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 772 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.

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Important Acquisitions 391 to 405 of 772:

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AuthorPownall, Thomas.
TitleLetter from Governor Pownall to Adam Smith being an Examination of several points of doctrine, laid down in his 'Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations'.
ImprintLondon: J. Almon
Date of Publication1776
Notes4to, [11], 48 p. Without the errata slip, sometimes pasted onto the verso of the half-title. ESTC T55254 According to ESTC (English Short-Title Catalogue) and discussions with the main central belt libraries, there is no copy of this work in a public institution in Scotland. Reference to ABPC (American Book Prices Current) and BAR (Book Auction Records) demonstrates that no copy has come up for sale in the last twenty-five years (1975-1999). There are two imperfect copies in the British Library and a complete copy in Cambridge University Library, and there are a number of copies in the USA and one in Germany. The majority of copies are either lacking the half-title or errrata slip, or both. This is one of the earliest, if not the earliest, criticisms of Adam Smith's An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations [hereafter Wealth of Nations] which was published earlier the same year. The author, Thomas Pownall (1722-1805), known as 'Governor Pownall' was Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Company between 1757 and 1759, very briefly Governor of South Carolina (late 1759 to early 1760) and, after quitting the American Colonies, sat as an MP between 1767 and 1780. In Parliament, and in his publications, Pownall was liberal in his views towards England's relationship with the American Colonists. He published on a wide range of subjects including the administration of the colonies, international trade and law. The publication of the Wealth of Nations in 1776 provoked an immediate response from Pownall and within a few months he produced 'A letter from Governor Pownall to Adam Smith ... being an Examination of several points of doctrine, laid down in his 'Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations'' which though disagreeing with key elements in Smith's arguments remained very complimentary throughout and even prompted Smith to address him a letter of thanks for "his very great politeness" (DNB; Gent. Mag. 1795, ii, 634-5). Pownall's critique of Smith's book is one of the earliest to appear in print. His criticisms of the Wealth of Nations have been well summarised by a recent biographer of Smith: Pownall had a clear perception of Smith's system of political economy as a form of 'moral Newtonianism', and he thought that if it were corrected on the salient points he brought up, it might become an institutional work on which could be based lectures 'in our Universities'. The chief criticisms in the Letter were at Smith's formulations concerning price, patterns of trade, restraints on importation, and the monopoly of colony trade. (Ian Simpson Ross, The Life of Adam Smith (Oxford, 1995), p.346). Given the Library's strengths in material by and relating to Adam Smith and our international reputation as a repository for Enlightenment texts and manuscripts, this is an excellent addition.
Acquired on06/11/00
Author[Law, John]
TitleLettre au sujet de l'arrest du Conseil d'État
Date of Publication1720
NotesThese items are useful additions to the Library's holdings of publications relating to the career and policies of John Law, the Scot turned economist and banker who became controller-general of finances in France. The first item announces the success of the reform of the French financial system, which Law had directed (although these reforms were shortly to result in the disastrous collapse of the 'Mississippi bubble' which ruined numerous investors). Law's biographer Antoin Murphy describes this work as 'Law at his disingenuous best'. The second item is an attempt to justify the measures of 22 May 1720, which had involved a reduction in the price of the paper currency which Law had introduced. Both items are anonymous, but seem likely to be by Law or commissioned by him: certainly they relate to the radical policies which originated with Law. Law eventually fled France in disgrace, and died in exile. His ideas are now considered to have been ahead of their time. See Antoin E. Murphy, John Law (1997), pp. 293+, 244+. These two books are good copies in modern boards.
Acquired on26/09/01
Author[John Law]
TitleLettres patentes du roy : portant privilege au Sieur Law & sa Compagnie d'establir une Banque generale.
