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 782 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 46 to 60 of 782:

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AuthorAnon
TitleEpistle to the deil by Holy Willie of Prussia. Second edition.
ImprintGlasgow: J. Biggar & Co.
Date of Publication[1871]
LanguageScots
NotesAnonymous satirical poem in Scots supposedly by "Holy Willie of Prussia" (German Emperor Wilhelm I)addressed to the devil "dear Nickie-ben". It refers to the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, which led to the defeat of France and the proclamation of King Wilhelm of Prussia as the first German emperor. The poem is written in the style of Robert Burns, and is followed by a full-page appendix "concerning Were-wolves", and a five-page glossary of Scotticisms. The author is clearly anti-Prussian as one verse runs: "Now just confess: through France I've trod O'er men, wives, weans, knee-deep, in blood; On right and justice trampl'd rough-shod, Until they're dead; And when I've blamed a' this on God, Are you no paid?" The author also gets a dig in at Thomas Carlyle, "the psalmist dour of Prussia's course", who was an admirer of German culture and who had written a history of Frederick the Great of Prussia. A contemporary manuscript note at end of poem (p.26) records one reader's dislike of the poem: "one of those thousand jingling dilettante whose jingle dies with the moment of its birth - ". No copy of this edition is recorded on COPAC, and the only other copies traced are published in London.
ShelfmarkAP.1.214.35
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on16/05/14
AuthorSir William Hamilton
TitleAccount of the discoveries at Pompeii, communicated to the Society of Antiquaries of London by the Hon. Sir William Hamilton.
ImprintLondon : W. Bowyer and J. Nichols,
Date of Publication1777
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis a rare work by Sir William Hamilton (1730/31-1803), diplomatist and art collector, who was appointed to the post of envoy-extraordinary to the Spanish court of King of Naples in 1764. Hamilton had already began to collect art and antiquities, mainly pictures, bronzes, and terracottas, before he left London for Naples. His arrival in Naples increased his interest in the ancient world and his passion for collecting ancient Greek and Roman artefacts, many of which had been unearthed in recent years at various sites in Italy. Excavation of the site of Pompeii began in 1748. During the first phase, the excavation was carried out essentially in order to find art objects, many of which ended up in the private collection of the Bourbon king Charles III of Naples. Hamilton was ideally placed to visit the site and write reports which were read at meetings of the Society of Antiquaries in London in 1775. This book gives the text of his reports and is illustrated with 13 handsome engraved plates. The book was the first in a long line of works, dedicated to the lost city of Pompeii, which were published in the 18th century.
ShelfmarkAB.3.214.145
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on16/05/14
AuthorSeymour, Mina S.
TitlePen pictures: transmitted clairaudiently and telepathically by Robert Burns
ImprintLily Dale, N.Y. : [s.n.]
Date of Publication1900
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a privately-printed oddity relating to Robert Burns. It is a volume of over 150 poems in English and Scots allegedly by Burns, as received by an American medium, Mina Seymour, at the end of nineteenth century. It was published in Lily Dale, a spiritualist community in south-western New York State. Carol McGuirk, writing on Burns in America in the nineteenth century comments on the frequency with which nineteenth-century Americans imagined, wished, or even roundly asserted that Robert Burns was not dead. "As with Elvis Presley sightings in our time, this is most likely a sign that mere celebrity has been transcended and cult status achieved. The cult of Burns included prominent Scottish-Americans such as Andrew Carnegie but also marginal persons as Mina S. Seymour, a psychic who in 1900 published a book said to be 'transmitted' or channelled directly from the mind of Burns" (McGuirk, 'Haunted by authority', 1997). McGuirk describes the book as "Seymour's deranged little volume", and the quality of the poems in it is truly awful. In the opening poem, dedicated to the Psychical Research Society, the voice of Burns reveals that "I've beat auld Death, I write as weel, As mony in Earth life." The book is illustrated with portraits with various members of the American spiritualist community, many of whom were apparently recipients of poems by Burns.
ShelfmarkAB.2.214.31
Reference SourcesCarol McGuirk, "Haunted by authority: nineteenth-century American constructions of Robert Burns and Scotland", in 'Robert Burns and Cultural Authority' edited by Robert Crawford (Edinburgh, 1997), pp. 136-158.
Acquired on16/05/14
AuthorBlair, James Law
Title[Photographs taken by James Law Blair in and around Bandawe when employed by the African Lakes Company circa 1900.]
Date of Publication1900?
