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 727 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 727:
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|Title||A catalogue of foreign and native forest-trees; also fruit trees, evergreens, flowering shrubs & sold by Robert Anderson, seedsman and nurseryman ... Edinburgh. AND
A catalogue of foreign and native forest-trees, flowering shrubs, evergreens, flowering shrubs and greenhouse plants & sold by Archibald Dickson and Sons, & at Hassendeanburn, near Hawick
|Imprint||Edinburgh : R. Fleming and A. Neill; [Hawick : s.n.]|
|Date of Publication||c.1785; c.1795|
|Notes||These slim volumes from the late 18th century are very rare examples of Scottish nurserymen's catalogues. Robert Anderson's catalogue is unrecorded whereas there are two other copies (both in the UK) of Archibald Dickson's catalogue. Robert Anderson, who later worked as Anderson, Leslie & Co., had a large nursery at Broughton Park in Edinburgh and specialised in fruit trees, especially pears. In 1798, the whole nursery stock was acquired by another Edinburgh concern, Dicksons and Shade. Unusually, the catalogue is priced. In the advertisement preceding his lengthy address on the merits of larch (introduced to Scotland in the 1720s), Anderson expresses his hope that the catalogue 'will be of great service in promoting the planting of this country, which is so much wanted at present.' The library holds another catalogue (with 44 pages) by Anderson, which may predate this one.
Archibald Dickson was one of the leading nurserymen in Scotland. Members of the family also ran tree nurseries in Perth, Edinburgh and Belfast. The first was founded in 1728 by Robert Dickson and by 1835 five generations of the family had been involved in the trade. The National Library of Scotland also holds day books and price books of the firm from the 18th and 19th centuries in the Manuscript Collections (MSS.29489-29490 and MS.3354).
|Shelfmark||RB.s.2701 ; RB.s.2702|
|Reference Sources||Desmond, Ray. Dictionary of British and Irish botanists and horticulturists including plant collectors, flower painters and garden designers. London, 1994.
Harvey, John. Early horticultural catalogues. Bath, 1973.|
|Title||A collection of 22 novels by George Woden in original dust jackets.|
|Imprint||London: Hutchinson (and others)|
|Date of Publication||1919-1951|
|Notes||This set of 22 novels were presented by the author George Woden during the 1940s and 1950s to his daughter Margery Noel, better known as M. Noel Slaney (1915-2000), the Scottish artist. Unusually all have their original dust jackets and show a variety of artistic styles. The artists include Philip Youngman Carter, Ben Pares, Wyndham Payne, Ley Kenyon and Lance Cattermole.
Woden was the pseudonym of George Wilson Slaney (1888-1978) who was born in
Staffordshire of Scottish parents. He abandoned engineering to study art and music and
eventually became a teacher in Glasgow, working there from 1913. He wrote over 30
works, including novels and plays, many of which were set in Scotland between 1913
and 1952. He was President of Scottish Pen from 1944-1947.
|Author||[Dodsley, Robert, ed.]|
|Title||A collection of poems in six volumes.|
|Imprint||London : J. Dodsley|
|Date of Publication||1770|
|Notes||This 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.|
|Reference Sources||J.H. Loudon, James Scott and William Scott, bookbinders (1980); Bookseller's notes |
|Title||A decorative box containing six miniature publications by David Bryce of Glasgow |
|Imprint||Glasgow: David Bryce and Son|
|Date of Publication||ca. 1890|
|Notes||A collection of six miniature publications by David Bryce of Glasgow housed in a metal hinged box which features images of a Chinese dragon and flying cranes. The books measure only 27 mm. tall and are bound in flexible red roan leather with pages of very fine, thin India paper. The titles comprise: 'Old English, Scotch and Irish Songs'; 'Witty, Humorous and Merry Thoughts'; 'Golden Thoughts from Great Authors; 'Poems chiefly in the Scottish dialect by Robert Burns' and 'The Smallest English Dictionary in the World'. The sixth title, 'The Tourist's Conversational Guide to English, French, German, Italian' by J. T. Loth, is regarded as perhaps the rarest of all the tiny Bryce miniature books. Tiny bookplates in the volumes indicate that they were owned by Rabbi Kalman L Levitan (d. 2002), the first president of the Miniature Book Society and also Harold Stanley Marcus (1905-2002) president of the luxury retailer Neiman Marcus and one of the most important and influential American businessmen of the 20th century.|
