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 735 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 436 to 450 of 735:

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AuthorSmall, James, 1740-1793
TitleA treatise on ploughs and wheel-carriages.
ImprintEdinburgh: Printed for the author and sold by W. Creech and C. Elliot…,
Date of Publication1784
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis book, according to the inscription on the front pastedown, was presented by the Duke of Buccleuch – Henry Scott (1746-1812) to ‘Mr. Ducket at Petersham, April 1786, with a plow made by James Small in Scotland 1786’. The 3rd Duke of Buccleuch was one of number of Small’s patrons. Others were Henry Home (Lord Kames), Sir John Sinclair, the man behind the first Statistical Accounts in the 1790s and the Berwickshire landowner, James Renton. It is not known who Mr. Ducket was – possibly a landowner in Petersham, Surrey. The book is also inscribed on the title page ‘Dalkeith House 1784’ - one of the homes of the Duke of Buccleuch. The duke, as well as being one of the greatest landowners in Scotland, was also an army officer and acted as advisor to the politicians Henry Dundas and William Pitt the Younger.This work was the first to set out the scientific principles of plough design in print and was the standard text on the subject until the 1830s. The author, James Small, born in Ladykirk in Berwickshire, learned about ploughs and wagons both in Berwickshire and in Yorkshire. When he returned to Scotland, he settled on a farm at Blackadder Mount, Berwickshire where he began to experiment with ploughs. In the early 1780s Small moved to Rosebank, Ford, in Midlothian just a few miles from Dalkeith House. As well as designing ploughs he also had his own workshop and smithy, making ploughs, wagons and carts. Small’s main innovation was in his use of cast iron and generally speaking his plough was much lighter that the ‘old Scotch’ ploughs.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2597
Reference SourcesB, ESTC T150379
Acquired on04/04/05
AuthorBarbour, John, d.1395
TitleThe life and acts of the most victorious conquerour Robert Bruce King of Scotland.
ImprintEdinburgh: Gedeon Lithgow
Date of Publication1648
LanguageEnglish
NotesJohn Barbour, the fourteenth century poet, churchman and scholar wrote this famous poem probably during the 1370s. In 1377 King Robert II awarded Barbour the princely sum of £10 for writing this stirring and patriotic work. Only two intact copies of the poem on Robert the Bruce are known.Barbour was probably born in Aberdeen and spent most of his life there. He was Archdeacon of Aberdeen from 1357 until his death in 1395. He did spend some time outside of Scotland - studying in Oxford and Paris. In 1372 he was appointed Clerk of Audit in the household of Robert II.The work was first printed by Robert Lekprevik in Edinburgh in 1571. This edition was printed by Gedeon (or Gideon) Lithgow who was appointed printer to Edinburgh University in 1648 in succession to J. Lindesay.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2570
Reference SourcesAldis 1307, Wing B712
Acquired on04/04/05
TitleThe wanderer or surprizing escape
ImprintDublin: J. Kinnier
Date of Publication1747
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an unrecorded edition of this work on the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745. Another Dublin edition was printed by William Brien and Richard James also in 1747. Editions were also published in London (two by Jacob Robinson in 1747) and Glasgow (1752). It demonstrates the interest there was throughout Britain and Ireland in the rebellion and its aftermath and the continuing war of words between the different sides after decisive result at Culloden.This work is essentially a criticism of the Young Pretender’s actions as described in Ralph Griffith’s ‘Ascanius, or the Young Adventurer’ (London, 1746). In Griffith’s work, the Pretender is compared to the son of Priam wandering after the fall of Troy. It is interesting to note that the frontispiece of the Pretender is based very closely on that which appeared in Griffith’s work. Here the anonymous author gives a factual and much less dewy-eyed account of what had happened.The printer Joshua Kinnier was also a papermaker and publisher who was in business in Dublin from about 1743 until at least 1767. He died in 1777. Although there is an extensive entry under his name in the ‘Dictionary of members of the Dublin Book Trade 1550-1800’, this work is not mentioned.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2598
Reference SourcesM. Pollard. Dictionary of members of the Dublin Book Trade 1550-1800
Acquired on04/04/05
AuthorDrummond, William, 1585-1649
TitlePoems
ImprintLondon: for Richard Tomlins
Date of Publication1656
