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 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Important Acquisitions 451 to 465 of 835:
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|Author||Edinburgh (Scotland) Town Council|
|Title||Notice. The Magistrates, in consequence of a complaint by the possessors of shops between the North Bridge and the Stamp Office Close ? hereby give notice ... Given at Edinburgh, this 4th day of March 1814 years. |
|Imprint||[Edinburgh] : Alex Smellie|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||This broadside outlines the regulations affecting street sellers and casual vendors in Edinburgh in response to complaints from shopkeepers in Edinburgh's Old Town. The shopkeepers on the High Street in the area between the North Bridge and the Stamp Office Close were concerned that the pavement in front of their shops was being obstructed by "the number of carts, creels, stands, &c. placed there without any authority". The Edinburgh magistrates therefore decreed that "from and after this date, no stands or creels will be allowed to be placed on the street ... No carts bringing in vegetables, or fish of any kind, will be permitted to remain there after eight o'clock in the morning ... Nor will those exposing gingerbread for sale be allowed to stand on that part of the pavement between the South Bridge and the head of Niddry Street". The broadside warns those flouting these regulations that they would have their goods seized by police officers. Despite this attempt to gentrify part of the High Street, street vendors would continue to be a major presence in Edinburgh's Old Town throughout the 19th century and early 20th century. Gingerbread was a popular street food, particularly at Halloween and during the winter months. William Tennant's mock-heroic poem "Anster fair", first published in 1812, which describes the annual fair held in Anstruther in Fife in 16th-century Scotland, mentions the "market-maids, and apron'd wives that bring their gingerbread in baskets to the fair". |
|Title||Hoyle's game of whist.|
|Imprint||Dundee: Printed for Ostell, London [et al.]|
|Date of Publication||1806|
|Notes||Edmond Hoyle (1679-1769) was the first English writer on the rules and strategy of popular games. He is best known for his works on card games, but he also published works on subjects such as backgammon and chess, as well as a book about probability. In 1742 his "A Short Treatise on the Game of Whist" came out, a book which became the definitive book on whist until the second half of the 19th century. Hoyle's work was reprinted several times in the 18th century, and was often pirated. This miniature version (78 mm high) was printed in Dundee in 1806 by W. Chambers for publishers in London, Edinburgh and Perth. Much of the text is derived from Hoyle's original "A Short Treatise", but with some additions - the title page proclaims it contains all the improvements of modern writers and the best players. Only five copies of this edition have been recorded by Hoyle scholar and collector David Levy in his blog; this copy is in its original blue paper wrappers with "Hoyle" stamped on the front cover. Although slightly above the 3-inch limit for a regulation miniature book, this must be one of the earliest surviving examples of a miniature book printed in Scotland for an adult readership. With its very small type and lack of illustrations it would certainly have been portable but also challenging to use.|
|Reference Sources||David Levy blog:
|Author||Edmund Gibson & David Hume|
|Title||Lettere di Edmund Gibson + Vita di David Hume scritta da lui stesso + Saggio in risposta a Mr. Hume circa i miracoli di Gulielmo Adams.|
|Imprint||Venice: Andrea Santini|
|Date of Publication||1804-1806|
|Notes||This volume contains two further additions to the Library's extensive collection of books relating to David Hume the philosopher and former Keeper of the Advocates Library. These are two Italian translations by the Italian cleric Pietro Antoniutti: David Hume's celebrated short autobiography, first published in English in 1777; and English cleric William Adams's "Essay in answer to Mr. Hume's Essay on miracles", which was his response to Hume's attack on the reasonableness of belief in miracles. Both works are bound in with another Italian translation of another English-language work: Edmund Gibson's "Pastoral letters". Antoniutti had previously translated William Robertson?s "History of Scotland" in 1784 and would go on to translate Hume's "History of England" (1818-1820), as well as around 40 other English-language texts.|
|Reference Sources||Bookseller's notes|
|Title||An humble attempt to promote explicit agreement and visible union of God's people in extraordinary prayer.|
