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.

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Important Acquisitions 436 to 450 of 735:

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AuthorGraeffe, Johann Friedrich Christoph.
TitleDe miraculorum natura philosophiae principiis non contradicente.
ImprintHelmstedt: C.G. Fleckeisen,
Date of Publication1797.
LanguageGerman
NotesThis is a rare German Enlightenment text which systematically confutes David Hume's essay on miracles, first published in his "Philosophical essays concerning human understanding". The author, Johann Friedrich Christoph Graeffe (1754-1816), was a German Protestant theologian who studied at his hometown university in Goettingen. After working some years as a teacher and minister in the church, Graeffe eventually became a doctor of theology at the University of Helmstedt in Lower Saxony in 1797. "De miraculorum natura" was his inaugural dissertation in which he grappled with one of the typical Enlightenment problems: how could one account for miracles in the Bible using modern scientific means of explanation? As a rationalist who was also a firm believer in the veracity of the Bible, Graeffe was able to reconcile the two positions by demonstrating that the laws governing the effecting of miracles do not suspend or infringe the laws of nature. His argument thus brought him into conflict with the work of Hume, who in his essay of 1748 had regarded miracles as irrational and unlikely ever to have happened. Graeffe uses the recently published work by Immanuel Kant, "Die Religion innerhalb der Grenzen der blossen Vernunft" [Religion within the bounds of mere reason], in support of his dismissal of Hume's arguments. He returned to the theme in his later work "Philosophische Vertheidigung der Wunder Jesu und seiner Apostel" [A philosophical defence of the miracles of Jesus and his apostles], published in Goettingen in 1812. This particular copy has a 19th-century library label on the front pastedown showing that it was once in the library of Theological Seminary of Lexington, South Carolina (now the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary of Columbia, S.C.). The library was founded in 1832 and grew rapidly. It contained a large number of German texts, including items from the personal collection of its first professor of theology, Ernest Hazelius, who had emigrated from Prussia to the USA. Due to lack of students the seminary and library moved to Newberry, South Carolina, in 1859.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2779
Acquired on21/05/10
AuthorGraeme, Hugh
TitleMemorial anent the moss culture
ImprintEdinburgh: Hamilton, Balfour and Neil
Date of Publication1776
LanguageEnglish
NotesHugh Graeme's programme for the improvement of Scottish agriculture was based on methods to make mossy soils more productive. Appended at the end of the work is a testimonial from a number of his contemporaries stating that "Mr. Graeme can be of the most singular use & to his country, in managing farms or schools for teaching agriculture in the Highlands." Little is known of the author, Hugh Graeme. Apparently he was from Argomrey (or Argomery) in Stirlingshire, a part of Flanders Moss. The method he used to make his fields productive is not specified, though it seems he did encounter suspicion, if not downright opposition, from his neighbours. Graeme is extremely critical of his peers for their lack of support for his enterprise. They are apparently willing to promote herring fisheries and linen manufacturing, yet "they would hardly venture a shilling upon a tolerable good land security & where the subject can't so easily perish." Graeme was sufficiently discouraged by his contemporaries' reaction to abandon his experiment. Graeme's improvements were just one example of the improvements and experiments that took place in Scottish agriculture during the eighteenth century. Many improvements were imported from England, but wealthy landowners in Scotland were also proactive, establishing in 1723 the Honourable Society of Improvers in the Knowledge of Agriculture in Scotland. Only one other copy of this pamphlet is held in public institutions. The National Library also holds "A letter to a gentleman in Edinburgh concerning Mr. Graeme of Argomery's improvements of moss", also published in Edinburgh, in 1756.
ShelfmarkABS.2.205.009(1)
Reference SourcesT. Bedford Franklin, A history of Scottish farming. London, 1952.
Acquired on10/06/05
AuthorGrant, James
TitleBothwell or the days of Mary Queen of Scots
ImprintLondon
Date of Publication1870?
