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.
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 391 to 405 of 834:
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|Title||Complaint of the Black Knight (Celebration edition 2008)|
|Imprint||Dundee: Visual Research Centre (University of Dundee), Dundee City Arts Centre|
|Date of Publication||2008|
|Notes||This portfolio commemorates the 500th anniversary of the first dated printed book in Scotland, Chepman and Myllar's edition of Lydgate's poem The Complaint of the Black Knight, which they entitled The Maying or Disport of Chaucer. On April 4th, 2008, 500 years to the day of the date in Chepman and Myllar's colophon, artists Paul Liam Harrison, Scott Hudson and Andy Rice reprinted the poem at the Visual Research Centre of the University of Dundee, Dundee City Arts Centre. However unlike Chepman and Myllar who produced their book on the then-conventional hand-press, these artists printed the text using the silkscreen method, using water-based acrylic inks, onto archival paper. The day's printing was accompanied by supporting events including a reading from the original text. NLS, whose curators supported the project from its inception, has now received number 4 of the limited edition of 18 prints, along with one of the artists' proofs produced on the day, in a cardboard portfolio. This handsome addition to our collections shows Scotland's 21st-century printers paying homage to the first printers 500 years ago.|
|Author||Stuart, John Knox|
|Title||The chemical experimentalist; or, an attempt to allure by experiment. Third edition.|
|Date of Publication||1834-37|
|Notes||With the running title of "Stuart's Useful Information for the People", this book is an excellent example of early 19th-century attempts to popularise science for the masses. The author aims to guide the reader "towards the cultivation of the simple and sublime science - chemistry", using simple language and lots of diagrams. The book appears to have been issued in individual numbers which form seven parts. Of particular interest are the rather crudely produced illustrations, including an advertisement for the author's own popular medicines, as well as a cloth sample on p. 121. |
|Title||[69 execution broadsides]|
|Date of Publication||1754-c.1850|
|Notes||A collection of 69 broadsides dating from 1754 to around 1850, all but five of which are almost certainly printed in Scotland. Most are printed in Glasgow but there are some from Edinburgh, with others most likely printed in Stirling, Perth and Ayr. The content is almost exclusively 'gallows literature' - accounts of executions and 'last speeches and dying confessions'. Highlights include the 'Last Speech and Dying Words of Robert Campbell, alias Drummond, alias Macgregor, alias Rob Roy', son of Rob Roy McGregor (1754) and a supposed account of the murder of William Hare a mere three months after the execution of his accomplice William Burke (1829). Hare actually survived until 1859.
Of the 69, 59 are unique and a further 9 are known only as single copies. Surprisingly many of these executions are not recorded in Alex Young's Encyclopaedia of Scottish executions (1998), so this may be the only source we have for some of these cases. |
|Title||Abriss des gegenwartigen naturlichen und politischen Zustandes von Grossbritannien.|
|Imprint||Copenhagen : Johann Gottlob Rothe|
|Date of Publication||1767|
|Notes||This book is a rare first edition of translated extracts from David Hume's 'History of England and Essays and treatises on several subjects'. The translator, the German poet and critic Heinrich Wilhelm von Gerstenberg (1737-1823) translated Hume rather freely and wrote his own summaries of the Scottish philosopher's views. The work covers the constitution of the British Isles, the social order, as well as the legal, commercial and banking systems. The British way of ruling themselves would have been of some interest to Central Europeans, most of whom had no direct experience of living under a constitutional monarchy. There are no copies of this work in the UK and only one in North America. |
|Title||A catalogue of foreign and native forest-trees; also fruit trees, evergreens, flowering shrubs & sold by Robert Anderson, seedsman and nurseryman ... Edinburgh. AND
A catalogue of foreign and native forest-trees, flowering shrubs, evergreens, flowering shrubs and greenhouse plants & sold by Archibald Dickson and Sons, & at Hassendeanburn, near Hawick
|Imprint||Edinburgh : R. Fleming and A. Neill; [Hawick : s.n.]|
|Date of Publication||c.1785; c.1795|
|Notes||These slim volumes from the late 18th century are very rare examples of Scottish nurserymen's catalogues. Robert Anderson's catalogue is unrecorded whereas there are two other copies (both in the UK) of Archibald Dickson's catalogue. Robert Anderson, who later worked as Anderson, Leslie & Co., had a large nursery at Broughton Park in Edinburgh and specialised in fruit trees, especially pears. In 1798, the whole nursery stock was acquired by another Edinburgh concern, Dicksons and Shade. Unusually, the catalogue is priced. In the advertisement preceding his lengthy address on the merits of larch (introduced to Scotland in the 1720s), Anderson expresses his hope that the catalogue 'will be of great service in promoting the planting of this country, which is so much wanted at present.' The library holds another catalogue (with 44 pages) by Anderson, which may predate this one.