|Imprint||Boston, MA: D. Henchman|
|Date of Publication||1747|
|Notes||This work by Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), the American theologian and philosopher, testifies to the close connections between Scottish and American thought in the eighteenth century, and the textual traffic between the two countries. Edwards, the most important theologian of his day, who would end his life as third President of the College of New Jersey (later Princeton) was concerned with the revival movement known as the 'Great Awakening', and in this book draws on the example of Scottish clergymen who drew up a plan for a 'Concert for Prayer', or prayer meetings arranged internationally to take place at scheduled times. In doing so, he reprints in full the text of a 'Memorial publish'd by a number of Ministers in Scotland', which was only circulated in manuscript in Scotland at the time, and printed in an American edition of which only one imperfect copy is recorded in ESTC. This book is therefore the most important witness to the 'Concert for Prayer', and is cited as such both by Edwards' Scottish contemporaries (John Gillies: Historical Collections (Glasgow, 1754) and John MacLaurin, Sermons and Essays (Glasgow, 1755)) and by scholars today. The contemporary references testify that Edwards' book had a Scottish circulation in his lifetime, where Edwards was held in great esteem, but this is the only recorded copy in Scotland today. Unusually, it is survives in a contemporary brown paper wrapper, with the inscription 'Madam Johnson's book' on the front cover. |
|Reference Sources||DNB; George M. Marsden: Jonathan Edwards: A Life (New Haven, 2003); Matthew Smith: 'Distinguishing Marks of the Spirit of God: Eighteenth-Century Revivals in Scotland and New England'(www.star.ac.uk/Archive/Papers/Smith_C18.Revivals.pdf)|
|Title||St. Clair, der Eilaender oder die Geachteten von Barra|
|Imprint||Magdeburg : Heinrichshofen|
|Date of Publication||1811|
|Notes||This the rare German-language translation of Elizabeth Helme's novel "St. Clair of the Isles; or, The outlaws of Barra" first published in English in 1803. The only other surviving copy of the German edition is recorded in the USA. Little is known of the Elizabeth Helme's life. She was born in the North East of England; she moved to the London area where she married and raised a family and also worked as a schoolmistress at a school at Brentford. To supplement her income, from the 1780s onward she wrote ten novels and translated works from French and German, as well writing didactic works for the young. She died either in 1810 or c. 1814. ""St. Clair of the Isles" is set in medieval Scotland and concerns the young outlaw St. Clair Monteith, a Robin Hood-like figure who lives on a fortress on the isle of Barra in the Outer Hebrides. The novel was later turned into a play in 1838 by the equally obscure dramatist Elizabeth Polack. |
|Reference Sources||http://extra.shu.ac.uk/corvey/corinne/1Helme/BioHelme.html; http://orlando.cambridge.org/public/svPeople?person_id=helmel|
|Author||Elton, Lady (Mary Stewart)|
|Title||Four panoramic views of the city of Edinburgh, taken from the Calton Hill, by Lady Elton|
|Date of Publication||1823|
|Notes||This fine and uncommon set of four lithographs provide a sweeping 360° panoramic view of Edinburgh and the surrounding areas from Calton Hill. Edinburgh was the birthplace of the panorama ? indeed the first panorama ever produced was taken also from Calton Hill, by Robert Barker in 1787, thus setting in train a fashion for this type of topographical painting. In 1822, the artist, Mary Stewart, had produced a set of four views of the city from Blackford Hill. She was the daughter of Sir William Stewart, of Castle Stewart, Wigtownshire, and she married Sir Abraham Elton of Clevedon, Somerset in 1822.
The views were drawn on stone by William Westall the skilled topographical illustrator and printed in London by Charles Hullmandel, one of the foremost lithographic printers. Lithography was very much in its infancy in Scotland, the first examples using this method not being printed until 1821.
In two of the views can be seen tented encampments of troops, assembled to honour the royal visit of King George IV to the city in August 1822. The panoramas also provide detailed evidence of the development of the city in the early 19th century.|
|Title||Epitome colloquiorum Erasmii Roterodami|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Joannes Reid|
|Date of Publication||1696|
|Notes||This is an extremely rare and hitherto unrecorded printing of Erasmus's Colloquia by the Edinburgh publisher John Reid. No copies have been traced in ESTC, OCLC or the British Library and it is not recorded in Aldis.
