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 735 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 rarebooks@nls.uk

      

Important Acquisitions 46 to 60 of 735:

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AuthorRamsay, James.
TitleSea sermons: or, a series of discourses for the use of the Royal Navy.
ImprintLondon: J. Rivington
Date of Publication1781
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is collection of fourteen sermons by the Scottish surgeon and abolitionist James Ramsay (1733-1789), "which reveal a genuine affection for the sailor, an understanding of his character, and an appreciation of his contribution to the nation"(ODNB). Ramsay was born in Fraserburgh and educated at Aberdeen University. He joined the Navy in 1757, serving as ship's doctor on board "The Arundel". When his ship intercepted the British slave ship "Swift" in 1759, Ramsay found over 100 slaves suffering from dysentery, lying in their own blood and excreta, a scene which affected him so profoundly that, on returning to his ship, he fell and fractured his thigh bone. Made permanently lame by the fall, and facing the end of his naval career, Ramsay sought ordination in the Anglican church to enable him to work among slaves. He served as both clerk and surgeon in St. Kitts from 1761 to 1777, then rejoined the navy in 1778 as a chaplain in the West Indies station. "Sea sermons" address the perils and temptations of a life at sea, such as mutiny, desertion, drunkenness, and swearing. His phrase used in the book, "You and your fellow combattants[sic] were a band of brothers engaged in one cause", was a phrase later adopted by Nelson when seeking to inspire his crew. The same year as this book was published, Ramsay returned from the West Indies to live in London, where he was occupied with reform of the Navy Board, the recruitment of surgeons for the first colonising expedition to Australia in 1787 and promoting the abolitionist cause. Only 4 other copies of this book are recorded in ESTC.
ShelfmarkAB.2.213.17
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on30/11/12
Author[Dodsley, Robert, ed.]
TitleA collection of poems in six volumes.
ImprintLondon : J. Dodsley
Date of Publication1770
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis handsome 6-volume set of English poetry was bound by James Scott of Edinburgh, the most celebrated of 18th-century Scottish bookbinders. It was formerly in the library of Invercauld Castle, Aberdeenshire, one of a number of bindings executed by Scott for the Farquharson family who lived there. Dodsley's first collection of poetry was published in 1748, in three volumes, later editions were expanded to six volumes as a sign of its popularity. These particular bindings are not identified in Loudon's 1980 work on James and William Scott, but can be identified by the use of the Italianate operatic mask tool on the spines, which was one of Scott's tools. The flourish used to decorate the centre of some of the spine compartments can also be identified as a Scott tool, as well as the roll used to edge the boards.
ShelfmarkBdg.s.955-960
Reference SourcesJ.H. Loudon, James Scott and William Scott, bookbinders (1980); Bookseller's notes
Acquired on16/11/12
Author[Morris, James Archibald]
TitlePhotographs of the auld brig of Ayr (built about fifteenth century)
Imprint[Ayr: s.n.]
Date of Publication1910
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis a rare privately-published photo album documenting, in a series of 28 numbered photographs, the restoration of Ayr's most famous landmark, the Auld Brig. Built in the 15th-century, the bridge featured in Robert Burns's poems "The Brigs o' Ayr" and "Tam o'Shanter". By the start of the 20th-century the bridge was in poor condition and was almost demolished. However, a campaign led by architect and local historian James Archibald Morris (1857-1942), and supported by the Earl of Rosebery, was successful in raising funds for restoring the Auld Brig to its former glory. As the cover of the album informs us, 11,000 was raised from subscribers around the world, with the restoration work taking place between 1907 and 1910. The Earl of Rosebery re-opened the bridge on 29 July 1910. All bar three of the 28 gelatine prints were taken by Morris, who was a keen amateur photographer. Morris presumably arranged for the photographs to be bound in albums (with a leaf of explanatory notes for each photograph) and distributed, presumably to members of the executive committee of the Ayr Auld Brig preservation campaign whose names appear on the back cover.
