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 755 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 email@example.com
Important Acquisitions 436 to 450 of 755:
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|Author||Stevenson, Robert Louis|
|Title||New Arabian nights|
|Date of Publication||1885|
|Notes||Purchased 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.|
|Title||New game of the ascent of Mont Blanc.|
London : A.N. Myers|
|Date of Publication||ca. 1856|
|Notes||A rare Victorian board game comprising a folded lithograph mounted on cloth with 54 coloured vignettes describing a route from London to the summit of Mt Blanc. The game was devised by Albert Smith, a popular author and showman. He drew on his experiences during an ascent of Mt Blanc in 1851 to devise a flamboyant entertainment 'The Ascent of Mt Blanc' which was presented at the Egyptian Halls in Piccadilly from 1852 until his death in 1860. This acquisition complements other items of 'Albert Smithiana' in the Graham Brown and Lloyd collections.|
|Title||New history of the city of Edinburgh, from the earliest times to the present time|
|Date of Publication||1800|
|Notes||There are two different printings of this work in 1800: ESTC N20175 &T110293). The Library has two copies of T110293 but does not have a copy of N20175. Apparently Brown published an edition in 1790 and another in 1797, but these are not recorded in ESTC. The book presents an interesting history of the city starting with a general part tracing its origins back to the Picts and then moves onto to discuss the main features of building and topography: Parliament House, New Town, Register Office, The South Bridge, Palace of Holyrood House etc. Towards the end, the book contains a section of 'Lists and Regulations' which have in part been annotated by a contemporary hand. The 'Regulations for keeping the streets clean' for example are 'violated every day' with such as 'water, ashes 'thrown from the windows... [and] carpets shaked from the windows'.
Although not called for in ESTC, the present copy contains the fold-out map.
Further interesting ink notes on the front pastedown.|
|Title||New South Wales calendar and General Post Office Directory, 1836|
|Date of Publication||1835|
|Notes||This copy of the short-lived New South Wales calendar, published from 1832 to 1837 has an notweworthy Scottish provenance. The upper flyleaf has the signature of one Alexander Imlay (1801-1847), surgeon, landowner and speculator. He was one of a trio of Aberdeenshire brothers, all surgeons, who arrived in Sydney in the early 1830s, a time when the colonies were expanding beyond the south-east corner of the continent. In 1832 Alexander toured the southern coast with Governor Bourke and six years later made a pioneering journey in South Australia across the Mount Lofty Ranges to the Murray river. At the peak of their land speculation the Imlays owned some 1500 sq. miles of southern territory. They remained in the area and in 1839 Alexander, described by 'The South Australian' as an 'eminent and enterprising colonist' arrived in Adelaide with a cargo of cattle and sheep.
The volume contains some useful information about the development of the burgeoning colony in the 1830s. Included are 'regulations for the assignment of male convict servants' and a 'Report on the epidemic catarrh, or influenza, prevailing among the sheep in this colony' which resulted in the loss of 2,500 animals. There are also lists of ministers of the Church of Scotland, (p.325) and arrivals (some from Leith) and departures of ships in Sydney harbour (p. 378-p.397) The Post Office Directory at the back of the volume reveals many Scottish surnames, as well as a number of finely engraved advertisements.
During the period in which this calendar was published, the number of 'unassisted' immigrants from Scotland, mainly from the Lowlands, increased noticeably. Of the 110,000 assisted immigrants who arrived in Australia between 1832 and 1850, about 16,000 (14.5%) were Scots. Although Scots settled throughout the colonies, they tended to favour New South Wales (which then included Queensland and Victoria) as opposed to South Australia, Van Diemen's Land or Western Australia.|
|Title||New spelling, pronouncing, and explanatory dictionary of the English language|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: C. Elliot|
|Date of Publication||1786|
|Notes||This is a pocket dictionary in oblong format published during the heyday of the Age of Augustanism in Scotland with its demand for propriety and its emphasis on southern English models of speech. It consists of an introductory essay on English pronunciation, elocution and grammar, the dictionary proper, and an appendix.
The author points out in his preface that although he is a native of Scotland, it is not presumptuous of him to represent the proper English pronunciation: as a young man, Scott lived in London for many years, instructing "the young gentlemen of the academy the proper reading and reciting of the English language".
The dictionary is particularly interesting because it goes beyond the usual explanation of the meaning of the words. It shows the accented vowels and consonants, thus indicating where the wordstress falls. The pronunciation of every vowel sound in a word is indicated by a number, which refers to one of the 15 vowel sounds Scott distinguishes. Other dictionaries are "extremely deficient" with regard to the indication of the proper pronunciation. Scott's work is therefore important for "provincials and foreigners", in other words anybody outside the Home counties.
