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 721 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 email@example.com
Important Acquisitions 391 to 405 of 721:
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|Title||Epitome colloquiorum Erasmii Roterodami|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Joannes Reid|
|Date of Publication||1696|
|Notes||This is an extremely rare and hitherto unrecorded printing of Erasmus's Colloquia by the Edinburgh publisher John Reid. No copies have been traced in ESTC, OCLC or the British Library and it is not recorded in Aldis.
It is an abridged version of one of the Dutch humanist's (1466-1636) most popular works and was first published in a collected form in Basle in 1518 as 'Familiarium colloquiorum formulae'. The Catholic Encyclopedia describes the colloquies as 'a kind of textbook for the study of the Latin language, and introduction to the purely natural formal training of the mind, and a typical example of the frivolous Renaissance spirit. The defects of ecclesiastical and monastic life are in this work held up to pitiless scorn; moreover, he descends only too often to indecent and cynical descriptions.' Even Luther condemned Erasmus for scattering 'poison' and declared that if he died he would forbid his children to read the work.
Another edition of this work was printed in Edinburgh in 1691 by Societatis Bibliopolarum and the John Reid's printing of this edition a few years later indicates that there was some appetite for Erasmus's writings in Scotland at the time. Reid was active in Edinburgh from 1680 until 1712. Early in his printing career Reid had been imprisoned for not serving his full apprenticeship. He had also incurred the wrath of another printer for stealing type.
This copy is lacking some text on the final leaf and it is clear that is was well used. It is signed by one 'William Horsburgh' in 1754.|
|Reference Sources||SBTI; Catholic Encyclopedia online|
|Title||[3 Dutch translations: De kabinetten der Evangelische beloften; De zwangere belofte in hare vrucht; Blidje boodschap in zware tijden|
|Date of Publication||Various|
|Notes||These three translations into Dutch of the writings of Ralph Erskine (sermons and expositions of pieces of scripture)
demonstrate the popularity of his work in Holland well into the 20th century. They may also demonstrate the closeness in doctrinal terms between the modern Dutch Protestant Church and the 18th century Scottish Secession Church.
Erskine (1685-1752) was one of the key figures in the Secession Church. This church was formed in 1733 when a number of ministers led by Ebenezer Erskine (Ralph's brother) broke away from the Church of Scotland when the General Assembly decreed that elders and heritors only should elect ministers. Ralph Erskine did not join until 1737. In 1744 the Secession Church itself split over the Burgess Oath - the Erskines aligning themselves to the Burgher faction in opposition to the conservative anti-Burghers.
Ralph Erskine was born in Northumberland and educated at Edinburgh University. He spent most of his ministry in Dunfermline, where he was regarded as an excellent preacher. He was proficient on the violin and wrote a number of hymns.|
|Title||Silva: or a discourse of forest-trees.|
|Imprint||York: A. Ward for J. Dodsley|
|Date of Publication||1776|
|Notes||This is a magnificent binding of a York printing of the 17th-century English scholar John Evelyn's "Silva". The binding has been done by James Scott of Edinburgh, generally acknowledged as the finest bookbinder in Scotland in the 18th-century and indeed one of the finest in Britain at this time. Both volumes are bound in brown tree calf with gilt column style tools and musical trophy on the boards and Minerva ornament on the spines. Vol. 1 contains Scott's binder's label on the title page. The book has a distinguished provenance, as identified in J.S. Loudon's bibliography of Scott's work (JS 62). There is an inscription "Lauderdale" on the title page of vol. 1, which indicates that the book formerly belonged to James Maitland, 7th Earl of Lauderdale (1718-1789) and was presumably bound for him. It was sold by the 15th Earl at Sotheby's in 1950 and bought by the famous book collector Major John Roland Abbey (1894-1969) and has his bookplate on the front pastedowns. It was sold again at Sotheby's in 1967 and was acquired by NLS when the library of the 17th Earl of Perth was sold at auction in 2012.|
|Reference Sources||J.S. Loudon, James Scott and William Scott, bookbinders, 1980.|
|Title||Cynthio to Leonora: the last poem of William Falconer|
|Imprint||London : R T. Harvey and Co.|
|Date of Publication||1825|
|Notes||William Falconer, born in Edinburgh in 1732, was both a sailor and poet. As a young man he joined a merchant vessel at Leith where he served his apprenticeship. Afterwards, he was servant to Archibald Campbell (1726?-1780) who was then purser on a man-of-war. Campbell was the author of Lexiphanes: A Dialogue Imitated from Lucian (1774), and it was he who discovered and encouraged Falconer's literary tastes. In 1751 Falconer published a poem on the death of Frederick, Prince of Wales and contributed a few poems to the 'Gentleman's Magazine.' In 1762 he published his chief poem, the 'Shipwreck,' which was partly based upon his own earlier experience of being one of only three survivors of a shipwreck on a voyage from Alexandria to Venice.