ShelfmarkPhot.sm.152
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on16/11/12
AuthorNahum Tate
TitleThe history of King Lear, a tragedy.
ImprintGlasgow : Printed by William Duncan Junior,
Date of Publication1756
LanguageEnglish
NotesR. and A. Foulis had issued 'Lear' in 1753, using Pope's text, including it in their 'works' of 1766. They were following the literary tradition. William Duncan junior chose instead to publish Nahum Tate's adaptation, which was used for performances of the play. Another edition of Tate's version was issued in Glasgow, anonymously, in 1758. Tate's adaptation is not well regarded today. He axes the fool and gives the play a happy ending with Lear surviving to see Cordelia and Edgar marry. Addison disapproved but Dr. Johnson defended Tate's version and it seems to have been popular: the happy ending and exclusion of the weirder bits presumably ensured 'bums on seats'. Tate's version was the version of 'Lear' that audiences almost always saw, from the Restoration through to the Romantic period. It wasn't performed at all when George III began to suffer from mental health problems, and then, after his death, the literary original began to be used again.
ShelfmarkAB.1.213.17
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on02/11/12
AuthorAudubon, John James
TitleOrnithological biography: or an account of the habits of the birds of the United States of America
ImprintEdinburgh: Adam & Charles Black,
Date of Publication1831-1849[i.e.1839]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a complete 5-volume set of Audubon's "Ornithological biography" in their original salmon-pink cloth bindings (the existing set in NLS is incomplete, lacking vol. 5). The work was written by Audubon in collaboration with the Scottish naturalist William MacGillivray; it was intended as a text companion to the elephant folio volumes comprising the plates of "Birds of America". Audubon's last three visits to Scotland in the 1830s were primarily devoted to working with MacGillivray in Edinburgh on the book. The text was published separately from the plates to circumvent the Copyright Act, which would have required that Audubon deposit sets of "Birds of America" with the UK legal deposit libraries.
ShelfmarkRB.m.741-745
Acquired on19/10/12
AuthorRussell, Robert Frankland
TitleDeer stalking in the Highlands.
Imprint[London]: J. Dickinson
Date of Publication1839
LanguageEnglish
NotesRobert Frankland (1784-1849) was a talented amateur artist who later assumed by royal licence the surname of Russell, after Frankland, on inheriting Chequers Court in Buckinghamshire from his kinsman Sir Robert Greenhill-Russell. This volume was presumably privately printed, and was sold for "the benefit of the York and Aylesbury Infirmary". It consists of a letterpress title page and 10 lithographed plates depicting scenes of deer stalking, from pursuit to successfull kill, after drawings/sketches by Frankland Russell. This particular copy is a presentation copy from him to the Viscountess Strathallan (Lady Amelia Sophia Drummond, wife of the 6th Viscount of Strathallan), perhaps as a token of gratitude for former visits to the Strathallan estate in Stobhall, Perthshire. The book stayed in the Drummond family and was sold in 2012 as part of the library of the late 17th Earl of Perth. Only other copy is recorded, in the British Library, which has a MS title page dated '1836'.
ShelfmarkRB.l.280
Acquired on28/09/12
AuthorAnon
TitleThe speeches of the six condemn'd Lords at their tryals in Westminster-Hall.
Imprint[London: s.n.]
