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 753 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 421 to 435 of 753:
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|Title||A review and consideration of two late pamphlets. The first entitled, Queries to the Presbyterians of Scotland, by a gentleman of that country. Bound with Causa episcopatus hierarchici Lucifuga.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: heirs and successors of Andrew Anderson|
|Date of Publication||1706|
|Notes||These two books by the Church of Scotland minister Thomas Forrester (c.1635-1706) were bound for Katherine Hamilton, the Duchess of Atholl (1662-1707). She has signed the book on the title page and her initials are tooled in gilt on the spine. By the standards of the early 18th century, this is quite a sober binding in terms of the design and decoration. Only the spine, divided into five compartments, is tooled in gilt with floral ornaments. Both covers are blind tooledwith rolls and fillets. This suggests that the binder's craftsmanship was not of the highest standard. The book was bound just prior to the period when the spectacular wheel and herringbone designs came into vogue in Scotland.
Katherine Hamilton, the eldest daughter of the Duke of Hamilton, married John, Lord Murray, in 1683. Thirteen years later Murray became Secretary of State for Scotland, and his wife acted as his eyes and ears in Scotland while he was in London carrying out his official duties. In 1703, Murray was created Duke and Katherine became Duchess of Atholl. She was well known for her support of the Darien scheme and like her husband was strongly opposed to the Union with England. As well as taking an interest in politics, she was a staunch Presbyterian who kept a religious diary and observed the Sabbath to the extent that her husband thought she was overdoing it. Her interest in religious matters is reflected not only in her ownership of these polemical works, but by the fact that she had them especially bound.
Forrester, the author of these works, was a radical field preacher who spent much of his time (when not on the run or in prison) 'converting' the people of central Scotland, mainly in Stirlingshire and Dumbartonshire. After the Revolution settlement of 1688, life became easier for him. He was appointed minister of St. Andrews in 1692, where he remained until his death in 1706.
|Title||Kabul. Schilderung einer Reise nach dieser Stadt und des Aufenthalts daselbst.|
|Imprint||Leipzig: T.D. Weigel|
|Date of Publication||1843|
|Notes||This 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.
|Title||Foirceadul aith-ghearr cheasnuighe [The shorter catechism]|
|Imprint||Glas-gho: Anna Orr|
|Date of Publication||1776|
|Notes||Books in Scottish Gaelic are a key part of the National Library's collections, and we acquire such items wherever possible. This is a good copy of an eighteenth-century catechism, which also includes the alphabet, the Ten Commandments, various prayers, and a guide to numbers in arabic and roman. It was clearly designed for educational purposes. The book is particularly interesting as it was printed for a woman publisher, Anna Orr.|
Scottish Gaelic Union Catalogue 2769|
|Title||A narrative of an unfortunate voyage to the coast of Africa.|
|Date of Publication||1813|
|Notes||This remarkable book was written by Thomas Smith, a sailor from Arbroath. It tells of his adventures on board a number of slave ships in the 1760s. At first he got a place on board the Ann Galley in London, not realizing the nature of the journey. When the ship arrived off the West African (Guinea) coast, the captain purchased 140 slaves. However, the ship was taken over by the captives and Smith made his way on another slave ship to the West Indies. Destitute and ill he eventually returned across the Atlantic to Amsterdam and later back home to Arbroath.
No other copy of this work has been traced, but it appears to be a genuine account of life on board slave ships in the mid-18th century. The Board of Trade and Lloyds of London recorded the loss of the Ann Galley as a result of a slave insurrection in November 1762. No other account of this adventure has been published and until now naval and slavery historians have been unaware of it. It may be that it was published as a form of anti-slavery propaganda. The author ends his narrative with some 'Remarks on the slave trade' and mentions how he was asked by supporters of the anti-slavery crusader, William Wilberforce, to provide them with information on the buying and selling of slaves.
At the beginning of the work the editor apologises for the 'rude and rustic state of the copy'. It seems that the author was in poor health and couldn't assist the editor - 'a poor scholar' - to produce a better work. The book also carries an inscription (dated April 1904) on the front pastedown from Caroline Frazer of Dublin, granddaughter of John Findlay, Arbroath's first printer and publisher'.
|Author||Ebel, Johann Gottfried|
|Title||Anleitung auf die nützlichste und genussvollste Art in der Schweitz zu reisen.|
|Imprint||Zürich. Bey Orell, Gessner, Füssli und Compagnie.|
|Date of Publication||1793|
|Notes||This guide by Johann Ebel (1764-1830) is a rare first edition of one of the earliest and most famous handbooks for travellers in Switzerland.|
|Title||The last speech, confession and dying declaration of Robert Watt, wine merchant in Edinburgh ...; A full true and particular account of the most dreadful apparition. Of Robert Watt wine-merchant in Edinr, who appeared to James Macdonald plaisterer in Lieth-walk [sic] ...|
|Date of Publication||1794|
|Notes||These broadsides relate to Robert Watt who was executed in Edinburgh in October 1794 for high treason. Watt was a local wine merchant who, along with his associate David Downie (later reprieved), was tried for being a member of a seditious organisation - The Friends of the People - and for forming 'a distinct and deliberate plan to overturn the existing government of the country'. This organisation, inspired in part by recent events in France, had been formed in London in 1792 to campaign for parliamentary reform.