ImprintParis :Chez la Veuve de Franc¸ois Muguet
Date of Publication1716
NotesThis is the first letter patent issued on 2 May 1716 on behalf of King Louis XV of France, authorising the Scottish financier John Law (1671-1729) to found a general bank in France. Law is one of the most colourful and notorious figures in Scottish history. In the early 1690s he moved to England to make his fortune. Using his superior knowledge of mathematics and probability theory, he spent his time 'gaming and sharping'. His career as a gambler was, perhaps inevitably, fraught with risk; in 1692 he was forced to sell his rights of inheritance to his late father?s estate of Lauriston, a few miles west of Edinburgh, to his mother. In April 1694 he killed a man in a duel over the affections of a woman. He was convicted of murder at the Old Bailey in London and sentenced to death, but managed to escape from prison and fled to the Continent. Law then travelled widely in Western Europe, where he gained a reputation as a financial expert who was able to support himself through speculating in currency markets in France and the Netherlands. He also developed his theories of the advantages of establishing a national land bank, and of expanding the money supply to increase national output, by issuing banknotes backed by land, gold, or silver. Law tried, without success, to sell his ideas of a bank for national finance and a state company for commerce to the rulers of various countries in the early 1700s. He settled in France in 1713 and lobbied Louis XIV and his finance minister, Nicolas Desmarets, to form a national bank. His plan was initially favourably received, but rejected shortly before the king's death in September 1715. However, the old king?s death proved to be stroke of fortune which transformed Law?s career. Louis's successor, his great-grandson Louis XV, was only a child of five, so France was then governed by a regency council, presided over by Philippe, duke of Orleans, the late king?s nephew and son-in-law. The duke of Orleans, as a regent, was a bold leader; he was dedicated to reforming the policies of the late king and to restoring the finances of France, which were in a very poor state thanks to Louis XIV embroiling France in a series of expensive wars. The resultant shortage of precious metals had also led to a shortage of coins in circulation, which in turn limited the production of new coins. As a fellow gambler, the duke of Orleans was particularly interested in Law's plan for a bank as a way of dealing with the national debt. He agreed to the foundation of a 'banque generale' (General Bank), with the authority to issue banknotes. A further letter patent was issued on 20 May, stipulating the regulations for the operation of the General Bank. The bank proved to be popular and profitable within a short time, which encouraged Law to think on a bigger scale. In 1717 he set up the Compagnie d'Occident (formerly known as the Mississippi Company), which consolidated existing French trading companies who had control of the ports and islands of Louisiana, and a monopoly on the beaver trade in Canada. The company was strongly connected to the bank from the start, and in December 1718, to reflect its enhanced status, the Banque Generale became the Banque Royale, with Law appointed as director. In May 1719 Law added the struggling French East India and China companies to his own, and renamed the new company, the Compagnie des Indes. From being a simple trading company, the Compagnie des Indes took over the collection of indirect taxes in France and redemption of the debt; it had in effect become a giant holding company controlling almost the entire revenue-raising system in France, the national debt, the overseas companies, the mint, as well as the note-issuing bank. The rise of the company led to Law gaining a prominent role in the government of France; by May 1720 he was effectively chief minister and minister of finance in France. However, the rapid expansion of Law?s company led to boom and bust, with its shares being the subject of wild speculation on the French stock market, as adventurers and aristocratic gamblers from all over Europe bought and sold shares at vastly inflated prices. The Banque Royale was declared bankrupt in October 1720, having already temporarily closed in May of that year, and the share price of the Compagnie des Indes collapsed. Law lost his own personal fortune and in December he had to resign from his ministerial posts. He went into exile abroad, living for a brief spell in England. The death of the duke of Orleans in 1723 put an end to his hopes of ever returning to France. He died in Venice in poverty.