Date of Publication1716
LanguageEnglish
NotesAfter the failure of the Jacobite rising in 1715/16, the British government was quick to dispense justice to those who took a prominent role in the rising, most notably to members of the aristocracy who might pose a future risk to the recently established Hanoverian monarchy. This rare broadside gives the text of speeches by six Jacobite lords in the House of Lords on 18-19 January 1716 after they had been impeached for treason. Four of these six lords, who all pleaded guilty, were Scots: William Maxwell, 5th Earl of Nithsdale, Robert Dalzell, 5th Earl of Carnwath, William Gordon, 6th Viscount Kenmure, and William Nairne, 2nd Lord Nairne. The other two were English, Baron Widdrington, and the Earl of Derwentwater, leader of the uprising in the north of England. All six of them were sentenced to death but four of them received reprieves, and only Kenmure and Derwentwater, who both had military commands in the rising, were actually beheaded on Tower Hill on 24 February 1716. The broadside also gives Derwentwater's last speech before his execution, in which he regretted having pleaded guilty and reasserted his loyalty to the Jacobite cause. Kenmure made no formal speech before his death. He is recorded as expressing regret that he had not had time to order a black suit to die in and for having accepted George I's authority by pleading guilty. In a letter apparently written to a fellow peer the night before his execution, he explained that a formal scaffold speech on his allegiances might damage Carnwath's chances of obtaining a pardon and he stressed that he was a protestant, acting purely from loyal duty to James, the exiled son of King James II/VII. The broadside has three crude woodcut illustrations, which bear little relation to the events described in the text below. Only one other, imperfect, copy of this broadside is recorded by ESTC, in the Bodleian library. This particularly copy was part of the collection of the 17th earl of Perth, sold at auction in 2012.
ShelfmarkRB.l.279
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on31/08/12
AuthorAnon
TitleThe bird-fancier's companion; or, a true and easy way of hatching and bringing forth canary birds. 2nd ed.
ImprintEdinburgh: A. Donaldson & J. Reid for William Coke,
Date of Publication1763
LanguageEnglish
NotesOnly two other copies of this book on canaries are recorded in ESTC and no first edition is recorded anywhere. The text is taken from a work first printed in London "A new way of breeding canary birds" (1742), which was also reissued as the second part of "The bird fancier's necessary companion and sure guide" (London, 1760-62). The work opens with chapters on the different breeds of canary and about how to make the best choice from the birds imported into "England" by German traders. The import of caged birds into Scotland is likely to have been though Leith, at that time the main entry point in Scotland for foreign goods, which would explain why the book was printed for a Leith-based bookseller, William Coke. The book goes on to cover breeding of canaries, health tips and how to make them sing. It closes with a section on native wild birds which were often kept as caged birds: skylarks, goldfinches and linnets. The book is illustrated with a frontispiece and a plate showing how to set up a bird trap, as well as three plates depicting the three aforementioned native song birds. The plates were engraved by Edinburgh-based Thomas Phinn (1728-c.1770).
ShelfmarkRB.s.2851
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on31/08/12
AuthorKazumasa Ogawa & James Murdoch
TitleSights and Scenes on the Tokaido.
ImprintTokyo: K. Ogawa
Date of Publication1892
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis handsome volume was one of a series of views of Japan that the pioneering photographer, Kazumasa Ogawa (1860-1930) produced in the 1890s. Ogawa set out to photograph a Japanese society that was rapidly vanishing. His images recorded Japanese life, customs, culture and scenery at a time when Japan was modernising after emerging from self-imposed isolation during the second half of the 19th century. The photographs were then reproduced using the collotype process, a high quality photomechanical process capable of creating sharp images with a wide variety of tones. Ogawa published and printed all of the collotypes personally from the original prints, becoming a master of the process. His collotype books all had distinctive paper covers, lithographed in colour with a repeating pattern of concentric overlapping half circles, stylized clouds with leaves inside and breaking waves in silver. This particular book traces the route of the historic Tokaido (Road of the Eastern Sea) which starts in Tokyo and follows the Pacific coast for 320 miles where it joins the Nakasendo (Central Mountain Road) at Kusatsu. There are 20 black and white collotype plates containing a total of 44 images based on photographs by Ogawa himself, another Japanese photographer, Kusakabe Kimbei, the Italian photographer Adolfo Farsari, and also one by a Scot, William K. Burton (William Kinnimond Burton, an engineer and photographer, who in 1887 was appointed as first professor of sanitary engineering at Tokyo Imperial University). Ogawa clearly had an international readership in mind for his books. For the descriptive text in English which accompanied each plate of this book, he turned to another ex-pat Scot based in Japan, James Murdoch (1856-1921). Murdoch was born in Kincardineshire; from humble origins he was able to graduate M.A. with first-class honours in classics in 1879 from Aberdeen University and take up a scholarship at Oxford. After returning to Aberdeen he then emigrated to Australia in 1881, where he worked as a teacher and journalist. In 1889 he became a lecturer in European history at the First Higher School in Tokyo, an elite institution which young men attended before entering Tokyo Imperial University. His job gave him time to pursue a literary career as well, including writing a novel, "Ayame-san", which was published in Japan and London. Apart from a brief spell in South America and London, Murdoch remained in Japan until 1917, marrying a Japanese woman and working in various teaching jobs. He wrote three volumes of a history of the country before returning to Australia where he taught Japanese. The volume was acquired by NLS when the library of the 17th Earl of Perth was sold at auction in 2012.
