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.

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 rarebooks@nls.uk


Important Acquisitions 406 to 420 of 772:

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AuthorCicero, Marcus Tullius
TitleM. 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]
ImprintLondini : Curante et imprimente A. J. Valpy
Date of Publication1830
NotesThis 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.
Acquired on03/11/09
TitleMacKenzie's Gazette
ImprintNew York and Rochester, NY
Date of Publication1838-39
NotesThe 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.
Reference SourcesDNB
Acquired on01/04/10
AuthorMackenzie, William Lyon
TitleMackenzie'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.
ImprintToronto: Printed and sold at The Palladium Office, York Street, 1838.
Date of Publication1838
NotesWilliam 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'.
Reference SourcesDNB Booksellers Catalogue (D & E Lake Bulletin 219) Various Internet biographical sites
Acquired on30/06/04
TitleMaçonnerie pratique: cours d'enseignement supérieur de la franc-maçonnerie rite écossais ancien et accepté... Publiée par un profane
Imprint2 vols., Paris: Édouard Baltenweck
Date of Publication1885
NotesThis 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.
Acquired on30/09/02
TitleMair Macjigger
ImprintGlasgow: Gowans & Gray ; London: R. Brimley Johnson
Date of Publication1903
NotesThis 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.
Acquired on18/09/08
AuthorDuncan, Mark
TitleMarci Duncani philosophiae et med. D. Institutionis logicae libri quinque.
ImprintSalmurii [Saumur]: Apud Isaacum Desbordes,
Date of Publication1643
NotesBorn 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.
Acquired on29/05/10
TitleMarie der Koenigin auss Schotlandt eigentliche Bildtnuss.
Imprint[Cologne: Johann Bussemacher]
Date of Publication[1587]
NotesThis 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 SourcesAllison & Rogers, Contemporary Literature of the English Counter-Reformation, I, no. 805 BMSTC (German), p. 599
Acquired on28/10/02
AuthorBoursalt, Edme, (1638-1701)
TitleMarie Stuard, Reine d'Ecosse, Tragedie.
ImprintParis: Jean Guignard
Date of Publication1691
NotesThe first edition of this remarkable addition to the canon of French Mary studies: a hot-blooded re-imagining of the life and execution of the Queen of Scots. Thought to be the earliest surviving work to contain the wholly fictional meeting between Elizabeth I and Mary. Boursault's tragedy is able to count its place in a certain lineage of French Mary plays, beginning with Montchrestien (1601) and Regnault (1634) and extending well into the 19th century. Like its predecessors, Marie Stuard amply reflects the age in which it was written: the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1683 (the year in which Boursault's play was first performed) officially ended the toleration of Huguenots, somewhat explaining his extreme vilification of Elizabeth and his tendency to idealize Mary. Nevertheless, Paulson et al. find it to be of significant theatrical and historical value. The plot of Montchrestien's play seems relatively simple and Reganult's shows scarcely much more complexity. Boursault, utilizing a novelesque approach and profiting from the advancements in theatrical technique, presents a complex series of intrigues... Norfolk's love affair with Mary, Morray's hatred of his sister and love of Elizabeth, Newcastle's betrayal of Norfolk and the abandonment and betrayal of Elizabeth add life and interest to the play. We feel that for this reason alone, it would be interesting and rewarding for Marie Stuard to be performed by a modern repertory group, which would revive Boursault's work from an unjust oblivion. Boursault is also guilty, however, of severe historical anachronisms, the least among them the inclusion of characters killed long before Mary's execution (Norfolk and Morray). Far more glaring, however, is the entirely made-up personal meeting between Elizabeth and Mary  an episode which enjoyed an important and enduring legacy, as Paulson et al. point out.
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes. M.G. Paulson, The Queens' encounter: the Mary Stuart anachronism in dramas by Diamante, Boursault, Schiller, and Donizetti, New York: Lang, 1987
Acquired on16/01/15
AuthorLord Byron
TitleMarino Faliero Doge of Venice
ImprintVienna and Leipzig: Avalun-Verlag
Date of Publication1922