|Reference Sources||Bondy p. 107-8.|
|Title||A comical dialogue between Sawney and Bonaparte.|
|Imprint||Newcastle: D. Bass|
|Date of Publication||[1803-1805?]|
|Notes||A spoof conversation between a Scotsman and Napoleon Bonaparte in which Bonaparte threatens to invade Scotland and bring 'liberty' with him. It is a patriotic dialogue in which the 'Sawney' tells Napoleon that he is not wanted and will be resisted by the Highland Watch. The exchange ends with Sawney saying 'There's no a man in a' Scotland but would fight to the last drap o' his blood for the Land o' Cakes' and daring Napoleon to come. Sawney was an English nickname for a Scotsman, now no longer used. The Library also holds a chapbook along similar lines 'Sawney & Bonaparte a dialogue' printed in Stirling in 1807.|
|Author||[Smollett, Tobias, ed.]|
|Title||A compendium of authentic and entertaining voyages digested in a chronological series.|
|Imprint||London: R. and J. Dodsley, |
|Date of Publication||1756.|
|Notes||This seven-volume anthology of travel writing was partially edited by the Scottish author Tobias Smollett. In 1753 he was contracted, for the considerable sum of £150, to complete the work by the following year. Smollett was at the time working on a wide range of literary projects in his roles of translator, editor and critic; he was also living an expensive and hectic social life in London. It is perhaps little wonder that he later admitted that his overall contribution to the work was actually very limited. The seven volumes consist of edited accounts of the trade and military expeditions of major European explorers and adventurers such as Columbus, Vasco da Gama, Magellan, Francis Drake and Cortes. They contain several plates, including portraits and illustrations of exotic places and peoples, such as cannibals in the Caribbean, as well as 20 maps. A second edition appeared in 1766. This particular set of volumes belonged to the library of the Phelip[p]s family of Montacute House near Yeovil in Somerset.|
|Reference Sources||Oxford Dictionary of National Biography|
|Title||A dramatic dialogue between the King of France and the Pretender.|
|Imprint||London: printed by T. Gardner|
|Date of Publication||1746|
|Notes||This 12-page pamphlet contains an unrecorded poem in blank verse printed in London in 1746. The anonymous work, signed only 'By a young gentleman of Oxford', is an imaginative recreation of a conversation between King Louix XV of France (1710-1774) and Charles Edward Stuart (1720-1788), known as the Young Pretender, following events at the Battle of Culloden. The Battle of Culloden, on 16 April 1746, marked an end to the Jacobite uprising, which started in 1745 and Charles Stuart's attempt to restore the House of Stuart to the British throne. While the King refers to Prince William, duke of Cumberland (1721-1765) as 'that beardless, unexperienc'd Boy', the Pretender recounts the abilities of the Duke in battle: 'But, soon as e'er the sad and dreadful Name / Of Cumberland was whisper'd through the Lines, / Each Face grew pale, a sudden Panick seiz'd / Each Scottish Heart, as if some mighty Power / With him had join'd, to disappoint our Hopes.'
The Pretender goes on to relate his troops' valiant attempts before they 'fell a victim to their dreadful Duke', and Charles himself was forced 'reluctant, from the bloody Field'. The poem ends on a pessimistic note with an order to the Pretender from the King: 'Betake thee strait to some religious Choir, / ... Where, in Peace you may forever live, / And think no more of ruling o'er a People, / Who both despise Religion and their Prince.' This is the only recorded copy of the poem and supplements the Library's rich holdings of printed material relating to Jacobites and Jacobitism.
