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 746 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 rarebooks@nls.uk

      

Important Acquisitions 451 to 465 of 746:

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Title[3 early nineteenth century Edinburgh trade cards]
Imprint[Edinburgh]
Date of Publication[c.1811-1842]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThese three trade cards provide us with a fascinating snapshot of the commercial life of the growing capital in the first half of the 19th century.The earliest of the three is probably that advertising the activities of H. Urquhart who was working as a hairdresser, peruque (wig)-maker and perfumer from premises at 31 George Street from 1811-1815. According to the Edinburgh and Leith Post Office Directory he worked at other addresses in George Street and Hanover Street around the same period. The engraving has been inexpertly hand-coloured probably many decades later. The text on the verso of the illustration describes in detail the services offered by Urquhart. We have been unable to discover when George King, velvet and silk dyer, was working. Around 10 dyers are listed in Edinburgh trade directories from 1810 to 1840, but there is no mention of King. The style of dress on the engraving suggest that in dates from the first quarter of the 19th century. The Watergate referred to on the card was a physical structure guarding the entry to the Canongate from the north-east. It acted as a toll barrier rather than a military defence. The engraved card advertising Tait’s New Royal Hotel on Princes Street probably dates from the 1840s. It was engraved by Mould & Tod who had an address on North Bridge in 1842. The scene shows a bustling street with people promenading outside the hotel, which is opposite the Scott Monument (opened in 1846).Trade cards probably date from the late 18th century. The advances in printing technology in the early 19th century led to trade cards becoming far more plentiful. This was accentuated when colour printing was developed from mid-century onwards. The trade card evolved into the business card which is still in use today. There are other examples of Scottish trade cards in the collection at RB.m.571 and RB.m.112.
ShelfmarkAPS.1.206.001
Reference SourcesEdinburgh and Leith Post Office directories 1810-1850
Acquired on04/04/05
AuthorClaude, Jean
TitleLa Defense De La Reformation Contre Le Live Intitulé Prejugez Legitimes Contre Les Calvinistes
ImprintRouen: Jean Lucas, demeurant ŕ Rouen rue aux Juifs, proche lHotel de Ville
Date of Publication1673
LanguageFrench
NotesThe author, Jean Claude, was a French Protestant Minister who wrote fiercely against the persecution of Protestants in France. This work is aimed at Pierre Nicoles attack on the Calvinists. The item is particularly interesting because of its provenance. On the inside front board is the book-plate of the Earl of Kintore with the motto Quae Amissa Salva.On the verso of the inside flyleaf is the ownership inscription Veritas Vincit, Kintore 1703, written in a clear bold hand in black ink. The bookplate is that of a descendant of Sir John Keith, who was the first to hold the Earldom of Kintore. A hero of the civil wars, he held Dunnottar Castle against Cromwell in 1650 and had a principal hand in preserving the regalia of Scotland from falling into the hands of Cromwell. During Cromwells usurpation the regalia had been carried to Dunnottar Castle as a place of safety. During the siege of the castle 1651-52 Sir John Keith had the regalia safely conveyed away and deposited underground in the Church at Kinneff. Pretending that the Scottish Regalia were in his possession, he sailed to France. He was apprehended and examined on his return but declared that he had carried the regalia off. In consideration of his services saving the regalia he was he was appointed hereditary Knight Marischal of Scotland upon the Restoration in 1660. In 1677 he was raised to the dignity of the peerage by the title of Earl of Kintore, Lord Keith of Inverurie and Keith Hall. He was further admiited to a member of the Privy Council in 1689. Sir John Keith died in 1714, having supported the Treaty of Union in the Parliament of Scotland seven years earlier. He, and his descendants, were leading figures in Scotland throughout the eighteenth century and are reckoned to be the chiefs of the Keith Clan today.
ShelfmarkRB.m.617
Reference SourcesDNB, Debretts peerage, The Scots peerage, The peerage of Scotland.
