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.

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Important Acquisitions 406 to 420 of 751:

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TitleObservations on the culture of the tobacco-plant... adapted to the climate of the west of Scotland.
ImprintGlasgow: Printed by Robert Chapman and Alexander Duncan
Date of Publication1782
LanguageEnglish
NotesDuring the 18th century, Glasgow was a centre for trade between Scotland and North America. This pamphlet, printed just after the American Revolution, shows that Scots were keen to learn from America. The anonymous writer suggests that if the right location can be found, it should be possible to grow tobacco in Scotland as successfully as in Virginia. The book discusses growing the plants, harvesting the crop and curing the tobacco. It suggests that for extra flavour, you should sprinkle the tobacco 'with a little white wine or cider'. There is a long tradition of literature about smoking and tobacco; one of the earliest contributions was by a Scot: King James VI's Counterblaste to Tobacco (1604). This is a good copy of a very rare book; it is not listed in the English Short-Title Catalogue (ESTC), and only one other copy in the UK is recorded, in Glasgow University Library.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2622
Acquired on07/06/06
AuthorSmith, Adam
TitleRECHERCHES SUR LA NATURE ET LES CAUSES DE LA RICHESSE DES NATIONS
ImprintA Avignon, Chez J.J. Niel, Imprimeur-Libraire, rue de la Balance
Date of Publication1791
LanguageFrench
NotesThis French edition of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations was printed in Avignon in southern France. The bookseller describes this as 'perhaps the rarest of all Adam Smith's works in any language', and indeed only one library copy has been located, at Northwestern University. It seems that many copies were destroyed during the Revolution; indeed, the printer-bookseller Jean-Joseph Niel also perished in a massacre on 16-17 October 1791. 'This edition, an attempt to capitalize on the popularity of the Wealth of Nations, added to Roucher's translation some preliminary material, notes, and the promise of a translation from Xenophon, all to make it marketable and to defend it against charges of piracy... The editor of this edition was Agricole Joseph Francois Xavier Pierre Esprit Simon Paul Antoine, marquis de Fortia d'Urban (1756-1843).' (Carpenter, p. 117). 'Niel had additional reasons to try to emphasize that his was a new edition. The work advertised along with Recherches was a collection of decrees of the National Assembly: 'Il importe a tous les Francais de connoitre & d'avoir sous les yeux les Decrets de l'auguste Assemblee Nationale. Ces loix, dictees par la sagesse, doivent etre gravees dans la memoire & dans le coeur de tous les individus'. Thus, he was issuing Recherches, a work that he termed the 'second torch of liberty', as part of what might be called a publishing program in support of the Revolution. And, indeed, Recherches was regarded as such by the government. In May 1793 the Committee of Public Safety agreed that a copy should be given to each of the 'Commissaires observateurs' who were being sent to various regions to report on economic matters and the state of public opinion' (Carpenter, p. lii). However, there were probably too few copies left by then to make this scheme practical. This set is in good condition, uncut and largely unopened in contemporary mottled boards.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2614
Reference SourcesVanderblue Catalogue p. 24; See Carpenter The Dissemination of the Wealth of Nations in French and in France, 1776-1843, New York, 2002, pp. 117-127.
Acquired on02/06/06
AuthorMacpherson, Alistair
TitleTreubhantas na'n Gaidheal Albanach. The valour of the Scottish Gael
Imprint[Scotland?]
Date of Publicationc.1918
LanguageGaelic
NotesThis seems to be the only known copy of this book of Gaelic poems. Macpherson, a former soldier himself, wrote these poems 'in praise of the bravery of the Scottish Gael from time immemorial', in the language which he calls 'the most expressive in recording the actions of the bold, the valorous, and the true of any living language'. His preface criticizes those 'Highlanders into whose hands this volume may fall, and whose mother tongue is the Gaelic', who 'know less of the Gaelic than they do of the English language'. The volume is dedicated to Lady Macdonald of the Isles: Macpherson's only other known work is Welcome to Alexander Somerled Angus, the son of the Heir of MacDonald, Prince of the Western Isles, published in Gaelic with an English translation in 1918 (shelfmark NG.1526.a.11).
