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 752 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 752:
Ordered by title |
Order by author
| Order by date
|Title||Observations on the culture of the tobacco-plant... adapted to the climate of the west of Scotland. |
|Imprint||Glasgow: Printed by Robert Chapman and Alexander Duncan|
|Date of Publication||1782|
|Notes||During the 18th century, Glasgow was a centre for trade between Scotland and North America. This pamphlet, printed just after the American Revolution, shows that Scots were keen to learn from America. The anonymous writer suggests that if the right location can be found, it should be possible to grow tobacco in Scotland as successfully as in Virginia. The book discusses growing the plants, harvesting the crop and curing the tobacco. It suggests that for extra flavour, you should sprinkle the tobacco 'with a little white wine or cider'. There is a long tradition of literature about smoking and tobacco; one of the earliest contributions was by a Scot: King James VI's Counterblaste to Tobacco (1604).
This is a good copy of a very rare book; it is not listed in the English Short-Title Catalogue (ESTC), and only one other copy in the UK is recorded, in Glasgow University Library.
|Title||Ode sur la rebellion de MDCCXLV en Ecosse|
|Imprint||Amsterdam: Jean Joubert|
|Date of Publication||1746|
|Notes||The NLS's collections of material relating to the Jacobite uprising of 1745-46 have been enhanced by the acquisition of this very rare poem by Matthew Maty (1718-1776). The Maty family were Huguenot refugees who moved first to Holland, where Matthew was born, then, in 1740, to London. Matthew Maty practised medicine there but also contributed to various British literary publications. This short French-language poem, printed in his native Netherlands, is uncompromising in its anti-Catholic, anti-Jacobite stance. Maty describes Prince Charles as a tyrant seduced by pride "un Tiran, que l' orgueil seduit" and praises the Duke of Cumberland for 'calming the storm' and punishing the 'criminal cohorts' of the rebels. The poem is preceded by a six-page preface dedicated to 'M.L.C.D.C.', presumably My Lord [or perhaps Milord Le] Comte de Chesterfield, the fourth earl of Chesterfield, who was a keen literary patron. Maty addresses him in the preface as dear friend and almost as an equal. Maty would go on to found the "Journal Britannique" (published at the Hague from 1747 onwards) which reviewed British works for continental readers. He also earned the hatred of Samuel Johnson for his implication, in a review of Johnson's Dictionary in 1755, that Johnson had been ungrateful to the Earl of Chesterfield. From 1756 he was employed as a librarian at the British Museum, taking charge of the printed books in the royal library, gifted to the Museum by George II, and from 1772 he was Principal Librarian there. Only two copies of this poem have been traced, one at the British Library and the other at the University of Virginia.|
|Reference Sources||Oxford Dictionary of National Biography; bookseller's notes|
|Title||Ode to hope|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Printed and sold by T. and J. Ruddiman|
|Date of Publication||1789|
|Notes||This is an anonymous and unrecorded poem printed in Edinburgh the early days of 1789. No copies have been traced anywhere nor is it mentioned in Jackson's 'Annals of English verse 1770-1835' or the 'English poetry full text database'. The only clue to the authorship is the dedication to Mr. Henry Erskine of Newhall possibly the one time Lord Advocate and Dean of the Faculty of Advocates who lived from 1746 to 1817. He also penned a few poems.
This rather gushing poem deals with the inspiring effects of hope amid scenes of poverty, starvation, death and despair. There seems also to be a political connotation with references to General Wolfe, 'Bourbon's legions', 'the plains of Cressy' and Britons being roused to arms.
It was printed by the brothers Thomas and John Ruddiman, part of the Edinburgh family involved in the book trade during the 18th century. Thomas (1755-1825) who became a partner in his father's printing business in 1772, was a biographer of the poet Robert Fergusson, who died in 1774. The Ruddimans published many of Fergusson's poems in 'The Weekly Magazine'. Incidentally one of Fergusson's poems published in 1773 was entitled 'Ode to hope' but it is shorter and differs in content to the 1789 item. John Ker Ruddiman became a partner with his brother Thomas in 1789, and died in Fisherrow, near Musselburgh in 1816. The brother seem to have neglected their business, which was wound up in 1798.|
|Imprint||Glasguae: R. & A. Foulis|
|Date of Publication||1751|
|Notes||This is a beautiful Scottish edition of a classic, and a fine example of the aesthetically innovative and well-constructed books produced by Glasgow's Foulis Press. It measures 84 x 51 x 11 mm. Anacreon, the 6th-century BC Greek poet who wrote on wine, women and song, is here celebrated in a neat miniature version.