Although the preface to Cynthio to Leonora states that "the circumstances under which the following poem came into our possession, sufficiently evidence of its being the production of the author of the 'Shipwreck'", the attribution is, in fact, false. Cynthio to Leonora was first published in the Gentleman's Magazine for June and July 1738 (vol. viii, pp. 319, 370-1) and dated 1736. At that date Falconer would have been only 4 years old.
Reasons for a publisher in 1825 reviving a poem written nearly a century earlier may have to do with Falconer's enormous popularity in the first decades of the 19th century. By 1820 there were at least 46 different editions and impressions of 'The Shipwreck' and his works had been praised by Bryon and referred to by Coleridge in Sibylline Leaves. The temptation to publish a hitherto 'unpublished' Falconer poem was clearly too good an opportunity to pass up.
The pamphlet is nevertheless extremely rare and may be only extant copy: no bibliographic records have been found for it in NSTC, NUC, OCLC, RLIN, the Library of Congress, British Library, or the libraries at Harvard and Yale. It is bound together with four other titles: Man and the Animals by Mrs. Gordon; The Highlanders and Other Poems by Mrs. Grant, and Human Life, a Poem by Samuel Rogers.
Shipwreck, A Poem: with the life of the author / by J. S. Clarke. London, 1811.|
|Title||A plain and earnest address to Britons, especially farmers.|
|Imprint||Alnwick: J. Catnach|
|Date of Publication||1793|
|Notes||This anonymous pamphlet was printed in the Northumbrian town of Alnwick by the Scottish printer, John Catnach (1769-1813), who was born in Burntisland, Fife, in 1769. Having served an apprenticeship as a printer in Edinburgh, he started in business in Berwick-upon-Tweed in the late 1780s, moving to Alnwick in 1790. Catnach moved to Newcastle in 1808, where he eventually ended up in the debtors prison. He moved again, this time to London, in 1812, where he and his family lived in poverty until his death the following year. His son James later became famous for the street literature publications produced on his press at Seven Dials. "A plain and earnest address" was a rallying call to the yeoman farmers of Britain to stand firm against the political tumult unleashed by the French Revolution and Thomas Paine's "Rights of man". The "Farmer" uses extracts from Arthur Young's "Annals of agriculture" to paint a bleak picture if Britain was to embrace French revolutionary ideals. The text was printed at a number of provincial presses in England in 1792 and 1793, including places such as Newark, Ipswich and Tamworth. This Alnwick printing is not recorded in ESTC. |
|Reference Sources||Bookseller's notes.|
|Title||Works of Anacreon|
|Date of Publication||1760|
|Notes||The importance of James Scott in the history of Scottish bookbinding is very great, and through J.H.Loudon's book on Scott the National Library of Scotland is widely recognised as having the pre-eminent collection of Scott bindings. This addition to the collection is notable for the gilt roll-tool border to the covers, with a crisp and attractive floral design, which seems to be wholly unrecorded. The spine is heavily tooled with gilt compartments separated by bars and enclosing a design which is almost identical to that produced by the tool recorded by Loudon as pallet Ro2.7 (here, the diamond has a dotted outline, as in pallet Ro2.14). There is also a red morocco spine label and marbled endpapers. Although there is no binder's label, it seems overwhelmingly likely that this is a new Scott binding. The text, of which we already have a copy, is in good condition, with a manuscript note 'The gift of Doctor Brody 1776'. Most of Scott's binding seems to have been carried out in the 1770s, and it seems unlikely that he bound the book in the year it was printed, 1760. Presumably the generous Dr. Brody had the gift specially bound in 1776.|
|Reference Sources||J.H.Loudon, James Scott and William Scott, Bookbinders, 1980.|
|Title||Institutes of moral philosophy|
|Imprint||Basle: Printed and sold by James Decker|
|Date of Publication||1800|
|Notes||This is a new edition, reprinted in enlarged form, of Ferguson's Institutes which was first published in Edinburgh in 1769, when the author was Professor of Moral Philsophy at Edinburgh University. In 1766 Ferguson had published a syllabus of his lectures, Analysis of pneumatics and moral philosophy for the use of students in the College of Edinburgh. He expanded on these in the Institutes, which is essentially an overview of his philosophical and political beliefs. The final part of the book which is entitled 'Of politics', deals with political economy and political law.