LanguageEnglish
NotesPurchased with a selection of other yellowbacks by two popular Scottish authors. Yellowbacks (less commonly called 'mustard-plaster' novels) was the name given to the form of cheap fiction developed from the late 1840s and competed with the 'penny dreadful' as an accessible source of entertaining reading. The distinctive brightly coloured covers made the books very attractive for a growing reading public encouraged by the spread of education and the expansion of the railways. Routledges in establishing their 'Railway Library' in 1849, were the first of many publishers to target a new reading public with yellowbacks. This series ran to 1,277 titles, ending in 1899. Most works of fiction in this format were stereotyped reprints of earlier cloth editions. By the end of the 19th century, sensational fiction and adventure stories in addition to more 'educational' manuals, handbooks and cheap biographies were being published in this manner. These yellowback novels of Grant and Stevenson were typical of those published at this time. Edinburgh-born, James Grant (1822-1887), a distant relation of Sir Walter Scott, was a prolific author, writing some 90 books. Many of his 56 novels deal with key characters and events in Scottish history. In 1853 he founded the National Association for the Vindication of Scottish Rights. Grant is best remembered today as an historian - his thoroughly-researched 'Old and new Edinburgh' was published in 1880.
ShelfmarkABS.1.201.016
Acquired on05/01/03
AuthorGrant, James
TitleDuke of Albany's Own Highlanders
ImprintLondon
Date of Publication1881
LanguageEnglish
NotesPurchased with a selection of other yellowbacks by two popular Scottish authors. Yellowbacks (less commonly called 'mustard-plaster' novels) was the name given to the form of cheap fiction developed from the late 1840s and competed with the 'penny dreadful' as an accessible source of entertaining reading. The distinctive brightly coloured covers made the books very attractive for a growing reading public encouraged by the spread of education and the expansion of the railways. Routledges in establishing their 'Railway Library' in 1849, were the first of many publishers to target a new reading public with yellowbacks. This series ran to 1,277 titles, ending in 1899. Most works of fiction in this format were stereotyped reprints of earlier cloth editions. By the end of the 19th century, sensational fiction and adventure stories in addition to more 'educational' manuals, handbooks and cheap biographies were being published in this manner. These yellowback novels of Grant and Stevenson were typical of those published at this time. Edinburgh-born, James Grant (1822-1887), a distant relation of Sir Walter Scott, was a prolific author, writing some 90 books. Many of his 56 novels deal with key characters and events in Scottish history. In 1853 he founded the National Association for the Vindication of Scottish Rights. Grant is best remembered today as an historian - his thoroughly-researched 'Old and new Edinburgh' was published in 1880.
ShelfmarkABS.2.201.010
Acquired on05/01/03
AuthorGrant, John
TitleTo the Right Hon. Charles Townsend
ImprintGlasgow?
Date of Publication1794
LanguageEnglish
NotesThese single-sheet items record the unusual paranoia afflicting a man who describes himself as a journeyman weaver. John Grant believed that he was being chased and tormented by none other than the philosopher David Hume, and wrote to these various public figures to seek their assistance. Both these letters speak of enclosing other papers, which are probably no longer extant. The last item is dated 'Glasgow, Nov. 12. 1794.' and is addressed to the aristocrat and Whig politician Charles Townsend in London. Once again Grant appeals for assistance against Hume, who has made him 'liable to a confirmed Head-ack with Vitriol'. Bitterly, Grant remonstrates that 'it is amazing that my complaints were over-looked in Scotland, where Christianity and Philosophy are protested.' Grant explains that he has printed the letter to Townsend with the intention of sending copies to the magistrates in Edinburgh and Glasgow. It would be pleasant to think that these items are a joke, but it seems more likely that they do indeed represent the work of an articulate but thoroughly disturbed man. Neither printed item is recorded in ESTC.
ShelfmarkAPS.2.201.025
Acquired on20/02/01
AuthorGrant, John
TitleCopy of a Paper to the Magistrates of Edinburgh
ImprintEdinburgh?
Date of Publication1794
LanguageEnglish
NotesThese single-sheet items record the unusual paranoia afflicting a man who describes himself as a journeyman weaver. John Grant believed that he was being chased and tormented by none other than the philosopher David Hume, and wrote to these various public figures to seek their assistance. In the first printed letter to the magistrates of Edinburgh, which Grant dates 'Edinburgh, July 11. 1794.', he explains that the persecution has now lasted for 26 years. Hume has followed him through Scotland, England and Ireland, bribing people to poison Grant's food. Grant acknowledges that an accusation directed against such a respected philosopher may cause surprise, but suggests that 'ungoverned passions supersede learning by weakening the understanding.' Grant is particularly roused by the injustice of the monument erected to Hume in Calton churchyard (presumably Grant did not accept that this monument existed because Hume had died in 1776). Laid on the back of this paper is a manuscript letter, possibly autograph, from Grant to one Doctor Gleghorn, complaining at the doctor's decision not to admit him to Glasgow Infirmary. The exact nature of his illness is unclear, but he expresses dissatisfaction at the doctor's suggested remedies of wearing flannel against the skin and rubbing the legs with spirits: the obvious conclusion is that David Hume has told Gleghorn what to say. Both these letters speak of enclosing other papers, which are probably no longer extant. Neither printed item is recorded in ESTC.
