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 772 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 772:
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|Title||My own life and times 1741-1814.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Edmonston & Douglas|
|Date of Publication||1861|
|Notes||This is an extra-illustrated copy of the memoir of Thomas Somerville, minister of Jedburgh and uncle of the famous scientic writer Mary Somerville. This copy bears the bookplate of William John Lee, presumably the son of the editor of Thomas Somerville's text, William Lee, a professor of Glasgow University. There are almost 200 prints and 19th-century photographs added to the volume. Of particular interest is the carte-de-visite photograph of Mary Somerville, bound in after p. 390 and a photograph of a marble bust of her. Thomas Somerville had first been Mary's uncle by marriage and subsequently her father-in-law, he gave her early encouragement and tuition.|
|Author||Castera, Desiree de|
|Title||Narcisse, ou le Chateau d'Arabit|
|Imprint||Paris: Dentu, Imprimeur-Libraire, Palais du Tribunal, galeries de bois, no.240|
|Date of Publication||1804|
|Notes||This rare and obscure French gothic novel with a Scottish setting begins with 'miss Narcisse', who has reached the age of eighteen without knowing anything of her origins. In the course of the novel, she uncovers the story of her own birth and the strange and romantic histories of other characters, recounted in a series of retrospective narratives and discoveries of packets of letters, until the happy ending which ties up all the strands. As a depiction of Scotland in European fiction before Scott's novels, it offers some interesting points. The history of how a noble family lost power and influence on the downfall of the Stuarts is linked not to Jacobite rebellions but to the execution of Charles I. While there is no explicit discussion of the religious affiliations of the characters, 'miss Narcisse' begins the novel being educated in a convent in the Highlands, and elsewhere a hermit, Pere Antoine, inhabits a grotto. Volume 3 contains an imitation of Ossianic bardic raptures, supposedly produced by one of the characters while in Wales, in homage to his Scottish love, with an authorial note explaining the connection to 'M. Mackferson' [sic]. Some care has been taken by de Castera with regard to the geographical setting, which seems to derive ultimately from the descriptions found in Blaeu's Atlas of 1654. While 'Chateau d'Arabit' seems fictional, it is located in 'Chanrie' (or Chanonry, now Fortrose) and may be based on Ormond Castle, and the other main fictional location, 'Rosenthall' manor, may derive from nearby Rosemarkie. Many of the Scottish placenames are accompanied by authorial notes explaining their location such as 'Innerlothe, otherwise Fort William, capital of Lochaber' (vol. 2, p.154). It would not be impossible to plot Narcisse's journeys on a map of Scotland - and one wonders if this is, in fact, what the author did. Finally, each volume comes with a frontispiece in which characters and buildings and landscapes are presented without any of what would soon become the defining markers of Scottishness such as tartan and baronial castles. |
|Title||Narrative of the loss of the Abeona, which was destroyed by fire, on the 25th of November, 1820 ... Compiled by some of the survivors.|
|Imprint||Second edition. Glasgow.|
|Date of Publication||1821|
|Notes||This narrative follows in a long tradition of providing an 'eye witness' account of a disaster and publishing it in pamphlet form. In this case, it provides a vivid description of the horrendous consequences of a sailor drawing rum from a barrel using a candle to light his way and resulting in a conflagration that devoured the Abeona and killed 112 passengers, most of them settlers who had embarked at Greenock with the intention of establishing a settlement at Algoa Bay near the Cape of Good Hope.
