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 721 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 email@example.com
Important Acquisitions 466 to 480 of 721:
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|Title||Petri Bembi Cardinalis viri clariss. Rerum Venetarum historiae libri XII.|
|Imprint||Lutetiae [Paris]: Ex officina Michaelis Vascosani, via Jacobea ad insigne Fontis|
|Date of Publication||1551|
|Notes||This is a fine addition to the National Library's holdings of books with important early Scottish provenance. The book itself is important, the history of Venice by Pietro Bembo (1470-1547), the famous Italian scholar and churchman. The library has two other copies of this finely-printed volume (Nha.B188, BCL.B3451), but both are imperfect, whereas this is complete, including the folding plates at the end. However, this donation is particularly important because it was owned by at least three well-known sixteenth-century Scots. The title-page is inscribed 'Adamus Episcopus Orchaden[sis]' - this is Adam Bothwell, Bishop of Orkney (c. 1526-1593), the bishop who joined the reformers and whose extensive library has been recorded. On folio 1 and on the verso of folio 311 is the inscription 'Hen. Sinclar' - this is Henry Sinclair (1508-1565), Bishop of Ross and another known collector of books, who wrote additions to Boece's History of Scotland. On the recto following the title-page is the inscription 'W Santclair of roislin knecht', which also appears on the verso of folio 311. This is William Sinclair, who succeeded to the estates of Roslin in 1554 (see Lawlor, p.95). The Sinclairs of Roslin are one of the more famous Scottish families, associated in popular memory with Rosslyn Chapel which they founded. It seems likely that the book came to Henry Sinclair soon after it was printed, then passed to William Sinclair, and then into the library of Adam Bothwell. On the cover is the date 'Aug. 18, 1593', five days before Bothwell's death.
More recently, the book has the bookplate of Arthur Kay designed by Kate Cameron.
The existence of this copy was known, as it appeared for sale in 1814 and 1968 (recorded in our interleaved copy of Durkan & Ross). It is very satisfying to finally add it to the national collections.|
|Reference Sources||Durkan & Ross, Early Scottish Libraries
Cherry, 'Library of Henry Sinclair', Bibliotheck 4 (1963), no. 1
Lawlor, H. J., 'Notes on the library of the Sinclairs of Rosslyn', Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 1898|
|Title||Pferd-Artzney-Kunst, oder, Gruendlicher Unterricht, die aeusserliche und innerliche Gebrechen der Pferde aus dem Grund zu heilen
|Imprint||Stuttgart: Johan Nicolaus Stoll|
|Date of Publication||1753|
|Notes||This is the first edition of an important 18th-century German-language text on horses written by a Scottish horse doctor. The author, Dionysius Robertson, was a man of seemingly humble origins who became one of the leading men in his field in Europe. Little is known of his life apart from the information he provided in the preface to later editions of this work. From an early age he appears to have worked with horses as a groom, which also gave him the opportunity to learn about the diseases of horses; in later life, his military service also gave him experience of treating bullet wounds in horses. In 1735 he entered into the service of lieutenant-general Sir James Campbell of Lawers, Perthshire. Four years later he left Scotland to travel with his master. In 1742 Campbell was sent to Flanders in charge of the British cavalry, when the British army started a military campaign against the French in the War of the Austrian Succession. Robertson accompanied Campbell and was present at the battle of Dettingen. After his master was killed at the battle of Fontenoy in 1745, Robertson went on to serve the Austrian general Graf von Burghausen. He stayed on the continent when the War ended in 1747 and worked for Friedrich, Margrave of Bayreuth-Brandenburg, in Bayreuth. The following year he became the veterinary surgeon and equerry of Friedrich's son-in-law, Duke Carl Eugen of Wuerttemberg, where he stayed until 1753. In that same year, in response to what he regarded as the