ShelfmarkAPS.3.201.13
Acquired on20/02/01
AuthorGrant, John Peter [ed].
TitleBook of the Banff Golf Club bazaar.
Imprint[Banff]: Banffshire Journal Office,
Date of Publication1895
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a rare item of late 19th-century 'golfiana'. It consists of poems, songs and short stories by memebers of the Club, as well as portraits of local worthies. The publication was produced to coincide with a bazaar to raise funds for a new clubhouse and improvements to the course. The Banff Golf Club was founded in 1871, the members playing on a course on Banff links, although golf had of course been played in the area for centuries. The Club continued until 1924 when it amalgamated with another Banff club, the Duff House Club to become the Duff House Royal Golf Club. This particular copy has the bookplate of noted golf book collector Joseph Bridger Hackler.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2746
Acquired on10/04/09
AuthorGray, Andrew
TitleSpiritual warfare; or some sermons concerning the nature of mortification, together with the right spiritual exercise and spiritual advantages thereof
ImprintBoston: ub N.E. Re-printed by S. Kneeland, for Benj. Eliot, at his shop in King-Street.
Date of Publication1720
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is the first and only American edition of Gray's work, which was first published in Edinburgh in 1670. Gray was a Scottish divine who became extraordinarily popular as a preacher before his sudden death in 1656, at the astonishing age of 22. His writings were all published posthumously. The present collection of sermons, with a short preface by Thomas Manton, was frequently reprinted throughout the 18th century. This Boston edition is uncommon with the ESTC listing only seven extant copies. The work is in a well-preserved Boston binding of the period.
ShelfmarkAB.1.204.07
Reference SourcesBooksellers catalogue
Acquired on03/01/04
AuthorGray, Andrew
TitleThe experienced millwright; or, A treatise on the construction of some of the most useful machines, with the latest improvements. [2nd edition]
ImprintEdinburgh : Printed by D. Willison for Archibald Constable & Co.
Date of Publication1806
LanguageEnglish
NotesAndrew Gray's 'The experienced millwright' presents the most accurate first-hand account of the state of traditional British millwrighting in the second half of the 18th century. The first three chapters consist of a general treatise on mechanics. The following chapters cover practical directions for the construction of machinery, the mathematics necessary for calculating the strength of machines, and detailed plans for the construction of various kinds of water mills. The text is supplemented by a series of forty-four fine engravings showing the layouts of various types of water-, wind- and animal-powered machinery. The designs and descriptions are mostly of mills and machines which Gray either designed or supervised in actual construction in central-eastern Scotland. As stated in the preface: "the machines of which he has been careful to give accurate drawings and concise explanations are to be considered, not as plans founded on the speculative principles of mechanics ... but as cases of practical knowledge, the effects of which have been fairly tried and long approved". Little is known of Gray, described in his book's preface as "a practical mechanic" who 'has been for at least forty years employed in erecting different kinds of machinery". The text indicates that he is very familiar with the work of the leading civil engineer of the age, John Smeaton (1724-92), and especially Smeaton's seminal paper on the natural powers of water and wind to turn mills and other machines. The second edition of Gray's book corrects 14 textual errors found in the original edition of 1804. The front pastedown of this copy also includes a large printed advertisement for the prospective publication of Gray's 'The plough-wright's assistant' which was eventually published in 1808.