It is an abridged version of one of the Dutch humanist's (1466-1636) most popular works and was first published in a collected form in Basle in 1518 as 'Familiarium colloquiorum formulae'. The Catholic Encyclopedia describes the colloquies as 'a kind of textbook for the study of the Latin language, and introduction to the purely natural formal training of the mind, and a typical example of the frivolous Renaissance spirit. The defects of ecclesiastical and monastic life are in this work held up to pitiless scorn; moreover, he descends only too often to indecent and cynical descriptions.' Even Luther condemned Erasmus for scattering 'poison' and declared that if he died he would forbid his children to read the work.
Another edition of this work was printed in Edinburgh in 1691 by Societatis Bibliopolarum and the John Reid's printing of this edition a few years later indicates that there was some appetite for Erasmus's writings in Scotland at the time. Reid was active in Edinburgh from 1680 until 1712. Early in his printing career Reid had been imprisoned for not serving his full apprenticeship. He had also incurred the wrath of another printer for stealing type.
This copy is lacking some text on the final leaf and it is clear that is was well used. It is signed by one 'William Horsburgh' in 1754.|
|Reference Sources||SBTI; Catholic Encyclopedia online|
|Title||[3 Dutch translations: De kabinetten der Evangelische beloften; De zwangere belofte in hare vrucht; Blidje boodschap in zware tijden|
|Date of Publication||Various|
|Notes||These three translations into Dutch of the writings of Ralph Erskine (sermons and expositions of pieces of scripture)
demonstrate the popularity of his work in Holland well into the 20th century. They may also demonstrate the closeness in doctrinal terms between the modern Dutch Protestant Church and the 18th century Scottish Secession Church.
Erskine (1685-1752) was one of the key figures in the Secession Church. This church was formed in 1733 when a number of ministers led by Ebenezer Erskine (Ralph's brother) broke away from the Church of Scotland when the General Assembly decreed that elders and heritors only should elect ministers. Ralph Erskine did not join until 1737. In 1744 the Secession Church itself split over the Burgess Oath - the Erskines aligning themselves to the Burgher faction in opposition to the conservative anti-Burghers.
Ralph Erskine was born in Northumberland and educated at Edinburgh University. He spent most of his ministry in Dunfermline, where he was regarded as an excellent preacher. He was proficient on the violin and wrote a number of hymns.|
|Title||Silva: or a discourse of forest-trees.|
|Imprint||York: A. Ward for J. Dodsley|
|Date of Publication||1776|
|Notes||This is a magnificent binding of a York printing of the 17th-century English scholar John Evelyn's "Silva". The binding has been done by James Scott of Edinburgh, generally acknowledged as the finest bookbinder in Scotland in the 18th-century and indeed one of the finest in Britain at this time. Both volumes are bound in brown tree calf with gilt column style tools and musical trophy on the boards and Minerva ornament on the spines. Vol. 1 contains Scott's binder's label on the title page. The book has a distinguished provenance, as identified in J.S. Loudon's bibliography of Scott's work (JS 62). There is an inscription "Lauderdale" on the title page of vol. 1, which indicates that the book formerly belonged to James Maitland, 7th Earl of Lauderdale (1718-1789) and was presumably bound for him. It was sold by the 15th Earl at Sotheby's in 1950 and bought by the famous book collector Major John Roland Abbey (1894-1969) and has his bookplate on the front pastedowns. It was sold again at Sotheby's in 1967 and was acquired by NLS when the library of the 17th Earl of Perth was sold at auction in 2012.|
|Reference Sources||J.S. Loudon, James Scott and William Scott, bookbinders, 1980.|
|Author||Fabre, Jean Raymond Auguste|
|Title||La Caledonie, ou, La guerre nationale.|
|Date of Publication||1823|
|Notes||This is an epic poem by French poet and journalist Jean-Raymond-Auguste Fabre (1792-1839), written, in 12 books, in the style of Homer and Virgil and with some Ossianic flavour. Fabre worked as editor of the periodical "La semaine" and "La tribune" in the 1820s and was an ardent republican who drew inspiration from peoples' struggles against monarchy and tyranny. "Caledonie" is loosely based on ancient legends and on the text of Roman author Tacitus' work "Agricola" which covers the conquest of Great Britain, including the invasion of the northern part of the island, later to become Scotland. The poem depicts brave Caledonian warriors, with suitably Ossianic names, Olgar, Olnir, Fergus etc. fighting against the Roman invaders. Fabre also wrote a poem in a similar vein based on contemporary events, namely the siege of Missolonghi in 1825-26, during the Greek war of independence from the Ottoman empire.