ShelfmarkFB.l.408
Reference Sourceshttp://www.baxleystamps.com/litho/ogawa/ogawa_tokaido.shtml; Australian Dictionary of Biography
Acquired on31/08/12
AuthorEvelyn, John.
TitleSilva: or a discourse of forest-trees.
ImprintYork: A. Ward for J. Dodsley
Date of Publication1776
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a magnificent binding of a York printing of the 17th-century English scholar John Evelyn's "Silva". The binding has been done by James Scott of Edinburgh, generally acknowledged as the finest bookbinder in Scotland in the 18th-century and indeed one of the finest in Britain at this time. Both volumes are bound in brown tree calf with gilt column style tools and musical trophy on the boards and Minerva ornament on the spines. Vol. 1 contains Scott's binder's label on the title page. The book has a distinguished provenance, as identified in J.S. Loudon's bibliography of Scott's work (JS 62). There is an inscription "Lauderdale" on the title page of vol. 1, which indicates that the book formerly belonged to James Maitland, 7th Earl of Lauderdale (1718-1789) and was presumably bound for him. It was sold by the 15th Earl at Sotheby's in 1950 and bought by the famous book collector Major John Roland Abbey (1894-1969) and has his bookplate on the front pastedowns. It was sold again at Sotheby's in 1967 and was acquired by NLS when the library of the 17th Earl of Perth was sold at auction in 2012.
ShelfmarkBdg.m.173-174
Reference SourcesJ.S. Loudon, James Scott and William Scott, bookbinders, 1980.
Acquired on31/08/12
AuthorGeorge Richardson
TitleA new drawing book of ornaments in the antique style.
ImprintLondon
Date of Publication1812
LanguageEnglish
NotesOriginally published in 1795, this reissue with a variant title and the plates signed and dated "Design'd & Engraved by G. Richardson & Son; And Publish'd as the Act directs, London, Jan. 1. 1812." A further edition was issued in 1816. The fine aquatint plates are all numbered and titled, showing examples of rich foliage ornament for friezes, designs of ornaments for chimney pieces, ornaments for pilasters or sunk pannels, etc. There is little doubt that Richardson (who may have come from Inveresk, Midlothian) was closely associated with the Adam brothers earlier in his career. At the age of about 20 he was involved, albeit in a minor capacity and under James Adam's direction, in turning Robert Adam's plates of and commentary on Diocletian's Palace at Split into a publishable book (this was published in 1764 as Ruins of the Palace of the Emperor Diocletian at Spalatro in Dalmatia. Richardson accompanied James Adam on his Grand Tour from 1760 to 1763 and had plenty of opportunity to study the remains of ancient architecture and painting. As well as the 1795 and 1816 editions mentioned above, the National Library of Scotland also holds two copies of Richardson's major 1776 work A Book of Ceilings, one with coloured plates.
