Rare Book Collections works to build up the national collections through
purchases (through dealers or at auction) and donations. This directory gives details of 840 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 436 to 450 of 840:
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|Title||Les jeux, caprices, et bizarreries de la nature. Par l'Auteur de Ma Tante Genevieve.|
|Imprint||Paris: Barba, Libraire, Palais-Royal|
|Date of Publication||1808|
|Notes||This is a rare copy of the first edition of Les jeux, caprices et bizzarreries de la nature, a novel by the French author Louis-François Archambault (1742-1812) . Better known by his stage name, Dorvigny, and rumoured an illegitimate son of Louis XV, this prolific author first became famous as actor and playwright, creator of the famous characters 'Janot' and 'Jocrisse'. This novel, whose leading characters are the Scottish 'Sir Jakson Makdonnal' and his family, is a light-hearted tale centred on characters who illustrate the 'games, caprices and peculiarities of nature': 'Sir Jakson', for instance, has the ears of a wild boar, and his French valet the tail of a deer. These peculiarities, never explained or mocked, drive the story, as Sir Jakson leaves Scotland first for Paris and then for America: the bulk of the book consists of his adventures there with his brother's daughter 'Miss Makdonnal' (who has horns) and a tribe of Iroquois Indians. Realism is not the point of this fictional representation of Scotland and Scottish characters, produced just before Scott's novels spread through Europe. Although at one point Sir Jakson's bearded great-niece returns to Scotland and spends time contemplating 'the rural and romantic location of her principal manor, surrounded by woods and mountains' (Vol. III, page 95), she is easily persuaded by another character to leave this 'savage solitude' and visit France, 'country of all kinds of liberty' - but not until she has erected a memorial chapel to her uncle, complete with priest to say Mass for his soul every day (pages 102-3). To a modern reader, the main interest of this book probably lies in the last section, where the bearded heroine, forced to disguise herself as a man, becomes romantically involved with a girlish youth raised to wear female clothes, and they happily live like this till a bout of smallpox restores both to the normal appearance of their genders and they can get respectably married. |
|Reference Sources||Charles Monselet: Oublies et dedaignes: figures litteraires de la fin du 18E siecle (1861); bookseller's catalogue.
|Title||The palis of honour|
|Imprint||London: William Copland|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||This is a rare copy of the earliest known edition of one of Gavin Douglas's (1474-1522) best known works. The first Edinburgh edition was published in 1579. Other Scottish editions may have been printed prior to 1543, when Florence Wilson imitated the 'Palice of Honour' in his 'De Tranquillitate Animi', but they cannot now be traced. An article in the Transactions of the Edinburgh Bibliographical Society, vol.III, part I, 1948-9, describes fragments of an Edinburgh edition printed prior to 1540 by Thomas Davidson (Aldis 20) which is held in Edinburgh University Library.
This copy lacks the final two gatherings and contains contemporary scribbles, though not annotations.
'The palis (or palice) of honour' which was written in 1501 was dedicated by the poet, Gavin Douglas to James IV. It is his earliest known work and presents a mirror for princes, spelling out princely duties and ideals. This poem is very much in the European tradition of courtly allegory and reflects Douglas's knowledge of Latin and Italian poetry and his preoccupations with the themes of love, poetry and honour. It also shows influences of Chaucer and Langland.
Around this time Douglas became Provost of the Collegiate Church of St. Giles in Edinburgh. It is not improbable that Douglas's address to James IV at the end of this poem induced the latter to appoint him to St. Giles. He held this position until 1515 when he became Bishop of Dunkeld.