Acquired on01/04/05
TitleThe Poster: an illustrated monthly chronicle
ImprintLondon [various printers]
Date of Publication1898-1900
LanguageEnglish
NotesThe five volumes of this rare periodical contain numerous attractive plates of contemporary posters, some in colour. There are articles relating to artists and printers, reviews of exhibitions and movements in fashion, design and collecting. Writing on advertisements and other forms of ephemera is also included. Posters have traditionally been neglected in library collections: they are hard to store and conserve, inconvenient to issue to readers and difficult to catalogue using systems designed for books. With the advent of digitisation, however, poster collections are starting to become accessible in new ways. This is an important periodical to acquire, as it gives extensive information about the art of the poster during some of its golden years. Hopefully it will be useful to those researching the poster and the bibliography of related arts.
ShelfmarkDJ.s.906
Acquired on02/03/05
AuthorMiller, Philip (1691-1771)
TitleThe gardeners dictionary: containing the methods of cultivating and improving the kitchen, fruit and flower garden, as also, the physick garden, wilderness, conservatory, and vineyard; according to the practice of the most experienced gardeners of the present age. The third edition, corrected.
ImprintLondon: Printed for the author, and sold by C. Rivington, at the Bible and Crown in St. Paul's Church-yard., M.DCC.XXXVII [1737]
Date of Publication1737
LanguageEnglish
NotesMiller, Philip (1691-1771), horticulturist and writer, was the most distinguished and influential British gardener of the eighteenth century. His father, a Scot, was a market gardener at Deptford, near London, and gave young Philip both a good education and training Miller established a nursery of ornamental trees and shrubs in St George's Fields, Southwark. When the Society of Apothecaries needed a new gardener for their Physic Garden at Chelsea, Patrick Blair, a Scottish doctor and author of Botanik Essays (1720), wrote to Sir Hans Sloane, the garden's benefactor, recommending Philip Miller for the post as one 'to go forward with a curiosity and genious superior to most of his profession'. Miller's writing on the theory of gardening matched his expertise in its practice. He helped to produce a quarto Dictionary of Gardening in 1724, and an illustrated Catalogus Plantarum of trees and shrubs flourishing in the London area in 1730. In that year he drew up a list of medicinal plants grown in the garden, and forty years later he made a much longer one. Miller's outstanding work was The Gardeners Dictionary, produced in eight editions during his lifetime. Besides horticulture, it covered agriculture, arboriculture, and wine making. He also produced an Abridgement in eight editions (1735-71) and a practical, cheaper, Gardeners Kalendar in fifteen editions (1731-69). The work was dedicated to Sir Hans Sloane, one of a number of Miller's contemporaries who encouraged his career. Miller was eventually admitted a member of the Botanical Academy of Florence and the Royal Society of London. In spite of his achievements, his contemporaries apparently looked upon Miller with some reservation. This was due partly to his Scottish birth, and also his habit of employing only Scotsmen. Stephen Switzer is believed to refer to Miller in his Ichnographia Rustica as one of the 'northern lads who have invaded the southern provinces'. The National library's copy of the third edition to the Gardeners Dictionary is bound with the only edition of the Appendix (1735), and accompanied by the Second Volume of the Gardeners Dictionary, which was published in 1739.
ShelfmarkRB.m.619
Reference SourcesESTC T059422
Acquired on22/02/05
AuthorAnderson, Alan and Jennie
TitleBlue remembered hills
ImprintLoanhead: Tragara Press
Date of Publication2004
LanguageEnglish
NotesThe Tragara Press was founded by Alan Anderson in Edinburgh in 1954 who has, remarkably, continued to produce fine work for fifty years. The National Library has always collected Tragara books, and has marked-up copies of the two bibliographies of the press. Alan Anderson has donated many of the Tragara books we hold, and has now given us this, the last book which will be printed by Tragara. It is a selection of verse by Alan and Jennie Anderson (the title comes from A. E. Housman's 'A Shropshire lad'). This edition is limited to 20 copies, hand-set in Garamond type and printed on paper made by Amatruda of Amalfi. It is a fine conclusion to half a century of Scotland's most enduring private press.