The Institutes was popular not only with Ferguson's students and the Edinburgh intelligentsia, but was, as this Basle imprint shows, much in demand abroad. It was translated into German in 1772, where the translator's Appendix was known by heart by Schiller and subsequently a Russian translation was used as a textbook in Russian universities. An edition was apparently published in Basle in 1789, but no copies have been traced. An Italian translation was published in Venice in 1790. Ferguson, who briefly held the position of Keeper of the Advocates Library, in 1757, succeeding David Hume, introduced the method of studying humankind in groups. He is regarded as the father of what is now known as sociology.|
|Title||Adam Fergusons ausfuehrliche Darstellung der Gruende der Moral und Politik v.1 [Principles of Moral and Political Science].|
|Imprint||Zurich: Orell, Gessner, Fuessli, |
|Date of Publication||1796|
|Notes||This is the rare first German edition of Adam Ferguson's 'Principles of Moral and Political Science', first published as a two-volume work in Edinburgh in 1792, which encompassed Ferguson's lectures on moral and political philosophy at Edinburgh University. Ferguson had effectively retired from teaching in 1785 and this was to be his last major work to be published, although he remained very active in academic circles for the last three decades of his life, right up to his death in 1816. The translation and notes for this German edition were done by Karl Gottfried Schreiter (d. 1809), professor of philosophy at Leipzig. As with the first French edition, only volume one was translated, perhaps indicating that despite the great respect Ferguson commanded on the Continent, this particular work was regarded as being less important than his other works. This particular copy has the 20th-century bookplate of "Paul Ad. Leemann", presumably the book historian Paul Leemann-Van Elck.|
|Reference Sources||Oxford Dictionary of National Biography|
|Title||Confirming worke of religion, in its necessity and use briefly held forth; that each Christian may have a proper ballast of his own, of the grounds and reasons of his faith, and thus see the greatness of that security; on which he adventures his eternal fate. …|
|Imprint||Rotterdam: Printed by Reinier Leers.|
|Date of Publication||1685|
A rare work by a popular ejected Scottish minister published in the place of his exile.
Robert Fleming the elder (his son followed him as a writer and minister) was born in 1630 at Yester, Haddingtonshire, studied at Edinburgh and St Andrews, and may have fought in the Scottish army during the Civil War. He was called to the ministry in 1653, and deprived of his parish of Cambuslang, Lanarkshire, on the restoration of episcopacy in 1662. He preached in Scotland and London, in spite of problems with the authorities and other difficulties, until 1677, when he was called to a collegiate charge in the Scots Church at Rotterdam, a city where many religious exiles took refuge in the 17th century. On a visit to Edinburgh in 1679 he returned to Edinburgh, where he was imprisoned for holding conventicles, but escaped and returned to Rotterdam. His troubles with the Scottish authorities ended with the political changes of 1689, but he remained in Holland and died on a visit to London in 1694.
The DNB lists eleven works by Fleming, in addition to sermons: he defended his own kind of protestantism against Quakers and Catholics alike, and related the lives of Scottish and Ulster Protestants to his own faith and what he saw as the workings of divine providence. This book, in that vein, attempts to show 'the true and infallible way, for attaining a confirmed state in Religion', as the title page says, relating spiritual doctrines and experiences to contemporary events - 'a short confirming prospect of the work of the Lord about his Church, in these last times.'