ShelfmarkHB1.208.8.74
Acquired on02/06/06
AuthorMilton, John
TitleParadise Regain'd. A poem, in four books. To which is added Samson Agonistes; and poems on several occasions, with a tractate of eduction
ImprintGlasgow: Printed and sold by Robert and Andrew Foulis
Date of Publication1752
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis two-volume work from the Foulis press clears up a small mystery in Philip Gaskell's Bibliography of the Foulis Press. Gaskell records this work as his item 235, and lists item 236 as an unseen work entitled Poems on Several Occasions, by Milton. He suggests that this was 'probably an extract from Paradise Regain'd', using the sub-title provided in that edition as the new title page. This was exactly what happened with this copy, with the complete text as listed on the title page split between the two volumes. Gaskell's item 236, therefore, is a bibliographical ghost. Certainly the separate title pages for the different items in the work lend themselves to physical separation during binding. The spine title, Milton's Works 3 [and 4] suggests that the original owner of this volume had also a copy of Gaskell's item 234, Paradise Lost, similarly split between two volumes, and saw the whole as a bibliographical unity.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2616
Reference SourcesPhilip Gaskell: A Bibliography of the Foulis Press. 1986.
Acquired on31/05/06
AuthorMackenzie, James
TitleIstoria della Sanita o sia dell' arte di ben conservarla giusta gl'insegnanti li piu interessanti additati da medici e filosofi si antichi, che moderni.
ImprintVenice: Niccolo Pezzana
Date of Publication1765
LanguageItalian
NotesThis is the first known Italian translation of The History of Health by the Scottish physician James Mackenzie (1682? - 1761), a book today most notable for its advocacy of smallpox innoculation. However, this edition suggests that to a contemporary audience the book's interest lay in its advice to the general public for a healthy lifestyle. The foreword to the Italian translation by the printer mentions an unfavourable review of the work by a 'Sig. Vandermond' in a medical journal, saying that of course a doctor would speak ill of a book which enables anyone interested in their own health to learn about the subject and to live as healthily as possible - hence not needing a doctor. This Italian translation is rare - no other copy is recorded in COPAC - but perhaps it would be more common had the foreword begun with the explanation of how the book could be useful to all, and was praised in England and France, rather than with the details of how Signore Vandermond 'criticises and shows the book to be useless'.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2613
Reference SourcesDNB
Acquired on10/05/06
TitleSailm Dhaibhidh
ImprintEdinburgh: C. Elliot
Date of Publication1787
LanguageGaelic
NotesThis book of psalms in Gaelic has been bound in the style of William Scott, probably not long after it was published in 1787. The ornament at foot of the spine is identical to that reproduced by W.S. Loudon as W.12 in his work on the Edinburgh binders William and James Scott. As a binder William was not as prolific as his father James. It is known that William was binding books in Edinburgh from 1785-1787 and possibly into the early 1790s. A larger version of this particular design can be seen on the spine of Samuel Charter's Sermons, published in Edinburgh in 1786. Another piece of evidence pointing to the possibility of this having been bound by William Scott is the fact that this book was printed for Charles Elliot. Scott printed bound at least 3 works printed for Elliot. However it has to be said that evidence linking Scott with this binding is somewhat tenuous. Most of Scott's bindings were far more elaborate - the covers were usually of tree calf and none of them have this simple border. The text is John Smith's revision of the Gaelic Psalter, published by the Synod of Argyll. Smith was assistant minister of the parish of Kilbrandon and Kilchatten and subsequently minister at Campbeltown. The front flyleaf is signed 'Duncan Campbell' which may be Duncan Campbell, the clerk of the Synod of Argyll.
ShelfmarkBdg.s.915
Reference SourcesLoudon, J.H. James and William Scott, bookbinders. London : Scolar Press, 1980.
Acquired on01/05/06
AuthorBrewster, David., Somerville, Mary et al.
TitleCollection of offprints presented to or collected by James Veitch.