LanguageEnglish
NotesThe volume contains 132 black and white photographs. Bandawe settlement was funded from Glasgow on a commercial/evangelical basis. It was then called Nyasaland but is now Malawi. The African Lakes Corporation was a British company originally set-up in 1877 by Scottish businessmen to co-operate with missions in what is now Malawi. Despite its original connections with the Free Church of Scotland, it operated its businesses in Africa on a commercial rather than a philanthropic basis, and it had political ambitions in the 1880s to control part of Central Africa. Its businesses in the colonial era included water transport on the lakes and rivers of Central Africa, wholesale and retail trading including the operation of general stores, labour recruitment and landowning.
ShelfmarkPhot.med.125
Acquired on09/05/14
TitleThe Edinburgh Review, or Critical Journal
ImprintEdinburgh: Archibald Constable
Date of Publication1814-1860
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a collection of c. 130 issues of 'The Edinburgh Review', covering the years 1814 to 1860. The volumes are in their original state with blue paper wrappers, along with inserts of publishers' advertisements for the later issues. The latter are often missing from bound sets in Library copies, such as NLS's existing set, as they were usually removed prior to binding. These particular volumes were part of the collections found the Northumbrian mansion The Hermitage, described in the press as the house "that time forgot". The contents of the house on the outskirts of Hexham were sold at auction in 2013 after the death of last surviving member of the Morant family, who had rented the house since the 1920s. The Morants had thrown very little away in the 90 years they had occupied the house and looked after the existing contents with great care, with the result that the house was full of antiques, memorabilia and ephemera. 'The Edinburgh Review' was published from 1803 to 1929 (the first issue for October 1802 actually appearing in 1803) and quickly established itself as one of the leading and most influential English-language periodicals of the 19th century. The publishers' aim was to select only a few outstanding books in all fields of interest and to examine them with more care than had been customary in previous reviewing. 'The Edinburgh Review' was above all an instrument of political enlightenment and social reform, adopting a pro-Whig stance in contrast to the pro-Tory 'Quarterly Review' and later 'Blackwood's Magazine'. To have a substantial run of this important periodical with the volumes in their original state is a great addition to the Library's collections.
ShelfmarkAB.3.214.09-141
Reference SourcesWaterloo Directory of English Newspapers and Periodicals: 1800 - 1900
Acquired on04/04/14
AuthorAnon.
TitleA famous Fife trial: the Kirkcaldy duel case.
ImprintCork: Purcell and Company
Date of Publication1893
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis 16-page pamphlet records the basic details of one of the most famous murder trials in Scotland in the 19th century. David Landale, a linen merchant from Kirkcaldy in Fife, was tried for the murder of George Morgan in a duel which took place on 23 August, 1826. It was the last recorded fatal duel that took place in Scotland. The shooting of Morgan by Landale was the culmination of a dispute between the two men that had started the previous year. Landale's business was suffering major cash flow problems when his banker Morgan had suddenly and unexpectedly refused to help him pay his creditors. Morgan was a vindictive and irascible man, who took exception to Landale's subsequent decision to take his business elsewhere. He began to spread rumours in the town about the merchant's lack of creditworthiness. In June 1826 Landale complained bitterly in a letter to the Bank of Scotland headquarters in Edinburgh about Morgans conduct. The Bank took Landale's allegations seriously and admonished Morgan and his brother (and fellow-banker), David, for discussing bank matters and Landale's financial affairs in public, but chose not to punish them. George Morgan took this reprieve from the Bank as a green light to pursue his own personal grudge with the merchant. He was incensed that Landale had gone behind his back and had written to the Bank of Scotland directly; he demanded an immediate written apology for the allegations in the letter. Landale refused to apologise but did not rise to the bait of challenging Morgan to a duel, Morgan being reluctant to issue a challenge himself. There followed a tense stand-off between the two men, neither of them willing to back down and apologise, which was finally broken on the morning of 22 August when Morgan spotted Landale in Kirkcaldy's High Street and hit him across the shoulders with his umbrella while shouting "Take you that, sir!" Landale sought refuge in a shop only to be pursued in there by Morgan crying, "By God, sir, you shall have more of this yet!" Landale fled, briefly pursued by Morgan, only to return to the scene of the attack to find Morgan had also gone back there; his reaction was to call Morgan "a poor, silly coward". After being assaulted in public Landale now had no alternative but to write to Morgan and to demand "the satisfaction which as a gentleman I am entitled to". He challenged Morgan to a duel at seven o'clock the following morning with pistols, even though he later claimed that he had never fired a gun in his life and did not own any pistols; moreover, Morgan was a former army officer who was used to handling firearms. Despite one final attempt by Morgan's second, on the night of the 22nd, to resolve the dispute, the duel proceeded as planned on 23 August in a field just outside Kirkcaldy. Morgan fired and missed but Landale, having purchased a pair of pistols in Edinburgh the previous day, mortally wounded his adversary. Landale escaped to Cumbria to avoid arrest but returned to Scotland the following month to face trial for murder, confident he would be cleared. The