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a rare copy of one of the two editions of Drummond’s works published in London in 1656, seven years after the poet’s death. Two other copies of this work are held in public institutions in Scotland – at Edinburgh University Library and at Innerpeffray Library, near Crieff. The only difference between the two editions is the imprint – this edition was ‘Printed for Richard Tomlins, at the Sun and Bible…’ whereas the other edition was ‘Printed by W.H. and are to be sold at the Company of Stationers’. Both copies have the fine frontispiece portrait by Richard Gaywood (1630-1680).The binding – calf, blind tooled - probably dates from the 18th century. Drummond spent most of his life on his estate at Hawthornden near Edinburgh. Most of his poems were written in the Petrarchan tradition and he was thus considered to be out of tune with metaphysical poets of his day. He wrote in English rather than Scots. In political terms he supported the Royalists and wrote a pamphlet attacking the Covenanters, but his isolation cut him off from the main events of his lifetime. His death was apparently hastened by news of the execution of Charles I in London.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2571
Reference SourcesWing D2202
Acquired on04/04/05
Title[3 early nineteenth century Edinburgh trade cards]
Imprint[Edinburgh]
Date of Publication[c.1811-1842]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThese three trade cards provide us with a fascinating snapshot of the commercial life of the growing capital in the first half of the 19th century.The earliest of the three is probably that advertising the activities of H. Urquhart who was working as a hairdresser, peruque (wig)-maker and perfumer from premises at 31 George Street from 1811-1815. According to the Edinburgh and Leith Post Office Directory he worked at other addresses in George Street and Hanover Street around the same period. The engraving has been inexpertly hand-coloured probably many decades later. The text on the verso of the illustration describes in detail the services offered by Urquhart. We have been unable to discover when George King, velvet and silk dyer, was working. Around 10 dyers are listed in Edinburgh trade directories from 1810 to 1840, but there is no mention of King. The style of dress on the engraving suggest that in dates from the first quarter of the 19th century. The Watergate referred to on the card was a physical structure guarding the entry to the Canongate from the north-east. It acted as a toll barrier rather than a military defence. The engraved card advertising Tait’s New Royal Hotel on Princes Street probably dates from the 1840s. It was engraved by Mould & Tod who had an address on North Bridge in 1842. The scene shows a bustling street with people promenading outside the hotel, which is opposite the Scott Monument (opened in 1846).Trade cards probably date from the late 18th century. The advances in printing technology in the early 19th century led to trade cards becoming far more plentiful. This was accentuated when colour printing was developed from mid-century onwards. The trade card evolved into the business card which is still in use today. There are other examples of Scottish trade cards in the collection at RB.m.571 and RB.m.112.
ShelfmarkAPS.1.206.001
Reference SourcesEdinburgh and Leith Post Office directories 1810-1850
Acquired on04/04/05
AuthorClaude, Jean
TitleLa Defense De La Reformation Contre Le Live Intitulé Prejugez Legitimes Contre Les Calvinistes
ImprintRouen: Jean Lucas, demeurant à Rouen rue aux Juifs, proche lHotel de Ville
Date of Publication1673
LanguageFrench
NotesThe author, Jean Claude, was a French Protestant Minister who wrote fiercely against the persecution of Protestants in France. This work is aimed at Pierre Nicoles attack on the Calvinists. The item is particularly interesting because of its provenance. On the inside front board is the book-plate of the Earl of Kintore with the motto Quae Amissa Salva.On the verso of the inside flyleaf is the ownership inscription Veritas Vincit, Kintore 1703, written in a clear bold hand in black ink. The bookplate is that of a descendant of Sir John Keith, who was the first to hold the Earldom of Kintore. A hero of the civil wars, he held Dunnottar Castle against Cromwell in 1650 and had a principal hand in preserving the regalia of Scotland from falling into the hands of Cromwell. During Cromwells usurpation the regalia had been carried to Dunnottar Castle as a place of safety. During the siege of the castle 1651-52 Sir John Keith had the regalia safely conveyed away and deposited underground in the Church at Kinneff. Pretending that the Scottish Regalia were in his possession, he sailed to France. He was apprehended and examined on his return but declared that he had carried the regalia off. In consideration of his services saving the regalia he was he was appointed hereditary Knight Marischal of Scotland upon the Restoration in 1660. In 1677 he was raised to the dignity of the peerage by the title of Earl of Kintore, Lord Keith of Inverurie and Keith Hall. He was further admiited to a member of the Privy Council in 1689. Sir John Keith died in 1714, having supported the Treaty of Union in the Parliament of Scotland seven years earlier. He, and his descendants, were leading figures in Scotland throughout the eighteenth century and are reckoned to be the chiefs of the Keith Clan today.