This copy is bound in contemporary polished calf in gilt and blind by the firm of Bradel of Paris with their label, and has the gilt initials 'P.B.' on the covers. It was subsequently owned by two famous book collectors who added their book labels to the front pastedown. The first of these is Mortimer Loeb Schiff's red morocco gilt book label. Schiff (1877?1931), sometimes known as Mortimer Leo Schiff, was an American banker who assembled an important collection of decorative bindings, illustrated books and signed bindings. The book was sold at auction by Sotheby's on 5 July 1938 (lot 784) and purchased by the English bibliophile Major J.R. Abbey. He in turn added his own green morocco gilt book label. The book was sold again by Sotheby's in 1967 (June 20th, lot 1846).
|Reference Sources||Seymour de Ricci, British and miscellaneous signed bindings in the Mortimer L. Schiff collection, New York, 1935, vol. II, 152|
|Title||Cynthio to Leonora: the last poem of William Falconer|
|Imprint||London : R T. Harvey and Co.|
|Date of Publication||1825|
|Notes||William Falconer, born in Edinburgh in 1732, was both a sailor and poet. As a young man he joined a merchant vessel at Leith where he served his apprenticeship. Afterwards, he was servant to Archibald Campbell (1726?-1780) who was then purser on a man-of-war. Campbell was the author of Lexiphanes: A Dialogue Imitated from Lucian (1774), and it was he who discovered and encouraged Falconer's literary tastes. In 1751 Falconer published a poem on the death of Frederick, Prince of Wales and contributed a few poems to the 'Gentleman's Magazine.' In 1762 he published his chief poem, the 'Shipwreck,' which was partly based upon his own earlier experience of being one of only three survivors of a shipwreck on a voyage from Alexandria to Venice.
Although the preface to Cynthio to Leonora states that "the circumstances under which the following poem came into our possession, sufficiently evidence of its being the production of the author of the 'Shipwreck'", the attribution is, in fact, false. Cynthio to Leonora was first published in the Gentleman's Magazine for June and July 1738 (vol. viii, pp. 319, 370-1) and dated 1736. At that date Falconer would have been only 4 years old.
Reasons for a publisher in 1825 reviving a poem written nearly a century earlier may have to do with Falconer's enormous popularity in the first decades of the 19th century. By 1820 there were at least 46 different editions and impressions of 'The Shipwreck' and his works had been praised by Bryon and referred to by Coleridge in Sibylline Leaves. The temptation to publish a hitherto 'unpublished' Falconer poem was clearly too good an opportunity to pass up.
The pamphlet is nevertheless extremely rare and may be only extant copy: no bibliographic records have been found for it in NSTC, NUC, OCLC, RLIN, the Library of Congress, British Library, or the libraries at Harvard and Yale. It is bound together with four other titles: Man and the Animals by Mrs. Gordon; The Highlanders and Other Poems by Mrs. Grant, and Human Life, a Poem by Samuel Rogers.