trial took place in Perth on September 22 in a packed and boisterous courthouse. Landale was represented by two of the leading advocates of the day: Henry Cockburn (a record of the trial, kept his clerk, is now in the NLS's manuscript collections: Adv.MS.9.1.2) and Francis Jeffrey, best known today as a literary critic. Cockburn and Jeffrey argued convincingly that Landale had not acted out of malice, had been reluctant to challenge Morgan, and had been subject to sustained and intolerable provocation by Morgan. After a five-hour trial, the jury only need two minutes to acquit Landale. The judge dismissed him from the court room, commenting on his honourable and unsullied character. He returned to Kirkcaldy to carry on running his business, later becoming provost of Kirkcaldy. In an incredible twist of fate, one of his daughters, Ellen, married in 1851 Alexander Morgan, nephew of George Morgan, a sign that both families had long become reconciled. Another daughter, Eliza Gage Landale, married William Lane, an Irish landowner. He owned Mount Vernon in Cork, a Georgian mansion in the city, which is still there today. As Cork is the place of publication of this pamphlet, she must have been involved in getting this work privately printed. The text is largely based on an anonymous account of the trial published in 1826 'Report of the trial of David Landale Esq., before the Circuit Court of Justiciary at Perth'. Her motives for publication, nearly 70 years after the event, are unclear. The inscriptions in this copy show that Eliza presented this copy to her son, Samuel, and at the back she records basic details of her father's life and the fact that her sister had married the nephew of the man her father had "the misfortune to kill".
ShelfmarkAB.1.214.31
Reference SourcesJames Landale, 'Duel: a true story of death and honour', (Edinburgh: Canongate, 2005).
Acquired on28/03/14
AuthorAnon
TitleThe song of Solomon
ImprintLondon: Guild of Women Binders
Date of Publication1897
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis book is bound in a modelled goatskin medieval-style binding popularised by Scottish women binders of the late 19th century. The technique was developed by Annie MacDonald (d. 1924) who along with a few other women in Edinburgh had begun binding books in the 1890s. Walter Biggar Blaikie (whose collection of Jacobite-related books and manuscripts is now in NLS) of the publishers A. & J. Constable let them use his workshops after hours. From 1895 two of Constable's workmen, a finisher and a forwarder, taught the group of women in premises owned by Edinburgh Social Union. MacDonald tried various types of leather for modelled bindings but found that natural goatskin, before any curing processes, could be moulded as she wanted. The modelling was done after the book itself was covered in the goatskin. It involved neither cutting nor raising the leather to relief. The design was traced onto the dampened leather and worked with one small tool called a 'Dresden', which was used to carefully press the background and mould the relief design. Using glue rather than paste to cover the books, the leather was a pale ivory when completed which developed into a richer brown once aged. The work of MacDonald and the other Edinburgh-based women inspired London bookseller Frank Karslake to found of the Guild of Women Binders in 1898 as an outlet for the sale of work by women binders who lived outside London, including the Edinburgh women. Karslake advertised a series of books specially printed for the Guild on Japanese vellum and bound by Guild members, including 'The Song of Solomon', which was one of 100 numbered copies (this particular copy being number 31). A pencil note on the front free endpaper, "worker Mrs MacDonald", would seem to indicate that it was done by Annie MacDonald herself. However, the 1900 Sotheby's catalogue of bindings done by the Guild of Women binders reveals that there were at least two separate "embossed mediaeval morocco" bindings of the Japanese vellum printing of the 'Song of Solomon'. One was done by Annie MacDonald, "the design adapted from the cover-design", and one by a "Miss Pagan", "the designs adapted from the illustrations". An Annie MacDonald binding for the 'Song of the Solomon' which is now held in Duke University Library, is reproduced in Marianne Tidcombe's "Women bookbinders 1880-1920" p. 98. The Duke University binding is a likely match for the one described in the Sotheby's catalogue as having done by Annie MacDonald, given that it resembles the cover of the regular 1897 edition of the 'Song of Solomon' published by Chapman and Hall. It is possible that she did more than one binding of this particular edition; but the design for this particular binding is adapted from the illustrations within the book, not the cover of the regular edition, and would seem to correspond to Miss Pagan's binding. The design on the front board is based on the art-nouveau style illustrations in the book by Herbert Granville Fell (1872-1951), along with a quote from the Song of Solomon as a decorative border : "Many waters cannot quench love neither can the floods drown it. Love is strong as death". The back board contains the ownership initials "H.F.C. 1898". "Miss Pagan" may be Jean Pagin, who was one of the women binders associated with Edinburgh Social Union, the main amateur arts and crafts organisation in the city (Tidcombe also mentions in an appendix to her book the existence of a binder called Jeannie E. Pagan but this may be same person as Jean Pagin). The turn-in on the front board simply records in gilt lettering that this binding is by the Guild of Women Binders. What is notable is that this copy has normal paper endpapers, where in other modelled bindings silk endpapers were used because the goatskin tended to stain both paper and vellum - as has happened in this copy. Inserted in this copy is a printed advertisement slip for the Guild of Women Binders describing this style of binding as a "revival of the mediaeval monastic binding".