This copy is remarkable as it is printed on silk of four different colours, blue, pink, yellow and cream. The silk is not backed with paper, which makes the pages of some books printed on silk quite thick and rigid; here the silk is limp and the sheets are neatly sewn around the edges.
There is an ink inscription on the first (blank) leaf: "This Book was given to Mr. Baker by the Revd Mr Lumley Jan 10th 1771". A few sheets are a little spotted but the overall condition is delightful. Bound in contemporary red goatskin, gilt, with double gilt embossed endleaves (of two different patterns).
ESTC T85607 notes 4 copies on silk. See Bondy, Miniature Books, p.24, and Gaskell, Foulis Press, no. 181. The bookseller notes 'It doesn't appear in Book Auction Records and neither Houghton (who had a great miniature book collection) nor Getty ever found one.' The opportunity to acquire such a book is unlikely to recur.
NLS has a copy printed on paper, ABS.1.84.108. We also have a copy of Anacreon's Odes printed on silk by Hamilton, Balfour and Neill (1754), Nha.Misc.47. Other copies of books on fabric in NLS are at F.5.g.31 (limp white linen, not sewn at the edges) and F.6.b.4 (limp white silk, interleaved with paper, not sewn at the edges). There seems to have been a minor cult of printing on silk in Scotland at this period; see Brian Hillyard, 'Books printed on silk or linen', Factotum 28 (1989) pp.19-20. In 2000 we bought an unrecorded Aberdeen thesis printed on silk in 1675.
The National Library of Scotland has purchased this as an item of outstanding importance, which demonstrates how much Scots of the eighteenth century loved and admired their books. It is also a fine example of the Scottish cult of printing on silk, and of the Scottish tradition of producing miniature books, which arguably culminated in the work of David Bryce of Glasgow at the start of the 20th century.|
|Reference Sources||Gaskell, Foulis Press.
Bondy, Miniature Books.|
|Imprint||Paris: Chez Waree Oncle|
|Date of Publication||1825|
|Notes||This first French translation of the complete works of Henry Mackenzie is extremely rare, with no other copies recorded on COPAC. Mackenzie (1745-1831) is most famous for his sentimental novel The Man of Feeling, which like other individual works had already been translated into French. He was an important figure in Scottish literary society: this edition also includes a translation of Sir Walter Scott's contemporary praise of Mackenzie from Lives of the Novelists. |
|Reference Sources||Bookseller's catalogue; DNB; BOSLIT|
|Author||Byron, George Gordon, Lord.|
|Title||Oeuvres de Lord Byron [10 vols]|
|Imprint||Paris: Chez Ladvocat|
|Date of Publication||1819-1821|
|Notes||This is the first and very rare edition (no copies in the UK) of the first complete translation of Byron. It has been described by Richard Cardwell as 'the prime source for Byron's reception in Europe' and it served as the basis for later editions in other languages. The translation was carried out by Amedée Pichot, editor the 'Revue britannique' and Eusèbe de Salle.The translation took its source text the Galignani editions of Byron published in Paris from 1818. Though lacking any evidence of provenance, according to the bookseller the set formed part of the Fürstenberg Library at Donaueschingen.|
|Reference Sources||Cardwell, Richard (ed.) The reception of Byron in Europe. (London, 2004)|
|Title||Oeuvres de Platon|
|Date of Publication||1823-1846|
|Notes||This 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.|
|Title||Of the reconcileableness of specifick medicines to the corpuscular philosophy|
|Imprint||London : Printed for Sam. Smith |
|Date of Publication||1685|
|Notes||Robert Boyle (1627-1691) was one of the leading scientific figures of the 17th-century. He was prolific author, publishing over 40 works in his lifetime. Boyle had wide-ranging interests in theology, natural history and medicine and carried out an extensive programme of experiments in various fields. This particular work is one of his later publications on medical science, which includes a dscourse on "The advantages of the use of simple medicines".|
|Reference Sources||ESTC; DNB|
|Title||Oliver Cromwell's Letters and Speeches (2 vols. and Supplement)|
|Imprint||London: Chapman and Hall|
|Date of Publication||1845|
|Notes||The NLS already has later editions of this work, but this was an opportunity to acquire a first edition with interesting provenance.
The half-title of the first volume is inscribed 'To Miss Wilson with many kind regards. T.C' in Carlyle's unmistakable hand, and a later hand notes that the volume was 'given to F.J. Conance Esq. as a Memorial from J.W. 1872'. This 'Miss Wilson' is probably Jane Wilson, 1790-1890, friend of Harriet Martineau, who with her brother Thomas began a friendship with Carlyle around 1836, when they suggested a lecture series to him. (Kaplan, pp. 239-240). Carlyle and his wife Jane wrte to the Wilsons and mention them in their letters of the period: in 1845, the year this book was published, Miss Wilson is chiefly notable for an unlucky dinner invitation which Carlyle complained about and tried to get out of.|
|Reference Sources||Collected Letters of Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle, Duke-Edinburgh Edition.
