Rare Book Collections works to build up the national collections through
purchases (through dealers or at auction) and donations. This directory gives details of 835 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 835:
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|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;
|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|
|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.|
|Title||Quatre Nouvelles. Lismore, ou le minstrel ecossais; Theresa, ou la peruvienne; Lycoris, ou les enchantemens de Thessalie; Eudoxie et Stephanos, ou les Grecs modernes.|
|Imprint||Paris: Chez Cogez, Libraire|
|Date of Publication||1818|
|Notes||This rare publication is a set of four short novels by the minor French novelist Rene-Jean Durdent (1776-1819) which perhaps testifies to the early European enthusiasm for the novels of Walter Scott. How else to account for a tale set in 14th-century Perth to be laid alongside three other short novels in more exotic-sounding Peru, Thessaly and Greece? The story recounts the tragic love affair of the aristocratic Clara and the talented minstrel Lismore. A brief introduction asserts the historical likelihood of such a relationship taking place in an age when minstrels wandered from castle to castle, and quotes Sophie Cottin: 'They love; therefore it is necessary that they experience some great catastrophe.'|
|Title||Ainmeanna cliuteach Chriosd. [Christ's famous titles].|
|Imprint||Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island|
|Date of Publication||1832|
|Notes||This is an important addition to the National Library's collection of books in Scots Gaelic printed in Canada. Only one other copy is recorded of this Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island imprint. The National Library holds eight imprints by the printer S. Haszard, all dating from the period 1890-1902. This work is a translation of William Dyer's work 'Christ's famous titles' first published in 1663 which ran through seveal editions through into the nineteenth century. Dyer, who died in 1696, was a Non-Conformist minister with Quaker sympathies, who was minister at Chesham and Cholesbury, Buckinghamshire. The text was first translated by C. Maclauruinn for a Glasgow 1817 edition. It was clearly a popular work - five Gaelic editions were also published in Edinburgh between 1845 and 1894. Maclauruinn in his English preface opines that 'it is neither a popular nor an elegant publication ? but an evangelical one'.
Ownership inscriptions on the free endpapers indicate that this book belonged to one Fergus Ferguson of New Gairloch, Pictou County, Nova Scotia. The last leaf contains an advertisement for the bookseller James Dawson of Pictou, Nova Scotia, which lists 39 Gaelic titles. This is evidence of the market for books in Gaelic among the emigrant population in Nova Scotia in the mid-nineteenth century.
Scots first settled in Prince Edward Island in 1768, but the majority of the migrations, primarily from the the Western Isles, Argyll and Invernesshire, took place between 1771 and 1803. One of the largest migrations was that of 1803. It was organized by Thomas Douglas the fifh Earl of Selkirk and resulted in the arrival of 800 people from the Isle of Skye, Raasay, North Uist and Mull, most of whom were Gaelic speakers.|
|Reference Sources||Hornby, Susan. Celts and ceilidhs: a history of Scottish societies on Prince Edward Island. (Charlottetown, 1981). HP2.201.04699
Craig, David. On the crofters' trail. (London, 1990) H4.90.1632|
|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.|