ShelfmarkRB.m.746
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes and notes on A Book of Ceilings, also in the Important Acquisitions Directory
Acquired on24/08/12
TitlePennsylvania Packet and Daily Advertiser
ImprintPhiladelphia: John Dunlap,
Date of Publication1787-88
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a collection of individual issues of the "Pennsylvania Packet and Daily Advertiser", from 24 July 1787 through 27 November 1788, each containing poems or songs by Robert Burns, together with two issues of the Packet (7 July and 16 July 1788) containing the original publisher's advertisement for the first American edition of Burns's Poems. Included also is an issue ( 28 August 1787) advertising "A select collection of the most favourite Scots tunes, with variations for the piano forte or harpsichord [sic]", composed by Alexander Reinagle. The "Pennsylvania Packet" was America's first successful daily newspaper and is a much prized source for history of the fledgling American republic and the creation of its constitution. The collection contains all of the appearances of works by Burns to have been printed in the newspaper but for one (the "Scotch Drink"); they precede publication of the first American edition of Burns's poems and are therefore likely to be the first examples of Burns in print in the USA. They also provide evidence of the close trading and cultural ties between Scotland and the USA, in particular between the cities of Philadelphia and Edinburgh, in the late 1780s. Burns's "Poems chiefly in the Scottish dialect" was first published in Kilmarnock in 1786 and then, to great acclaim, in Edinburgh the following year. Copies of these editions were soon available across the Atlantic, and Peter Stewart, a Scots printer and bookseller, and George Hyde, a Scots bookbinder, both of Philadelphia, decided to publish the first American edition. Rather than issue any proposals for printing they had 25 individual poems published at regular intervals in the "Pennsylvania Packet", from 24 July 1787 to 14 June 1788, a tried and tested means of advertising new publications, with their edition being published on 7 July 1788. Burns's poems clearly had a positive impact on their American readership; the selected poems were chosen to portray him as a sentimental, God-fearing ploughman, a working man at one with nature and sympathetic to the aims of the American colonists in freeing themselves from British control. Among the poems printed in the newspaper are: The rigs o' barley, The Cotter's Saturday Night, To a louse, To ruin, Epistle to a friend; as well as the review of Burns's work by Henry Mackenzie, first printed in "The Lounger", Edinburgh, 9 December 1786 and then in "The London Chronicle" which brought Burns to the attention of a wider public.
ShelfmarkRB.l.281
Reference SourcesEgerer, A Bibliography of Robert Burns, Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd, 1964; Anna M. Painter "Poems of Burns before 1800", in The Library, 4th ser. 12 (1931-32), pp. 434-456; Leith Davis, Sharon Alker and Holly Faith Nelson, Robert Burns and Transatlantic Culture, Farnham: Ashgate, 2012, pp. 78-82
Acquired on24/08/12
AuthorScott, James
TitleExtracts from lectures on phrenology: delivered to the Hampshire Phrenological Society, Portsmouth, in 1834. + Testimonials in favour of James Scott.
ImprintGosport: J. Hammond
Date of Publication1838
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis volume contains three works, presumably printed for the author James Scott (1785-1860), on the occasion of his application for the post of superintendent physician at the Middlesex Lunatic Asylum. It contains two copies of his "Extracts from lectures on phrenology" as well as 63 pages of lengthy testimonials from colleagues. Scott was a Shetlander, born in Sandness on the Mainland. In 1803 he joined the Navy, seeing action in the Napoleonic Wars. He continued to serve after the Wars as a ship's surgeon, with a spell studying medicine on half-pay at the University of Paris. In 1826 he was appointed lecturer to the Royal Navy Hospital at Haslar at Gosport in Hampshire, and became curator of its medical museum. Scott was an influential supporter of phrenology in mental health diagnosis and treatment. By the time of these publications he was principal of the lunatic asylum at Haslar. The extracts from his lectures cover a wide range of topics from the development of phrenology, the philosophy of the mind and treatment of individual cases during his time at Haslar. In 1829 he met Sir Walter Scott, which took place around the time when the latter was preparing a new revised edition of his Shetland-based novel "The Pirate", for the 'Magnum Opus' edition of Scott's novels. The two men subsequently corresponded, with James Scott providing for the novelist a transcription of an account of the Sword Dance of Papa Stour. Walter Scott makes an appearance in "Extracts" in the section devoted to cranial dissection. In a long footnote on pp. 40-41 James Scott discusses the dissection of the author's brain. Quite what Walter Scott, who during his lifetime was dismissive of phrenology, would have made of this is another matter. Despite James Scott's impressive C.V. and breadth of learning he was unsuccessful in his application for the job in Middlesex. This particular volume appears to have been a family copy, containing his bookplate bearing his initials and the family motto 'Doe weell and let them say'.