There seem to have been two substantially different versions published in 1821: the present version Narrative of the loss of the Abeona, which was destroyed by fire, on the 25th November, 1820 ... when one hundred and twelve individuals perished. Compiled by some of the survivors. Second edition. Glasgow: Printed by James Starke, for Chalmers and Collins, 1821 (APS.2.200.002) and A brief narrative of the loss of the Abeona. Written chiefly by one of the survivors, A Sabbath school teacher on Board. Glasgow: Printed by Young & Gaillie for Archibald Lang, Bookseller, 1821 (APS.1.78.132). The first edition is shorter than the second and is written by a single author 'a sabbath school teacher' while the second and longer version seems to be the work of the original author and other survivors. It is substantially different and takes a more secular approach whilst the first is laced with that author's ecclesiastical leanings and imagery. Both are fascinating accounts, and complementary, the second edition providing a completely revised, extended and fuller text.|
|Title||National system of poltical economy|
|Imprint||Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott|
|Date of Publication||1856|
|Notes||Friedrich List (1789-1846) is recognized today as one of the most influential trade theorists. He is also one of the most severe critics of the classical school of economics. He denounced Adam Smith and his disciples and held that free trade was an ideal that could only be achieved in the distant future. Unlike Smith, who argued that a nation's wealth lay in its capacity for commercial interchange, List held that a nation's wealth lay in the development of its own economic and productive resources.
This is a copy of the very scarce first edition in English, and the first English translation of List's magnum opus, originally published in German in 1841.|
|Title||Negotiations of Sir Thomas Roe, in his embassy to the Ottoman Porte, from the year 1621 to 1628 inclusive|
|Imprint||Printed by Samuel Richardson at the expence of the Society for the Encouragement of Learning|
|Date of Publication||1740|
|Notes||This is the diplomatic correspondence of Thomas Roe (1581?-1644) during the time that he was ambassador to the Ottoman Porte between the years 1621 and 1628. Roe was one of the most distinguished and successful diplomats of his day as well as being an accomplished scholar and a patron of learning. He was knighted in 1605 and was made an MP for Tamworth in 1614 and later for Cirencester in 1621.
His permanent reputation was mainly secured by the success that attended his embassy in 1615 - 1618 to the court at Agra of the Great Mogul, JahangIr, the principal object of the mission being to obtain protection for an English factory at Surat. Upon becoming ambassador to the Porte in 1621 he distinguished himself with further successes. He obtained an extension of the privileges of the English merchants, concluded a treaty with Algiers in 1624, by which he secured the liberation of several hundred English captives, and gained the support, by an English subsidy, of the Transylvanian Prince Bethien Gabor for the European Protestant alliance and the cause of the Palatinate.
The volume is bound in plain leather covers with an elaborately decorated spine featuring gilt floral patterns and gilt depictions of small garden animals such as bees, flies, spiders, snails and worms. Although the preface indicates that this is the first volume of the letters and negotiations of Sir Thomas Roe, no more volumes were actually published. An armorial bookplate on the verso of the t.p. indicates that it belonged to the Right Honourable Charles Viscount Bruce of Ampthill who was the son and heir of Thomas Earl of Ailesbury (1655? - 1741).|
|Reference Sources||ESTC T33247|
|Title||Neue philosophische Versuche. Aus dem Englischen uebersezt. Mit einer Vorrede vonm Herrn Professor Meiners.|
|Imprint||Leipzig: in der Weygandschen Buchhandlung|
|Date of Publication||1779-1780|
|Notes||This is the first edition of the German translation of Beattie's "Essay on the nature and immutability of truth, in opposition to sophistry and scepticism; on poetry and music, as they affect the mind; on laughter, and ludicrous composition; and on the utility of classical learning".
James Beattie (1735-1803) was a poet, essayist and moral philosopher. Born in Kincardine and educated at Aberdeen, he became professor of moral philosophy and logic at Marischall College, Aberdeen, in 1760.
The essays assembled in this collection were written over the course of 17 years: on poetry and music in 1762, on laughter in 1764, and on classical learning in 1769. The essay on truth itself does not appear in a German translation here, only Beattie's preface to the new edition of 1776, undated additions and amendments, and an epilogue dated 1770.
