinburgh. It is not improbable that Douglas's address to James IV at the end of this poem induced the latter to appoint him to St. Giles. He held this position until 1515 when he became Bishop of Dunkeld.
Douglas is best known for his translation of the Aeneid, also into Scots, which is still praised as an excellent work which shows the potential of the Scots language as a literary medium.|
|Reference Sources||Mainstream companion to Scottish literature;
|Author||Drummond de Melfort, Louis-Hector|
|Title||Traite sur la Cavalerie|
|Imprint||Paris: Guillaume Desprez|
|Date of Publication||1776|
|Notes||First edition of a rare and extemely handsome book which is in exceptionally fine condition. There are two volumes: one of text with 11 plates, the other an atlas volume with 32 folio-size folding plates. The author, Louis-Hector Drummond de Melfort (1721-1788) was the grandson of John Drummond, 1st Earl of Melfort, James VII/II's right hand man in Scotland, who escaped to France in 1688. The Drummonds became one of the leading Jacobite families at the French court. Drummond spent most of his life involved with cavalry and for his last eight years was Lieutenant-General of Louis XVI's army. He did not take part in the 1745 Jacobite uprising, but served the French king on several military campaigns on the Continent and later commanded the Royal Ecossais regiment in the French army. This book became a important textbook in Europe on cavalry tactics as Drummond de Melfort had some radical opinions on the use of cavalry in battles. His work lays out, with illustrations, the simplified procedures for cavalrymen that he advocated as early as 1748, which had often met with incomprehension and disbelief. The dedication expresses Drummond's hope that this work will assist in making the French cavalry the best in the world and his wish to help the country that his family fled to on their forced emigration from Scotland nearly a century before. The two volumes are bound in contemporary red morocco. The original owner was Armand-Thomas Hue de Miromesnil (1723-1796), Keeper of the Seals from 1774-1787, after having held several other official positions. On his death, at his request, the contents of his library were sold and the profits distributed amongst the poor. According to a bookseller's note the book was also owned by the Vicomtesse de Fontenay and it also contains the bookplate of Richard Penard y Fernandez.
The text volume also includes a bound-in letter by the Duchesse de Melfort, dated July 1773.|
|Reference Sources||Brunet II: 842; Cohen-de Ricci pp.326-327|
|Author||Drummond, William, 1585-1649|
|Imprint||London: for Richard Tomlins|
|Date of Publication||1656|
|Notes||This is a rare copy of one of the two editions of Drummond’s works published in London in 1656, seven years after the poet’s death. Two other copies of this work are held in public institutions in Scotland – at Edinburgh University Library and at Innerpeffray Library, near Crieff. The only difference between the two editions is the imprint – this edition was ‘Printed for Richard Tomlins, at the Sun and Bible…’ whereas the other edition was ‘Printed by W.H. and are to be sold at the Company of Stationers’. Both copies have the fine frontispiece portrait by Richard Gaywood (1630-1680).The binding – calf, blind tooled - probably dates from the 18th century. Drummond spent most of his life on his estate at Hawthornden near Edinburgh. Most of his poems were written in the Petrarchan tradition and he was thus considered to be out of tune with metaphysical poets of his day. He wrote in English rather than Scots. In political terms he supported the Royalists and wrote a pamphlet attacking the Covenanters, but his isolation cut him off from the main events of his lifetime. His death was apparently hastened by news of the execution of Charles I in London.|
|Reference Sources||Wing D2202|