Douglas is best known for his translation of the Aeneid, also into Scots, which is still praised as an excellent work which shows the potential of the Scots language as a literary medium.|
|Reference Sources||Mainstream companion to Scottish literature;
|Title||Infancy, or The management of children: a didactic poem in four books. 4th edition.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Printed for John Bell,|
|Date of Publication||1788|
|Notes||Hugh Downman (1740-1809) a West Country physician and poet studied medicine as a young man in Edinburgh, staying at the house of the blind poet and orator Thomas Blacklock. He seems to have maintained a link with the city by having editions of this, his best known poem, published in Edinburgh. Downman was well known as a presenter of copies of his books to friends and wider acquaintances. This copy contains a presentation inscription in the author's hand to the leading 18th-century tragic actress Sarah Siddons (1755-1831) and a gushing manuscript poem entitled 'To Mrs Siddons' which begins with the line 'To praise those wondrous talents wch. command'. |
|Reference Sources||Bookseller's notes|
|Author||Drummond de Melfort, Louis-Hector|
|Title||Traite sur la Cavalerie|
|Imprint||Paris: Guillaume Desprez|
|Date of Publication||1776|
|Notes||First edition of a rare and extemely handsome book which is in exceptionally fine condition. There are two volumes: one of text with 11 plates, the other an atlas volume with 32 folio-size folding plates. The author, Louis-Hector Drummond de Melfort (1721-1788) was the grandson of John Drummond, 1st Earl of Melfort, James VII/II's right hand man in Scotland, who escaped to France in 1688. The Drummonds became one of the leading Jacobite families at the French court. Drummond spent most of his life involved with cavalry and for his last eight years was Lieutenant-General of Louis XVI's army. He did not take part in the 1745 Jacobite uprising, but served the French king on several military campaigns on the Continent and later commanded the Royal Ecossais regiment in the French army. This book became a important textbook in Europe on cavalry tactics as Drummond de Melfort had some radical opinions on the use of cavalry in battles. His work lays out, with illustrations, the simplified procedures for cavalrymen that he advocated as early as 1748, which had often met with incomprehension and disbelief. The dedication expresses Drummond's hope that this work will assist in making the French cavalry the best in the world and his wish to help the country that his family fled to on their forced emigration from Scotland nearly a century before. The two volumes are bound in contemporary red morocco. The original owner was Armand-Thomas Hue de Miromesnil (1723-1796), Keeper of the Seals from 1774-1787, after having held several other official positions. On his death, at his request, the contents of his library were sold and the profits distributed amongst the poor. According to a bookseller's note the book was also owned by the Vicomtesse de Fontenay and it also contains the bookplate of Richard Penard y Fernandez.
The text volume also includes a bound-in letter by the Duchesse de Melfort, dated July 1773.|
|Reference Sources||Brunet II: 842; Cohen-de Ricci pp.326-327|
|Author||Drummond, William, 1585-1649|
|Imprint||London: for Richard Tomlins|
|Date of Publication||1656|
|Notes||This 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.|
|Reference Sources||Wing D2202|
|Author||Du Val, Michael.|
|Title||Rosa Hispani-Anglica seu Malum Punicum Angl' Hispanicum.|
|Date of Publication||1622|
|Notes||The first edition in English of an elaborate and curious pro-Spanish tract concerning the long-running negotiations from 1614 to 1623 for the proposed marriage between the heir to the British throne, Prince Charles, and the Infanta Maria Anna, daughter of Philip III, King of Spain. The preliminaries are signed by a 'Michael du Val', a pseudonym for an unidentified author, who was clearly a supporter of Count Gondomar, the Spanish ambassador to England between 1614 and 1618 and 1620 and 1622. Gondomar's mission was to promote the Spanish marriage as a means of keeping King James VI/I from allying with other European Protestant states against Spain in the Thirty Years' War. The negotiations for the 'Spanish Match' eventually resulted in an ill-fated embassy of Charles and the 1st Duke of Buckingham to Madrid in 1623. The wedding never took place despite the signing of a marriage contract by James. Maria Anna was strongly against marrying a non-Catholic, and the Spanish would never have agreed to the marriage unless James and Charles pledged to repeal the anti-Catholic penal laws in England. The widespread opposition to the match in England led instead to the dissolution of Parliament. Charles went on to marry Princess Henrietta Maria of France and Maria Anna married Ferdinand III, then king of Hungary, who went on to become Holy Roman Emperor.|
|Reference Sources||Bookseller's notes|
|Title||Dance of the Sevin Deidly Synnis|
|Imprint||Market Drayton: Tern Press|
|Date of Publication||2003|
|Notes||This is no. 3 of a limited edition of 25 copies of William Dunbar's "Dance of the Sevin Deidly Synnis". The book was produced by Nicholas and Mary Parry at the Tern Press, and is signed by both at the colophon. It is illustrated with ten black and white lithographs by Nicholas Parry. The design, printing, illustration and binding was done by the Parrys.
William Dunbar (ca. 1460-1513?) was probably from East Lothian. He graduated from the University of St Andrews with a master of arts in 1479. Between 1500 and 1513 he received a pension from King James IV as a member of the royal household in the service of James IV. Dunbar was employed both as a royal clerk or secretary and as the King's laureate.
The Scottish court provided Dunbar not only with his livelihood, but also with the primary audience for his poetry. Dunbar, who wrote in the tradition of Chaucer in Middle Scots, has been decsribed as the greatest of the "makaris", to use his own vernacular equivalent for poets. One of his best known poems is "The Thrissill and the rose", which celebrates the wedding of James IV to Margaret Tudor in 1503. He is also famous for the "Flyting between Dunbar and Kennedy", a comparative trial of wits, and "The Goldyn Targe", to name but two of his works.
"The Dance of the Sevin Deidly Synnis" is Dunbar's greatest humorous satire. The sins, ranging from pride to gluttony, are depicted in all their repulsive deformity: it is a work of gloomy power.