NotesThis 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.
Acquired on24/10/08
AuthorStevenson, Robert Louis
TitleMaster of Ballantrae
Imprint[New York: Scribner's]
Date of Publication1888
NotesThis 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 SourcesR.G. Swearingen "The prose writings of Robert Louis Stevenson" (London, 1980)
Acquired on19/01/09
AuthorScott, Walter.
TitleMatil'da Rokbi, poema v shesti knigakh. [Rokeby]
ImprintMoscow: V tipografii Avgusta Semena
Date of Publication1823
NotesThis 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
Acquired on07/10/11
AuthorBarclay, John
TitleMaximo potentissimo que monarchae, Iacobo primo ... carmen gratulatorium
ImprintLutetiae Parisiorum [Paris]
Date of Publication1603
NotesA 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.
Reference SourcesDNB Shaaber "Checklist of Check-list of works of British authors printed abroad, in languages other than English, to 1641" (New York, 1975)
Acquired on27/04/05
AuthorMcKinlay, John
TitleMcKinlay's Journal of Exploration in the Interior of Australia (Burke Relief Expedition)
ImprintMelbourne: F. F. Bailliere
Date of Publication1862
NotesJohn McKinlay (1819-1872) was born at Sandbank, on Holy Loch, Argyll, Scotland. He was educated at Dalinlongart School and immigrated with his brother Alexander in 1836 to New South Wales, where his uncle was a landholder at Goulburn. After 1840 he moved to the Victorian side of the Murray/Darling area, from where he explored the country in New South Wales and South Australia towards Lake Frome and earned a reputation as an expert bushman. In 1861, McKinlay was the South Australian government's choice to lead an expedition to ascertain the fate of Robert O'Hara Burke and William Wills, who had failed to return from their expedition to cross Australia south to north. This is the first edition of McKinlay's diary written during his expedition to locate Burke and his men. This he did not do, finding only the remains of William Gray, the first victim of the expedition. Under the impression that he had found the graves of all the leaders of the expedition, he carried out the second part of his instruction and explored the country between Eyre's Creek and Central Mount Stuart. All his party survived although they had been reduced to dire straits, having had to eat most of the camels and horses. Ultimately, it was McKinlay's great ingenuity and perseverance which saw his men through to safety.
Reference SourcesOxford DNB
Acquired on22/05/09
AuthorBoyle, Robert
TitleMedicinal experiments; or, A collection of choice remedies, for the most part simple, and easily prepared (vols. 1-3)
ImprintLondon : Printed for Sam. Smith (and J. Taylor)
Date of Publication1692-94
NotesA collection of posthumous publications of the natural philosopher Robert Boyle (1627-91), who was a prolific author in his own lifetime but also left behind a huge amount of unpublished material. In 1688 he had a collection of medical recipes privately printed; "Medicinal experiments" was the first properly published edition in 1692, with sequels appearing thereafter. Vol. 3 in this particular book may be a piracy as it contains much of the material in vols. 1 and 2. Boyle was not impressed with some of the elaborate concoctions produced by medical practitioners of his day and the recipes in "Medicinal experiments" put the emphasis on simple practical remedies for a wide variety of ailments.
Reference SourcesESTC ; DNB
Acquired on28/02/07
AuthorMonro, Donald
TitleMedicine d'armee
ImprintA Paris: Chez P.F. Didot le jeune
Date of Publication1769
NotesDonald Monro (1727-1802) was the second son of Alexander Monro, the first professor of anatomy and surgery at Edinburgh University. He was educated under the care of his father and graduated M.D. in 1753. In December 1760 during the Seven Year war (1756-1763) he was commissioned as army physician to the British military hospital in Germany. He published "An account of the diseases which were most frequent in the British military hospitals in Germany" together with an essay on the means of preserving the health of soldiers, and conducting military hospitals, in 1764. A classic of preventive and social medicine, this is undoubtely his most important work, providing valuable descriptions of campaign diseases. This is a copy of the first French edition, revised and expanded by Achille le Beque de Presle.
Reference SourcesDNB
Acquired on20/05/04
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