Archibald Dickson was one of the leading nurserymen in Scotland. Members of the family also ran tree nurseries in Perth, Edinburgh and Belfast. The first was founded in 1728 by Robert Dickson and by 1835 five generations of the family had been involved in the trade. The National Library of Scotland also holds day books and price books of the firm from the 18th and 19th centuries in the Manuscript Collections (MSS.29489-29490 and MS.3354).
|Shelfmark||RB.s.2701 ; RB.s.2702|
|Reference Sources||Desmond, Ray. Dictionary of British and Irish botanists and horticulturists including plant collectors, flower painters and garden designers. London, 1994.
Harvey, John. Early horticultural catalogues. Bath, 1973.|
|Title||French grammatology: or a course of French.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd|
|Date of Publication||1828|
|Language||English and French|
|Notes||Gabriel Surenne was French master at the Scottish Military and Naval Academy, according to the title-page of this volume, an Edinburgh institution 'for training young men chiefly for the service of the royal and East India Company's services, and to all the ordinary branches of education were added fortification, military drawing, gun-drill, and military exercises' (James Grant, Old and New Edinburgh, vol. 3, p. 138). It was closed in the late 19th century, when at around the same time a new system of army entrance examinations was introduced, and the site was required for the Caledonian Railway Station (now the Caledonian Hilton). His French textbooks were reprinted throughout the nineteenth century, but this copy used in a class taught by Surenne himself, as the inscription on all volumes testifies: 'Alexander Graham at Mr Surenne's Class, Military Academy, May 18th 1831'. |
|Reference Sources||James Grant, Old and New Edinburgh (Cassell) vol. 3; Bookseller's catalogue.|
|Title||Catalogue of English books in circulation at Douglas & Foulis Library, 9 Castle Street, Edinburgh, and List of books added during 1913-1917|
|Date of Publication||1913 - 1918|
|Notes||This catalogue of Douglas & Foulis' circulating library gives a fascinating glimpse of the rules of the library, its charges (for one guinea a year, a person could borrow one book a month; for ten guineas, 30 books a month), and what books it contained. Through the supplementary 'List of Books Added during 1913-1917', it also gives a rare insight into reading tastes and the circulation of books during the First World War. It is easy to find out what books were published during this period: here we can see that books such as 'Trench Pictures from France' and 'Russian Court Memoirs 1914-16' were easily accessible to Edinburgh readers with five shillings (the lowest subscription) to spare. |
|Title||Pferd-Artzney-Kunst, oder, Gruendlicher Unterricht, die aeusserliche und innerliche Gebrechen der Pferde aus dem Grund zu heilen
|Imprint||Stuttgart: Johan Nicolaus Stoll|
|Date of Publication||1753|
|Notes||This is the first edition of an important 18th-century German-language text on horses written by a Scottish horse doctor. The author, Dionysius Robertson, was a man of seemingly humble origins who became one of the leading men in his field in Europe. Little is known of his life apart from the information he provided in the preface to later editions of this work. From an early age he appears to have worked with horses as a groom, which also gave him the opportunity to learn about the diseases of horses; in later life, his military service also gave him experience of treating bullet wounds in horses. In 1735 he entered into the service of lieutenant-general Sir James Campbell of Lawers, Perthshire. Four years later he left Scotland to travel with his master. In 1742 Campbell was sent to Flanders in charge of the British cavalry, when the British army started a military campaign against the French in the War of the Austrian Succession. Robertson accompanied Campbell and was present at the battle of Dettingen. After his master was killed at the battle of Fontenoy in 1745, Robertson went on to serve the Austrian general Graf von Burghausen. He stayed on the continent when the War ended in 1747 and worked for Friedrich, Margrave of Bayreuth-Brandenburg, in Bayreuth. The following year he became the veterinary surgeon and equerry of Friedrich's son-in-law, Duke Carl Eugen of Wuerttemberg, where he stayed until 1753. In that same year, in response to what he regarded as the relative lack of written knowledge relating to breaking in horses and their medical treatment, he published "Pferde-Artzney-Kunst" in Stuttgart, dedicating the work to Carl Eugen. The book was a success and at least eight German-language editions were published in the 18th century. Robertson then went on to serve Friedrich Augustus II, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland. In 1757 he left the Elector and eventually settled in the Prussian city of Landsberg on the river Warthe (now Gorzow Wielkopolski in western Poland), where he practised his veterinary skills. He travelled widely in northern Germany during this period and became particularly renowned for his skill in castrating stallions, introducing the practice of cauterisation to Germany, which was the subject of another published work in 1770. This particular copy of the first edition is from the famous Bibliotheca Tiliana, a collection of c. 12,000 books on hunting and related subjects, assembled by the German collector Kurt Lindner, which was dispersed after his death in 1987.|