Chepman and Myllar issued an edition of seven of Dunbar's poems in 1508; the first complete collection of his poetry was published in two volumes by the bibliophile David Laing in 1834.|
|Reference Sources||DNB, Reid, A. and Osborne, B.D.: Discovering Scottish Writers (Edinburgh 1997), Catholic Encyclopedia|
|Title||[Collection of 13 printed items mainly edited or written by Andrew Duncan the elder].|
|Imprint||[Edinburgh: Neill & Co.]|
|Date of Publication||1801-1810|
|Notes||This collection of ephemera is mostly connected with a key figure in the Scottish Enlightenment, the physician Andrew Duncan the elder (1744-1828). Duncan is best known today for two major acts of social medicine in Edinburgh: the founding of a dispensary for the sick poor and a lunatic asylum where inmates were treated humanely. He became president of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh in 1790, and in 1808 the freedom of Edinburgh was conferred on him for his services in the foundation of the dispensary and the asylum. Apart from his medical work, Duncan was convivial man with great energy who was a member of and founded many clubs and societies, such as the Aesculapian Club, the Harvein, Gymnastic and Royal Caledonian Horticultural societies. He also had a keen interest in literature and wrote poetry, of indifferent quality to say the least, which was often read out or sung at meetings of these clubs. This collection contains 10 items which can be ascribed to him; nine of them are not in NLS and at least two are unrecorded. There are also two substantial items here: "Poems chiefly in the Scottish dialect" (1809) not by Duncan but by Andrew Stewart, a poet sentenced to death for theft but whose sentence was commuted to transportation on the intervention of Walter Scott; and part of a collection of Scottish verse edited by Duncan "Carminum rariorum macaronicorum delectus" (1801). The collection also contains two elegies written by James Amos and John Wharton for late Edinburgh medical colleagues. The Duncan items mostly relate to the clubs he was was involved in, two of the poems, however, are devoted to Duncan's ascent of Arthur's Seat on a foggy May Day morning in 1807. For half a century, right up until a year before his death, Duncan climbed Arthur's Seat every May Day and sometimes produced a poem to commemorate the event. The items were probably all printed in Edinburgh by the firm of Adam Neill & Son, whose head, Patrick Neill, was a friend of Duncan's and the first secretary of the Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society. The poems, which are bound together, were formerly in the library of Douglas Grant (1921-1969), professor of American literature at the university of Leeds.
|Reference Sources||ODNB; J. Chalmers (ed.), "Andrew Duncan Senior: Physician of the Enlightenment" Edinburgh, 2010.|
|Title||Marci Duncani philosophiae et med. D. Institutionis logicae libri quinque.|
|Imprint||Salmurii [Saumur]: Apud Isaacum Desbordes,|
|Date of Publication||1643|
|Notes||Born 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.|
|Title||Physiologia Guillelmi Duncani philosophiae professoris veterani|
|Imprint||Toulouse: Arnaldum Colomerium|
|Date of Publication||1651|
|Notes||This is a rare copy of this work on physiology by the Scot William Duncan and an important addition to the library's collection of books by Scots working abroad. Copies have been traced in the Bibliotheque Nationale, Bibliotheque Municipale (Toulouse), Yale and the National Library of Medicine, but there are no copies in British libraries. Some of the copies appear to have an added engraved title page which is lacking in this copy. Little is known about William Duncan except that he was a teacher in Montauban in the south of France before 1606 when he became a Professor of Philosophy there. He died in 1636. His brother Mark who was born in Roxburghshire c.1570, also worked as an academic in France. He was Professor of Philosophy in Saumur and died in France in 1640.