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National biography
Acquired on06/03/15
AuthorScapula, Joanne
TitleLexicon Graeco Latinum Novum
ImprintBasle: Sebastianum Henricpetri,
Date of Publication1615
NotesThis is a copy of a standard classical reference work with a rich Scottish literary provenance. The inscription on the front free endpaper reads 'Ex libris Andreae Crosbie Viena ne concupiscas'. On the front pastedown is note by Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe: 'This dictionary belonged to Andrew Crosbie, the once celebrated lawyers [sic] and has his autograph'. Crosbie (1735-1785) was a prominent Edinburgh advocate and was said to be the prototype for Councillor Pleydell in Scott's novel 'Guy Mannering'. He was a good friend of James Boswell and Samuel Johnson on visit to Edinburgh just about managed to hold his own with him in conversation. Sharpe (1781-1851) was a writer, antiquary and artist and a lifelong friend of Sir Walter Scott. He also possessed an unrivalled collection of Scottish curios and antiques. The National Library holds no fewer than fourteen 16th and 17th century editions of this text many of which were printed in Switzerland. Only three copies of the 1615 Basle edition are known, one at the British Library and two in the United States (Princeton and Yale). Scapula (c.1540-c.1600) the famous German philologist worked with Henri Estienne on the manuscript of his 'Thesaurus linguae Graecae'. In 1580, seven years after the publication of Estienne's magnum opus, Scapula published his own abridged version, using all of Estienne's innovations which he claimed were his own. This edition appears to be an exact reprint of the Basle 1600 edition (the collation is identical) also printed by Henricpetri. The vellum binding has the spine ruled in blind with raised bands. The covers are ruled in blind to a panel design with an outer border of blind stamped thistles. The central panel has a large interlaced arebesque medallion and fluer de lys in the corners. The thistles and the fleur de lys suggest the binding may be Scottish.
Acquired on28/11/02
AuthorTurner, Robert.
TitleL'Histoire et vie de Marie Stuart, Royne d'Ecosse, d'Oiriere de France, heritiere d'Angleterre & d'Ibernye ...
ImprintParis : Chez Guillaume Iulien
Date of Publication1589
NotesRobert Turner, an exiled Scottish Catholic and Professor of Divinity at Ingolstadt, produced the first edition of Mary Queen of Scots life and death in 1588, in Latin. This is the exceptionally rare first French edition of the work. Turner tried to portray Mary as a victim of Queen Elizabeth and a martyr to the Catholic faith. He also wished specifically to refute George Buchanan's attacks on the Scottish queen. Turner was educated at Oxford and Douai, where he was ordained and became Professor of Rhetoric. He also taught at the German College in Rome before being appointed rector at the University of Ingolstadt. The National Library holds two copies of the Latin edition, but no other copies of the French have been traced worldwide.
Acquired on07/04/08
AuthorClark, George
TitleLiber tertius de fidei familia
ImprintBasil: Georg Decker
Date of Publication1640
NotesThis is a rare work of theology, unrecorded in the UK, by one George Clark[e] 'Scoto-Britannus', published in Basil. The identity of the author is not certain; it is probably the George Clark(e) (d. 1644) listed in the Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae as a student in King's College Aberdeen between 1607-11, subsequently becoming a minister at Aberdour in the presbytery of Deer, Aberdeenshire. This George Clark wrote at least three other theological works: "De Idea Seculi libri tres" printed in Breda in 1625 and "De Lege Dei Scripta, libri XII" printed in Franeker in the Netherlands in 1642 and "De Lege Dei Scripta, liber secundus" published in Geneva in 1647. The main subject of this book is fidelity in biblical families. Although the title refers to this being the third book on the subject, there is no record of a first and second book in any library, nor are they mentioned in the preface. The work is dedicated to, among others, Count Walter Leslie of Balquhain (1606-1667), soldier and diplomat, who since the 1620s had been soldiering on the Continent in the Thirty Years War, fighting on the side of the Spanish Habsburgs.