ImprintVarious
Date of Publication1812-1831
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a remarkable collection of nine papers written by six scientists (five of whom were Scots) during the early 19th century. What makes this collection so interesting is that all of these papers were presented to James Veitch (1771-1838), the self-educated polymath who was acquainted with these and other prominent contemporary scientists. He was also known to major public figures such as Sir Walter Scott and Francis Jeffrey, editor of the Edinburgh Review. Veitch came from Inchbonny, near Jedburgh where he made his living as a ploughwright, but he also found the time to dabble in mathematics, mechanics and astronomy. He set up a scientific workshop on the Jedburgh turnpike where he gave lessons to local educated men in these subjects. By the late 1820s he had stopped making ploughs and devoted his time to making telescopes and clocks. His customers for telescopes included Scott, the Earl of Hopetoun, the Earl of Minto, Mary Somerville and Professor Schumacher of the Altona Observatory in Germany. He was also working as the Inspector of Weights and Measures for Roxburghshire. Veitch is best known today as the man who inspired the young David Brewster (1781-1868), the inventor of the stereoscope and the kaleidoscope, to take an interest in scientific matters. With Veitch's help, Brewster had made his first telescope by the age of ten. Appropriately enough, four of the nine papers in this volume are by Brewster. There is also the first scientific paper by Jedburgh-born Mary Somerville (1780-1872). She was a leading scientific author and the first woman to have a work published in the Royal Society of London's Philosophical Transactions. The other papers are by Basil Hall, the son of the eminent geologist Sir James Hall, John Robison from Edinburgh and Alexander Rogers, who possibly came from Leith. There is also a paper by the Englishman William Hyde Wollaston, inventor of the camera lucida.
ShelfmarkRB.m.633(1-9)
Reference SourcesGordon, Margaret Maria. The home life of Sir David Brewster. Edinburgh, 1881. Clarke, T.N. et al. Brass & glass: scientific instrument making workshops in Scotland. Edinburgh, 1989.
Acquired on25/04/06
AuthorBeatson, Alexander.
TitleFlora Sta. Helenica
ImprintSaint Helena : J. Boyd
Date of Publication1825
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis adds to the Library's collection of material by the Dundonian Alexander Beatson (1759-1830) relating to Saint Helena. Beatson was an army officer; he had served in India and from 1808 to1813 he was governor of St .Helena. The island, which belonged to the East India Company, was in a very poor state. The population had nearly been wiped out by a measles epidemic and the c. 3000 survivors, a mixture of English settlers, Africans and Chinese coolies, were living in wretched conditions. During this time Beatson established a printing press on the island. This item is one of four works he had published. The others dealt mainly with the agriculture on the island. In recognition of his achievements on the island, Beatson was promoted to the post of major-general in 1813; he returned to England a few months later. Beatson acknowledges the contribution made towards the work by a Dr. W. Roxburgh, who compiled a catalogue of his own during a year-long stay on the island. The work also includes Roxburgh's 'Directions for taking care of growing plants at sea'. Beatson comments that the island, due to its elevation and to 'having its situation within the Tropics, possesses varieties of climate appropriate to very different plants'. He describes St Helena as being akin to a depot for plants journeying from one region to another. Unfortunately botanical knowledge was in its infancy then, and the arrival of exotic plants from other parts of the world did far more harm than good on an island which today has just over 60 endemic species. Only three copies of this work have been traced in the UK, none of which are in Scotland.
