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 753 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 451 to 465 of 753:
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|Title||To the Right Hon. Charles Townsend|
|Date of Publication||1794|
|Notes||These single-sheet items record the unusual paranoia afflicting a man who describes himself as a journeyman weaver. John Grant believed that he was being chased and tormented by none other than the philosopher David Hume, and wrote to these various public figures to seek their assistance. Both these letters speak of enclosing other papers, which are probably no longer extant.
The last item is dated 'Glasgow, Nov. 12. 1794.' and is addressed to the aristocrat and Whig politician Charles Townsend in London. Once again Grant appeals for assistance against Hume, who has made him 'liable to a confirmed Head-ack with Vitriol'. Bitterly, Grant remonstrates that 'it is amazing that my complaints were over-looked in Scotland, where Christianity and Philosophy are protested.' Grant explains that he has printed the letter to Townsend with the intention of sending copies to the magistrates in Edinburgh and Glasgow. It would be pleasant to think that these items are a joke, but it seems more likely that they do indeed represent the work of an articulate but thoroughly disturbed man.
Neither printed item is recorded in ESTC.|
|Author||Grant, John Peter [ed].|
|Title||Book of the Banff Golf Club bazaar.|
|Imprint||[Banff]: Banffshire Journal Office,|
|Date of Publication||1895|
|Notes||This is a rare item of late 19th-century 'golfiana'. It consists of poems, songs and short stories by memebers of the Club, as well as portraits of local worthies. The publication was produced to coincide with a bazaar to raise funds for a new clubhouse and improvements to the course. The Banff Golf Club was founded in 1871, the members playing on a course on Banff links, although golf had of course been played in the area for centuries. The Club continued until 1924 when it amalgamated with another Banff club, the Duff House Club to become the Duff House Royal Golf Club. This particular copy has the bookplate of noted golf book collector Joseph Bridger Hackler.|
|Title||Spiritual warfare; or some sermons concerning the nature of mortification, together with the right spiritual exercise and spiritual advantages thereof|
|Imprint||Boston: ub N.E. Re-printed by S. Kneeland, for Benj. Eliot, at his shop in King-Street.|
|Date of Publication||1720|
|Notes||This is the first and only American edition of Gray's work, which was first published in Edinburgh in 1670. Gray was a Scottish divine who became extraordinarily popular as a preacher before his sudden death in 1656, at the astonishing age of 22. His writings were all published posthumously.
The present collection of sermons, with a short preface by Thomas Manton, was frequently reprinted throughout the 18th century. This Boston edition is uncommon with the ESTC listing only seven extant copies. The work is in a well-preserved Boston binding of the period.|
|Reference Sources||Booksellers catalogue|
|Title||The spiritual warfare|
|Imprint||Glasgow: Printed by Robert Sanders|
|Date of Publication||1688|
|Notes||A lost Scottish book has turned up and can now be added to the national collections. Andrew Gray (1633-1656) was a Church of Scotland minister whose sermons were frequently printed well into the 18th century. The first edition was printed in Edinburgh in 1670; the earliest Glasgow edition known previously was also printed by Robert Sanders, in 1715. "Mortification", seen here primarily as the Christian's struggle against lust, is the main theme of Gray's sermons.
Despite a rather poor 19th-century binding, this is a good and complete copy of what may be the only surviving example of this edition.
This work is not recorded in Donald Wing's 'Short-title catalogue 1641-1700', nor in the English Short-Title Catalogue (ESTC). Donald Wing listed it in his 'Gallery of Ghosts' (1967) as G1620A. It was recorded in Aldis, 'List of books printed in Scotland before 1700' as Aldis 2762, but without any known holdings. Until now, the only evidence for this work's existence was in John McUre's 'History of Glasgow' (Glasgow, 1830), p. 369, which includes this edition in a list of books printed in Glasgow up to 1740. Hopefully there are other 'ghosts' in Aldis which will, like this book, appear in the light of day again.
|Reference Sources||Aldis 2762;
Wing, 'Gallery of Ghosts', G1620A|
|Title||The experienced millwright; or, A treatise on the construction of some of the most useful machines, with the latest improvements. [2nd edition]
|Imprint||Edinburgh : Printed by D. Willison for Archibald Constable & Co. |
|Date of Publication||1806|
|Notes||Andrew Gray's 'The experienced millwright' presents the most accurate first-hand account of the state of traditional British millwrighting in the second half of the 18th century.