|Reference Sources||Louis Georges Neumann Biographies veterinaires (Paris, 1896), available at http://web2.bium.univ-paris5.fr/livanc/?cote=extalfo00016&do=livre|
|Title||A treatise of midwifery. 2nd edition.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Charles Elliot|
|Date of Publication||1785|
|Notes||Alexander Hamilton (1739-1802) from Fordoun, Kincardineshire, spent his working life in Edinburgh, becoming deacon of the College of Surgeons and a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians. In 1772 he was elected physician to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, becoming a renowned practitioner of midwifery and a lecturer on the subject. He was eventually appointed professor of midwifery in the University of Edinburgh, but his progressive views on the study of medicine occasionally brought him into conflict with the more conservative members of the Edinburgh medical establishment. His son James followed in his footsteps as professor of midwifery at Edinburgh University. Hamilton wrote a number of treatises on the theory and practice of midwifery, and on the treatment of the diseases of women and infants. This is an unrecorded variant second edition of his second work on midwifery, which is bibliographically complete but which lacks the brief preface usually found in extant copies of this edition. Of particular interest is the final section which lists various medicines, drinks and foods which can be prepared for "lying-in women".|
|Author||Scott, Sir Walter. |
|Title||[The Legend of Montrose.] Vysluzhivshiisia ofitser, ili voina Montroza, istoricheskii roman. Soch. Valtera Scotta, avtora Shotlandskikh puritan, Rob Roia, Edimburgskoi temnitsy, i proch. Perevod s Frantsuzskago. [The officer on the up, or the war of Montrose, a historical novel. A work by Walter Scott, author of The Scottish Puritan [ie. Old Mortality], Rob Roy, The Edinburgh Dungeon [ie. The Heart of Midlothian], and others. Translated from French].|
|Imprint||Moscow: P. Kuznetsov|
|Date of Publication||1824|
|Notes||This is the rare first edition of the first Russian translation of Sir Walter Scott's The Legend of Montrose. This historical romance set in Scotland in the 1640s was first published alongside The Bride of Lammermoor in 1819. During his lifetime Scott became famous in Russia - just as Robert Burns would become hugely popular there in later years. Many of his novels were translated from French. Kenilworth was the first of his novels to appear in Russian, in 1823. Scott became a major influence on great Russian writers such as Pushkin. Copies of Scott's novels in Russian are rare and this is the first early example NLS has been able to acquire.
This copy is is bound in contemporary Russian marbled sheep, gilt-tooled with an image on the spine of a cart with a plough and sheaves.
|Author||Foott, [Elizabeth Anne] Mrs. James|
|Title||Sketches of life in the bush|
|Imprint||Sydney: George Loxton & Co.|
|Date of Publication||1878|
|Notes||Elizabeth Foott was a Scot who emigrated to Australia and wrote this interesting account of her journey to a new farm settlement on the Darling River. She set out in May 1860, and describes the countryside and the people they encountered while travelling to their new home. She reflects on relations with the native inhabitants, on the role of women in Australian society and on the economic development of the new colony. She describes dramatic events such as being stranded on a hill when floods overwhelmed their house and their servants fled with many of their possessions. Foott seems to have been reasonably well-read, and she mentions the small library they took with them. She includes a chapter on 'Romantic adventures', consisting of a selection of Australian tales, to show that the new colony had its stories as well.
Her Scottish origins are clear, although the way she speaks of visiting England suggests that her family had moved to England before she emigrated. The book is dedicated to her brother, Captain John Tower Lumsden, who was killed at the siege of Lucknow in 1857; this allows us to identify her father, Henry Lumsden, an Advocate from Aberdeen (1784-1856). She quotes Walter Scott (p.9), recalls 'my native land, with its pure fresh air blowing over our Scottish hills, wafting in the breeze the fragrance of the purple heather, blue bell, and sweet wild thyme' (p.20) and she teaches her daughter 'some of our beautiful Scotch paraphrases' (p.40).