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on30/09/11
TitleLife and character of Robert Watt, who was executed for high treason at Edinburgh, the 15th October, 1794
ImprintEdinburgh: A. Shirrefs
Date of Publication1795
NotesA rare edition (only 3 copies on ESTC, all in U.S.) of this unsympathetic life of Robert Watt, a government spy amongst the political reform societies who underwent an extraordinary conversion to the cause of revolution. Described as the 'natural son of a respectable gentleman in Scotland', he spent his formative years in Perth before working as a 'much respected' clerk in Edinburgh. However it was all downhill from there - Watt got involved in smuggling and when his offer to provide information on the revolutionary Society of the Friends of the People, for the princely sum of £1000, was spurned, he joined that Society with some enthusiasm. He was arrested in possession of a large amount weaponry, some of which is illustrated in the frontispiece, and executed for high treason in October 1794. This issue includes the name of William Lane, the London publisher and distributor, in the imprint. The other issue (copy at 3.855(3)) does not have Lane's name in the imprint. Both issues contain 'Verses written on seeing the execution of Robert Watt' which are frequently lacking in editions of this text.
Acquired on07/11/02
AuthorRobert, J.S.
TitleLife and explorations of Dr. Livingstone
ImprintNottingham: Haslam
Date of Publicationc. 1880
NotesJohn S. Roberts's biography of David Livingstone first appeared in the 1870s and was immediate success, contributing to the image of the Scots explorer as a saintly and indefatigable figure, a true Victorian hero whose exploits were studied by schoolchildren all over the Empire. The work was published by Adam & Co. of London and Newcastle-upon-Tyne and contained colour lithographic plates depicting in vivid detail scenes from Livingstone's life. It appears to have been reissued by provincial booksellers, who inserted an additional title page. This large-format copy was published by Haslam of Nottingham presumably for the local market.
Acquired on16/02/09
TitleLife of Arthur Lord Balmerino & to which are added, some memoirs of the lives of the two other lords, the Earls of Kilmarnock and Cromertie [sic].
ImprintLondon: C. Whitefield
Date of Publication1746
NotesAfter the failure of the rebellion of 1745/46, the leading Jacobites, who had been captured or had turned themselves in, were taken to London and tried for treason. The trials of these men and subsequent fate of these men excited a lot of public interest in 1746, in particular the fate of four Scottish aristocrats: Lord Balmerino, the earls of Kilmarnock and Cromarty, and Lord Lovat. Balmerino and Kilmarnock were publicly beheaded on 18 August for their roles in the rebellion. Cromarty was also sentenced to death but the sentence was commuted to imprisonment nine days before the planned execution; Lovat had been captured in the Highlands and was now awaiting trial in the Tower of London (he would be tried in December and executed the following year). A number of 'hack' biographies of these eminent rebels were quickly published to meet the demand for information, including the ones printed in this book. The initial title page of this particular edition was clearly issued before the final contents had been decided, as it does not mention the final two biographies, which cover Jenny Cameron, 'the reputed mistress of the deputy Pretender', and Lord Lovat. The tone of the whole book is strongly anti-Jacobite as can be seen in the inclusion of a biography of Jenny or "Bonnie Jeannie" Cameron, who is depicted as an amoral gold-digger. Little is known of the real Jean Cameron, but her life almost certainly bore no relation to the account published here. Despite the sensational tone of the biographies, in the detailed description of their conduct leading up to their executions the anonymous author shows respect for the brave and dignified manner in which Balmerino and Kilmarnock met their deaths. This particular edition was published in fifteen parts and has five portraits engraved by William Parr. A later edition was published by Whitefield in the same year with a general title page that mentions all five biographies, but this earlier edition appears to be very rare, with only three known UK locations listed in ESTC.
Reference SourcesESTC; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
Acquired on22/01/06
AuthorRoyal Caledonian Curling Club
TitleList of skips for the Royal Caledonian Curling Club grand match to be played on Castlesemple Loch, Lochwinnoch + Railway arrangements for the Royal Caledonian Curling Club grand match.
