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 751 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 751:
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|Title||Living wonder! Never seen in this country before.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd|
|Date of Publication||c.1809-1814|
|Notes||This is a striking and unusual flyer advertising the exhibition of a 'great serpent or boa constrictor, alive' at Stephano Polito's menagerie, probably in Edinburgh in the early years of the 19th century. Stephano (or Stephen) Polito (1763/4-1814) was born in Italy but spent the bulk of his working life in England. He started his career by exhibiting supposedly exotic human beings at Bartolomew Fair, before establishing a menagerie of 'wild beasts' many of which had been collected from East India merchantmen. He travelled around the country showing elephants, kangaroos and rhinos. Lord Byron visited the collection at Exeter Change, London in 1813 where he remarked on a performing elephant that took off his hat.
Polito travelled regularly to Scotland as well as to Ireland. It is assumed that he went to the same place in Edinburgh every year as no exact location is mentioned. Polito also claims to be the first to exhibit this species in Britain. He reassures the public by claiming that his specimen is perfectly secure and that even 'the most timorous may approach it with safety'.
|Reference Sources||Frost, Thomas. The old showmen and the London fairs. London, 1874; Oxford DNB|
|Author||Byron, George Gordon Byron, Baron, 1788-1824.|
|Title||Lord Byron's Poesien.|
|Imprint||Zwickau: Gebrueder Schumann|
|Date of Publication||1821-1828|
|Notes||This is the rare first collected German edition of Byron's complete works and is a welcome addition to the Library's extensive holdings of early translations of the poet's work. The edition was translated by a team of writers, among them August Schumann and Elise von Hohenhausen, and began to appear in print when the author was still alive. The firm Brothers Schumann had been founded by Alexander Schumann (1773-1826), the father of the romantic composers Clara and Robert Schumann, and began publishing a huge series of translations of foreign literature. Byron's works are part of their Pocket Library of Foreign Classics in New German Translations (Taschenbibliothek der auslaendischen Klassiker, in neuen Verdeutschungen) which apeared between 1819 and 1831. There are in total 31 volumes/parts to this edition, which in this set have been bound into seven volumes.
|Reference Sources||Bookseller's notes|
|Author||Byron, George Gordon |
|Title||Lord Byron's saemmtliche lyrische Gedichte. Uebersetzt von Ernst Ortlepp.|
|Imprint||Stuttgart: Hoffman'sche Verlags-Buchhandlung.|
|Date of Publication||1839|
|Notes||This edition of the German poet Ernst Ortlepp's translations of Byron's lyric poems seems to be unrecorded in Byron bibliographies. Ortlepp produced the first complete translation of Byron's works into German, also published by Hoffman in 1839-40; this volume may have been incorporated into that edition. The copy is still in its original paper wrapper.|
|Author||King, Kennedy [i.e. George Douglas Brown]|
|Title||Love and a sword: a tale of the Afridi War.|
|Imprint||London: John Macqueen|
|Date of Publication||1899|
|Notes||The Scottish author George Douglas Brown (1869-1902) is best known for his work "The House with the Green Shutters", which was published in autumn 1901 in both Britain and the United States under the pseudonym 'George Douglas'. That work has long been regarded as a milestone in Scottish literature; a decisive move away from the sentimental, 'kailyard', Scottish novels of the 19th century. Before his ground-breaking novel appeared, Brown had moved, after leaving Oxford University in 1895, to London, with the intention of forging a literary career. However, in order to make ends meet he had to work as a hack author, writing poetry, reviews, and short stories for a number of periodicals, as well adventure books for boys. "Love and a sword" published under the pseudonym 'Kennedy King', was his first published book, an adventure story set in India and the North-West Frontier, with a Scottish hero, Roderick Gordon, as the protagonist.|
|Reference Sources||Oxford Dictionary of National Biography|
|Author||Cicero, Marcus Tullius|
|Title||M. Tullii Ciceronis opera philosophica ex editione Jo. Aug. Ernesti cum notis et interpretatione in usum Delphini variis lectionibus notis variorum recensu editionum et codicum et indicibus locupletissimis accurate recensita.[vol.II only]|
|Imprint||Londini : Curante et imprimente A. J. Valpy|
|Date of Publication||1830|