ShelfmarkBdg.m.176
Reference SourcesM. Tidcombe, 'Women bookbinders 1880-1920', London, 1996.
Acquired on28/03/14
AuthorMartin Martin
TitleA late voyage to St. Kilda, the remotest of all the Hebrides, or Western Isles of Scotland
ImprintLondon: Printed for D. Brown, and T. Goodwin
Date of Publication1698
LanguageEnglish
NotesMartin Martin (d. 1718), the Scottish traveller and author, wrote the first published account of the remote Scottish island group of St. Kilda, based on his experiences during a trip to the islands made in 1697. The work was published in London the following year with some success and he would go on to publish in 1703 his celebrated 'Description of the Western Islands of Scotland'. The Advocates Library copy of the latter is believed to have been taken by James Boswell on his journey with Samuel Johnson to the Highlands and Inner Hebrides in 1773. This particular copy of 'A late voyage' has been acquired for the Library as the existing Library copy was imperfect, lacking the half title, whereas this copy is complete. It also has a noteworthy provenance. It contains the late 18th-century armorial bookplate of James Whatman, Vinters, Kent, and an inscription on the title page "J. Whatman 1800", which indicates the book was in the library of the famous paper-making family the Whatmans, either collected by James Whatman II (1741-1798) or his son James Whatman III (1777-1843).
ShelfmarkRB.s.2901
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on14/03/14
AuthorPindar
TitleTa tou Pindarou Olympia
ImprintGlasgow: R. and A. Foulis
Date of Publication1754
LanguageGreek
NotesThis is the first volume of the miniature Foulis Press edition of the ancient Greek poet Pindar's odes (printed 1754-58), this copy being one of only a few recorded copies printed on silk. It is a separate bibliographic item as only volume was the only printed in silk and accordingly it does not have the general title page of the regular 4-volume set. This is in fact only one of two miniature books printed on silk by the Foulis Press of Glasgow, the other being an edition of Anacreon printed in 1751 (a copy was acquired by the Library in 2003). It showcases the quality of their printing and the clarity of the Greek type they developed. The book is in a contemporary red morocco binding.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2892
Reference SourcesGaskell, A bibliography of the Foulis Press, 2nd ed., 1986, no. 274
Acquired on28/02/14
AuthorAnon
TitleA Scottish penny wedding
ImprintBelfast: Simms and M'Intyre
Date of Publication1840?
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis Belfast-printed broadside contains a large wood engraving printed from nine individual blocks. It shows a lively wedding scene in a barn with bride and groom dancing to fiddle music and guests eating and drinking. There were three sorts of wedding in Scotland in the early half of the 19th-century: the free wedding, where only a few select friends were invited and the guests were not to be the cause of any expense; the dinner wedding, where a dinner was provided by the marriage party; and the penny wedding (also known as the penny bridal), where each guest contributed financially or by way of food towards the dinner and then paid for their own drink, and which by the end of the festivities (which could go on for several days) could bring in a tidy profit for the newly-weds. This latter type of wedding was particularly common across rural Scotland, despite the disapproval of the Kirk. The three-column poem printed beneath the illustration is 'Twas on the morn of sweet May-day' also known as 'Jockey to the fair', a wedding-themed song often appearing in 18th- and 19th-century chapbooks.