The first edition appeared in 1872; all editions are very rare, and there does not seem to be a copy of the second edition in any public library in Britain.
|Title||Aureum Johannis Woltheri Peinensis Saxonis. Das ist Gulden Arch ...|
|Date of Publication||c.1623|
|Notes||This book is the first and only edition of Johannes Wolther's critique of John Napier's work 'A plaine discovery of the whole revelation of Saint John' (1593), translated into German in 1615. It also includes a partial translation of the work. Napier asserted that the symbols in the Book of Revelation were mathematical ones which could be discovered with reason. Little is known of Wolther, or Walther, as he is sometimes known. He was in born in 1562 in Salzwedel in northern Germany. He probably studied in the university town of Wittenberg, before becoming assistant head teacher of the school in Stralsund. He then, in 1597, moved to take up the same post in the Latin school in Salzwedel, where, a year later he became head (rector). In 1602 he moved to Danzig where he was deacon of the Johanniskirche. He died in Danzig in 1620 from the plague. During his time in Danzig he wrote a series of theological works. He is best known for a comic play he wrote for his pupils in Salzwedel, 'Speculum Josephi', on the biblical story of Joseph, which was based on two older German dramas on the same theme. The play was first performed in 1600 and published in Magdeburg in 1603. Napier (1550-1617) from Merchiston is best remembered now as a mathematician and inventor of logarithms.|
|Reference Sources||Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (Leipzig, 1898), vol.44.|
|Title||The Edinburgh Rose.|
|Imprint||London: Joseph Myers|
|Date of Publication||c.1860|
|Notes||This is a remarkable piece of paper engineering from the mid-nineteenth century. At first glance it looks like a cleverly sculpted paper rose coloured in pink and green. However, once opened the viewer sees 28 vignette engravings of Edinburgh and its surroundings including Calton Hill, the Castle, Holyrood Palace, Roslin Chapel and Tantallon Castle. It is contained within an envelope, entitled 'The Edinburgh Rose' with an engraving of the Scott Monument. On one side the imprint reads, 'Joseph Myers & Co., London', and on the other 'C. Adler, Hamburg'. Myers and Adler produced a series of over 100 roses depicting views of places throughout Britain and Europe. |
|Imprint||Philadelphia: Printed and published by William W. Woodward|
|Date of Publication||1800-1801|
|Notes||This is the first collected edition of the works of John Witherspoon (1723-1794), a Scot who emigrated to America and became a leading figure in the Revolution - even signing the Declaration of Independence.
Born at Gifford in Haddingtonshire, Witherspoon studied at Edinburgh University and became a minister in the established Church of Scotland. He fought on the Hanoverian side in the 1745-6 Jacobite rising, and was briefly captured at the Battle of Falkirk in January 1746. Witherspoon became famous as the author of books and pamphlets defending orthodox presbyterian teaching, and in 1766 he was offered the presidency of the Presbyterian College of New Jersey at Princeton. In deciding to accept this post, he and his wife left Scotland for ever. Witherspoon proved a successful college president. His convictions led him to support the American Revolution and he was the only clergyman to sign the Declaration of Independence. He encouraged emigration from Scotland to North America, for which he was heavily criticised by some in his home country.
This is the first edition of Witherspoon's collected works. It is a good set, including the scarce Volume Four which was printed later. There is a loose note in Volume Three advertising the fourth volume and urging subscribers to sign up for it. All four volumes are bound in early calf and have contemporary ownership inscriptions.
The works include his sermons, lectures, selections from his letters and speeches to Congress. Volume Four is particularly interesting as it includes several works relating to Scotland, including Witherspoon's defence of encouraging emigration to North America.
It is extremely surprising that there are no other copies of this important edition recorded in a public library outside North America.
|Reference Sources||ESTC W2749|
|Title||[Street traders' silhouettes]|
|Imprint||[s.l. : s.n.]|
|Date of Publication||c. 1840s?|
|Notes||This is a collection of 25 woodcut engravings of silhouettes of street traders, ten of which are Scottish. The woodcuts have been removed from other publications and mounted on bigger sheets.
Three of the street traders are well-known Glasgow characters: The blind fiddler and poet Alexander MacDonald called Blind Alick, the ballad singer and speech crier James McIndoe called Jamie Blue, and The Major, a street singer and kind of dancer who performed together with Coal Mary. The silhouette of the Glasgow Bellman may well be a likeness of the Glaswegian Bell Geordie. The other Scottish street traders depicted are Jemmy the showman, Billy Bain (Bill Porter) and Geordie Moore from Edinburgh, Willie Collie (Buttery Willie) from Aberdeen, Jamie Stephen from Montrose and the carter Willie Harrow from Dundee.
From the 1820 onwards silhouettes tended to be full-length rather than just portrait size. The ones we have acquired are a mix of both kinds, although the portrait depictions outnumber the full length ones.
We have not been able to establish which publications the silhouttes were taken from originally.|
|Reference Sources||D. Whitaker: Auld Hawkie and other Glasgow characters. Glasgow, 1988 [HP4.88.1771]
[Collection of press-cuttings on pedlars and chap-books]. Dundee, c. 1900-1920 [RB.m.141]
R. Collison: The story of street literature. London, 1973 [NG.1195.f.9]
L. Shepard: The history of street literature. Newton Abbot, 1973.
P. Hickman: National Portrait gallery silhouettes. London, 1972.