Imprint[Glasgow?: Royal Caledonian Curling Club]
Date of Publication1876
NotesThese two pieces of ephemera are evidence of the popularity of curling in 19th-century Scotland. They relate to a Grand Match played between the North and South sides of the Clyde in the winter of 1876-77, on Castle Semple Loch, Lochwinnoch in Renfrewshire. The Grand Match was organised by The Royal Caledonian Curling Club (RCCC), which was originally founded in 1838 as The Grand Caledonian Curling Club for the purpose "of regulating the ancient Scottish game of Curling by general laws". By 1842 the new national club had obtained royal patronage, becoming the RCCC. The RCCC promoted the game by providing medals for play between member clubs, encouraging the formation of groups of clubs into provinces so that larger bonspiels could be played, and instituting Grand Matches whereby the North of Scotland could play the South. The first Grand Match took place in Penicuik in 1847. Castle Semple Loch was first used for bonspiels in 1850, as relatively small (1.5 miles long) inland loch with a train station in the vicinity it was a handy location. The list of skips for the Match of 1876-77 reveals that the clubs represented were from both the east and west of Scotland, players coming from as far away as Hawick and Dunblane. The date of the match was not included on the list as that could be only decided once there was enough ice and of sufficient thickness to enable it to take place. In addition to the list of skips to be played, there is a separate sheet outlining the railway arrangements to transport the large number of players and spectators to Lochwinnoch station (in 1848, 680 curlers arrived in Linlithgow to play in the Grand Match as well as 5,000 spectators). The most recent Grand Match took place in 1979 on the Lake of Menteith.
Reference SourcesRoyal Caledonian Curling Club website (www.royalcaledoniancurlingclub.org)
Acquired on12/12/14
AuthorAlcott, Louisa M.
TitleLittle women.
Date of Publication[1927]
NotesThis is an uncommon edition of Louisa Alcott's classic children's book with a striking wrap-around pictorial cover by Jessie M. King. The style of the illustration, which is typical of King with a solitary slender girl in a what appears to be a desert environment is at variance with both the story itself and the Edwardian-style colour frontispiece and title page by an unknown illustrator. Indeed, this design was used for twelve books in the Collins Bumper Reward Books series Born in New Kilpatrick, Bearsden, King (1876-1949) studied at Glasgow School of Art between 1892 and 1899 - her style mirrors the angular art nouveau concepts of the Glasgow Style Her decorative work in books is often regarded as the counterpart to Charles Rennie Mackintosh's output in the field of applied arts. As early as 1902 she was regarded as the pre-eminent book illustrator in the Glasgow movement. She illustrated nearly 200 books between 1898 and 1949. It has been said that her myopic eyesight allowed her to work in fine detail in her book illustrations, as well as in her jewellery, ceramic and fabric designs, murals and watercolour painting.
Reference Sourceshttp://www.greengate-gallery.org.uk/jmk.html http://www.speel.demon.co.uk/artists2/jmking.htm http://www.ortakales.com/illustrators/King.html White, Colin. The enchanted world of Jessie M. King. (Edinburgh: Canongate, 1989) H8.90.6
Acquired on31/01/02
TitleLiving wonder! Never seen in this country before.
ImprintEdinburgh: Oliver & Boyd
Date of Publicationc.1809-1814
NotesThis 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 SourcesFrost, Thomas. The old showmen and the London fairs. London, 1874; Oxford DNB
Acquired on04/06/07
AuthorByron, George Gordon Byron, Baron, 1788-1824.
TitleLord Byron's Poesien.
ImprintZwickau: Gebrueder Schumann
Date of Publication1821-1828
NotesThis 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 SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on20/05/11
AuthorByron, George Gordon
TitleLord Byron's saemmtliche lyrische Gedichte. Uebersetzt von Ernst Ortlepp.
ImprintStuttgart: Hoffman'sche Verlags-Buchhandlung.
Date of Publication1839
NotesThis 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.
Acquired on17/06/05
AuthorKing, Kennedy [i.e. George Douglas Brown]
TitleLove and a sword: a tale of the Afridi War.
ImprintLondon: John Macqueen
Date of Publication1899
NotesThe 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 SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on20/05/11
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