ShelfmarkFB.m.801
Reference SourcesAlan Anderson, 'The Tragara Press', 1979; 1991.
Acquired on20/12/04
AuthorLeonard, Tom
TitleSix Glasgow Poems
Imprint[Glasgow]
Date of Publication[1968]
LanguageScots
NotesThis is the rare first edition of Tom Leonard's best known work. Written in Scots, these abrasively witty poems attempt to recreate the language of ordinary people in Glasgow. Leonard completed the work by January 1968, but had difficulty finding a printer willing to do the job. Instead, he typed the sheets himself and had them reproduced in the Glasgow University student magazine office. This counts as the first edition. The poems were subsequently published by Midnight Publications in 1969, and the Library has a copy of this second edition at shelfmark 5.4593. This edition contains at least one typographical deviation from the first edition.
ShelfmarkRB.m.628
Acquired on17/12/04
AuthorSmith, Adam
TitlePolitisk undersokning om lagar, som hindra och tvinga inforseln af sadana utlandska varor
ImprintGoteborg: S. Norberg
Date of Publication1804
LanguageSwedish
NotesThis is a rare copy of the first appearance in Swedish of book IV, chapter 2, of 'An inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations'. This chapter in English was titled: 'Of restraints upon the importation from countries of such goods as can be produced at home'. This is the key chapter in which Smith discusses laissez faire. Part of 'The wealth of nations' first appeared in Swedish in 1799-1800 in the literary periodical 'Lasning I blandade amnen'. (ABS.1.81.113) It is also the second translation of Smith by Erik Erland Bodell who was, like Smith, a customs official. He published a translation of Book V, chapter 2 of the same work in Stockholm in 1800: 'Undersokning om Kongl. Stora sjo och granse-tullar,'. A Swedish translation of a German abridgement of the 'Wealth of nations' was published in Stockholm in 1800 (RB.s.2055). A full Swedish translation of this work was not published until 1911.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2346
Reference SourcesTribe, Keith (ed.) A critical bibliography of Adam Smith (London, 2002)
Acquired on30/10/04
AuthorNamba, Toshio
TitleBibliography of Robert Burns in Japan
Date of Publication1977
LanguageJapanese
NotesThe donor's father, Mr. Robert McLaren, was a president of the Robert Burns Federation, and his work brought him into contact with Professor Toshio Namba. Namba, a professor of English Literature, was deeply interested in Burns, and translated many of the poems into Japanese. This bibliography, with additional translations, is an important addition to our collections. It contains a manuscript dedication to Mr. McLaren, and is in fine condition in its original cardboard slipcase. With this donation we have received a copy of another book of relevance to Scottish-Japanese studies. Album England (1979), despite its title, consists of photographs of Scottish scenes with Japanese accompanying text. It also has a manuscript dedication from Namba. We have also been given a number of photographs including some of Mr. Namba and others of scenes in Tokyo. The notes on these photographs show that a warm friendship had developed between the Japanese researcher and the McLarens.
ShelfmarkHP2.205.0101
Acquired on29/10/04
AuthorBeatson, Alexander
TitleLetter from Col. Alexander Beatson - containing remarks upon a paper lately printed; entitled "Observations relative to the island of St. Helena".