Fred Kaplan: Thomas Carlyle, A Biography. CUP 1983|
|Author||Wright, Robert W.|
|Title||On foot from Edinburgh to Inverness. On foot through the Lake district. On foot from Oxford to Exeter. On foot John o' Groats to Lands End. [4 items]|
|Date of Publication||1928-1933|
|Notes||These four privately printed volumes of topographical verse by Robert W. Wright were issued as Christmas presents to friends. It appears that in 1927 Mr. Wright (who was from Cheshire) visited Hawick in the course of one of his pedestrian adventures and made the acquaintance of a Mrs. Storic and her family. His accounts of his walks from Edinburgh to Inverness and from Oxford to Exeter are incorporated into his most substantial work which covers John o'Groats to Lands End. The 'pilgrimage' as he describes it was accomplished over a period of seven years, with 'no advantage being taken of the ferries across the estuaries of rivers, the avoidance of which has added considerably to the mileage'. Wright and his companions walked along the roads, which were apparently still not very busy with motorised transport.
The tone of the verse is generally light-hearted. Wright comments on the scenery, the architecture and the weather and is generally positive about his experiences. Occasionally he is critical as when he chides the city authorities of Edinburgh about 'the mountains of rubbish and shale of all kinds & disfigure the prospect' to the south of the city. The border town of Longtown, Cumberland, impresses him the least describing it as a 'small and slovenly bungalow town, which stands in the order of merit low down'.
In August 1932 Wright and a few of his friends walked through the Lake District and a further volume was presented to friends the following year. Unlike the other volumes, this volume is illustrated with sketches and photographs which show a trio of bowler-hatted elderly gentlemen attired more for a day in the office than for a long walk through the countryside.
|Title||On the importance of introducing agriculture in the island of St. Helena|
|Imprint||St. Helena: Printed by Hill and Brimmer|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||A 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.|
|Author||Mounier, Jean Joseph|
|Title||On the influence attributed to the philosophers, Free-masons, and to the Illuminati, on the Revolution of France.|
|Date of Publication||1801|
|Notes||This is the rare English edition of Mounier's "De l'influence attribuee aux philosophes aux franc-macons et aux illumines sur la revolution de France" published in the same year as the first edition in French. The author, Jean Joseph Mounier (1758-1806), was a French lawyer and politician, who had been a leading figure in the first stages of the French Revolution in the summer of 1789. He proposed the famous Tennis Court Oath, which asserted the right of the French people to have a written constitution despite the French king's opposition, and helped to frame the Declaration of the Rights of Man. Mounier, however, quickly became disillusioned with the political intrigues of Paris. In 1790 he secretly left France using an assumed name. He moved around Europe, living in Switzerland, England, Italy and Germany for the rest of the decade, thus avoiding the excesses of the Revolution. In this polemical work he attacks the conspiracy-theorists who had explained the French Revolution in terms of the malign influence of the Freemasons and Illuminati (secret societies). In particular, the book is a detailed refutation of the influential "Memoirs Illustrating the History of Jacobinism" by the Jesuit priest Augustin Barruel, first published in 1797. The translation of Mounier's manuscript was undertaken in Germany by a Scot, James Walker (c. 1770-1841), Scottish Episcopal minister and scholar (and later Bishop of Edinburgh). Walker spent two or three years travelling in Europe, after becoming tutor to Sir John Hope Bt, of Craighall in 1800. He presumably met Mounier when the latter was living and teaching in Weimar. As well as having his book published 1801, Mounier also felt sufficiently secure in that year to end his exile, returning to a France which was now ruled by Napoleon.|
|Author||Alexander, James Edward, Sir.|
|Title||On the means of defending farm houses.|
|Imprint||Graham's Town [South Africa]: [s.n.],|
|Date of Publication||1835|
|Notes||This is a rare South African imprint which gives instructions for the defence of farms during the 6th Cape Frontier (or Xhosa) War. The author, James Alexander (1803-1885) was a Scottish army officer, who at the time was serving in South Africa as the as aide-de-camp to Sir Benjamin D' Urban, the then governor of the Cape Colony. Alexander played a key role in organising the defence of settlements such as Grahamstown and leading an exploring party into the heart of South Africa. The 6th Cape Frontier War was one of series of nine armed conflicts between white European settlers (Boers and British) and the native Xhosa peoples of the Eastern Cape area of South Africa, which lasted for around 100 years, from the late 18th to the late 19th century. The 6th war was triggered by the killing of Xhosa chief by a government commando party in 1834. An army of 10,000 Xhosa swept into the Cape Colony the following year, pillaging and burning the homesteads and killing all who resisted. Alexander's pamphlet gives practical instructions, complete with seven illustrations, for farmers on how to defend their property. The war ended with the signing of a peace treaty in 1836. Alexander went on to pursue a long and distinguished career in the army, serving in various parts of the British Empire.|