|Notes||This is volume two taken from an eighteen volume edition of the collected works of Marcus Tullius Cicero. The book features a grand fore-edge painting of Edinburgh Castle as viewed from the Grassmarket. The painting may have been based upon the title-page vignette of the same scene in T. H. Shepherd's 'Modern Athens Displayed in a Series of Views, or, Edinburgh in the Nineteenth Century' which was published in London in 1829, a year prior to the present volume. However, this painting shows significantly more detail and a wider panorama. The artwork shows only a little fading and a couple of spots of minute wear.|
|Imprint||New York and Rochester, NY|
|Date of Publication||1838-39|
|Notes||The Dundonian William Lyon Mackenzie (1795-1861) ran a circulating library with his mother before emigrating to the province of Upper Canada in 1820. He became a politician and journalist, starting with the publication of the "Colonial Advocate" in 1824. Politically he supported the critics of the local ruling class of Tory politicians and colonial administrators. He was elected to the assembly of the new provincial capital York in 1828 but was ejected three years later by the Tories. In 1834, when York became incorporated as the City of Toronto, Mackenzie became its first mayor. He later pushed for greater Canadian autonomy, which led to the armed Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837-8; the revolt was quickly put down by British troops and Mackenzie and his allies fled to the USA. He settled in New York and on 12 May 1838 launched "Mackenzie's Gazette", asserting that the newspaper would defend the cause of Canadian patriots, who, although now based the USA, were still determined to overthrow the Upper Canadian government and remove the British presence in the province. In January 1839 Mackenzie moved to Rochester, New York state, continuing to publish the newspaper from there, but financial support for him and his cause began to dry up; moreover, in June of that year Mackenzie was found guilty of violating America's neutrality laws. He served almost a year in prison, but still managed to publish his newspaper, although issues appeared only sporadically. The last issue was published in December 1840, six months after MacKenzie received a pardon by the US President, Martin Van Buren. Mackenzie later became an American citizen, but he returned to Canada in 1850 when an amnesty for those who took part in the 1837-8 Rebellion was announced. He remained active in politics and journalism for the rest of his life.
"Mackenzie's Gazette" was an important, if rather short-lived, literary expression of radical, anti-colonial feeling among Canadians and American sympathisers and contains much valuable historical information for the period. The set acquired by NLS comprises Vol. 1, numbers 27 to 52, covering November 1838 to May 1839; there are no recorded original copies of the newspaper in the UK.
|Author||Mackenzie, William Lyon|
|Title||Mackenzie's own narrative of the late rebellion, with illustrations and notes, critical and explanatory: exhibiting the only true account of what took place at the memorable seige of Toronto, in the month of December, 1837.|
|Imprint||Toronto: Printed and sold at The Palladium Office, York Street, 1838.|
|Date of Publication||1838|
|Notes||William Lyon Mackenzie (1795-1861) was born near Dundee. When he was less than a month old, his father died, leaving the family in poverty. He obtained a meager business education in Dundee, and after some six years' work in a shop at Alyth he emigrated with his mother to Canada in 1820 at the age of 25.
It was in North America that Mackenzie made a name for himself as a politician, journalist and insurgent leader. In 1824 he published 'The Colonial Advocate', a newspaper that was strongly in favour of governmental reform. In 1828 he was elected to the legislative assembly of Upper Canada for the county of York.
Mackenzie's oratory was often inflammatory and he was five times expelled for libel and five times reelected by his constituency. As a leader of the Reform party of Upper Canada he went to London in 1832 to obtain a redress of grievances. After his return to Canada, Mackenzie was chosen as the first mayor of Toronto in May 1834.
In 1837, frustrated by Britain's refusal to begin democratic changes, he gathered supporters in an effort to overthrow the government. Mackenzie's ideal at this time was an American-style democracy. The attempt by the rebels was a fiasco and after being defeated at Montgomery's Tavern north of Toronto, Mackenzie fled to the United States, setting up a provisional government on Navy island in the Niagara River. It was there that he wrote his 'Narrative' , addressing it to the editor of the 'Jeffersonian', a newspaper published at Watertown, New York.