The first three chapters consist of a general treatise on mechanics. The following chapters cover practical directions for the construction of machinery, the mathematics necessary for calculating the strength of machines, and detailed plans for the construction of various kinds of water mills. The text is supplemented by a series of forty-four fine engravings showing the layouts of various types of water-, wind- and animal-powered machinery. The designs and descriptions are mostly of mills and machines which Gray either designed or supervised in actual construction in central-eastern Scotland. As stated in the preface: "the machines of which he has been careful to give accurate drawings and concise explanations are to be considered, not as plans founded on the speculative principles of mechanics ... but as cases of practical knowledge, the effects of which have been fairly tried and long approved".
Little is known of Gray, described in his book's preface as "a practical mechanic" who 'has been for at least forty years employed in erecting different kinds of machinery". The text indicates that he is very familiar with the work of the leading civil engineer of the age, John Smeaton (1724-92), and especially Smeaton's seminal paper on the natural powers of water and wind to turn mills and other machines.
The second edition of Gray's book corrects 14 textual errors found in the original edition of 1804. The front pastedown of this copy also includes a large printed advertisement for the prospective publication of Gray's 'The plough-wright's assistant' which was eventually published in 1808.
|Title||Gray's annual directory and Edinburgh almanac|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: [printed by Andrew Shortrede for] John Gray|
|Date of Publication||1836|
|Notes||Directories are a very important resource for anyone wanting to track down a particular person known to have lived in a town at a certain time. This volume consists of an almanac, with information for the year ahead such as tide times, followed by a street directory and a list of Edinburgh inhabitants in alphabetical order, with addresses. The map is unfortunately missing, but it is still easy to use this directory to find out where someone lived in 1836. Various curious advertisements follow the main text, including one for 'Improvements in hats' ('It must be obvious to every one that a hard heavy hat is not only disagreeable to the head, but that it also prevents the free egress of the heated air arising therefrom, thus keeping the head in a perpetual stew, and causing headache, loss or injury to the hair, &c.') The directory was clearly aimed at professionals and tradespeople.
This particular copy is signed on the title-page by 'John Murray Jun.' and dated 1847. This is presumably John Murray III, the famous publisher.|
|Title||The essential principles of the wealth of nations.|
|Imprint||London: T. Cadell|
|Date of Publication||1797|
|Notes||This is one of the earliest critiques of Adam Smith's seminal economic text 'An inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations' (1776). Gray criticises Smith's work on a number of counts: he accuses Smith of misinterpreting the French economists' viewpoint on labour and productivity. Gray maintained that the French had in fact recognised that not all the so-called unproductive classes were barren to the same degree. Gray also argued that Smith was wrong to state that the manufacturing industry alone was responsible for contributing to Britain's real national wealth, saying that agriculture was the only true source of wealth. There is some Scottish content in the form of the appendix, which consists of a general plan of a lease by Henry Home, Lord Kaimes, "with remarks upon it by Dr. Anderson in his agricultural report for the county of Aberdeen". Coincidentally, Kaimes was Smith's literary patron. Very little is known about John Gray to whom this work, published anonymously in 1797, is attributed. He may have lived from 1724-1811 - obituary notices in contemporary periodicals merely state that he died in May 1811 in his 88th year and that he had been one of the Commissioners of the Lottery. John Gray may have been assistant private secretary to the Duke of Northumberland in Ireland in 1763 and 1764 and 'An essay concerning the establishment of a national bank in Ireland' (1774) may have been written by him. The Library of Congress catalogue attributes to Gray 'The right of the British legislature to tax the American colonies' (1775). However, Palgrave's 'Dictionary of economics' attributes 'The essential principles' to Simon Gray (fl.1795-1840).|
|Reference Sources||The New Palgrave: a dictionary of economics, vol.II, 1987.
Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, vol.46, 1952, p.275-6.|
|Author||Great Britain. Record Commission|
|Title||Record Commission. Scotland. Correspondence of C.P. Cooper, Esq. Secretary to the Board, with Thomas Thomson, Esq. deputy clerk register [etc] + 2 other items|
|Imprint||London : [Record Commission], |
|Date of Publication||1835|
|Notes||This particular volume contains three works relating to Thomas Thomson (1768-1852), record scholar and advocate, who, as the first deputy clerk register of Scotland, played an important role in making available early Scottish legal and parliamentary records to scholars in the early 19th century. They appear to have been specially printed for the Record Commission based in London (the Record Commission is the collective name given to a series of six Royal Commissions on the Public Records appointed between 1800 and 1831, the last one lapsing in 1837) and can be regarded as marking the start of an investigation into Thomson's financial mismanagement of Commission money with regard to the various publications he was supervising and his payment of staff working under him. Thomson had been appointed to his post at General Register House in 1806 and his achievements there were overall very impressive, but by the 1830s his rather dubious accounting procedures and tendency to get bogged down in an increasing number of editorial projects had begun to have repercussions. The first part of the first item in this volume, "Correspondence of C.P. Cooper [etc]", reproduces letters written by Thomson and Charles Purton Cooper (1793-1873), the secretary of the Record Commission, concerning the long-delayed publication of vol. 1 of "Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland". A version of volume one had been printed as early as 1800, edited by the antiquary William Robertson; but in 1804 Thomson had argued successfully that this version should not be published as it was flawed and in need of updating and expanding. As deputy clerk register of Scotland Thomson presided over the publications of vols 2-11 of the "Acts" between 1814 and 1824, but continually delayed publication of the revised version of vol. 1, covering the earliest Scottish parliaments, due his tendency to procrastinate and his obsessive desire to produce a superior version to the suppressed 1800 edition. The printed correspondence here records Cooper's exasperation at the delays and his "mortification and vexation" caused by Thomson's "long and unaccountable silence". As well as documenting Cooper's annoyance with Thomson, the second part of this first item also puts Thomson's lax financial arrangements in the spotlight by printing letters and a memorial by the Scottish antiquary Robert Pitcairn (1793-1855). In addition to claiming public money for the financial losses he had incurred publishing his 1833 work "Criminal trials in Scotland & 1488 to 1624" - a work that he had undertaken at the suggestion of Thomson - Pitcairn was also complaining that Thomson had asked him to prepare an abridgement of the register of the great seal of Scotland, while leading Pitcairn to understand that the Record Commission would pay his salary. When, after many years of research, the salary was not forthcoming, Pitcairn stated his grievances in his "Memorial" to the Commission, reproduced here; he also went to London in person in 1835 to complain about Thomson's mismanagement of the project and state his case. As an appendix to the Cooper correspondence and the Pitcairn memorial, Thomson's quarterly reports to the Record Commission for the years 1822 to 1831 are printed here. The other two items in the volume are further reports from Pitcairn to Cooper, dated February 1835 and April 1835 respectively, concerning his unpaid work on the abridgement of the register of the great seal of Scotland. Pitcairn's revelations of irregular payments to staff eventually led to a Treasury inquiry in 1839 into the financial maladministration of the Register House. In 1840 the inquiry concluded that £8570 was owing to the crown, but Thomson avoided prosecution by convincing the government that the money had been applied to record work and not for his private use. He was dismissed from his post of deputy clerk register in 1841, but was allowed to continue to work as clerk of session to the Scottish courts. Thomson, like his predecessor as president of the Bannatyne Club, Sir Walter Scott, was determined to pay off all his debts. Most of his salary as clerk of session subsequently went to pay off his creditors and the sale of his library in 1841 met nearly half of his £7,000 debt to the crown. |
|Reference Sources||Oxford Dictionary of National Biography; Cosmo Innes, "Memoir of Thomas Thomson, advocate" (Edinburgh: Bannatyne Club, 1854).|
|Title||Selim and Zaida. With other poems.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Arch. Constable and Longman & Rees, London|
|Date of Publication||1800|
|Notes||This is the very rare first edition of poems by John Boyd Greenshields (or Greenshiells) published in Edinburgh in 1800. Only two other copies are known - at the Taylorian in Oxford and the University of Kansas. A second edition was published in London in 1802 ([Ai].6.61). It is illustrated with two fine engravings by Isaac Taylor as well as some wood-engraved tailpieces.