ShelfmarkRB.l.266
Acquired on02/04/10
AuthorGray, Andrew
TitleThe spiritual warfare
ImprintGlasgow: Printed by Robert Sanders
Date of Publication1688
LanguageEnglish
NotesA lost Scottish book has turned up and can now be added to the national collections. Andrew Gray (1633-1656) was a Church of Scotland minister whose sermons were frequently printed well into the 18th century. The first edition was printed in Edinburgh in 1670; the earliest Glasgow edition known previously was also printed by Robert Sanders, in 1715. "Mortification", seen here primarily as the Christian's struggle against lust, is the main theme of Gray's sermons. Despite a rather poor 19th-century binding, this is a good and complete copy of what may be the only surviving example of this edition. This work is not recorded in Donald Wing's 'Short-title catalogue 1641-1700', nor in the English Short-Title Catalogue (ESTC). Donald Wing listed it in his 'Gallery of Ghosts' (1967) as G1620A. It was recorded in Aldis, 'List of books printed in Scotland before 1700' as Aldis 2762, but without any known holdings. Until now, the only evidence for this work's existence was in John McUre's 'History of Glasgow' (Glasgow, 1830), p. 369, which includes this edition in a list of books printed in Glasgow up to 1740. Hopefully there are other 'ghosts' in Aldis which will, like this book, appear in the light of day again.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2636
Reference SourcesAldis 2762; Wing, 'Gallery of Ghosts', G1620A
Acquired on21/11/06
AuthorGray, John
TitleGray's annual directory and Edinburgh almanac
ImprintEdinburgh: [printed by Andrew Shortrede for] John Gray
Date of Publication1836
LanguageEnglish
NotesDirectories are a very important resource for anyone wanting to track down a particular person known to have lived in a town at a certain time. This volume consists of an almanac, with information for the year ahead such as tide times, followed by a street directory and a list of Edinburgh inhabitants in alphabetical order, with addresses. The map is unfortunately missing, but it is still easy to use this directory to find out where someone lived in 1836. Various curious advertisements follow the main text, including one for 'Improvements in hats' ('It must be obvious to every one that a hard heavy hat is not only disagreeable to the head, but that it also prevents the free egress of the heated air arising therefrom, thus keeping the head in a perpetual stew, and causing headache, loss or injury to the hair, &c.') The directory was clearly aimed at professionals and tradespeople. This particular copy is signed on the title-page by 'John Murray Jun.' and dated 1847. This is presumably John Murray III, the famous publisher.
ShelfmarkABS.3.204.017
Acquired on03/08/04
AuthorGray, John.
TitleThe essential principles of the wealth of nations.
ImprintLondon: T. Cadell
Date of Publication1797
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis 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).
ShelfmarkRB.s.2578
Reference SourcesThe New Palgrave: a dictionary of economics, vol.II, 1987. Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, vol.46, 1952, p.275-6.
Acquired on04/07/05
AuthorGreat Britain. Record Commission
TitleRecord Commission. Scotland. Correspondence of C.P. Cooper, Esq. Secretary to the Board, with Thomas Thomson, Esq. deputy clerk register [etc] + 2 other items
ImprintLondon : [Record Commission],
Date of Publication1835
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis particular volume contains three works relating to Thomas Thomson (1768-1852), record scholar and advocate, who, as the first deputy clerk register of Scotland, played an important role in making available early Scottish legal and parliamentary records to scholars in the early 19th century. They appear to have been specially printed for the Record Commission based in London (the Record Commission is the collective name given to a series of six Royal Commissions on the Public Records appointed between 1800 and 1831, the last one lapsing in 1837) and can be regarded as marking the start of an investigation into Thomson's financial mismanagement of Commission money with regard to the various publications he was supervising and his payment of staff working under him. Thomson had been appointed to his post at General Register House in 1806 and his achievements there were overall very impressive, but by the 1830s his rather dubious accounting procedures and tendency to get bogged down in an increasing number of editorial projects had begun to have repercussions. The first part of the first item in this volume, "Correspondence of C.P. Cooper [etc]", reproduces letters written by Thomson and Charles Purton Cooper (1793-1873), the secretary of the Record Commission, concerning the long-delayed publication of vol. 1 of "Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland". A version of volume one had been printed as early as 1800, edited by the antiquary William Robertson; but in 1804 Thomson had argued successfully that this version should not be published as it was flawed and in need of updating and expanding. As deputy clerk register of Scotland Thomson presided over the publications of vols 2-11 of the "Acts" between 1814 and 1824, but continually delayed publication of the revised version of vol. 1, covering the earliest Scottish parliaments, due his tendency to procrastinate and his obsessive desire