|Reference Sources||Bookseller's catalogue; Oxford DNB|
|Title||A full and true account of the cruel and inhuman behaviour of a certain late M[ember]r of P[arliament] to his lady|
|Imprint||[London? : s.n.]|
|Date of Publication||1785?|
|Notes||This unrecorded broadside from 1785 or 1786 reports on events preceding the abduction of Mary Bowes, countess of Strathmore(1749-1800) by her second husband. Mary's first husband, the ninth earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne, had died in 1776. The following year she married Andrew Robinson Stoney Bowes (1747-1810), against better advice, but was canny enough to sign an antenuptial trust preventing him from having any control over her fortune. Stoney, having taken her family name of Bowes, quickly found about the document and forced her to revoke it. He proved to be a violent and abusive husband and eventually, after eight years together, Mary escaped from him in February 1785, going into hiding in London under a false name. She then filed for divorce on the grounds of his ill-treatment of her. This broadside outlines her reasons for doing so, giving examples of Bowes's cruelty, and repeats her request for a restraining order against her husband "for the preservation of this exhibitant's life and person from bodily harm". Mary's worst fears were to be realised in November 1786, when Bowes had her abducted and taken to the north of England where she was cruelly treated and received death threats. She escaped, and Bowes was arrested and he and his accomplices were arrested and put on trial for the kidnapping. The trial thrilled and scandalised contemporary Georgian society, who to begin with firmly sympathised with the countess. Bowes was found guilty and sentenced to three years in prison. In the course of this trial and at subsequent trials, which dealt with the control of the Strathmore estate and Mary's divorce proceedings, details of the countess's own excesses and licentious behaviour began to leak out, which changed the public mood against her. |
|Reference Sources||Oxford Dictionary of National Biography|
|Title||A general view of the national police system, recommended by the Select Committee of Finance to the House of Commons.|
|Imprint||London : Printed by H. Baldwin and Son|
|Date of Publication||1799|
|Notes||Patrick Colquhoun (1745-1820), born in Dumbarton, was a magistrate and founder of the Thames police, a river police force to protect trade on the Thames. In 1796 his "Treatise on the police of the metropolis" was published anonymously, outlining the author's plan for an improved police system. In 1799 Colquhoun published this work, "A general view of the national police system", on the topic of the proposed board of police revenue. This is a first edition. ESTC lists only four other copies held in the UK.|
|Reference Sources||Oxford DNB|
|Title||A geographical history of Nova Scotia|
|Imprint||London: Paul Vaillant|
|Date of Publication||1749|
|Notes||This is one of the earliest printed accounts of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, which describes the rival claims of the French and British to the region. Writing for prospective settlers, the anonymous author in the preface says he has drawn on his own observations and those of the French Jesuit priest turned historian Pierre Charlevoix when writing his book. He stresses the importance of Nova Scotia to British trade and the security of the other British North American settlements in view of increasing tensions with French settlers (which eventually led to war). The book also includes descriptions of the Indians living in the area and their relations with the European settlers.|
|Reference Sources||Bookseller's catalogue|
|Title||A grammar of the Carnataca language|
|Imprint||Madras: College Press|
|Date of Publication||1820|
|Notes||This is the first published grammar of the Kannada language of India. The author was a member of the McKerrell family of Hillhouse in Ayrshire. He travelled to India in 1805 and later became master of the mint in Madras. In his preface he explains that he was initially employed in a "judicial situation" in the region of British Carnara (Karnataka - formerly known as the kingdom of Mysore) and was required to learn the Carnataca (Kannada) language of the local inhabitants. He proposed compiling a grammar as early as 1809, but ill health and demands of work delayed the publication of this book until 1820. A new grammar of the Kannada language, based on McKerrell's earlier work, was published in 1859 in Bangalore.|
|Title||A health, the Duke of Richmond and the Earl of Clare made their hired mobb[sic] drink in the Court of Requests, and places adjacent, on Friday 10th of June, 1715.|
|Date of Publication||1715|
|Notes||This is a curious piece of anti-Jacobite printed ephemera: a small handbill with the text of a toast proposed by two Whig peers, the Earl of Clare and Duke of Richmond. The toast wishes ill-will to, amongst others, the Pretender (James, son of the late, deposed James II/VII), the French king and all those who do not love King George I. At the time a Jacobite rebellion against the Hanoverian king, organised by leading Tory noblemen, seemed imminent, but it never came to fruition in England. In Scotland, however, events took a different course and an organised armed rebellion took place in the autumn of that year.|
|Author||Sir Robert Lambert Playfair (1828-1899)|
|Title||A history of Arabia Felix or Yemen, from the commencement of the Christian era to the present time including an account of the British settlement of Aden|
|Imprint||Bombay: Printed for the Government at the Education Society's Press, Byculla|
|Date of Publication||1859|
|Notes||Sir Robert Lambert Playfair (1828-1899), colonial administrator and author, was born at St Andrews, Fife. He was the grandson of James Playfair, principal of the University of St Andrews, and the third son of George Playfair (1782-1846), chief inspector-general of hospitals in Bengal. After studying at St Andrews University and at Addiscombe College, he entered the Royal (Madras) Artillery in 1846.
Between 1848 and May 1862, Playfair was involved in a various official duties in the Middle East: from November 1848 to May 1850 he was in a quasi-political mission to Syria; from March 1852 until September 1853 he served as assistant executive engineer at Aden; and from 1854 to 1862 he served as the assistant to the first political resident in Aden.