The half-title has a presentation inscription from the author to Alexander Fraser Tytler, (1747-1813), Lord Woodhouselee, Professor of History at the University of Edinburgh, who like Greenshields was an advocate. Also bound with this item are William Gifford's 'The Baviad and Maeviad' (1797) and Alexander Thomson's 'Sonnets, odes and elegies' (1801). The volume was part of the library at Aldourie, the home of the Tytler family on the shores of Loch Ness.
Little is known of Greenshields himself. He was born in Drum, Aberdeenshire and became an advocate in 1793. Another of his works 'Home: a poem' was published in Edinburgh and Boston in 1806. He died in 1845.|
|Author||Greensmith Downes & Son|
|Title||The book of Scotch-made underwear|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Greensmith, Downes & Son|
|Date of Publication||1910|
|Notes||This trade catalogue provides us with a lot of very useful information about fashion in the early 20th century. It is attractively illustrated with colour plates and black and white drawings and photographs to accompany the price lists and descriptions of the clothes. At the back of the volume there is a pattern book incorporating over 30 pieces of fabric of the type used by Greensmith Downes & Son in their garments. The shop in George Street, Edinburgh was well known for selling quality (and expensive) clothing and was in business until at least the 1970s. As well as underwear the there are also sections in the catalogue on hunting jackets, waistcoats, elbow warmers, socks and rugs. There is also an extensive introductory section describing the manufacturing process, a discussion of the merits of woollen underwear as well as short pieces on The problem of shrinkage and Sweating: how far is the British public responsible. A couple of pages are also devoted to the Scottish Antarctic Expedition of 1902-04 during which the members of the expedition “all wore complete outfits of ‘Australlama’ which speciality gave the utmost satisfaction, and was acknowledged by them to be infinitely superior to the foreign makers of underwear hitherto tried”.The Library also has a 1926 Greensmith Downes trade catalogue at shelfmark HP1.87.1881.|
|Title||Vergleichung des Zustandes und der Kraefte des Menschen, mit dem Zustande und den Kraeften der Thiere. |
|Imprint||Frankfurt und Leipzig: J. Dodsley, |
|Date of Publication||1768|
|Notes||This is the first German translation of "A comparative view of the state and faculties of man with those of the animal world". The author, John Gregory (1724-1773) was a Scottish physician and writer, best known for his "A Father's Legacy to his Daughters" - a didactic work on the education of girls. "A comparative view" was first published in 1765 and grew out of papers presented to meetings of the 'Wise Club' in Aberdeen, the Aberdeen Philosophical Society, which Gregory had co-founded with his colleague Thomas Reid in 1758. The identity of the translator, mentioned on the title page as "A.M.J.B.St.", is not known.|
|Title||Antitortor Bellarmianus Ioannes Gordonius Scotus pseudodecanus et capellanus Calvinisticus.|
|Imprint||Ingolstadt: Adam Sartorius|
|Date of Publication||1611|
|Notes||In the early 1600s King James VI/I found himself embroiled in a feud with the Italian cardinal Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621), which led to a 'battle of the books', to which this publication belongs. While still in Scotland James had made secret overtures to the king of France and the pope, hinting at better treatment for Catholics and even conversion, in the hope that they would support his claim to the English throne. In 1600 he sent an envoy to Rome with letters for the pope and various cardinals, including Bellarmine, a Jesuit and one of the most important figures in the Catholic Church of the period. Bellarmine subsequently presented James, probably via the French ambassador to Scotland, with an elaborately-bound four-volume set of his defence of the Catholic faith "De controversiis Christianae fidei Bellarmine" (vol. 1 of this set is now in NLS: Bdg.m.89). Bellarmine's hopes for James were to be disappointed. After the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, the English parliament the following year passed an act which could require any citizen to take an oath of allegiance, entailing a denial of the pope's authority over the king. In 1607, when an English archpriest George Blackwell eventually took the oath and wrote a letter to the English Catholic clergy exhorting them to do likewise, the Cardinal wrote a letter to Blackwell deploring his subscription to a heretical oath. James in turn attacked Bellarmine in 1608 in a Latin treatise "Triplici nodo, triplex cuneus", which the scholarly cardinal answered, making fun of the defects of the royal Latin prose. James replied with a second attack in more careful style, "Apologia pro iuramento fidelitatis", in which he posed as the defender of primitive and true Christianity. Bellarmine responded again setting off a war of words between the two men's supporters, including the Scottish dean of Salisbury, John Gordon (1544-1619). Anxious to curry favour with James, Gordon published in 1610 a polemical poem "Antitortobellarminus, siue Refutatio calumniarum, mendaciorum, et imposturarum laico-Cardinalis Bellarmini". The initial word Antitorto... was derived from the name of the Cardinal's chaplain, Matteo Torti, under whose name the Cardinal had earlier written pseudonymously. This book is a response to Gordon by the German Jesuit writer, Jacob Gretser (1562-1625), who alters Gordon's punning title to suit his own ends. Gretser responds in kind to Gordon's Latin abusive verse with some abuse of his own. A book stamp and inscription on the title page shows that this particular copy was formerly held in the Jesuit college of San Hermenegildo in Seville, Spain. It was later part of the collection of the bibliographer and scholar Cosmo Alexander Gordon (1886-1965).|
|Title||Essay on the origin and principles of Gothic architecture|
|Imprint||From the transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh|
|Date of Publication||1797|
|Notes||Sir James Hall (1761-1832) gave this paper to the Royal Society of Edinburgh on 6 April 1797. A geologist and chemist, who was actually President of the Royal Society, Hall argued that the characteristic shapes of Gothic architecture had their roots in the forms of nature. The plates which illustrate this volume show Hall's attempts to demonstrate the evolution of design from simple construction based on the natural forms of wood to the elaboration of Gothic stone arches. Hall went as far as to experiment with building a miniature Gothic church out of pieces of wood, which took root and grew. Such interdisciplinary work, of relevance to the arts and the sciences, is now seen as highly important.
This is an uncommon book (the expanded version of 1813 seems to be more common). Our copy is particularly fine, being a presentation copy inscribed to the Bishop of Durham, and bearing the bishop's bookplate. Bound in tree calf, with the spine gilt with various architectural tools.|
|Reference Sources||ESTC T101922|
|Author||Hall, James, Sir|
|Title||Essay on the origin, history and principles of Gothic architecture|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Printed by Andrew Balfour|
|Date of Publication||1813|
|Notes||This is an unrecorded copy of Hall's privately published influential work on Gothic architecture. An edition (with 150 p. as opposed to 74 p. in this edition) was also published in London by John Murray in the same year. The etched frontispiece is signed 'W. & D. Lizars Edinr.' and shows a miniature Gothic cathedral built by Hall in wattle-work.
The first exposition of his theory - that the origins of Gothic architecture can be traced to simple wattle buildings - was published as a 27 p. paper with 6 plates read before the Royal Society of Edinburgh (of which he was also President) in 1797.
Hall was born in Dunglass, East Lothian in 1761. He studied as geologist for many years on the continent and submitted papers to the Royal Society of Edinburgh on the subject. Between 1807 and 1812 he was an MP for a borough in Cornwall.|
|Title||A treatise of midwifery. 2nd edition.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Charles Elliot|
|Date of Publication||1785|
|Notes||Alexander Hamilton (1739-1802) from Fordoun, Kincardineshire, spent his working life in Edinburgh, becoming deacon of the College of Surgeons and a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians. In 1772 he was elected physician to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, becoming a renowned practitioner of midwifery and a lecturer on the subject. He was eventually appointed professor of midwifery in the University of Edinburgh, but his progressive views on the study of medicine occasionally brought him into conflict with the more conservative members of the Edinburgh medical establishment. His son James followed in his footsteps as professor of midwifery at Edinburgh University. Hamilton wrote a number of treatises on the theory and practice of midwifery, and on the treatment of the diseases of women and infants. This is an unrecorded variant second edition of his second work on midwifery, which is bibliographically complete but which lacks the brief preface usually found in extant copies of this edition. Of particular interest is the final section which lists various medicines, drinks and foods which can be prepared for "lying-in women".|