Shipwreck, A Poem: with the life of the author / by J. S. Clarke. London, 1811.|
|Title||A plain and earnest address to Britons, especially farmers.|
|Imprint||Alnwick: J. Catnach|
|Date of Publication||1793|
|Notes||This anonymous pamphlet was printed in the Northumbrian town of Alnwick by the Scottish printer, John Catnach (1769-1813), who was born in Burntisland, Fife, in 1769. Having served an apprenticeship as a printer in Edinburgh, he started in business in Berwick-upon-Tweed in the late 1780s, moving to Alnwick in 1790. Catnach moved to Newcastle in 1808, where he eventually ended up in the debtors prison. He moved again, this time to London, in 1812, where he and his family lived in poverty until his death the following year. His son James later became famous for the street literature publications produced on his press at Seven Dials. "A plain and earnest address" was a rallying call to the yeoman farmers of Britain to stand firm against the political tumult unleashed by the French Revolution and Thomas Paine's "Rights of man". The "Farmer" uses extracts from Arthur Young's "Annals of agriculture" to paint a bleak picture if Britain was to embrace French revolutionary ideals. The text was printed at a number of provincial presses in England in 1792 and 1793, including places such as Newark, Ipswich and Tamworth. This Alnwick printing is not recorded in ESTC. |
|Reference Sources||Bookseller's notes.|
|Title||Works of Anacreon|
|Date of Publication||1760|
|Notes||The importance of James Scott in the history of Scottish bookbinding is very great, and through J.H.Loudon's book on Scott the National Library of Scotland is widely recognised as having the pre-eminent collection of Scott bindings. This addition to the collection is notable for the gilt roll-tool border to the covers, with a crisp and attractive floral design, which seems to be wholly unrecorded. The spine is heavily tooled with gilt compartments separated by bars and enclosing a design which is almost identical to that produced by the tool recorded by Loudon as pallet Ro2.7 (here, the diamond has a dotted outline, as in pallet Ro2.14). There is also a red morocco spine label and marbled endpapers. Although there is no binder's label, it seems overwhelmingly likely that this is a new Scott binding. The text, of which we already have a copy, is in good condition, with a manuscript note 'The gift of Doctor Brody 1776'. Most of Scott's binding seems to have been carried out in the 1770s, and it seems unlikely that he bound the book in the year it was printed, 1760. Presumably the generous Dr. Brody had the gift specially bound in 1776.|
|Reference Sources||J.H.Loudon, James Scott and William Scott, Bookbinders, 1980.|
|Title||Institutes of moral philosophy|
|Imprint||Basle: Printed and sold by James Decker|
|Date of Publication||1800|
|Notes||This is a new edition, reprinted in enlarged form, of Ferguson's Institutes which was first published in Edinburgh in 1769, when the author was Professor of Moral Philsophy at Edinburgh University. In 1766 Ferguson had published a syllabus of his lectures, Analysis of pneumatics and moral philosophy for the use of students in the College of Edinburgh. He expanded on these in the Institutes, which is essentially an overview of his philosophical and political beliefs. The final part of the book which is entitled 'Of politics', deals with political economy and political law.
The Institutes was popular not only with Ferguson's students and the Edinburgh intelligentsia, but was, as this Basle imprint shows, much in demand abroad. It was translated into German in 1772, where the translator's Appendix was known by heart by Schiller and subsequently a Russian translation was used as a textbook in Russian universities. An edition was apparently published in Basle in 1789, but no copies have been traced. An Italian translation was published in Venice in 1790. Ferguson, who briefly held the position of Keeper of the Advocates Library, in 1757, succeeding David Hume, introduced the method of studying humankind in groups. He is regarded as the father of what is now known as sociology.|
|Title||Ricerche storiche e critiche su le cause dei progressi e del decadimento della repubblica Romana. [History of the progress and termination of the Roman Republic]|
|Imprint||Venice: presso Antonio Zatta e figli|
|Date of Publication||1793-94|
|Notes||This is the first Italian translation of Adam Ferguson's 'History of the progress and termination of the Roman Republic', first published as a 3-volume work in English in 1783. No copies of this 8-volume translation are recorded in major UK libraries. Ferguson's history of the Roman republic proved to be one of his most popular works, receiving critical acclaim in his native Scotland and from the historian Edward Gibbon, who had written the definitive work on Roman history 'The history of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire'. A French translation of Ferguson's work had already appeared in Paris, in 1784-91, and a German translation in Leipzig in 1784-86, by the time this Italian translation (by an unknown translator) appeared. Unlike the French and German editions, the Italian edition does not include the maps which appeared in the first English edition. This particular copy is still in the original publisher's paper wrappers with an attractive floral design.
|Reference Sources||Bookseller's notes; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography|