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 761 of the most important items we have acquired since 2000. We update it regularly as new material comes in. The description gives information about why it was chosen and what makes it particularly interesting. You can order the list by date of acquisition, author or title.

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Important Acquisitions 451 to 465 of 761:

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AuthorNicoll, Alexander
TitleNotitia codicis Samaritano-Arabici in Bibliotheca Bodleiana
ImprintOxford, [s.n.]
Date of Publication1817
LanguageLatin
NotesThis is a pamphlet on Arabic manuscript versions of the Pentateuch (first five books of the Old Testament) held in the Bodleian Library, Oxford. The author, Alexander Nicoll (1793-1828), was a Snell Exhibitioner, i.e. a recipient of a scholarship for Scottish scholars at Balliol College, Oxford. He became a sub-librarian in the Bodleian Library and later a professor of Hebrew at Oxford. Nicoll, originally from Monymusk, Aberdeenshire, was famed for both his linguistic abilities and his dedication to cataloguing the Bodleian's collection of Oriental manuscripts. In the pamphlet he draws attention to errors in interpretation of these Pentateuch manuscripts by the 18th-century biblical scholar David Durell of Hertford College, Oxford, and the German professor of oriental languages at Jena, Heinrich Eberhard Gottlob Paulus. The latter had visited England as a part of a tour of Europe in the years 1787-88 and had presumably seen these manuscripts in the Bodleian. Only 60 copies in total of the book were printed, the present example being one of 10 on large paper. A manuscript annotation on the front fly-leaf notes the distribution of each of the 10 large-paper copies: some went to professors of Hebrew and Arabic; some to Oxford librarians, tutors, and fellows. This copy has a pasted piece of paper on it showing that it was formerly owned by George Williams (1814-1878), who served as Vice-Provost of King's College, Cambridge from 1854 to 1857.
ShelfmarkAB.8.209.02
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on09/02/09
AuthorColumbus, Bonaventura
TitleNovus cursus philosophicus Scotistarum complectens universam philosophiam, rationalem, naturalem, moralem & transnaturalem…
ImprintLugduni : Sumpt. Lavr. Arnavd, et Petri Borde
Date of Publication1669
LanguageLatin
NotesThis is a one volume compendium of the works of John Duns Scotus (1265/66-1308). Sources variously state that Scotus was born in Duns, Berwickshire, Friar Minor at Dumfries where his uncle Elias Duns was superior, or Maxton (now Littledean). Scotus was one of the most important and influential philosopher-theologians of the High Middle Ages. His complex and nuanced thought, which earned him the nickname "the Subtle Doctor," left a mark on discussions of such disparate topics as the semantics of religious language, the problem of universals, divine illumination, and the nature of human freedom. The recto of the front free endpaper has a manuscript entry in the hand of Professor Geoffrey W.S. Barrow, M.A., B.Litt., D.Litt., Hon.D.Litt. Barrow was formerly a professor in the Scottish History Department of the University of Edinburgh and the inscription indicates that the book was once in his ownership. The inscription begins: "This is a remarkable compendium of the philosophy of John Duns Scotus ... NB. There is no copy of this work listed in the catalogues of the British Library not that of the Bibl. Nat. at Paris."
ShelfmarkAB.10.204.03
Acquired on21/03/03
AuthorJames VII and II
TitleNuevo triunfo de la religion Catolica, que los fieles deven al Christiano real cuydado, y magnanima providencia de serenissimo rey de la Bretaña Jacobo Segundo.
ImprintSevilla: por Juan Francisco de Blas
Date of Publication[1687]
LanguageSpanish
NotesBy the third year of his reign as king of England, Scotland and Ireland, James VII and II was finding it increasingly difficult to work with Anglican politicians who were hostile to him as a Catholic; he was more inclined to work with those who dissented from the established religions in his kingdoms. He therefore adopted his late brother's approach to religious toleration, seeking to remove religious persecution from Catholics, Quakers and other peaceable dissenters. Bypassing the parliament in Scotland, James's first declaration of indulgence (or toleration) was issued in Edinburgh on 12 February 1687. 'Moderate Presbyterians' were allowed to meet in their private houses, while Quakers could 'meet and exercise in their form in any place or places appointed for their worship'. All laws and acts of Parliament against Catholics were suspended. This Spanish translation of James's proclamation includes not only the text of the proclamation and its introductory letter, both signed by his Scottish secretary the earl of Melfort, but also the response of the Scottish privy council. The proclamation is mistakenly dated here 22 February 1687. In the Spanish editor's preamble it is stated that news of the proclamation was sent to the court of Spain's Charles II. The declaration of indulgence is regarded here as part of a wave of recent Catholic victories (also comprising successes by the Austrian emperor against the Ottomans, and the King of France against Calvinists). James went on to introduce a similar declaration in England in April of that year.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2813
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography; bookseller's notes
Acquired on10/12/10
AuthorMaidment, J[ames], P[itcairn], R[obert], and H[ill], James, editors and publishers
TitleNugae Derelictae, quas colligerunt …
ImprintEdinburgh
Date of Publication[1815?-] 1823
LanguageLatin
NotesA very rare collection of current jeaux d'esprit and reprints of rare pieces brought together by a triumvirate of lawyers led by James Maidment. There may well have been only three copies made, one for each of the collaborators, Maidment, Pitcairn and Hill. Maidement's bibliographer Thomas G Stevenson certainly knew nothing of the collection. This collection should not to be confused with a similar collection brought together by Maidment and Pitcairn in 1822 and comprising 18 separate tracts (Ry.IV.c.11). There are 20 of a possible 21 separartely printed pieces including The Election, a new song; The Fornicator's Court by Robert Burns, The Thimble by Alan Ramsay and Two ancient ballads published in Aberdeen. The missing piece is deduced to be 'Original letter thereanent' comprising two leaves and relating to the foregoing piece (Item XII) a mock broadsheet on Professor Dunderhead. Given that it is highly likely that the other two copies have long since been broken up for their constituent parts, this may, arguably, be the sole survivor of the three. Hence the want of item XIII is easier to accept.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2291(1-21)
Acquired on24/08/00
AuthorForrester, Alexander; MacFarlane, Thomas; MacGregor, James Gordon
TitleObjects, Benefits and History of Normal Schools, with Acts of the Legislature of Nova Scotia Anent Normal School, &c.; Observations on Canadian Geology; Technical Education Abroad and at Home.
ImprintHalifax : James Barnes, 1855; Montreal : Dawson Bros., 1871; Halifax : Heral Publishing Company, 1882.
Date of Publicationsee imprints above
LanguageEnglish
NotesThree items highlighting the activity and influence of Scots in 19th century Canada. Canada has always had strong emotional and historical ties to Scotland. For example, the first two Prime Ministers of Canada, Sir John A. Macdonald and Alexander Mackenzie, were both born in Scotland. Alexander Forrester (1805-1869) the author of The Objects, Benefits and History of Normal Schools, was typical of many Scots who made a name for themselves in the New World. He was educated at the University of Edinburgh and immigrated to Nova Scotia in 1848. He would later become the Principal of the Normal School in Truro, Nova Scotia and Superintendent of Education for Nova Scotia from 1855 to 1864. Thomas MacFarlane (1834-1907), the author of Observations on Canadian Geology, was born at Pollockshaws, Renfrewshire and came to Canada as a mining engineer. He was later to discover the famous Silver Inlet Mine on Lake Superior. James Gordon MacGregor (1852-1913), the author of Technical Education Abroad and at Home, presents the interesting case of a type of Scottish/Canadian cross-pollination. MacGregor was the Canadian born grandson of the Scottish emigrant Rev. James MacGregor (1759-1830). James Gordon MacGregor later immigrated to Scotland where he became a professor of natural philosophy at the University of Edinburgh from 1901-1913.
ShelfmarkAP.3.203.02; AP.1.203.11; AP.2.203.04
Acquired on21/09/03
AuthorAnon.
TitleObservations on illicit distillation and smuggling: with some remarks on the reports of Woodbine Parish Esq. chairman of the excise board, on that subject.