|Title||On the origin of species by means of natural selection. [2nd edition]|
|Imprint||London: John Murray, |
|Date of Publication||1860|
|Notes||Darwin's "Origin of Species" is one of the most important, influential and controversial books to have been published in the English language. With the acquisition of this second edition NLS now has copies all six editions published by John Murray in Darwin's lifetime (1809-1882). The first edition sold out on the day of publication in November 1859, the second edition accordingly appeared in January the following year to meet public demand. Three thousand copies were printed. John Murray had asked Darwin to begin revising the text as soon as the first edition had appeared in print and the second edition can be recognised immediately by the date, by the words 'fifth thousand', and the correct spelling of 'Linnean' on the title page. There is also a minor change to the text with the 'whale-bear story' (where Darwin speculated on a possible evolutionary link between whales and bears, much to the later amusement of his opponents) edited down, and a misprint of the word 'species' has been corrected. |
|Reference Sources||The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online (http://darwin-online.org.uk/)|
|Author||Hamilton, Clayton Meeker|
|Title||On the trail of Stevenson|
|Imprint||Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, Page & Co.|
|Date of Publication||1915|
|Notes||This is the uncensored first issue, first edition of Clayton Meeker Hamilton's 1915 biography of Robert Louis Stevenson. Hamilton (1881-1946) was an American drama critic who had edited the 1910 Longman's English Classics edition of Treasure Island. His biography in its original form is particularly important as it is the first attempt to depict Stevenson 'warts and all'. In contrast to the sanitised image of Stevenson (d. 1894) presented by his official biographer Graham Balfour in 1901, Hamilton was able to draw on detailed information provided by the author's former friends and acquaintances to provide a new perspective on his life and colourful character. Writing a biography of one of Scotland's most famous authors deemed suitable for public consumption was, however, no easy task. Balfour's official biography was only written after Stevenson's friend and mentor, Sir Sidney Colvin, had to give up the project following some acrimonious rows with Stevenson's stepson, Lloyd Osbourne, and the author's formidable widow, Fanny. Presumably only after the death of Fanny Stevenson in February 1914 did Hamilton think it was safe to publish his book - excerpts of "On the trail of Stevenson" appeared in 'The Bookman' journal in late 1914 and early 1915 - as it was, by the standards of the age, relatively open in discussing sensitive matters. For instance, he alludes to Stevenson's use of prostitutes in his youth, and claims that he consummated his relationship with Fanny shortly after they met - when she was still married to another man ("their union was immediate and complete"). Such openness offended Fanny's daughter (and Stevenson's stepdaughter) Isobel Field, and led him withdraw the book shortly after publication in October 1915. Hamilton's reasons for doing so appear in a copy of the suppressed issue now held in the Beinecke Library of Yale University, which has inscription by him on the front fly leaf, dated 1936. Hamilton states that the issue was suppressed "in deference to various objections adduced by the step-daughter of Robert Louis Stevenson, - Mrs. Salisbury Field [Isobel] & her personal reactions seemed more important to me than a disinterested insistence on the facts of history." Hamilton goes on to reveal that many of Stevenson's friends disapproved of his action, including Sir Sidney Colvin and Henry James, but, while believing that he had written nothing that was untrue and scandalous, he was convinced he had done the right thing. A new issue of the book appeared later in the same year, with a number of passages accordingly rewritten to remove anything controversial about Stevenson's relationship with his wife and with the opposite sex in general. This particular copy contains some press clippings, a note written by Hamilton's widow to a former owner of the book referring to her husband's death, and, of especial interest, a letter from the publishers, Doubleday Page & Co., dated October 27, 1915, to the New York publishing and bookselling firm Charles Scribner's Sons. The letter is requesting a recall of the first issue of the book and, predictably, it gives a different view of its suppression. The letter refers to "serious errors" in the book which Doubleday Page & Co. wish to correct. In addition to requesting the return of all unsold copies, they also ask if owners of the book can be traced and asked to return their "imperfect" copies, which will be replaced with copies of the corrected edition. Inevitably a few copies, such as this one, must have slipped through the net.|
|Reference Sources||"A Stevenson library: catalogue of a collection of writings by and about Robert Louis Stevenson formed by Edwin J. Beinecke" (New Haven, 1951-64) No. 1304|