ShelfmarkRB.m.617
Reference SourcesDNB, Debretts peerage, The Scots peerage, The peerage of Scotland.
Acquired on01/04/05
TitleThe Poster: an illustrated monthly chronicle
ImprintLondon [various printers]
Date of Publication1898-1900
LanguageEnglish
NotesThe five volumes of this rare periodical contain numerous attractive plates of contemporary posters, some in colour. There are articles relating to artists and printers, reviews of exhibitions and movements in fashion, design and collecting. Writing on advertisements and other forms of ephemera is also included. Posters have traditionally been neglected in library collections: they are hard to store and conserve, inconvenient to issue to readers and difficult to catalogue using systems designed for books. With the advent of digitisation, however, poster collections are starting to become accessible in new ways. This is an important periodical to acquire, as it gives extensive information about the art of the poster during some of its golden years. Hopefully it will be useful to those researching the poster and the bibliography of related arts.
ShelfmarkDJ.s.906
Acquired on02/03/05
AuthorMiller, Philip (1691-1771)
TitleThe gardeners dictionary: containing the methods of cultivating and improving the kitchen, fruit and flower garden, as also, the physick garden, wilderness, conservatory, and vineyard; according to the practice of the most experienced gardeners of the present age. The third edition, corrected.
ImprintLondon: Printed for the author, and sold by C. Rivington, at the Bible and Crown in St. Paul's Church-yard., M.DCC.XXXVII [1737]
Date of Publication1737
LanguageEnglish
NotesMiller, Philip (1691-1771), horticulturist and writer, was the most distinguished and influential British gardener of the eighteenth century. His father, a Scot, was a market gardener at Deptford, near London, and gave young Philip both a good education and training Miller established a nursery of ornamental trees and shrubs in St George's Fields, Southwark. When the Society of Apothecaries needed a new gardener for their Physic Garden at Chelsea, Patrick Blair, a Scottish doctor and author of Botanik Essays (1720), wrote to Sir Hans Sloane, the garden's benefactor, recommending Philip Miller for the post as one 'to go forward with a curiosity and genious superior to most of his profession'. Miller's writing on the theory of gardening matched his expertise in its practice. He helped to produce a quarto Dictionary of Gardening in 1724, and an illustrated Catalogus Plantarum of trees and shrubs flourishing in the London area in 1730. In that year he drew up a list of medicinal plants grown in the garden, and forty years later he made a much longer one. Miller's outstanding work was The Gardeners Dictionary, produced in eight editions during his lifetime. Besides horticulture, it covered agriculture, arboriculture, and wine making. He also produced an Abridgement in eight editions (1735-71) and a practical, cheaper, Gardeners Kalendar in fifteen editions (1731-69). The work was dedicated to Sir Hans Sloane, one of a number of Miller's contemporaries who encouraged his career. Miller was eventually admitted a member of the Botanical Academy of Florence and the Royal Society of London. In spite of his achievements, his contemporaries apparently looked upon Miller with some reservation. This was due partly to his Scottish birth, and also his habit of employing only Scotsmen. Stephen Switzer is believed to refer to Miller in his Ichnographia Rustica as one of the 'northern lads who have invaded the southern provinces'. The National library's copy of the third edition to the Gardeners Dictionary is bound with the only edition of the Appendix (1735), and accompanied by the Second Volume of the Gardeners Dictionary, which was published in 1739.
ShelfmarkRB.m.619
Reference SourcesESTC T059422
Acquired on22/02/05
AuthorAnderson, Alan and Jennie
TitleBlue remembered hills
ImprintLoanhead: Tragara Press
Date of Publication2004
LanguageEnglish
NotesThe Tragara Press was founded by Alan Anderson in Edinburgh in 1954 who has, remarkably, continued to produce fine work for fifty years. The National Library has always collected Tragara books, and has marked-up copies of the two bibliographies of the press. Alan Anderson has donated many of the Tragara books we hold, and has now given us this, the last book which will be printed by Tragara. It is a selection of verse by Alan and Jennie Anderson (the title comes from A. E. Housman's 'A Shropshire lad'). This edition is limited to 20 copies, hand-set in Garamond type and printed on paper made by Amatruda of Amalfi. It is a fine conclusion to half a century of Scotland's most enduring private press.
ShelfmarkFB.m.801
Reference SourcesAlan Anderson, 'The Tragara Press', 1979; 1991.
Acquired on20/12/04
AuthorLeonard, Tom
TitleSix Glasgow Poems
Imprint[Glasgow]
Date of Publication[1968]
LanguageScots
NotesThis is the rare first edition of Tom Leonard's best known work. Written in Scots, these abrasively witty poems attempt to recreate the language of ordinary people in Glasgow. Leonard completed the work by January 1968, but had difficulty finding a printer willing to do the job. Instead, he typed the sheets himself and had them reproduced in the Glasgow University student magazine office. This counts as the first edition. The poems were subsequently published by Midnight Publications in 1969, and the Library has a copy of this second edition at shelfmark 5.4593. This edition contains at least one typographical deviation from the first edition.
ShelfmarkRB.m.628
Acquired on17/12/04
AuthorSmith, Adam
TitlePolitisk undersokning om lagar, som hindra och tvinga inforseln af sadana utlandska varor
ImprintGoteborg: S. Norberg
Date of Publication1804
LanguageSwedish
NotesThis is a rare copy of the first appearance in Swedish of book IV, chapter 2, of 'An inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations'. This chapter in English was titled: 'Of restraints upon the importation from countries of such goods as can be produced at home'. This is the key chapter in which Smith discusses laissez faire. Part of 'The wealth of nations' first appeared in Swedish in 1799-1800 in the literary periodical 'Lasning I blandade amnen'. (ABS.1.81.113) It is also the second translation of Smith by Erik Erland Bodell who was, like Smith, a customs official. He published a translation of Book V, chapter 2 of the same work in Stockholm in 1800: 'Undersokning om Kongl. Stora sjo och granse-tullar,'. A Swedish translation of a German abridgement of the 'Wealth of nations' was published in Stockholm in 1800 (RB.s.2055). A full Swedish translation of this work was not published until 1911.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2346
Reference SourcesTribe, Keith (ed.) A critical bibliography of Adam Smith (London, 2002)
Acquired on30/10/04
AuthorNamba, Toshio
TitleBibliography of Robert Burns in Japan
Date of Publication1977
LanguageJapanese
NotesThe donor's father, Mr. Robert McLaren, was a president of the Robert Burns Federation, and his work brought him into contact with Professor Toshio Namba. Namba, a professor of English Literature, was deeply interested in Burns, and translated many of the poems into Japanese. This bibliography, with additional translations, is an important addition to our collections. It contains a manuscript dedication to Mr. McLaren, and is in fine condition in its original cardboard slipcase. With this donation we have received a copy of another book of relevance to Scottish-Japanese studies. Album England (1979), despite its title, consists of photographs of Scottish scenes with Japanese accompanying text. It also has a manuscript dedication from Namba. We have also been given a number of photographs including some of Mr. Namba and others of scenes in Tokyo. The notes on these photographs show that a warm friendship had developed between the Japanese researcher and the McLarens.
ShelfmarkHP2.205.0101
Acquired on29/10/04
AuthorBeatson, Alexander
TitleOn the importance of introducing agriculture in the island of St. Helena
ImprintSt. Helena: Printed by Hill and Brimmer
Date of Publication[1812]
LanguageEnglish
NotesA very rare imprint from the first commercial press to be established on the island of St. Helena, which was shortly to become famous as the last home of Napoleon Bonaparte. Alexander Beatson (1759-1830) was a Dundonian who had served as an army officer in the East India Company, writing a famous account of the war against Tippoo Sultaun which was published in 1800. After returning to live in England, Beatson was appointed to the governorship of St. Helena, a post he held from 1808-13. 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. Beatson set about improving the island, recognising that agriculture needed to improve not only the lot of the inhabitants but also to benefit British ships which depended on the island for fresh water and provisions when making the long voyage back from the East Indies. Agriculture was of particular interest to Beatson himself; before arriving in St Helena he had purchased 4 farms in Sussex. On his return to England he published his "Tracts relative to the island of St. Helena" which have later been descibed as major contribution to the beginnings of global environmentalism, and he continued to pursue his work in experimental agriculture on his Sussex farms right up to his death in 1830. Amongst the improvements carried out by Beatson was the introduction of a printing press, which, as can be seen with this pamphlet, was rudimentary, but which enabled him to publish 4 tracts during his time as governor and to contribute to a local periodical, the "St. Helena Monthly Register". In recognition of his achievements on the island, Beatson was promoted to the post major-general in 1813; he returned back to England a few months later.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2347
Reference SourcesDNB
Acquired on12/10/04
AuthorRigaud, John Francis
TitleExecution de Marie Stuart, reine d' Ecosse, en sept estampes
Imprint[London?: s.n.]