Lynn Thorndike in The history of magic and experimental science (vol.7) describes it as 'a very backward book' which propounded a 'distinctly Aristotelian' view of the universe. For example Duncan regarded comets as portents of drought, failure of crops, pestilence and the death of leading men. He also believed that most of the water on earth came from the sea via hidden underground channels.|
|Reference Sources||Thorndike, Lynn. The history of magic and experimental science. v.7 (New York, Columbia University Press, 1958) X.81.c
Baxter, J.H. and Fordyce, C.J. 'Books published abroad by Scotmen before 1700' in Records of the Glasgow Bibliographical Society, XI, 1933.|
|Title||The ass reliev'd. a true tale. In which is contained some remarks and observations, on the office of a tide-waiter. |
|Imprint||Greenock: William Johnston,|
|Date of Publication||1812|
|Notes||This is an unrecorded Greenock chapbook by a local author, William Duncan. The verso of the title page notes that "The following tale is founded on fact, and happened in June, 1802, when the author was then but young in the service". 'The ass reliev'd' is in fact a mock-serious poem in Scots based on an incident involving an ass on board a ship during Duncan's time spent working as a tidesman or tide-waiter (a customs officer who goes on board a merchant ship to secure payment of the duties before a cargo can be unloaded). The second part of the poem 'Being remarks on the office of a tidewaiter' is a lament for the low pay and long hours involved in the job.|
|Date of Publication||1580-1581|
|Notes||This is a pleasing volume of three Duns Scotus works, bound in vellum and with gauffered floral designs on all edges. The works are Quaestiones Quolibetales, Disputationes Collationales, and Syllabus generalis (this last is a concordance to the Scripti Oxoniensis super Sententias). All are edited by Salvatore Bartolucio of Assisi, and published in Venice in 1580-1581. These editions seem to be quite rare; the third item is not found in the Bibliothèque Nationale or Adams. The printer 'Haeredes Melchioris Sessae' has a rather striking device of a cat carrying a mouse in its jaws. The only indication of provenance is the manuscript note on the first title-page, 'Cornelio Francescucci'. John Duns Scotus, the Franciscan theologian, Scholastic philosopher and commentator, is believed to have been born in about 1265-1270. His name is not conclusive proof that he was born in Scotland. Some have argued that he came from Ireland, and he certainly taught in England, at Oxford. On the basis of tradition, the Library treats him as a Scottish writer.|
|Author||Duns Scotus, John|
|Title||Quaestiones in Aristotelis Analytica posteria|
|Imprint||Venice : Simon de Luere|
|Date of Publication||1497|
|Notes||Sources variously state that Duns Scotus (ca. 1266-1308) was born in either Duns, Berwickshire, Friar Minor at Dumfries where his uncle Elias Duns was superior, or Maxton (now Littledean). 'Scotus' is, in fact, a nickname simply identifying him as a Scot. We do not know the precise date of his birth, but we do know that he was ordained to the priesthood in the Order of Friars Minor (Franciscans) at Saint Andrew's Priory in Northampton, England, on 17 March 1291.
He studied at the universities of Oxford and Paris and later lectured at both universities. In 1307 he was sent to Cologne, where he lectured until his death on November 8, 1308. His sarcophagus in Cologne bears the Latin inscription: "Scotia me genuit. Anglia me suscepit. Gallia me docuit. Colonia me tenet." ("Scotland brought me forth. England sustained me. France taught me. Cologne holds me.")
Quaestiones in Aristotelis Analytica Posteria is one of a series of questions and commentaries in which Scotus attempted to show that Christian doctrine was compatible with the philosophical ideas of Aristotle. Some bibliographical sources, including the Gesamtkatalog der Wiegendrucke, posit this edition as "Pseudo Duns Scotus". There are only two other known copies in Great Britain at the Bodleian and the British Library.|
-Catalogue des livres imprimes au quinzieme sicle des
bibliotheques de Belqique
-Incunabula in Dutch libraries
-Biblioteca Nacional [Madrid] Catalogo general de
incunables en bibliotecas espanolas
-An index to the Early Printed Books in the British Museum
from the Invention of Printing to the Year MD
-Catalogue of Books Printed in the XVth Century now in the
|Author||Dupont, John et al.|
|Title||[4 anti-Jacobite pamphlets]|
|Imprint||York: Printed for John Hildyard|
|Date of Publication||1745 & 1746|
|Notes||A collection of 4 rare anti-Jacobite pamphlets, printed for John Hildyard in York. Jacobitism had a strong base of support not just in Scotland but also south of the border in counties such as Northumberland, Yorkshire and Lancashire, as well as areas of the Midlands, Wales and the West Country. However, in the 1745 uprising very few men from northern England were prepared to commit to the Jacobite cause. The printing of these violently anti-Jacobite (and also anti-Catholic) pamphlets served as a warning to the local population of the dangers of supporting the Stuarts (NB pamphlet 1 was printed after the defeat of the Jacobites at Culloden). Pamphlets 1 and 3 are by John Dupont, vicar of Aysgarth in Yorkshire.|
|Reference Sources||1. ESTC T4272, 2. ESTC T33080, 3. ESTC ????, 4. ESTC ????|
|Title||Epoques et faits memorables de l'histoire d'Angleterre|
|Date of Publication||1820|
|Notes||Although the Library has a number of bindings by Alexander Banks jnr (for example, NC.314.a.10; Hall.1.f ; ABS.2.80.64) we do not have one on green leather. His entry in SBTI reads: BANKS, Alexander junior bookbinder 5 North Bridge 1833-45 and stationer 29 North Bridge 1850. Green leather, covers with a gilt and blind roll-tooled design on the border of the covers. The spine is decorated in gilt to an arabesque design; oval morroco label with letters in gilt.
The binding is signed in the lower margin of the upper inner board.|