to produce a superior version to the suppressed 1800 edition. The printed correspondence here records Cooper's exasperation at the delays and his "mortification and vexation" caused by Thomson's "long and unaccountable silence". As well as documenting Cooper's annoyance with Thomson, the second part of this first item also puts Thomson's lax financial arrangements in the spotlight by printing letters and a memorial by the Scottish antiquary Robert Pitcairn (1793-1855). In addition to claiming public money for the financial losses he had incurred publishing his 1833 work "Criminal trials in Scotland & 1488 to 1624" - a work that he had undertaken at the suggestion of Thomson - Pitcairn was also complaining that Thomson had asked him to prepare an abridgement of the register of the great seal of Scotland, while leading Pitcairn to understand that the Record Commission would pay his salary. When, after many years of research, the salary was not forthcoming, Pitcairn stated his grievances in his "Memorial" to the Commission, reproduced here; he also went to London in person in 1835 to complain about Thomson's mismanagement of the project and state his case. As an appendix to the Cooper correspondence and the Pitcairn memorial, Thomson's quarterly reports to the Record Commission for the years 1822 to 1831 are printed here. The other two items in the volume are further reports from Pitcairn to Cooper, dated February 1835 and April 1835 respectively, concerning his unpaid work on the abridgement of the register of the great seal of Scotland. Pitcairn's revelations of irregular payments to staff eventually led to a Treasury inquiry in 1839 into the financial maladministration of the Register House. In 1840 the inquiry concluded that £8570 was owing to the crown, but Thomson avoided prosecution by convincing the government that the money had been applied to record work and not for his private use. He was dismissed from his post of deputy clerk register in 1841, but was allowed to continue to work as clerk of session to the Scottish courts. Thomson, like his predecessor as president of the Bannatyne Club, Sir Walter Scott, was determined to pay off all his debts. Most of his salary as clerk of session subsequently went to pay off his creditors and the sale of his library in 1841 met nearly half of his £7,000 debt to the crown.
ShelfmarkAB.3.212.03(1)
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography; Cosmo Innes, "Memoir of Thomas Thomson, advocate" (Edinburgh: Bannatyne Club, 1854).
Acquired on03/06/11
AuthorGreenshields, John
TitleSelim and Zaida. With other poems.
ImprintEdinburgh: Arch. Constable and Longman & Rees, London
Date of Publication1800
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is the very rare first edition of poems by John Boyd Greenshields (or Greenshiells) published in Edinburgh in 1800. Only two other copies are known - at the Taylorian in Oxford and the University of Kansas. A second edition was published in London in 1802 ([Ai].6.61). It is illustrated with two fine engravings by Isaac Taylor as well as some wood-engraved tailpieces. The half-title has a presentation inscription from the author to Alexander Fraser Tytler, (1747-1813), Lord Woodhouselee, Professor of History at the University of Edinburgh, who like Greenshields was an advocate. Also bound with this item are William Gifford's 'The Baviad and Maeviad' (1797) and Alexander Thomson's 'Sonnets, odes and elegies' (1801). The volume was part of the library at Aldourie, the home of the Tytler family on the shores of Loch Ness. Little is known of Greenshields himself. He was born in Drum, Aberdeenshire and became an advocate in 1793. Another of his works 'Home: a poem' was published in Edinburgh and Boston in 1806. He died in 1845.
ShelfmarkABS.1.204.010(2)
Acquired on06/12/02
AuthorGreensmith Downes & Son
TitleThe book of Scotch-made underwear
ImprintEdinburgh: Greensmith, Downes & Son
Date of Publication1910
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis trade catalogue provides us with a lot of very useful information about fashion in the early 20th century. It is attractively illustrated with colour plates and black and white drawings and photographs to accompany the price lists and descriptions of the clothes. At the back of the volume there is a pattern book incorporating over 30 pieces of fabric of the type used by Greensmith Downes & Son in their garments. The shop in George Street, Edinburgh was well known for selling quality (and expensive) clothing and was in business until at least the 1970s. As well as underwear the there are also sections in the catalogue on hunting jackets, waistcoats, elbow warmers, socks and rugs. There is also an extensive introductory section describing the manufacturing process, a discussion of the merits of woollen underwear as well as short pieces on The problem of shrinkage and Sweating: how far is the British public responsible. A couple of pages are also devoted to the Scottish Antarctic Expedition of 1902-04 during which the members of the expedition “all wore complete outfits of ‘Australlama’ which speciality gave the utmost satisfaction, and was acknowledged by them to be infinitely superior to the foreign makers of underwear hitherto tried”.The Library also has a 1926 Greensmith Downes trade catalogue at shelfmark HP1.87.1881.
ShelfmarkABS.1.206.067
Acquired on04/04/05
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