ShelfmarkAP.el.214.02
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on28/02/14
AuthorFerguson, Adam
TitleRicerche storiche e critiche su le cause dei progressi e del decadimento della repubblica Romana. [History of the progress and termination of the Roman Republic]
ImprintVenice: presso Antonio Zatta e figli
Date of Publication1793-94
LanguageItalian
NotesThis 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.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2882-2889
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on24/01/14
Author[Anon]
TitleRemarks on a voyage to the Hebrides, in a letter to Samuel Johnson, LL.D
ImprintLondon : G. Kearsly
Date of Publication1775
LanguageEnglish
NotesIn January 1775 Samuel Johnson's 'Journey to the Western Isles of Scotland' was published. His account of his three-month tour of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland in the late summer and early autumn of 1773, in the company of James Boswell, met with a mixed reception. Scots were affronted by his apparent bias against their country and his description of primitive culture in the Highlands, as well as his dismissal of the poems of Ossian as a modern invention by their editor James Macpherson. Journalists in both Edinburgh and London, politically hostile to Johnson, accused him of ingratitude in abusing Scottish hospitality. A brief entry in the 'Caledonian Mercury' for 4 February 1775 went as far as to state that Johnson was "now under a course of mercury" having caught the pox ("Scotch fiddle") "in the embraces of a female mountaineer" on this island of Coll. This anonymous and acerbic pamphlet addressed to the English author, while not descending into the cheap abuse of the 'Caledonian Mercury', was part of the attack on Johnson's work. The author, clearly a proud Scot, begins by commenting on Johnsons life-long prejudice against Scotland: "The contemptible ideas you have long entertained of Scotland and its inhabitants, have been too carefully propagated not to be universally known; and those who read your Journey, if they cannot applaud your candour, must at least praise your consistency, for you have been very careful not to contradict yourself. Your prejudice, like a plant, has gathered strength with age - the shrub which you nursed so many years in the hothouse of confidential conversation, is now become a full-grown tree, and planted in the open air" (pp. 2-3). The author goes on to make detailed observations on Johnson's inaccuracies and misjudgements in the book. The conclusion of the pamphlet is predictably damning, "the flame of national rancour and reproach has been for several years but too well fed you too have added your faggot" (p. 35). The truth of the matter was more complex. Johnson was deeply interested in Scotland and had a deep knowledge of its culture and history in comparison with other Englishmen of his day. Most of his anti-Scottish remarks seem to have been intended simply to provoke and tease. As someone with Jacobite sympathies, his criticisms were more directed at Scottish Presbyterianism and the way its supporters, in his opinion, had betrayed the house of Stuart and allowed elements of Scotland's native culture to decline. Johnson himself could shrug off all criticism of the work; the book earned him 200 guineas, as well as the admiration of George III, and considerable success in terms of sales.
ShelfmarkAB.2.214.04
Reference SourcesP. Rogers, 'Johnson and Boswell: the transit of Caledonia' Oxford, 1995; M. Pittock "Johnson and Scotland" in 'Samuel Johnson in Historical Context' (ed. Clark and Erskine-Hill) Basingstoke, 2002; bookseller's notes; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on03/01/14
AuthorHarnisch, Carl.
TitleBildliche Darstellungen in Arabeskenform zu Ossians Gedichten
ImprintBerlin: G. Reimer
Date of Publication1835
LanguageGerman
NotesThis is a rare copy, in its original wrappers, of a portfolio of six lithographs, and a leaf of descriptive text, by the German artist Carl Harnisch (1800-1882). The lithographs are illustrations are inspired by the poems of Ossian, which had already appeared in German translation in the 1770s and continued to be popular in the early 19th century. The artist has done them in the arabesque form, which uses a decorative motif comprising surface decorations based on rhythmic linear patterns of scrolling and interlacing foliage and tendrils. The European version of arabesque art was inspired by early Islamic art and became widely used from the 15th and 16th centuries onwards. In his introduction Harnisch states that, "the following leaves, a series of drawings in the arabesque form, arose out of reading Ossian. The intention of their creator, as can been seen from the chosen form of representation, has been to portray an overall view of the ancient Nordic bard's individual sensibilities and poetry, rather than each drawing represent a particular passage in the poet's work." Harnisch had already published in 1832 a series of arabesque lithographs of illustrations inspired by Goethe's Faust. Harnisch later emigrated to the USA where he continued to work as an artist and lithographer.