Date of Publication[1791?]
LanguageFrench
NotesA set of 7 engraved plates, printed in brown, depicting in highly melodramatic fashion episodes in the life of Mary, Queen of Scots, from her imprisonment and execution in Fotheringhay Castle in 1587 to her burial. The plates are taken from paintings by John Francis Rigaud (1742-1810), born in Italy to French parents, who arrived in London in 1771. Rigaud became a member of the Royal Academy and made a career out of decorative painting in the country houses of the nobility and in producing depictions of classical, literary and historical subjects. The plates were engraved by William Nelson Gardiner (1766-1814) and published by Tebaldo Monzani (1762-1839) an Italian music-seller, publisher and instrument-maker in London; 4 are dated April 20 1790, the other 3 May 1, 1791. The plates appear, printed in black and in a slightly different form, in a Monzani publication entitled "A representation of the execution of Mary Queen of Scots in seven views" (ESTC T167320 & T170736) which included music composed for each view by Willoughby Bertie, Earl of Abingdon. Monzani then appears to have reissued them in this publication, this time with explanatory text in English under each engraving - the same text which appears in letter-press at the beginning of the aforementioned Abingdon book - but also with a four page brochure in French which translates the captions to each engraving. It may be that this publication was intended for export to the continent. It appears to be a very rare item, there is no record of it in ESTC (NB there are also only 5 library locations in total for ESTC T167320 & T170736). The choice of topic was especially relevant when this work was published in view of the fate of the French king, Louis XVI, who had been captured in 1791 by the French government after attempting to escape France and who would be executed in 1793. Moreover, the life and fate of Mary Queen of Scots had become a source of historical debate within late 18th-century Britain, in particular her alleged complicity in the murder of her first husband, Lord Darnley, which appeared to be confirmed by the infamous casket letters written to Lord Bothwell.
ShelfmarkRB.m.520
Reference SourcesDNB, not in ESTC
Acquired on12/10/04
AuthorBeatson, Alexander
TitleLetter from Col. Alexander Beatson - containing remarks upon a paper lately printed; entitled "Observations relative to the island of St. Helena".
ImprintSt. Helena: Printed for Solomon and Company, by Coupland and Hill
Date of Publication[1812]
LanguageEnglish
NotesA very rare imprint from the first commercial press to be established on the island of St. Helena, which was shortly to become famous as the last home of Napoleon Bonaparte. Alexander Beatson (1759-1830) was a Dundonian who had served as an army officer in the East India Company, writing a famous account of the war against Tippoo Sultaun which was published in 1800. After returning to live in England, Beatson was appointed to the governorship of St. Helena, a post he held from 1808-13. 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. Beatson set about improving the island, publishing this pamphlet to correct the many errors he found in a tract by his predecessor Colonel Robert Patton. In it he gives a history of the island, of its mismanagement, his justification for his improvements, and alludes to recent difficulties, namely a garrison mutiny in 1811 which was largely brought about by the British authorities suppressing the islanders trade in arrack, a potent spirit made from palm trees. Amongst the improvements carried out by Beatson was the introduction of a printing press, which, as can be seen of this pamphlet was rudimentary, but which enabled him to publish 4 tracts during his time as governor and to contribute to a local periodical, the "St. Helena Monthly Register". In recognition of his achievements on the island, Beatson was promoted to the post major-general in 1813, he returned back to England a few months later.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2345
Reference SourcesDNB
Acquired on12/10/04
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