In 1849 Mackenzie was granted an amnesty and returned to Canada. He later sat as a member of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada from 1851 to 1858. Mackenzie was the grandfather of the Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King (1874-1950)
The Canadian editor of this rare first edition -clearly a Loyalist - has provided numerous critical annotations to the text and an introduction where he refers to Mackenzie as the 'Arch-Traitor'. Also included is an 'Appendix containing further particulars obtained from conversations with John Powell, Esquire, Mayor of the City of Toronto'.|
Booksellers Catalogue (D & E Lake Bulletin 219)
Various Internet biographical sites|
|Title||Maçonnerie pratique: cours d'enseignement supérieur de la franc-maçonnerie rite écossais ancien et accepté... Publiée par un profane|
|Imprint||2 vols., Paris: Édouard Baltenweck|
|Date of Publication||1885|
|Notes||This is an important addition to the Library's holdings of literature relating to Freemasonry, dealing as it does with the 'Scottish Rite'. The work is produced from a fiercely anti-masonic standpoint, and the introduction denounces masonry as an anti-Catholic heresy, an epidemic which spreads blasphemy and corruption. The editor makes his case by devoting most of the work to the publication of a text which purports to have been drawn up as a guide to the secrets of masonry by a leading mason at a council at Lausanne in 1875. The magnificent folding plates depict the rites and symbols of the masons, and large folding tables give details of the supposed ranks of the masonic hierarchy. This two-volume work is handsomely bound in half navy calf by Maclehose of Glasgow, whose stamp is found on the verso of the first free endpaper in volume one. The spines have gilt tooling and leather labels in red and brown with gilt lettering; the endpapers and the edges of the leaves are marbled. From the library of Fort Augustus, with bookplates in both volumes.|
|Imprint||Glasgow: Gowans & Gray ; London: R. Brimley Johnson|
|Date of Publication||1903|
|Notes||This is a short work of fiction in which the character Sherlock Holmes travels to Edinburgh and Portobello to hunt for Mair Macjigger. The front cover features an illustration of a sullen cigarette-smoking youth in a tam o'shanter. The front cover of this book states that this is the third edition completing 20,000 copies. Inside are dates for the first three editions, all dated within 12 days of each other in August 1903. No Sherlock Holmes or Arthur Conan Doyle websites appear to mention this book.|
|Title||Marci Duncani philosophiae et med. D. Institutionis logicae libri quinque.|
|Imprint||Salmurii [Saumur]: Apud Isaacum Desbordes,|
|Date of Publication||1643|
|Notes||Born possibly in London, the philosopher Mark Duncan (d. 1640) was of Scottish parentage and probably educated partly in Scotland. In 1606 he was appointed professor of philosophy and Greek at the French protestant university of Saumur, rising to the position of Regent. He also practised medicine and his renown as a medical practitioner was such that James VI/I offered him the post of physician in ordinary to the English court, but Duncan, having settled with his second wife in Saumur, did not wish to uproot his family. This philosophical textbook, dedicated to the founder of the Academy of Saumur
Phillipe de Mornay (1549-1623), was printed
first in 1612. It was drawn on in particular by the
Dutch logician Franco Burgersdijk (1590-1635) in
the composition of his own "Institutiones Logicae"
(Leiden, 1632). This is the third edition of Duncan's "Institutiones Logicae"; all editions are scarce.|
|Title||Marie der Koenigin auss Schotlandt eigentliche Bildtnuss.|
|Imprint||[Cologne: Johann Bussemacher]|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||This is a fascinating broadside commemorating the execution of Mary Queen of Scots from a German Catholic perspective. The German text gives an account of her parentage and life, mentioning the role of Darnley, George Buchanan and Mary's son King James VI. There is an emphasis on Mary's European connections, and above all on her martyrdom for the Catholic faith. At the head of the text is a large and striking engraving by Johann Bussemacher; the central image is of Mary, wearing her crucifix and depicted with the arms of France and Scotland. Outside the border, which contains Latin phrases, are smaller images of her decapitation, and at the head of the engraving are (presumably cherubic) hands presenting a quill and the victor's laurels. This is in better condition than the only other known copy, in the British Library, which was David Laing's copy and has been cut up into four pieces. However, the British Library copy preserves some Latin verses which have been lost from the foot of our copy. These verses, by William Crichton or George Crichton, are as follows: 'Illo ego, quae Fata sum regali stirpe parentum, / Hoc tumulo parva contumulata tegor. / Hucque meo constans generoso in pectore virtus, / Prissacque me torfit, nec temeranda fides / Stemmata nil faciunt, nil prosunt sceptra, sed una, / Dum vixit, pietas, gloria nostra fuit. / Vtque Petri cathedram revereri discas, ob illam, / En mea martyris colla refecta vides' Despite this loss, this is a very desirable addition to our strong holdings of MQS material.|
|Reference Sources||Allison & Rogers, Contemporary Literature of the English Counter-Reformation, I, no. 805
BMSTC (German), p. 599|
|Title||Marino Faliero Doge of Venice|
|Imprint||Vienna and Leipzig: Avalun-Verlag|
|Date of Publication||1922|