ShelfmarkRB.m.630
Acquired on18/04/06
AuthorGirvin, John
TitleA letter to Adam Smith
ImprintDublin: Printed by P. Byrne, no. 8, Grafton-Street
Date of Publication1786
LanguageEnglish
NotesThe library tries to collect works on Adam Smith comprehensively. This is an early reply to Smith's 'Wealth of Nations' (1776) of which there are no other copies in public ownership in Scotland. It does not seem to have been known by the main Smith bibliographers. John Girvin (1734-1804) was a Dublin merchant who wrote extensively on trade policy. He seems to have been using the 4th Dublin edition of the 'Wealth of Nations', printed in 1785, for this book. He takes issue in particular with Smith's analysis of the herring industry. He argues that Smith does not understand the trade, and expresses concern for the Irish trade if Smith's arguments for changing the bounty arrangements are accepted. This is a good copy, uncut and unopened.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2623
Reference SourcesESTC N33556 'Vanderblue Memorial Collection of Smithiana', 1939 Lai, Cheng-chung, 'Adam Smith across nations', 2000 Tribe, Keith, 'A critical bibliography of Adam Smith', 2002
Acquired on13/04/06
Title[211 nineteenth century pamphlets on education]
ImprintVarious
Date of Publication19th century
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a collection of 12 bound volumes containing 211 nineteenth century pamphlets on topics related to education. They were at one time in the library of the Educational Institute of Scotland. The Educational Institute of Scotland was founded in 1847 and is the oldest teaching union in the world. Queen Victoria granted a Royal Charter to the EIS and among the powers conferred was the power to award a degree of Fellow of the Institute. The EIS remains the only trade union that awards degrees. Liverpool and Scotland feature strongly in the collection and there are also items from the United States, Wales and other parts of England. Items produced by the pupils on their press in an Edinburgh disabled pupils school are particularly interesting. Important authors represented include William Godwin and Thomas Chalmers among others.
ShelfmarkAB.3.206.002-013
Acquired on21/02/06
Author[Anon]
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
LanguageEnglish
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.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2644
Reference SourcesESTC; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
Acquired on22/01/06
TitleHoly Bible
ImprintLondon: Eyre & Spottiswoode
Date of Publication1850
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an outstanding example of Victorian Scottish craftsmanship. The binding was specially commissioned for the 50th wedding anniversary of William and Agnes Renton on 7 July 1852. We know quite a bit about this couple, thanks to a book entitled 'Memorial of Mrs. Agnes Renton', privately printed in Kelso in 1866 for their family (NLS shelfmark OO.8/2). Agnes Renton was born into a merchant family in Edinburgh on 16 February 1781. William Renton was born in Edinburgh on 7 January 1774 and was also a merchant; he married Agnes on 7 July 1802, and their marriage seems to be have been particularly happy and fruitful. Agnes is portrayed in the Memorial as a strong, intelligent and devout woman, and extracts from her letters confirm this impression. The Memorial describes the anniversary celebrations, which culminated in the presentation of this Bible (pp.26-9): 'On the completion of the fiftieth year of her married life an interesting celebration of it took place, at which all the members of her family in this country were present, including four sons, two daughters, three sons-in-law, two daughters-in-law...and twenty-three grandchildren... About noon on the Jubilee Anniversary, Wednesday, July 7, 1852, the different branches of the family met in their common home, the house of our venerable parents, 22 Buccleuch Place. On entering, all, old and young, received wedding favours and gloves, according to old Scotch fashion. The seniors were ushered into the drawing-room, where father and mother awaited them; and when they were all assembled and had taken their places - the aged couple in arm chairs about the middle of the room - the youngsters entered in procession, two and two, according to age, and, ranged in a beautiful group in front of their grandparents, presented, by the hands of John Robson, as eldest grandson, though not eldest grandchild, the gift of the united grandchildren. It consisted of a magnificent quarto Bible, richly bound and clasped. In the interior of the board fronting the title-page a silver shield is inserted, of ten inches by six, within which is an oval tablet, six inches by four and a-half, containing an embossed genealogical tree of gold. On the base of the trunk are engraved the names of the grandparents, with a plaited lock of the hair incased beneath each. On the successive branches are the names of their children, and where married those also of their partners, with a number of twigs attached, corresponding to that of the grandchildren, and affixed to each a lock of the child's hair with a number indicating the name on the margin of the shield. Surrounding the tablet is a space of about an inch, between the gold rim inclosing it and the border of the shield, which is occupied at the top and bottom with the inscription, and on either side with the names of the donors, in the order of their families, to the number of thirty-one. In making the presentation the speaker delivered a pretty and appropriate address, expressive of the love and reverence and good wishes of the donors, and of their desire to follow the example which had been set by their grandparents, and to gladden their hearts by walking in the fear of the Lord. "Grandpapa" replied with not a little emotion, giving vent to his feelings of gratitude, interest, and affection. We then engaged in worship.' This detailed description leaves no room for doubt that this is the very Bible which is now being offered to NLS. It is a most remarkable object. As well as the extraordinary family tree inside the front board, the Bible is finely bound with gold tooling all over, gilt gauffered leaf edges, fine brass clasps and a velvet lining inside the boards. It is housed in a purpose-built box, also lined with velvet. The book measures 340 x 260 x 112 mm., and the box 345 x 405 x 195 mm. The combined weight is significant. The box also contains two small envelopes containing the hair of two further grandchildren (born after the event?) and a rather moth-eaten pamphlet 'The Rentons of Renton' (about 1950). NLS does not have a copy of this pamphlet, although we have an earlier history of the family, 'Renton', at shelfmark S.120.i. What is particularly noteworthy is that this binding is the work of Colin Frame of Glasgow, according to the lettering on the inner edge of the joint of the front board. This is a binder who is recorded in the Scottish Book Trade Index, but about whom little seems to be known. We do not appear to have any other examples of his work - but he was clearly a highly skilled and innovative craftsman. There is clearly much to discover about 19th-century Glasgow binders, if work of this quality has remained unknown to this day. NLS has only an imperfect copy of this Bible at shelfmark NF.715.b.6.