ImprintEdinburgh: David Willison
Date of Publication1816
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a rare pamphlet, with only two other copies located in major libaries in the UK and USA. The anonymous author is almost certainly a Scot, who takes issue here with Woodbine Parish (1768-1848), a London merchant who served as chairman of the board of excise for Scotland, 181523. The author criticises Parish's report on distillation and smuggling, in particular the remarks on the Scots' propensity for drunkenness and the belief that the increase in illegal distilling had nothing to with the increase in alcohol duty. The author in this pamphlet provides a good snapshot of Scottish drinking practices and smuggling activities of the period. For the author, the poorly-framed laws made in Westminster, which ignore the social and economic realities of life of Scotland, are the main reasons for the increase in illegal distillation and smuggling.
ShelfmarkAB.2.213.22
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on22/06/12
TitleObservations on the culture of the tobacco-plant... adapted to the climate of the west of Scotland.
ImprintGlasgow: Printed by Robert Chapman and Alexander Duncan
Date of Publication1782
LanguageEnglish
NotesDuring 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.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2622
Acquired on07/06/06
AuthorAnderson, James
TitleObservations on the means of exciting a spirit of national industry; chiefly intended to promote the agriculture, commerce, manufactures, and fisheries, of Scotland.
ImprintDublin : S. Price, W. and H. Whitestone,
Date of Publication1779
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is the first Irish printing of a work originally published in Edinburgh in 1777, which contains one of the earliest critiques of Adam Smith's recently-published "Wealth of nations". The author, James Anderson (1739-1808), was a landowner and farmer. As well as devoting himself to agricultural matters, Anderson also had a strong interest in the subject of political economy and published a large number of articles in newspapers, pamphlets and other people's publications, often using a pseudonym. In his lengthy preface to this work, he reveals that he had considered remaining anonymous but thought that it would be "a somewhat mean and disingenuous appearance to keep himself concealed". The work consists of a series of letters outlining his thoughts on the future of Scotland's economic output, with special reference to the economically depressed Highlands. Letter XIII in volume two of the "Observations" is largely devoted to arguments put forward in the "Wealth of nations". Anderson refers to Smith's "very ingenious treatise", before proceeding, very politely, to take serious issue with Smith's "entirely fallacious" thinking on aspects of Britain's Corn Laws. Smith had been critical of the existing legislation, which was designed to protect major English landholders by encouraging the export and limiting the import of corn when prices fell below a fixed point. Anderson the farmer and landowner preferred to defend the status quo. Anderson dedicated his work to the Duke of Buccleuch, a major landowner who took a keen interest in Scottish agriculture, but who also happened to be a former pupil and a patron of Adam Smith.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2783-2784
Acquired on30/04/10
AuthorMaty, Matthew
TitleOde sur la rebellion de MDCCXLV en Ecosse
ImprintAmsterdam: Jean Joubert
Date of Publication1746
LanguageFrench
NotesThe 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.
ShelfmarkAP.3.212.01
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography; bookseller's notes
Acquired on21/10/11
TitleOde to hope
ImprintEdinburgh: Printed and sold by T. and J. Ruddiman
Date of Publication1789
NotesThis 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.
ShelfmarkRB.m.506
Reference SourcesSBTI
Acquired on13/12/02
AuthorAnacreon
Title[Odes]
ImprintGlasguae: R. & A. Foulis
Date of Publication1751
LanguageGreek
NotesThis 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.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2302
Reference SourcesGaskell, Foulis Press. Bondy, Miniature Books.
Acquired on18/08/03
AuthorMackenzie, Henry
TitleOeuvres Completes
ImprintParis: Chez Waree Oncle
Date of Publication1825
LanguageFrench
NotesThis 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.
ShelfmarkAB.3.207.009
Reference SourcesBookseller's catalogue; DNB; BOSLIT
Acquired on15/01/07
AuthorByron, George Gordon, Lord.
TitleOeuvres de Lord Byron [10 vols]
ImprintParis: Chez Ladvocat
Date of Publication1819-1821
LanguageFrench
NotesThis 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.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2720
Reference SourcesCardwell, Richard (ed.) The reception of Byron in Europe. (London, 2004)
Acquired on25/08/08
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
AuthorBoyle, Robert
TitleOf the reconcileableness of specifick medicines to the corpuscular philosophy
ImprintLondon : Printed for Sam. Smith
Date of Publication1685
LanguageEnglish
NotesRobert 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".
ShelfmarkRB.s.2652
Reference SourcesESTC; DNB
Acquired on28/02/07
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