The NLS already holds other editions of this work, but according to the ESTC there is no other copy of this edition in Scotland, and only seven others are recorded altogether. This copy comes to us with three interesting provenances. On the verso of the title page is an inscription signed 'H.D.A.': Omne tulit punctum/ Qui miscuit Utile dulci ['he has gained every point who has mixed the useful and the agreeable', from Horace's Ars Poetica]. I got this token of kindness from Mr. R.F. the author, my very worthy friend'. The book also has the bookplate of Patrick Hume, 1st Earl of Marchmont, Lord High Chancellor of Scotland, dated 1702. The gilt crowned orange from the arms of the Earl of Marchmont can still be seen on the spine panels, though faded. Finally there is the bookplate of the Bristol collector James Stevens Cox (1910-1997). This book is one of three the NLS has purchased from the sale of his library, a collection considered worthy of its own location in the Short Title Catalogue of English books before 1640.|
|Reference Sources||DNB; sale catalogue|
|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.
|Author||Fordun, John of|
|Date of Publication||1722|
|Notes||Scotichronicon, the key text of early Scottish history, was written in the later 14th century, but was late in appearing in print: this appears to be the first printing of all five books with this title. Thomas Hearne worked from the manuscript sources to produce this impressive edition, which has in addition to the Latin text an extensive editorial preface, a list of subscribers, appendices, four engraved plates (one folding), and detailed indexes. This is a large-paper copy on thick, good quality paper in good condition: the advertisement of 25 April 1722 before the start of the main text in the first volume states that the subscribers were expected to make an initial payment of a guinea and a half for a large paper copy, as opposed to a guinea for the 'regular' version. It is also in an attractive calf binding by Thomas Elliott of London, who was one of the main binders of the Harleian Library. The covers have a gilt border with a double fillet, a floral roll and an ornamental roll, both recorded in Nixon, Five Centuries of English Bookbinding, no. 60. The spines are divided into seven panels separated by raised bands: the second and third panels have red goatskin labels with respectively the title and the volume number in gilt letters, the other panels and the raised bands are also gold-tooled. There is a gilt floral roll on the board edges and a blind-tooled roll on the turn-ins. It has marbled endleaves and the edges of the leaves are red sprinkled. From the library at Fort Augustus. This is an appropriate addition to the collections, particularly as our existing two small paper sets of this edition are both imperfect.|
|Reference Sources||Howard Nixon & Mirjam Foot, History of Decorated Bookbinding in England, Oxford, 1992, p. 82-3
Howard Nixon, Five Centuries of English Bookbinding, London, 1978, p. 136 (no. 60)
Maggs Bros., catalogue 1075, no. 135; catalogue 1212 (no. 87)|
|Title||Des Herrn Fordyce, beruehmten Professors zu Aberdeen in Engelland, Anfangsgruende der moralischen Weltweisheit; mit Herrn de Joncourt Abhandlung von der Oberherrschaft Gottes, und der sittlichen Verbindlichkeit, vermehrt.|
|Imprint||Zuerich: bey Orell und Comp.|
|Date of Publication||1757|
|Notes||David Fordyce (1711-1751) studied philosophy and mathematics at Marischal College ion Aberdeen, graduating with an MA at the age of 17. He then studied divinity, but despite obtaining a licence as a preacher, he never received a call. Instead, he was appointed professor of philosophy at Marischal College in 1742. Fordyce died in a storm off the coast of Holland at the age of 40.
Fordyce wrote an article called 'Moral philosophy' for the magazin "The Modern Preceptor". This was published separately in 1754 as "Elements of Moral Philosophy". This posthumous publication was the most successful work on moral philosophy hitherto written. By 1769 it had gone through four editions.
This is a copy of the German edition published in 1757.|
|Author||Forrester, Alexander; MacFarlane, Thomas; MacGregor, James Gordon|
|Title||Objects, Benefits and History of Normal Schools, with Acts of the Legislature of Nova Scotia Anent Normal School, &c.; Observations on Canadian Geology; Technical Education Abroad and at Home.|
|Imprint||Halifax : James Barnes, 1855; Montreal : Dawson Bros., 1871; Halifax : Heral Publishing Company, 1882.|
|Date of Publication||see imprints above|
|Notes||Three items highlighting the activity and influence of Scots in 19th century Canada. Canada has always had strong emotional and historical ties to Scotland. For example, the first two Prime Ministers of Canada, Sir John A. Macdonald and Alexander Mackenzie, were both born in Scotland.