The Dictionary was first published in 1777, but no copy of this edition is known. This 1786 copy is the only one held in the UK.|
|Reference Sources||ESTC; bookseller's catalogue|
|Title||New Testament and Psalms
(Unidentified copy, t.p. missing)|
|Date of Publication||ca. 1867|
|Notes||This small format Bible (16mo) belonged to Rev. John Baird, father of John Logie Baird, inventor of the television. It is heavily inscribed with Biblical notes by Rev. Baird on pastedowns and endpapers including his signature dated 'Jany: 1867'. It was in this year that Baird was awarded his B.D. from the University of Glasgow. He was ordained as minister of West Parish Church in Helensburgh on 19th August 1869 and became first minister of the parish in 1883, resigning on 23rd October 1918. After his ordination he remained in Helensburgh for the rest of his life though made occasional trips through Europe and Africa. Although devoting his life to the one congregation and holding fast to the strict tenets of the Church of Scotland he was also interested in German culture and eastern religion. John Logie Baird was born in Helensburgh on 13th August 1888.
The Bible comes with; a port. of Rev. Baird pasted to an endpaper, a newspaper clipping reporting on a memorial window to John Logie Baird to be unveiled in Helensburgh to mark the centenary of his birth and a provenance note written by Mrs Edith Brown whose family was in possession of the Bible until a move from Helensburgh to the Moray Coast in the 1930s/40s.|
|Title||Newcastle Courant, giving an account of the most material occurrences, both foreign and domestick.|
|Imprint||Newcastle upon Tyne: printed and sold by John White|
|Date of Publication||1716|
|Notes||This bound volume contains of 20 of the tri-weekly issues of the Newcastle Courant for 1716. It brings together news of British affairs from places such as Gibraltar, Amsterdam, Cologne, Paris, Venice, Malta, Petersburg, Warsaw, London and Edinburgh. For instance, one news item reports the drowning at sea in a storm of the chief of Clanranald and 20 of his followers on 1 March.
The Newcastle Courant is particularly interesting for its coverage of events relating to the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715 and its aftermath. It has numerous reports of executions, such as the "decollation" of the Jacobite rebels the Earl of Derwentwater and the Lord Viscount Kenmure on 25 February 1716. The escape via Caithness and Kirkwall to Sweden of 120 rebels, among them Lord Duffus, Sir George Stirling of Sinclair and Keith Seaton of Touch, appeared on 3 March. A journal of the proceedings of captured rebels from Edinburgh to London, written by a Scots prisoner in the Marshal Sea, was published in instalments.
ESTC records 9 holdings of the Newcastle Courant in Britain, but none in Scotland.|
|Author||Jong, Dirk de.|
|Title||Nieuwe Beschryving der Walvischvanst en haringvisschery.|
|Imprint||Amsterdam: Gert Jan Bestebreurtje|
|Date of Publication||1791|
|Notes||This is the second edition (first published 1784-86) of a classic work on Dutch whaling together with an article on a herring fishery. It contains accounts of whaling expeditions in Arctic Regions as well as descriptions of types of whales and other animals. Included are engraved plates depicting whaling and herring fishery scenes as well as a number of engraved maps and plates.|
|Author||Stevenson, Robert Louis (1850-1894) |
|Title||Not I, and Other Poems|
|Imprint||[Davos, S. L. Osbourne]|
|Date of Publication||1881|
|Notes||The tiny pamphlet 'Not I, and Other Poems', is among the rarest of all Stevensoniana. On medical advice, Stevenson, his wife and 12-year-old stepson Lloyd Osbourne, spent the winters of 1880-81 and 1881-82 at a health resort at Davos, Switzerland. A major amusement for Stevenson during these convalescences was writing poems for his stepson to print on the boy's small hand press. A total of only fifty copies were produced of 'Not I, and Other Poems'.
The final page of the pamphlet serves as a wry colophon: 'The author and the printer, / With various kinds of skill, / Concocted it in winter / At Davos on the hill. / They burned the nightly taper / But now the work is ripe / Observe the costly paper, / Remark the perfect type! / begun Feb. ended Oct. 1881'. The actual press is presently housed at the Writers' Museum at Lady Stair's House in Edinburgh.