ShelfmarkAB.1.213.30(1-3)
Reference Sourceshttp://shetlopedia.com/James_Scott_R.N.; Bookseller's notes
Acquired on17/08/12
Author[Cameron, William]
TitlePoems on various subjects.
ImprintEdinburgh: Gordon and Murray
Date of Publication1780
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is the only published collection of poems by the Church of Scotland minister William Cameron (1751-1811), who was educated at the Marischal College, Aberdeen, where he had been a pupil of James Beattie. It has been bought for its contemporary tree calf binding by James Scott of Edinburgh - NLS already has two copies of this book with Scott bindings. The title page has Scott's circular binder's ticket stuck on at the foot of the page (Scott was the first Scottish bookbinder to have used a ticket). This copy is not recorded in J.S. Loudon's bibliography of Scott bindings but the tools used on the binding can be found in Loudon's book. The boards are decorated with Greek key borders, the spine with olive morocco label, and with musical instrument ornaments. This copy was one of two in the library at Invercauld Castle, near Braemar. Both copies were bound by James Scott (the other binding does not contain Scott's ticket). Invercauld has been the seat of the Farquharson family since at least the sixteenth century. It seems very probable that the Farquharson family knew Cameron well, as of the three copies of this book identified by Loudon in 1980 as being in Scott bindings, two (JS 74 and 74.5) have associations with the family, one is inscribed with the names of F. Farquharson and C. Farquharson, the other is noted as 'a present ... from Mr. Farquharson 1781'. The family may in fact have been responsible for distributing the book to their friends. The binding became available when the library of Invercauld was sold at auction in 2012.
ShelfmarkBdg.s.954
Reference SourcesJ.H. Loudon, James Scott and William Scott, bookbinders (1980); Bookseller's notes
Acquired on03/08/12
AuthorDavid Hume
TitleEsposizione della contestazione insorta fra il Signor Davide Hume e il Signor Gian Jacopo Russo.
Imprint[Venice] : Appresso Luigi Pavini,
Date of Publication1767
LanguageItalian
NotesThe quarrel between the two 18th-century philosophers, David Hume and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, is one of the famous incidents in the history of Enlightenment Europe. In 1763 Hume had gone to Paris as under-secretary to the newly appointed British ambassador, Lord Hertford. He quickly became a celebrity in the French capital, moving in court circles and among the literary salons. In 1765 he offered to find a home in England for Rousseau, as the latter found himself persecuted in France and his native Switzerland for his radical views. The two men met for the first time in December 1765, and Rousseau accompanied Hume on his journey home to England. Initially both philosophers were full of admiration for each other, but once in England the relationship quickly soured, despite Hume's efforts to secure him a royal pension and suitable residence. At their final meeting in March 1766, the notoriously belligerent Rousseau accused Hume of conspiring against him. In June he wrote to Hume, accusing the Scot of bringing him to England to dishonour him. Hume, sensing that Rousseau would try to destroy his reputation in France, fought back angrily in a war of words. He then collected his correspondence with Rousseau, had copies made, and sent one set over to Paris, where in October that year was published, the "Expose succinct de la contestation qui s'est elevee entre M. Hume et M. Rousseau". An English version appeared the following month, and this very rare Italian translation, by an unknown translator, appeared the following year. Baron von Grimm, a German man of letters based in France, famously remarked 'A declaration of war between two great European powers couldn't have made more noise than this quarrel'. Hume was later to regret publication of the work, as public opinion was largely on the side of Rousseau, who returned to France in 1767.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2842
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on29/06/12
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