relative lack of written knowledge relating to breaking in horses and their medical treatment, he published "Pferde-Artzney-Kunst" in Stuttgart, dedicating the work to Carl Eugen. The book was a success and at least eight German-language editions were published in the 18th century. Robertson then went on to serve Friedrich Augustus II, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland. In 1757 he left the Elector and eventually settled in the Prussian city of Landsberg on the river Warthe (now Gorzow Wielkopolski in western Poland), where he practised his veterinary skills. He travelled widely in northern Germany during this period and became particularly renowned for his skill in castrating stallions, introducing the practice of cauterisation to Germany, which was the subject of another published work in 1770. This particular copy of the first edition is from the famous Bibliotheca Tiliana, a collection of c. 12,000 books on hunting and related subjects, assembled by the German collector Kurt Lindner, which was dispersed after his death in 1987.|
|Reference Sources||Louis Georges Neumann Biographies veterinaires (Paris, 1896), available at http://web2.bium.univ-paris5.fr/livanc/?cote=extalfo00016&do=livre|
|Title||Photographic views of Loch Katrine and of some of the principal works constructed for introducing the water of Loch Katrine into the city of Glasgow.|
|Imprint||Glasgow: [Glasgow Corporation Water Works], |
|Date of Publication||1889|
|Notes||Loch Katrine, a freshwater loch in the Trossach hills north of Glasgow, was identified in 1853 by John Frederick Bateman, a civil engineer employed by the Glasgow Corporation, as a potential source of clean drinking water for the city. Glasgow had in the previous fifty years suffered major cholera and typhus epidemics due to overcrowding, poor sanitation and a lack of reliable water supply for the majority of its inhabitants. Despite strong opposition, a bill was passed in the House of Lords in 1855 authorising work to go ahead on the construction of a waterworks on the loch. Four years later the works was opened by Queen Victoria; they made a substantial difference to the health of the city. They cost around £1.5 million, a huge sum for those days, but were a major source of civic pride for Glasgow. The Glasgow Corporation Water Works engaged the Glasgow-based photographer, Thomas Annan (1829-1887) to provide a photographic record of the waterworks and the various aqueduct bridges and reservoirs built to facilitate the supply of water to Glasgow, 34 miles away. "Photographic views of Loch Katrine", which consisted of 28 albumen prints by Annan, with accompanying text and in a special binding, was first published in 1877. The book was presumably a limited edition as each copy appears to have been presented by the Lord Provost and members of the Water Committee to local worthies. This is a second issue of the book, dated 1889, with a new title page and five additional prints, which are all group photographs of the Glasgow Corporation Water Commissioners on visits to the Gorbals Water Works and Loch Katrine between 1880 and 1886. As with the 1877 issue it appears to have been produced for presentation by the Lord Provost to prominent individuals. This particular copy was presented to one 'Robert Anderson', probably the local businessman and one-time bailie of Glasgow, Robert Anderson (b. 1846).|
|Reference Sources||A. Aird, Glimpses of Old Glasgow, Glasgow, 1894 (http://gdl.cdlr.strath.ac.uk/airgli/index.html)|
|Title||Photographs of excavations at the Roman fort of Castlecary.|
|Date of Publication||1902|
|Notes||This is a well-preserved album of 16 photographs of excavations along part of the Antonine Wall at Castlecary in Stirlingshire. John Annan (1862-1947) was the older son of Thomas Annan (1829-1887) and a member of the family firm of photographers. John specialized in architectural photography and was known for his photographs of Glasgow slums. These photographs were taken during the excavation of Castlecary fort between March and November 1902. It appears that Annan took these photographs for the article published in volume 37 of the Proceedings of the Scottish Society of Antiquaries (1902-1903).