'Not I, and Other Poems' makes a nice addition to two other Davos Press publications held by the National Library of Scotland. These are 'Moral emblems: a Second Collection of Cuts and Verses' produced in 1882 (shelfmark RB.s.148), and a broadside announcing one of Osbourne's publications: 'Black Canyon, or, Wild adventures in the far West: an Instructive and Amusing Tale'. (shelfmark RB.s.1721)
|Title||Notes upon, and illustrations of, the treatise intitled the Life of God in the soul of man. To which is prefixed a preface taking off the material objections lately published against that little Book, to which are subjoined, a poem upon prayer, with a short account of Dr. Scougal's life, &c. By a young gentleman.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: W. Cheyne|
|Date of Publication||1744|
|Notes||This rare book offers an insight into contemporary responses to one of the most popular Scottish devotional works. Henry Scougal (1650-1678) was a Church of Scotland minister in Aberdeenshire and professor of divinity at King's College, Aberdeen. He first published The Life of God in the Soul of Man, originally a manual for his private devotion, in 1677. It was reprinted many times into the 19th century, with enthuasiastic admirers as diverse as Gilbert Burnet, John Wesley, and Benjamin Franklin. This work shows the effect Scougal's book had on one reader described as a 'young gentleman' on the title page. The publisher's address to the reader refers to 'the author's distance from the press' (perhaps like Scougal he was based in Aberdeenshire) and his 'youthful modesty' which led to the anonymous publication. It also mentions that this 'impression' amounts 'only to a very small number, and upon a fine paper, neatly bound, for the reader's pocket', which must explain the scarcity of the book today. The author's preface, where he says that like Scougal he was a young man training for the ministry, explains that he was provoked to write by criticisms of Scougal's book: the first that Scougal's description of Christ as 'he never knew the nuptial bed' was indecent, and the second that he was accused by 'a sect pretty well known' of being Arminian and Socinian. A search of ESTC and ECCO does not uncover any details of these controversies, which would have remained unknown were it not for the 'young gentleman's' defence. His book itself contains several different responses to Scougal: a commentary on The Life of God; a poem 'On Prayer', a 'Life and Character' of Scougal, including a Latin text translated into English, and a poem in praise of Scougal. The author was clearly as much an admirer of Scougal the person as Scougal the theologian, perhaps identifying the young clergyman as a role model, and the mixture of prose and poetry in the volume show him inspired intellectually and emotionally by Scougal's life and work.
Only one other copy of this book is listed in ESTC, at the British Library, with a different collation. Though the edges of the first few leaves are damaged, the book preserves its original wrappers. It comes from the library of the 20th-century book collector Bent Juel-Jensen.|
|Reference Sources||Bookseller's catalogue; Oxford DNB entry for Henry Scougal|
|Title||Notitia codicis Samaritano-Arabici in Bibliotheca Bodleiana|
|Date of Publication||1817|
|Notes||This is a pamphlet on Arabic manuscript versions of the Pentateuch (first five books of the Old Testament) held in the Bodleian Library, Oxford. The author, Alexander Nicoll (1793-1828), was a Snell Exhibitioner, i.e. a recipient of a scholarship for Scottish scholars at Balliol College, Oxford. He became a sub-librarian in the Bodleian Library and later a professor of Hebrew at Oxford. Nicoll, originally from Monymusk, Aberdeenshire, was famed for both his linguistic abilities and his dedication to cataloguing the Bodleian's collection of Oriental manuscripts. In the pamphlet he draws attention to errors in interpretation of these Pentateuch manuscripts by the 18th-century biblical scholar David Durell of Hertford College, Oxford, and the German professor of oriental languages at Jena, Heinrich Eberhard Gottlob Paulus. The latter had visited England as a part of a tour of Europe in the years 1787-88 and had presumably seen these manuscripts in the Bodleian. Only 60 copies in total of the book were printed, the present example being one of 10 on large paper. A manuscript annotation on the front fly-leaf notes the distribution of each of the 10 large-paper copies: some went to professors of Hebrew and Arabic; some to Oxford librarians, tutors, and fellows. This copy has a pasted piece of paper on it showing that it was formerly owned by George Williams (1814-1878), who served as Vice-Provost of King's College, Cambridge from 1854 to 1857.|
|Reference Sources||Oxford Dictionary of National Biography|
|Title||Novus cursus philosophicus Scotistarum complectens universam philosophiam, rationalem, naturalem, moralem & transnaturalem…|
|Imprint||Lugduni : Sumpt. Lavr. Arnavd, et Petri Borde|
|Date of Publication||1669|
|Notes||This is a one volume compendium of the works of John Duns Scotus (1265/66-1308). Sources variously state that Scotus was born in Duns, Berwickshire, Friar Minor at Dumfries where his uncle Elias Duns was superior, or Maxton (now Littledean).
Scotus was one of the most important and influential philosopher-theologians of the High Middle Ages. His complex and nuanced thought, which earned him the nickname "the Subtle Doctor," left a mark on discussions of such disparate topics as the semantics of religious language, the problem of universals, divine illumination, and the nature of human freedom.