Alexander Forrester (1805-1869) the author of The Objects, Benefits and History of Normal Schools, was typical of many Scots who made a name for themselves in the New World. He was educated at the University of Edinburgh and immigrated to Nova Scotia in 1848. He would later become the Principal of the Normal School in Truro, Nova Scotia and Superintendent of Education for Nova Scotia from 1855 to 1864.
Thomas MacFarlane (1834-1907), the author of Observations on Canadian Geology, was born at Pollockshaws, Renfrewshire and came to Canada as a mining engineer. He was later to discover the famous Silver Inlet Mine on Lake Superior.
James Gordon MacGregor (1852-1913), the author of Technical Education Abroad and at Home, presents the interesting case of a type of Scottish/Canadian cross-pollination. MacGregor was the Canadian born grandson of the Scottish emigrant Rev. James MacGregor (1759-1830). James Gordon MacGregor later immigrated to Scotland where he became a professor of natural philosophy at the University of Edinburgh from 1901-1913.|
|Shelfmark||AP.3.203.02; AP.1.203.11; AP.2.203.04|
|Title||A review and consideration of two late pamphlets. The first entitled, Queries to the Presbyterians of Scotland, by a gentleman of that country. Bound with Causa episcopatus hierarchici Lucifuga.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: heirs and successors of Andrew Anderson|
|Date of Publication||1706|
|Notes||These two books by the Church of Scotland minister Thomas Forrester (c.1635-1706) were bound for Katherine Hamilton, the Duchess of Atholl (1662-1707). She has signed the book on the title page and her initials are tooled in gilt on the spine. By the standards of the early 18th century, this is quite a sober binding in terms of the design and decoration. Only the spine, divided into five compartments, is tooled in gilt with floral ornaments. Both covers are blind tooledwith rolls and fillets. This suggests that the binder's craftsmanship was not of the highest standard. The book was bound just prior to the period when the spectacular wheel and herringbone designs came into vogue in Scotland.
Katherine Hamilton, the eldest daughter of the Duke of Hamilton, married John, Lord Murray, in 1683. Thirteen years later Murray became Secretary of State for Scotland, and his wife acted as his eyes and ears in Scotland while he was in London carrying out his official duties. In 1703, Murray was created Duke and Katherine became Duchess of Atholl. She was well known for her support of the Darien scheme and like her husband was strongly opposed to the Union with England. As well as taking an interest in politics, she was a staunch Presbyterian who kept a religious diary and observed the Sabbath to the extent that her husband thought she was overdoing it. Her interest in religious matters is reflected not only in her ownership of these polemical works, but by the fact that she had them especially bound.
Forrester, the author of these works, was a radical field preacher who spent much of his time (when not on the run or in prison) 'converting' the people of central Scotland, mainly in Stirlingshire and Dumbartonshire. After the Revolution settlement of 1688, life became easier for him. He was appointed minister of St. Andrews in 1692, where he remained until his death in 1706.
|Title||Plain directions for raising potatoes on the lazy bed|
|Imprint||Edinburgh : Printed for the author, and sold by him at his house in Leith, and by the booksellers in Edinburgh,|
|Date of Publication||1757|
|Notes||A rare work (not in ESTC or OCLC) by an unknown author who was 'Collector of Shore-dues in the Port of Leith' (t.p.) He appears not to have been a major writer on agricultural matters as he doesn't appear in either; Early Scottish agricultural writers (1697-1790) by Watson and Amery. Oxford : School of Rural Economy, 1931 or Agricultural writers ... 1200 to 1800 by Donald McDonald. London : Horace Cox, 1908.
The earliest accounts of potato cultivation in Scotland date from the latter 17th century but it seems that it was not widely grown until around 1725. The lazy bed system is used to aid cultivation on damp soils. The potatoes are planted on the surface with trenches either side. As the plant grows more soil is taken from the trenches to earth them up.|