ShelfmarkBdg.l.48
Acquired on21/11/05
AuthorCommissioners and Trustees for Improving Fisheries and Manufactures in Scotland
TitleInstructions given by the commissioners and trustees for improving the fisheries and manufactures of Scotland to [blank] wreck and cure-masters of herrings at [blank]
Imprint[Edinburgh?: S.n.]
Date of Publication[1728?]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThe Board of Trustees for Fisheries and Manufactures was established in 1727 by an Act of Parliament of 1727 in order to "encourage and promote the fisheries or such other manufactures and improvements in Scotland as may most conduce to the general good of the United Kingdom". This broadside printed for national distribution provides a fascinating glimpse into the early 18th-century Scottish herring fishery, a major and lucrative industry for Scotland right up until the mid-20th century. It gives instructions to the local officials responsible for supervising the curing and packing of herrings. As herring is a fatty fish, it has to be cured as quickly as possible, hence the need for tight regulations regarding curing and packing. The fifteen numbered instructions give specific guidelines for all stages of the curing process, in particular regarding the cleanliness and wholesomeness of the fish, packing methods, salting, pickling with wine, the number of hoops per barrel, the dumping of fish unfit for consumption, burn-marking each barrel with appropriate identifications, keeping ledgers for records of barrel-marks and the ships used to export herrings, and inspection of freshly-caught fish. The blank spaces in the title are meant to be annotated, presumably with the names of the relevant inspectors and the areas of Scotland in which they worked. This is an extremely rare work; there are only two other known copies listed in ESTC.
ShelfmarkRB.l.223
Reference SourcesESTC T37311
Acquired on28/09/05
AuthorForrester, Thomas.
TitleA 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.
ImprintEdinburgh: heirs and successors of Andrew Anderson
Date of Publication1706
LanguageEnglish
NotesThese 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.
ShelfmarkBdg.s.912(1-2)
Reference SourcesDNB
Acquired on21/09/05
AuthorBurnes, Alexander
TitleKabul. Schilderung einer Reise nach dieser Stadt und des Aufenthalts daselbst.
ImprintLeipzig: T.D. Weigel
Date of Publication1843
LanguageGerman
NotesThis is a German translation of Alexander Burnes's 'Cabool: being a personal narrative of a journey to, and residence in that city in the years 1836-38', published posthumously in 1842. Burnes was born in Montrose in 1805 and educated at Montrose Academy. He had extraordinary linguistic abilities, learning Hindustani and Persian within one year in Bombay. At the end of 1836 Burnes was dispatched by the British government on a mission to Kabul, where he stayed until 1838. During these two years he collected the material for his book. In 1839 he returned as an officer with the British Army and acted as second political officer in Kabul. Towards the end of 1841 the political situation deteriorated but Burnes was unprepared for the ferocity of the Afghan revenge. On 2 November 1841 an infuriated crowd besieged his house in Kabul and murdered him. This event marked the beginning of Britain's disastrous retreat from Afghanistan.
ShelfmarkABS.2.206.001
Reference SourcesDNB
Acquired on15/09/05
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