This album was owned by the Glasgow Archaeological Society, who conducted excavations along the Antonine Wall from 1890. The fort at Castlecary was one of only two defences (from a total of 15), along the 37 mile-long wall, enclosed by stone walls as distinct from ramparts of stone or clay. The archaeological evidence suggests it was built while Agricola was governor between 77 and 84 A.D., prior to the construction of the wall during the middle of the second century. The earliest notice of the fort is probably in an anonymous letter of 1697 describing an excursion to the west of Edinburgh. Castlecary fort was plundered for stone during the construction of the Forth-Clyde Canal in 1770 and was dissected by the Edinburgh-Glasgow railway around 1840. The outer boundary has been further damaged by the main Glasgow to Stirling road (A80).|
|Reference Sources||Robertson, Anne. The Antonine Wall. (Glasgow: Glasgow Archaeological Society, 1990) HP2.90.7857
Hanson, William S. and Maxwell, Gordon S. Rome's north west frontier: the Antonine Wall. (Edinburgh: Edinburgh Press, 1983) H3.83.2259
Christison, D., Buchanan, M. and Anderson, J. 'Excavation of Castlecary fort on the Antonine vallum' in Proceedings of the Scottish Society of Antiquaries 37 (1902-1903), p. 271-346. SCS.SASP.37|
|Author||[Morris, James Archibald]|
|Title||Photographs of the auld brig of Ayr (built about fifteenth century)|
|Date of Publication||1910|
|Notes||This 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.|
|Reference Sources||Bookseller's notes|
|Title||Photographs of the streets and closes of Leith] 8 Albumen prints mounted on card, with the streetnames written in pencil by a later hand, bound in a contemporary [?] album|
|Date of Publication||1860s|
|Notes||These eight albumen prints probably date from the 1860s. They are of the backstreets and closes of Leith, according to internal evidence especially on print 8 showing 'Leith Funeral Establishment', and later annotations in pencil at the foot of the cardboard mounts. They are similar in subject matter to the photographs of Archibald Burns, who famously photographed the slum clearances in Edinburgh, but even more like the photographs in Thomas Annan's The Old Closes & Streets of Glasgow 1868-1877 (1900 edition). Research by historians of photography may reveal more about these important photographs, but it may be that they represent a bridge between the work of Hill and Adamson and the later work of Archibald Burns and Thomas Annan.|
|Title||Physiologia Guillelmi Duncani philosophiae professoris veterani|
|Imprint||Toulouse: Arnaldum Colomerium|
|Date of Publication||1651|
|Notes||This is a rare copy of this work on physiology by the Scot William Duncan and an important addition to the library's collection of books by Scots working abroad. Copies have been traced in the Bibliotheque Nationale, Bibliotheque Municipale (Toulouse), Yale and the National Library of Medicine, but there are no copies in British libraries. Some of the copies appear to have an added engraved title page which is lacking in this copy. Little is known about William Duncan except that he was a teacher in Montauban in the south of France before 1606 when he became a Professor of Philosophy there. He died in 1636. His brother Mark who was born in Roxburghshire c.1570, also worked as an academic in France. He was Professor of Philosophy in Saumur and died in France in 1640.
Lynn Thorndike in The history of magic and experimental science (vol.7) describes it as 'a very backward book' which propounded a 'distinctly Aristotelian' view of the universe. For example Duncan regarded comets as portents of drought, failure of crops, pestilence and the death of leading men. He also believed that most of the water on earth came from the sea via hidden underground channels.|
|Reference Sources||Thorndike, Lynn. The history of magic and experimental science. v.7 (New York, Columbia University Press, 1958) X.81.c
Baxter, J.H. and Fordyce, C.J. 'Books published abroad by Scotmen before 1700' in Records of the Glasgow Bibliographical Society, XI, 1933.|
|Title||Physionomia. Laqual comilo e magistro Michiel Scotto|
|Imprint||Stampata n Venetia, per Bernardin Venetian di Vidali|
|Date of Publication||1507|
|Notes||The birthplace of Michael Scot (1175?-1234?) is not certain. There are some suggestions that he was born in Durham of Borders parentage. Others believe that he was from Balwearie near Kirkcaldy. It is more likely that he was from the Scottish Borders as Scot is a traditionally Borders name, and legends and stories surrounding his magical powers are still common in Southeast Scotland. For example, the division of Eildon Hill into its present three peaks is traditionally credited to his wizardry. Scot studied successively at Oxford and at Paris (where he acquired the title of 'mathematicus'), moved to Bologna, and then to Palermo, where he entered the service of Don Philip, the clerk register of the court of Frederick II, in Sicily.
Though Scot was a serious Aristotelian and one of the great scholars of the 13th century, his varied learning and involvement in alchemy, astrology and astronomy transformed his popular reputation from a man of science to that of a powerful wizard. His name was sufficiently well known to merit a mention in Canto xx of the Dante's Divine Comedy, and Boccaccio uses his name to introduce one of his novels. It is believed that Scot returned to the Scottish Borders for the last few years of his life and was buried in Melrose Abbey, a story that was later embellished by Sir Walter Scott.