Watt, Downie and their fellow conspirators had put together quite detailed plans to take over public offices, storm Edinburgh Castle and seize the judiciary. The plotters also planned to send an address to King George III, commanding him to put an end to the war with France. Over 40 pikes had been made, though none were distributed.
These alarming projects were discussed by seven obscure individuals in Edinburgh of whom Watt, acting as a spy, was the leader, and David Downie, a mechanic, the treasurer. Two of the seven soon got 'cold feet' and four became witnesses for the crown.
One broadside contains Watt's last speech. Like many such works, it is unlikely to have been written by the criminal himself. It follows the usual pattern of pious expressions of repentance and appeals for forgiveness. Watt describes himself as 'uncommonly wicked as a boy', stating that he continued on the road to perdition when he went to London to attend plays and 'other places of virtuous amusement'.
At the end of the work the publisher A. Robertson advertises that he will be publishing an account of the trial of Watt for three pence.
The second work, of which no other copy has been traced, is somewhat more intriguing. James MacDonald, a plasterer, was coming back from Leith to Edinburgh when he encountered a ghostly figure with his head under his arm and accompanied by a black dog. This apparently was Watt. The incident took place just a few weeks after his execution. Watt is also supposed to have appeared to his co-conspirator David Downie.
|Reference Sources||Young, Alex F. The encyclopaedia of Scottish executions 1750 to 1963. (1998)|
|Author||Gmelin, Johann Georg, (1709-1755)|
|Title||Voyage en Sibérie, contenant la description des moeurs & usages des peuples de ce pays, le cours des rivieres considérables, la situation des chaînes de montagnes, des grandes forêts, des mines, avec tous les faits d'histoire naturelle qui sont particuliers à cette contrée.|
|Imprint||A Paris, Desaint, Libraire, rue du foin Saint Jacques.|
|Date of Publication||1767|
|Notes||This is a French translation of a German edition of one of the earliest accounts of Bering's second voyage. It contains some of the earliest material on the discovery and exploration of the Bering Strait and Alaska.|
|Author||Ramsay, Andrew Michael|
|Title||Des Ritters Ramsay reisender Cyrus|
|Imprint||Hamburg: heirs of Thomas von Wiering|
|Date of Publication||1728|
|Notes||This is the first German edition of this important novel by a Scottish-born writer. Andrew Michael Ramsay (1686-1743) was a philosopher and mystic who converted to Catholicism but continued to argue for the underlying unity of all religions. Spending much of his adult life in Paris, he served the exiled Jacobite court and befriended David Hume; he also gave hospitality to the Glasgow printers Andrew and Robert Foulis. In 1727 he published 'Les voyages de Cyrus', and an English translation entitled 'The travels of Cyrus'appeared the same year. Based on the life of the first Persian emperor known as Cyrus the Great, this work anticipates the development of the novel during the later 18th century. The hero travels around the Mediterranean, learning about religion and morality in preparation for becoming ruler over many nations.|
|Reference Sources||G. D. Henderson, 'Chevalier Ramsay', 1952|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Adam and Charles Black|
|Date of Publication||1882|
|Notes||This is a fine Scottish publisher's binding in red cloth, with the arms of Sir Walter Scott stamped in gilt on the front board. The black and gold decoration is striking and in good condition. Scott's initials are at the upper right of the front board, and at the foot of the board are various flowers and moths. The overall impression is striking. The Library has a copy of the text at SP.94, in a plain binding of polished calf.|
|Author||Macvicar, Symers Macdonald |
|Title||The distribution of hepaticae in Scotland|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||This is an annotated proof copy of Macvicar's (1857-1932) work on Scottish non-vascular plants known as liverworts. The text is complete although there are no preliminaries. The inkstamp "Neill & Co. Edinburgh First Proof" appears on a number of pages and there are numerous manuscript corrections and annotations by Macvicar throughout the text. An inscription on the front pastedown indicates that the book was bound during Christmas 1945 and presented to Mr. A. D. Banwell by the bryologist P. W. Richards (b. 1908).|
|Author||Byron, George Gordon Byron|
|Imprint||Santpoort [Netherlands]: Mercator |
|Date of Publication||1985|
|Language||Dutch and English|
|Notes||The Chanson was originally written by Lord Byron (1788-1824) in Venice and sent to Thomas Moore in a letter dated 24 December 1816. It was first published posthumously in 1830.