In his own preface to the translations, Professor Meiners refers to Beattie as the most thorough contestant of Hume's philosophy and the most fortunate defender of truth and virtue. However, he is much less complimentary about Beattie's essay on laughter and criticises Beattie for not properly distinguishing between the terms ludicrous and ridiculous.|
|Author||Friedrich Wilhelm Gillet|
|Title||Neuer brittischer Plutarch oder Leben und Charaktere beruehmter Britten.|
|Imprint||Berlin: Friedrich Maurer|
|Date of Publication||1804|
|Notes||First edition of a German-language collection of biographical sketches and anecdotes relating to famous Britons who had distinguished themselves during the French Revolutionary War. Among the 24 men described are the Scots Lord Duncan (Adam Duncan of Camperdown fame), Henry Dundas, Thomas Erskine, 1st baron Erskine, and Sir John Sinclair. The author was a German Lutheran minister (Ernst) Friedrich Wilhelm Gillet (1762-1829), who preached at the churches of Dorotheenstadt and Friedrichswerder in Berlin. Gillet was presumably a member of the large Huguenot community that had settled in the Berlin area in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. The work was intended as continuation of the popular English-language work by Thomas Mortimer "The British Plutarch; or, biographical entertainer" first published in London in 1762, which took as its inspiration the biographies of the ancient Greek author Plutarch of eminent Greek and Roman statesmen and generals. The book is illustrated with portraits of men it describes and has as its frontispiece an engraving of the wooden carving 'Tipu's tiger' (now held at the V&A Museum in London) which is mentioned at the end of the book in a series of anecdotes relating to Britain's war against Tipu Sahib, sultan of Mysore in South India. At the time of the book's publication (1804) Britain had resumed its war against France and its leader Napoleon, having been at war continuously with the French in the Revolutionary War from 1793 to 1802. Gillet adopts a relatively neutral tone in describing the eminent British; as a citizen of Berlin, the centre of Prussian power, he would have been aware that the Prussian king Friedrich Wilhelm III was at the time pursuing a policy of neutrality in the Napoleonic War. However, there is clearly an underlying admiration for the British in refusing to bow to France, which he describes as the most powerful nation in Europe, whilst at the same time expanding their empire in India. Prussia would eventually enter the war against Napoleon in 1806 and suffer a crushing defeat. |
|Title||Neues Constitutionenbuch der alten ehrwuerdigen Bruederschaft der Freimaurer|
|Imprint||Frankfurt: In der Andreaeischen Buchhandlung|
|Date of Publication||1743|
|Notes||This is the second, enlarged edition of the German translation of James Anderson's "The Constitutions of the Free Masons; containing the History, Charges, Regulations, &c. of that Most Ancient and Right Worshipful Fraternity. For the Use of the Lodges", which was first published in 1723. Organised freemasonry became established in 1717 when four London lodges formed themselves into a Grand Lodge. In 1721 Anderson, himself a freemason, was asked to produce a rulebook, the Constitutions, which passed through several English editions and was translated into German. The Constitutions are based on a manuscript rulebook which existed in several handwritten copies, dealing with the masons' duties and regulations as well as the history of masonry from the creation.
This edition has a beautiful folded frontispiece engraving representing the armorial sword. The sword plays an important part in Masonic ceremonial and the Grand Sword Bearer leads all processions of Grand Lodge carrying a similar sword.|
|Title||New and Easy Method of Cookery. Edinburgh, 1755.|
|Date of Publication||1755|
|Notes||Elizabeth Cleland taught cookery in Edinburgh, apparently at her house in the Luckenbooths, the now-demolished medieval street formerly at the centre of commercial Edinburgh. Cleland provides short, pithy recipes for standard dishes such as soups, pies and cakes, with many entries for fish and meat. There are no fine measurements or Delia-style explanations. For example, under the heading 'To roast a Leg of Mutton with Cockles', Cleland gives the following advice: 'Stuff it all over with Cockles and roast it. Put Gravy under it.' Cleland's book seems to have been popular and the National Library has copies of the expanded second and third editions. Early cookery books are often difficult to obtain and in poor condition due to use. Only two other copies of this first edition of Cleland's important publication are known, and it is not recorded in ESTC. Although in this copy the binding has largely disintegrated, the textblock is basically sound: it could even be argued that the interesting stains count as evidence for usage (e.g. see the recipe for saffron cakes!).|
|Reference Sources||Virginia Maclean, A short-title catalogue of household and cookery books published in the English tongue 1701-1800, London, 1981, p.27.
Olive Geddes, The Laird's Kitchen, Edinburgh, 1994, esp. pp. 59+|
|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.|