The recto of the front free endpaper has a manuscript entry in the hand of Professor Geoffrey W.S. Barrow, M.A., B.Litt., D.Litt., Hon.D.Litt. Barrow was formerly a professor in the Scottish History Department of the University of Edinburgh and the inscription indicates that the book was once in his ownership. The inscription begins: "This is a remarkable compendium of the philosophy of John Duns Scotus ... NB. There is no copy of this work listed in the catalogues of the British Library not that of the Bibl. Nat. at Paris."|
|Author||James VII and II|
|Title||Nuevo triunfo de la religion Catolica, que los fieles deven al Christiano real cuydado, y magnanima providencia de serenissimo rey de la Bretaña Jacobo Segundo.|
|Imprint||Sevilla: por Juan Francisco de Blas |
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||By the third year of his reign as king of England, Scotland and Ireland, James VII and II was finding it increasingly difficult to work with Anglican politicians who were hostile to him as a Catholic; he was more inclined to work with those who dissented from the established religions in his kingdoms. He therefore adopted his late brother's approach to religious toleration, seeking to remove religious persecution from Catholics, Quakers and other peaceable dissenters. Bypassing the parliament in Scotland, James's first declaration of indulgence (or toleration) was issued in Edinburgh on 12 February 1687. 'Moderate Presbyterians' were allowed to meet in their private houses, while Quakers could 'meet and exercise in their form in any place or places appointed for their worship'. All laws and acts of Parliament against Catholics were suspended. This Spanish translation of James's proclamation includes not only the text of the proclamation and its introductory letter, both signed by his Scottish secretary the earl of Melfort, but also the response of the Scottish privy council. The proclamation is mistakenly dated here 22 February 1687. In the Spanish editor's preamble it is stated that news of the proclamation was sent to the court of Spain's Charles II. The declaration of indulgence is regarded here as part of a wave of recent Catholic victories (also comprising successes by the Austrian emperor against the Ottomans, and the King of France against Calvinists). James went on to introduce a similar declaration in England in April of that year.
|Reference Sources||Oxford Dictionary of National Biography; bookseller's notes|
|Author||Maidment, J[ames], P[itcairn], R[obert], and H[ill], James, editors and publishers|
|Title||Nugae Derelictae, quas colligerunt …|
|Date of Publication||[1815?-] 1823|
|Notes||A very rare collection of current jeaux d'esprit and reprints of rare pieces brought together by a triumvirate of lawyers led by James Maidment. There may well have been only three copies made, one for each of the collaborators, Maidment, Pitcairn and Hill. Maidement's bibliographer Thomas G Stevenson certainly knew nothing of the collection. This collection should not to be confused with a similar collection brought together by Maidment and Pitcairn in 1822 and comprising 18 separate tracts (Ry.IV.c.11). There are 20 of a possible 21 separartely printed pieces including The Election, a new song; The Fornicator's Court by Robert Burns, The Thimble by Alan Ramsay and Two ancient ballads published in Aberdeen. The missing piece is deduced to be 'Original letter thereanent' comprising two leaves and relating to the foregoing piece (Item XII) a mock broadsheet on Professor Dunderhead.
Given that it is highly likely that the other two copies have long since been broken up for their constituent parts, this may, arguably, be the sole survivor of the three. Hence the want of item XIII is easier to accept.|
|Author||Forrester, Alexander; MacFarlane, Thomas; MacGregor, James Gordon|
|Title||Objects, Benefits and History of Normal Schools, with Acts of the Legislature of Nova Scotia Anent Normal School, &c.; Observations on Canadian Geology; Technical Education Abroad and at Home.|
|Imprint||Halifax : James Barnes, 1855; Montreal : Dawson Bros., 1871; Halifax : Heral Publishing Company, 1882.|
|Date of Publication||see imprints above|
|Notes||Three items highlighting the activity and influence of Scots in 19th century Canada. Canada has always had strong emotional and historical ties to Scotland. For example, the first two Prime Ministers of Canada, Sir John A. Macdonald and Alexander Mackenzie, were both born in Scotland.
Alexander Forrester (1805-1869) the author of The Objects, Benefits and History of Normal Schools, was typical of many Scots who made a name for themselves in the New World. He was educated at the University of Edinburgh and immigrated to Nova Scotia in 1848. He would later become the Principal of the Normal School in Truro, Nova Scotia and Superintendent of Education for Nova Scotia from 1855 to 1864.
Thomas MacFarlane (1834-1907), the author of Observations on Canadian Geology, was born at Pollockshaws, Renfrewshire and came to Canada as a mining engineer. He was later to discover the famous Silver Inlet Mine on Lake Superior.
James Gordon MacGregor (1852-1913), the author of Technical Education Abroad and at Home, presents the interesting case of a type of Scottish/Canadian cross-pollination. MacGregor was the Canadian born grandson of the Scottish emigrant Rev. James MacGregor (1759-1830). James Gordon MacGregor later immigrated to Scotland where he became a professor of natural philosophy at the University of Edinburgh from 1901-1913.|
|Shelfmark||AP.3.203.02; AP.1.203.11; AP.2.203.04|