ImprintSt. Helena: Printed for Solomon and Company, by Coupland and Hill
Date of Publication[1812]
LanguageEnglish
NotesA very rare imprint from the first commercial press to be established on the island of St. Helena, which was shortly to become famous as the last home of Napoleon Bonaparte. Alexander Beatson (1759-1830) was a Dundonian who had served as an army officer in the East India Company, writing a famous account of the war against Tippoo Sultaun which was published in 1800. After returning to live in England, Beatson was appointed to the governorship of St. Helena, a post he held from 1808-13. The island, which belonged to the East India Company, was in a very poor state. The population had nearly been wiped out by a measles epidemic and the c. 3000 survivors, a mixture of English settlers, Africans and Chinese coolies, were living in wretched conditions. Beatson set about improving the island, publishing this pamphlet to correct the many errors he found in a tract by his predecessor Colonel Robert Patton. In it he gives a history of the island, of its mismanagement, his justification for his improvements, and alludes to recent difficulties, namely a garrison mutiny in 1811 which was largely brought about by the British authorities suppressing the islanders trade in arrack, a potent spirit made from palm trees. Amongst the improvements carried out by Beatson was the introduction of a printing press, which, as can be seen of this pamphlet was rudimentary, but which enabled him to publish 4 tracts during his time as governor and to contribute to a local periodical, the "St. Helena Monthly Register". In recognition of his achievements on the island, Beatson was promoted to the post major-general in 1813, he returned back to England a few months later.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2345
Reference SourcesDNB
Acquired on12/10/04
AuthorBeatson, Alexander
TitleOn the importance of introducing agriculture in the island of St. Helena
ImprintSt. Helena: Printed by Hill and Brimmer
Date of Publication[1812]
LanguageEnglish
NotesA very rare imprint from the first commercial press to be established on the island of St. Helena, which was shortly to become famous as the last home of Napoleon Bonaparte. Alexander Beatson (1759-1830) was a Dundonian who had served as an army officer in the East India Company, writing a famous account of the war against Tippoo Sultaun which was published in 1800. After returning to live in England, Beatson was appointed to the governorship of St. Helena, a post he held from 1808-13. The island, which belonged to the East India Company, was in a very poor state. The population had nearly been wiped out by a measles epidemic and the c. 3000 survivors, a mixture of English settlers, Africans and Chinese coolies, were living in wretched conditions. Beatson set about improving the island, recognising that agriculture needed to improve not only the lot of the inhabitants but also to benefit British ships which depended on the island for fresh water and provisions when making the long voyage back from the East Indies. Agriculture was of particular interest to Beatson himself; before arriving in St Helena he had purchased 4 farms in Sussex. On his return to England he published his "Tracts relative to the island of St. Helena" which have later been descibed as major contribution to the beginnings of global environmentalism, and he continued to pursue his work in experimental agriculture on his Sussex farms right up to his death in 1830. Amongst the improvements carried out by Beatson was the introduction of a printing press, which, as can be seen with this pamphlet, was rudimentary, but which enabled him to publish 4 tracts during his time as governor and to contribute to a local periodical, the "St. Helena Monthly Register". In recognition of his achievements on the island, Beatson was promoted to the post major-general in 1813; he returned back to England a few months later.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2347
Reference SourcesDNB
Acquired on12/10/04
AuthorRigaud, John Francis
TitleExecution de Marie Stuart, reine d' Ecosse, en sept estampes
Imprint[London?: s.n.]
Date of Publication[1791?]
LanguageFrench
NotesA set of 7 engraved plates, printed in brown, depicting in highly melodramatic fashion episodes in the life of Mary, Queen of Scots, from her imprisonment and execution in Fotheringhay Castle in 1587 to her burial. The plates are taken from paintings by John Francis Rigaud (1742-1810), born in Italy to French parents, who arrived in London in 1771. Rigaud became a member of the Royal Academy and made a career out of decorative painting in the country houses of the nobility and in producing depictions of classical, literary and historical subjects. The plates were engraved by William Nelson Gardiner (1766-1814) and published by Tebaldo Monzani (1762-1839) an Italian music-seller, publisher and instrument-maker in London; 4 are dated April 20 1790, the other 3 May 1, 1791. The plates appear, printed in black and in a slightly different form, in a Monzani publication entitled "A representation of the execution of Mary Queen of Scots in seven views" (ESTC T167320 & T170736) which included music composed for each view by Willoughby Bertie, Earl of Abingdon. Monzani then appears to have reissued them in this publication, this time with explanatory text in English under each engraving - the same text which appears in letter-press at the beginning of the aforementioned Abingdon book - but also with a four page brochure in French which translates the captions to each engraving. It may be that this publication was intended for export to the continent. It appears to be a very rare item, there is no record of it in ESTC (NB there are also only 5 library locations in total for ESTC T167320 & T170736). The choice of topic was especially relevant when this work was published in view of the fate of the French king, Louis XVI, who had been captured in 1791 by the French government after attempting to escape France and who would be executed in 1793. Moreover, the life and fate of Mary Queen of Scots had become a source of historical debate within late 18th-century Britain, in particular her alleged complicity in the murder of her first husband, Lord Darnley, which appeared to be confirmed by the infamous casket letters written to Lord Bothwell.