ShelfmarkRB.el.30
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on20/12/13
AuthorBeatson, Alexander.
TitlePapers relating to the devastation committed by goats on the island of St. Helena.
ImprintSt. Helena : Printed for S. Solomon by J. Coupland,
Date of Publication1810
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is one of the first items printed on the island of St Helena; it addresses, among other things, the issue of the harm that could be caused to a local ecosystem by the introduction of an alien species, in this instance - goats. St Helena is a small island (47 square miles in area) in the South Atlantic Ocean, which was occupied by the English East India Company from 1658 onwards. Regarded as one of the most isolated islands in the world, it was nevertheless colonized by the English due to its important strategic position as a stop-off point for ships sailing from Asia or South Africa to Europe. In 1807 the Scottish army officer Alexander Beatson (1759-1830) was appointed as governor of the island, a post he held from 1808 to 1813. Beatson found that the island, which still belonged to the East India Company, was in a very impoverished state. He set up a series of improving measures for the island and the islanders and was able to use a printing press, which had been set up in 1806, to communicate his plans. A newspaper was printed on the island in 1807, but no book publication is recorded until 1810, with an abstract of the laws usually being regarded as the island's first publication. The present pamphlet was printed the same year, and contains the text of Beatson's proposal to print the abstract of the laws and ordinances, so may in fact precede it. The pamphlet's main text is Beatson's essay "Remarks on the evil consequences which have resulted from the introduction of goats upon the island of St. Helena". Beatson had a strong interest in agriculture and he had seen at first-hand how the introduction of goats to St Helena had greatly changed its landscape, as they had eaten much of its native vegetation and posed a constant threat to the vegetables and crops grown by the islanders. According to Beatson, goats had been introduced by the Portuguese as early as 1543, on what was then a thickly forested island. The Portuguese did not leave a permanent settlement on St Helena and the goat population had been left to grow unchecked in the absence of any natural predators. By 1809, according to Beatson, there were 1811 sheep and 2887 goats on the island, and he argues in favour of exterminating the goat population. The rest of the pamphlet consists of reports on Beatson's own agricultural experiments on the island growing cereal crops and a record of the ensuing lively debate among the islanders over whether the goat population should be exterminated or not. Beatson in his final contribution to the debate, in a minute dated 29 November 1810, suggests that until a decision on the goat issue is made by the Court of Directors of the East India Company, landowners should be allowed to shoot goats trespassing onto cultivated land, with the animals' owners being compensated five shillings per goat. The final contribution to the debate is a minute by William Doveton, a local landowner and "grazier", who was working for the East India Company. Doveton argues against total extermination of the goat population, regarding them as valuable property, but does support the culling of goats that stray onto cultivated land. Despite his failure to eradicate the goat population, Beatson continued to experiment with agriculture on the island until he left in 1813. His experiments, details of which he published in 1816 in 'Tracts relative to the island of St. Helena', have been described as a major contribution to the beginnings of global environmentalism. 200 years on St Helena continues to grapple with the problems caused by the depredations of alien species and sustaining farming in area with poor, thin soil, which is susceptible to drought. In 2012 it was reported that the legislative council of St Helena was considering an increase in the fine for letting goats (and sheep) stray on to Crown land. A rise from 25 pence to 250 was proposed, in the hope that a "more meaningful" deterrent would help protect vulnerable plants and trees. Beatson would no doubt have approved.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2880
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography; bookseller's notes
Acquired on29/11/13
Author[Anon]
TitleThe Edinburgh almanack for the year MDCCLXXVII.
ImprintEdinburgh : R. Fleming
Date of Publication1777
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis 1777 printing of the Edinburgh almanack (no copies recorded in ESTC) is notable for being in a contemporary red morocco wallet binding. An examination of the tools used on the binding shows that it is the work of Edinburgh's finest bookbinder of the 18th century, James Scott, and not recorded in J.H. Loudon's bibliography of Scott's work. The edges of the boards are decorated with the rococo-style rolls used by Scott. The lion rampant tool used on the spine is listed by Loudon as having been used by Scott's son, William, in the 1780s; however, the use here would indicate that it was used first by James Scott. No other wallet bindings by either Scott are recorded by Loudon, making this a rare and handsome oddity.
ShelfmarkBdg.s.961
Reference SourcesJ.H. Loudon, "James Scott and William Scott, bookbinders" (London, 1980); bookseller's notes
Acquired on29/11/13
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