The present edition was produced on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the Netherlands Byron Genootschap. The poem is accompanied by a Dutch translation by Joop van Helmond and was hand-set in Garamond and printed on Zerkall-Bütten in October 1985. This is number 79 of a limited edition of 100 copies.
|Title||The essential principles of the wealth of nations.|
|Imprint||London: T. Cadell|
|Date of Publication||1797|
|Notes||This is one of the earliest critiques of Adam Smith's seminal economic text 'An inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations' (1776). Gray criticises Smith's work on a number of counts: he accuses Smith of misinterpreting the French economists' viewpoint on labour and productivity. Gray maintained that the French had in fact recognised that not all the so-called unproductive classes were barren to the same degree. Gray also argued that Smith was wrong to state that the manufacturing industry alone was responsible for contributing to Britain's real national wealth, saying that agriculture was the only true source of wealth. There is some Scottish content in the form of the appendix, which consists of a general plan of a lease by Henry Home, Lord Kaimes, "with remarks upon it by Dr. Anderson in his agricultural report for the county of Aberdeen". Coincidentally, Kaimes was Smith's literary patron. Very little is known about John Gray to whom this work, published anonymously in 1797, is attributed. He may have lived from 1724-1811 - obituary notices in contemporary periodicals merely state that he died in May 1811 in his 88th year and that he had been one of the Commissioners of the Lottery. John Gray may have been assistant private secretary to the Duke of Northumberland in Ireland in 1763 and 1764 and 'An essay concerning the establishment of a national bank in Ireland' (1774) may have been written by him. The Library of Congress catalogue attributes to Gray 'The right of the British legislature to tax the American colonies' (1775). However, Palgrave's 'Dictionary of economics' attributes 'The essential principles' to Simon Gray (fl.1795-1840).|
|Reference Sources||The New Palgrave: a dictionary of economics, vol.II, 1987.
Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, vol.46, 1952, p.275-6.|
|Imprint||Glasgow: James Knox|
|Date of Publication||1764|
|Notes||This edition of Aesop's fables appears to be completely unrecorded. This is surprising as it is a rather attractive publication with numerous woodcuts. It is designed as an educational book: the words of the fables are broken up by hyphens, so that the beginner could read them a piece at a time. This does make the text look rather odd (for example, 'A Wea-sel run-ning in-to a bra-si-ers shop...'). Aesop's fables play an important part in Scottish culture. The fifteenth-century poet Robert Henryson did an excellent translation into Scots, and there are many other editions. This edition is particularly notable for the naive illustrations, which are more akin to those normally found in a chapbook.|
|Title||The Kings Maiesties speech|
|Imprint||London: Robert Barker|
|Date of Publication||1604|
|Notes||This is the speech which James I delivered to the House of Lords on 19 March 1604, the first day of the Parliament at Westminster, and indeed the first Parliament of his reign as King of Scotland and England.
This copy has the text printed in italic type. We also hold the issue in roman type at shelfmark 1.174(1). Curiously, both issues were published by Robert Barker in the same year. It could be surmised that there was such a high demand for copies of the speech that Barker had to print on two presses at the same time and decided to print different versions for the sake of variety. There are slight spelling differences between the two editions too.
The speech was certainly very popular and was published in Edinburgh as well as London.|
|Author||Byron, George Gordon |
|Title||Correspondance de Lord Byron avec un ami.|
|Imprint||Paris: A. et W. Galignani|
|Date of Publication||1825|
|Notes||As the publishers of this work say, 'Everything concerning this great poet & cannot fail to excite the most lively interest'. R.C. Dallas' 'The Correspondence of Lord Byron' has a curious history. An author himself, Robert Dallas (1754-1824) was connected to Byron by marriage (his sister married Byron's uncle). The two corresponded in the early years of Byron's career, and Dallas had an editorial role in Byron's early poetry. In return Byron gave him the copyright to the first two cantos of Childe Harold's Pilgrimage and The Corsair, although later he seems to have dropped the personal and literary friendship. In possession of Byron's letters to his mother during his eastern travels, as well as of their own correspondence, Dallas prepared an edition of all these letters which he planned to publish after Byron's death in 1824. However Hobhouse and Hanson, Byron's executors and self-appointed keepers of his memory, took legal action to prevent its publication. Dallas died soon after, and his son published 'The Correspondence' in Paris in 1825: as the French publishers point out, the attempt to suppress the book only served to whet the public's appetite for it.
While the English edition of this book is well known, copies of this French translation are scarce (none are recorded in COPAC). The publishers state that they had originally obtained the French rights to the book and had intended to publish it at the same time as the English edition; their translation was delayed by the legal action, and now they are publishing the two at the same time. These two volumes therefore provide eloquent testimony both to Byron's continental popularity, and to the controversy he was still capable of arousing after his death.