Scot's writings on astrology, alchemy and the occult sciences form a trilogy: Liber Introductorius, Liber Particularis and Physionomia (De secretis nature). The Liber Introductorius is a compendium of astrological, scientific and general knowledge and the Liber Particularis is a more advanced treatment of the same topics. The Physionomia is a treatise on human anatomy, physiology and reproduction, along with some zoology followed by an examination of how an individual's nature may be discerned from each part of the body. Much of the text is derived from Arabic and Egyptian authors.
There is no record for this Venice 1507 edition of the Physionomia in COPAC, OCLC, RLIN, CURL or HPB.|
|Author||Byron, George Gordon, Lord|
|Title||Piec Poematów Lorda Birona przelozyl Franciszek Dzierzyrkraj Morawski [Five poems of Lord Byron translated by Morawski]. |
|Imprint||Nakladem autora [Printed for the author]. Leszno. Drukiem Ernesta Günthera. |
|Date of Publication||1853|
|Notes||These are translations of Byron's poems by the soldier and poet Franciszek Morawski (1783-1861), with the translator's notes. Translated here are Byron's Manfred, Mazeppa, The Siege of Corinth, Parisina, and The Prisoner of Chilon. Morawski was a patriot and was Minister for War during the 1830-1 uprising against Russian rule; when the revolt failed, he went into semi-retirement and composed verses and translations of Byron and Racine. There are other early Polish translations, such as those by Adam Mickiewicz and Anton i Odyniec, but this is the first edition of this particular translation. This is a good copy in a contemporary Polish binding.
The Library's interest in developing its Byron collections was given new impetus by the arrival of the John Murray Archive in 2006, with its unrivalled Byron correspondence. Our collections of books in Polish have also taken on new prominence recently, with the arrival of many Polish people to work in Scotland. This is, apparently, the only example of a Polish translation of the works of Byron in our collections. Hopefully we will be able to acquire more.
|Title||Picturesque sketches in Spain taken during ye years 1832 & 1833|
|Date of Publication||1837|
|Notes||This volume of tinted lithographs was David Roberts's first published set of views. After working as a house painter in Edinburgh he became a scene painter at theatres in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Carlisle and London. He began travelling on the continent in the 1820s and visited Spain and Tangier on the recommendation of his fellow Scottish artist David Wilkie. Roberts's skill as a draughtsman and his love of architecture are clearly to be seen in this work. Though not as well-known as his later sketches of the Holy Land and Egypt, these lithographs helped to establish Roberts as a topographical artist and aided his election as a Royal Academician in 1841.
Roberts being dissatisfied with the quality of many of the lithographs, worked on many of the lithographic stones himself, erasing some of the original engravings. Instead of taking two months, this work took seven months. It is perhaps significant that Roberts's later work was lithographed by Louis Haghe and printed by Day and Haghe, rather than Charles Hullmandel, who printed 'Picturesque sketches'. Although Roberts received £350 for the drawings, he felt he had been cheated by Hodgson and Graves, the publishers. They sold the drawings to Colnaghi for £300 and sold the book of the prints for four guineas. According to James Ballantine, Roberts's first biographer, 'the views … when they were published had an enormous sale, and since then the work has gone through more printings than any work in lithography ever published'. Within 2 months they had sold 1,200 copies and reprints were still selling twenty years later.
Only copies in UK at BL and V&A (imperfect).|
|Title||Plain directions for raising potatoes on the lazy bed|
|Imprint||Edinburgh : Printed for the author, and sold by him at his house in Leith, and by the booksellers in Edinburgh,|
|Date of Publication||1757|
|Notes||A rare work (not in ESTC or OCLC) by an unknown author who was 'Collector of Shore-dues in the Port of Leith' (t.p.) He appears not to have been a major writer on agricultural matters as he doesn't appear in either; Early Scottish agricultural writers (1697-1790) by Watson and Amery. Oxford : School of Rural Economy, 1931 or Agricultural writers ... 1200 to 1800 by Donald McDonald. London : Horace Cox, 1908.