Playfair was a qualified interpreter of Arabic, and used his time at Aden to research the history of that part of the Arabian Peninsula. In his 'History of Arabia Felix, or, Yemen ...' (1859), Playfair concentrates on an historical overview of Yemen from the Christian era onwards as he felt that the history of Arabia anterior to Christianity had already been extensively covered. In his preface, Playfair stresses that his goal was to produce a generalist history which could function as both a ready reference, and also as a starting point for more detailed work by future historians.
|Author||Goldsmith, Oliver; James Stewart and Harrison Weir|
|Title||A history of the earth and animated nature. |
|Imprint||London, Blackie & Son, Paternoster Buildings, Glasgow and Edinburgh|
|Date of Publication||1876-79|
|Notes||'A history of the earth' by the poet Oliver Goldsmith was first published in 1774, and was republished throughout the 19th century. The 1853 edition (NLS copy at T.351.h) and subsequent editions published by W. G. Blackie of Glasgow include numerous fine illustrations, and the original artwork for some of these illustrations has now been acquired by NLS.
Blackie's chose to publish an edition of Goldsmith's work as part of their programme of scientific publications. To accompany their edition, Blackie's commissioned these high-quality illustrations, which were reproduced to a high standard using chromolithography. A comparison of the original watercolours and the published plates shows that the reproductions were very accurate. There are 24 watercolours, all by James Stewart, except one by Harrison Weir depicting horses. The images measure 5 × 8 inches (127 × 204 mm) on sheets of 7 × 10 inches (177 × 254 mm), and are in new mounts. James Stewart (1791-1863) was born in Edinburgh and studied under Robert Scott. He exhibited at the Royal Academy, the Royal Scottish Academy and the British Institute, and worked on portraits, landscapes and (with Robert Scott) as an engraver. Harrison William Weir (1824-1906) was born in Lewes, and worked chiefly as an animal painter. Charles Darwin was one of his friends.
The editor for the improved edition of 1876 was William Keddie F.R.S.E. who had recently been appointed science lecturer at the Free Church College in Glasgow. Included with the watercolours is a the publisher's own file copy of the 1879 impression of this edition, partly unopened and in the original binding of decorated cloth, each volume with the Blackie bookplate. This is a later impression to the set already in NLS at shelfmark Cp.2, where both volumes are dated 1876. Most of what remains of Blackie & Son's archive is now in Glasgow University Archives, and it is good to make these missing items available to the public as well.
|Reference Sources||Blackie, Agnes. 'Blackie & Son 1809-1959: a short history of the firm'. London & Glasgow: Blackie & Son Ltd., 1959
|Title||A letter addressed to the Hon. John Lynch, chairman of the special congressional committee of the United States Senate, on the navigation interest|
|Imprint||Boston: A. Williams|
|Date of Publication||1869|
|Notes||This pamphlet relates to USA's efforts to rebuild its merchant navy, which had been left in a parlous state after the Civil War. Efforts to restore the American merchant fleet to its former glory were hampered by an American law which prevented any ship flying the American flag which had not been built in the USA and had been launched in American waters. Supporters of free trade in the USA were anxious to improve the situation by buying the latest metal-built steamers from British shipyards thus taking advantage of advances in British shipbuilding technology. A Boston-based captain in the merchant marine, John Codman (1814-1900), was sent to Scotland by the New York Board of Underwriters to observe shipbuilding on the River Clyde. His observations are printed in this pamphlet, which reproduces a letter written by him from Dumbarton on November 15 1869. The letter was addressed to Republican congressman John Lynch, who was in the US House of Representatives and was at the time serving as chairman of the Committee on Expenditures in the Department of the Navy. Codman, who had spent his early career sailing on clipper ships, argues passionately that the days of wooden ships for trade are over, and the current ban on purchasing the latest iron ships built in Europe is "neither more nor less than national suicide". He rails at the restrictive practices of "antiquated shipbuilders on the eastern shore" and contrasts the lack of American ambition with the situation on the Clyde, "the natural ship-producing district of the world". Codman observes that the Clyde shipbuilders are exploiting the area's "well organized system of labor, the cheapness of iron and coal", as well as the workforce's satisfaction with "moderate wages", to dominate the world shipbuilding market. Codman's pamphlet was one of series of seven produced in 1869-70 where issued together with the collective title page 'Free ships for foreign commerce'.|
|Reference Sources||Bookseller's notes|