ShelfmarkRB.m.520
Reference SourcesDNB, not in ESTC
Acquired on12/10/04
AuthorJong, Dirk de.
TitleNieuwe Beschryving der Walvischvanst en haringvisschery.
ImprintAmsterdam: Gert Jan Bestebreurtje
Date of Publication1791
LanguageDutch
NotesThis 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.
ShelfmarkGB/A.3813
Acquired on30/09/04
TitleMemento mori
ImprintEdinburgh: Alexander Alison
Date of Publication[1738]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an interesting piece of printed ephemera from mid-18th century Edinburgh. In Britain printed funeral invitations - called burial letters - are known from at least the late seventeenth century. Many, like this, exhort the reader to 'Memento mori' - remember that you must die. Usually printers would produce ready-printed non-specific invitations on which the name of the deceased and the time and place of the funeral would be entered by hand. Mr. Simson must have reasonably well-off to have been able to afford to have his invitations fully printed . These invitations were usually hand-delivered by servants or people specially employed for the task. In large burghs delivering such letters became a recognized occupation. Woodcut invitations such as this tended to use stock narrative or allegorical compositions. The images - the grim reaper, the skull and crossbones, the cortege - relate not only to the death of the person in question but also as reminder of one's own mortality. Little is known of David Simson apart from the fact that he was employed in the legal profession. The Library holds another example of such woodcut imagery (without letterpress but in manuscript) at APS.el.150.
ShelfmarkAPS.2.205.005
Reference SourcesLlewellyn, Nigel, The art of death. (London, V&A, 1991) GME.1/20 Hatches, matches and despatches: catalogue of exhibition held at General Register House 1996-97. GRP.1999.2.4 Gordon, Anne. Death is for the living. (Edinburgh, 1984) H4.84.2025
Acquired on06/09/04
AuthorPlato
TitleOeuvres de Platon
ImprintParis: Rey
Date of Publication1823-1846
LanguageFrench
NotesThis mixed edition of the standard French translation of Plato by Victor Cousin (1792-1867) belonged to Arthur James Balfour (1848-1930), statesman and one-time Prime Minister (1902-1905). It adds to the Library's holdings of books with prime ministerial provenance. Balfour was the eldest son of James Maitland Balfour of Whittingehame, East Lothian and of Lady Blanche Gascoyne Cecil. This set has 'A.J. Balfour Whittinghame 1871' tooled in gilt on the front cover along the joint. They have no other marks of ownership and there is no indication whether he read these volumes. However had he not been a politician it is likely he would have been an academic of some description - he had a glittering career in Eton and Cambridge and wrote a number of books on philosophy: "Defense of philosophical doubt" published in 1879 at age 31, "Foundations of belief" (1895) and "Theism and humanism" (1914). Balfour began his career as an MP in 1874 when he was elected to the Hertford constituency. He spent the rest of his active life in the House of Commons. He established a reputation for himself as Chief Secretary for Ireland in the 1880s quelling the Land War with his coercion policy. He served as Foreign Secretary under Lloyd George during World War I and also served under Stanley Baldwin in 1925.
ShelfmarkAB.2.204.23
Reference SourcesDNB
Acquired on01/09/04
AuthorDouglas, Gavin
TitleThe palis of honour
ImprintLondon: William Copland
Date of Publication[1553]
LanguageMiddle Scots
NotesThis 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.
ShelfmarkRB.m.517
Reference SourcesMainstream companion to Scottish literature; DNB
Acquired on25/08/04
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