The earliest accounts of potato cultivation in Scotland date from the latter 17th century but it seems that it was not widely grown until around 1725. The lazy bed system is used to aid cultivation on damp soils. The potatoes are planted on the surface with trenches either side. As the plant grows more soil is taken from the trenches to earth them up.|
|Title||Plan for Raising a Militia in that part of Great Britain called Scotland|
|Notes||Only three copies of this draft bill for regulating the militia in Scotland, by means of adapting the English Militia Acts, are recorded by ESTC (T42402). Interesting details include the fact that on page 9 the blanks relating to the number of privates to be raised for each county have been filled in manuscript (the city of Edinburgh was to raise 333 men). On the verso of the title-page is a full page of manuscript notes signed 'Richd Hewit. Clerk', which explains how the plan was drawn up by a committee of notables following a meeting in Edinburgh on 30 November 1759. The bill was rejected at its second reading in Westminster on 15 April 1760: although there was much sympathy for Scotland's vulnerability to French invasion, many still had doubts about giving arms to the Jacobites among the Highlanders. (John Robertson, Scottish Enlightenment and the Militia Issue, Edinburgh: John Donald, 1985).|
|Title||Plates for the deaf and dumb|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Printed by J. Ritchie, published by William Oliphant|
|Date of Publication||1820|
|Notes||The Institution for the Education of Deaf and Dumb Children in Edinburgh was established in June 1810. One of the teachers, Robert Kinniburgh, designed illustrated educational materials for the school. We already have a copy of his book 'The manual alphabet', which has a title-page with illustrations showing a kind of sign language, followed by 55 numbered plates with woodcuts of important objects, animals and scenes of work. The book we have just purchased appears to be an earlier edition, with the illustrations ordered differently. There are some changes in the states of the woodcuts; for example, on p. 9 in 'Plates for the deaf and dumb', the top woodcut is of an agricultural scene with a gardener surrounded by tools and a cold-frame; the same woodcut appears on p. 30 of 'The manual alphabet', but without the cold-frame. Perhaps the woodcut had become damaged.
It is interesting to speculate about the use of these books. Perhaps the illustrations were shown first and the students were expected to then learn the relevant word. In the new copy of 'Plates for the deaf and dumb', someone has added captions in pencil to several illustrations. The order of the plates in the two editions may be significant; in 'Plates for the deaf and dumb', the book starts with people in different clothing engaged in different tasks, and moves on to animals and then household objects. In 'The manual alphabet', however, the animals come first, followed by the household objects, and the people last.
Only one other copy of 'Plates for the deaf and dumb' has been traced, at the John Rylands library in Manchester. This acquisition complements some of our special collections such as the Royal Blind School Collection.
|Title||Poema posledniago barda. [Lay of the last minstrel]|
|Imprint||Moscow: V Universitetskoi Tipografii|
|Date of Publication||1823|
|Notes||This is the rare first edition in Russian of "The Lay of the Last Minstrel", first published in English in 1805. Only one other copy has been located in western European libraries at the National Library of Finland. The publisher/translator of the prose translation was Mikhail Kachenovsky (1775-1842), professor at Moscow University and editor of the journal "Vestnik Evropy" (Herald of Europe). |
|Author||Drummond, William, 1585-1649|
|Imprint||London: for Richard Tomlins|
|Date of Publication||1656|
|Notes||This is a rare copy of one of the two editions of Drummond’s works published in London in 1656, seven years after the poet’s death. Two other copies of this work are held in public institutions in Scotland – at Edinburgh University Library and at Innerpeffray Library, near Crieff. The only difference between the two editions is the imprint – this edition was ‘Printed for Richard Tomlins, at the Sun and Bible…’ whereas the other edition was ‘Printed by W.H. and are to be sold at the Company of Stationers’. Both copies have the fine frontispiece portrait by Richard Gaywood (1630-1680).The binding – calf, blind tooled - probably dates from the 18th century. Drummond spent most of his life on his estate at Hawthornden near Edinburgh. Most of his poems were written in the Petrarchan tradition and he was thus considered to be out of tune with metaphysical poets of his day. He wrote in English rather than Scots. In political terms he supported the Royalists and wrote a pamphlet attacking the Covenanters, but his isolation cut him off from the main events of his lifetime. His death was apparently hastened by news of the execution of Charles I in London.|
|Reference Sources||Wing D2202|