|Notes||This is an extremely handsome early 1920s German edition of Lord Byron's historical drama about the medieval doge who carried out an unsuccessful coup d' etat against the Venetian nobility. It is one of an edition of 275 numbered copies, which contains twelve original black and white etchings and a title page vignette by the German artist Sepp Frank (1889-1970). Frank was a leading etcher and lithographer who became famous for his work in producing ex-libris bookplates, many of which are considered masterpieces of art deco design.|
|Author||Stevenson, Robert Louis|
|Title||Master of Ballantrae|
|Imprint||[New York: Scribner's]|
|Date of Publication||1888|
|Notes||This is an extremely rare 'author's edition' of Stevenson's "Master of Ballantrae"; apparently only 10 copies were ever printed, one of which was later destroyed. It consists of the first five chapters of the book in unrevised form, produced in a 'no-frills' pamphlet version in plain buff wrappers. The printing was arranged by Stevenson's American publisher, Charles Scribner's Sons, to secure the author's copyright, a year before the novel's general release. Stevenson was based in the USA at this time, having moved there from Bournemouth the previous year after the death of his father. He started work on the "Master of Ballantrae" in December 1887, and a few months later had produced a manuscript of the first four instalments for the novel's planned serialisation in "Scribner's Magazine". The manuscript formed the basis of this author's edition, with the first MS instalment being divided in two to form five printed chapters. Shortly after sending off his manuscript, Stevenson realised he had a major problem in his construction of the narrative and he considered radically changing it from a first-person narrative to a third-person one, before in the end deciding not to. Work on the "Master of Ballantrae" was then interrupted when he left for a cruise of the South Seas in June 1888. Stevenson continued the novel in Tahiti in the autumn of that year and finished it in Hawaii in April 1889. He continued to find the writing of it problematic, particularly after the serialisation started in "Scribner's Magazine" in November 1888, which meant that he had deadlines to meet for producing further instalments of the novel. He later agonised over its ending, and later commentators have found it to be somewhat contrived and unsatisfactory, but despite all the difficulties he faced in writing it, the novel is now regarded as one his finest works.|
|Reference Sources||R.G. Swearingen "The prose writings of Robert Louis Stevenson" (London, 1980)|
|Title||Matil'da Rokbi, poema v shesti knigakh. [Rokeby]|
|Imprint||Moscow: V tipografii Avgusta Semena|
|Date of Publication||1823|
|Notes||This is the rare first edition in Russian of Scott's English Civil War poem, "Rokeby". No copy has been traced in western European libraries. The two-volume translation, by an unidentified translator, is in prose. The first English edition of "Rokeby" appeared in 1813; it did not enjoy quite the spectacular success of the "Lady of the Lake" but was still a big seller. Like Scott's other works it was soon translated for readers on the Continent; a French translation was published in 1820 and a German translation in 1822, then this Russian translation of 1823. Scott was probably the most popular foreign author in Russia in the 19th century, the first Russian translation of his works, some extracts from "Ivanhoe", appeared as early as 1820. His influence can be seen not only in the development of the Russian historical novel, but also in the vogue for wearing tartan and dressing up as characters from his novels. Of the three great influences on the celebrated Russian author Alexander Pushkin from European literature, Byron, Shakespeare and Scott, the influence of Scott is most marked in Pushkin's prose, particularly the historical fictions. The verso of the title in volume 1 states that the book was on sale at the bookshop of Vasily Loginov; his ticket is also pasted here to the front pastedown. This copy appears to be in its original binding.|
|Reference Sources||"The Caledonian Phalanx: Scots in Russia", National Library of Scotland, 1987|
|Author||Barclay, John |
|Title||Maximo potentissimo que monarchae, Iacobo primo ... carmen gratulatorium|
|Imprint||Lutetiae Parisiorum [Paris]|
|Date of Publication||1603|
|Notes||A very rare copy (there have hitherto been only two recorded copies of this work, neither of them in Scotland) of an early work by John Barclay (1582-1621), one of the foremost neo-Latin authors of his day.
Although Barclay himself was born and brought up in France, his father was Scottish and he himself was proud of his Scottish ancestry. His first published work appeared in 1601 and two years later he composed this poem congratulating James VI on his accession to the throne of England and on the Union of the Crowns. The timing of the poem was propitious. In 1606 the Barclay family moved to England and Barclay was successful in gaining royal favour and financial support for his literary works, as well as carrying out diplomatic missions for James on the Continent. Barclay remained at James's court until 1615, when he moved to the papal court in Rome.
The widespread popularity of Barclay's works throughout Europe is a testament to the continuing importance of Latin as a language of literature and culture in the early 17th century. The acquisition of this particular work is a worthy addition to the Library's extensive holdings of editions of Barclay's works.|
Shaaber "Checklist of Check-list of works of British authors printed abroad, in languages other than English, to 1641" (New York, 1975)|