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 752 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 466 to 480 of 752:

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AuthorDemosthenes
Title[Orationes Selectae].
ImprintLondon
Date of Publication1726
LanguageLatin
NotesAcquired for the fine contemporary binding, which appears to be an early example of a Scottish wheel binding. Red-brown goatskin, gold-tooled wheel design surrounded by semi-circles, flowers and stars, all within a fillet and wave roll border. The spine is also tooled, with panels containing saltires. The board edges and turn-ins are tooled as well. The endpapers are marbled, and there are bookplates of John Hely-Hutchinson and W.A. Foyle. The book was apparently seen by NLS when it was sold at Sotheby's in 1956, as a rubbing was taken and is held in the Rare Books bindings folders. NLS did not bid and the book was bought by Maggs for £16. The National Library already has a copy of the text, ESTC T138471, at shelfmark Saltoun 522.
ShelfmarkBdg.s.875
Acquired on06/11/01
AuthorOrcadensis
TitleOrcadensis to William Cobbett, M.P. on the political grievances of Orkney and Zetland.
ImprintEdinburgh : John Hamilton,
Date of Publication1833
LanguageEnglish
NotesWritten in the form of a letter to the radical English writer and politician William Cobbett, this very rare pamphlet makes an impassioned plea for separate representation for Orkney and Zetland (Shetland) in the UK parliament. The author, presumably an inhabitant of Orkney (Orcadensis), believes that the Scottish Reform Act of 1832, which had redefined constituencies and greatly widened the franchise in Scotland, is an "ill digested measure". Writing shortly after the recent election of 1833, Orcadensis argues that Orkney and Shetland have major economic and cultural differences, the former being agricultural in nature, the latter being commercial, with little trade or communication occurring between them. The author's arguments do not appear to have had any effect; 170 years later Orkney and Shetland remains a single constituency, its boundaries now uniquely protected by the Scotland Act of 1998. Orcadensis's choice of Cobbett as the addressee of his letter is not just a recognition of Cobbett's leading role in securing parliamentary reform in 1832, but also a conscious copying of the latters epistolary style of writing his "rural rides" - his reports of his extensive travels in southern England. In 1833, moreover, Cobbett was very much in the news in Scotland; he made his one and only visit to the country, visiting Edinburgh, Glasgow, Paisley and New Lanark amongst other places. After a lifetime spent denigrating Scotland and Scots, in particular what he felt was the undue influence of Scottish politicians and "feelosofers" in post-Union Great Britain, Cobbett struck a much more conciliatory tone when in the country itself, and also in his "Tour of Scotland" published that year. As for Orcadensis, he concludes his pamphlet by stating his next letter will contain a plan for "vigorous reform" of the Scottish Church, a letter which does not appear to have been published.
ShelfmarkAP.2.213.04
Acquired on25/05/12
AuthorMackie, Charles
TitleOriginal history of the abbey, palace and chapel royal of Holyroodhouse
ImprintEdinburgh
Date of Publication1829
LanguageEnglish
NotesNote: This is a rare edition of a highly popular book on Holyrood, with a fascinating provenance. It ran to at least nine editions from 1819 to 1832 and was one of a series of works which the author Charles Mackie (d. 1864) wrote on the castles and abbeys of Scotland. It seems that this volume may have been bound as a gift to the exiled king Charles X (1757-1836) of France, when he took up residence at Holyrood in October 1830. Charles as Comte d'Artois had previously stayed in Holyrood from 1796 to 1799, (and periodically until 1803) following an abortive attempt to regain the French throne. He had abdicated from the French throne in August 1830, when Louis Philippe had taken over in a bloodless revolution. Although this volume is ostensibly a copy of the edition of 1829, pasted onto the verso of the title page is a printed dedication of William IV, who did not become king until June 1830. The dedication first appeared in the 1830 8th edition. This indicates that this was a brand new copy of the book at the time when Charles took up residence in Holyrood, which was desribed by one of the emigrés, Baron de Damas, as a residence 'good enough for a private citizen', but not for an exiled monarch used to splendour of Versailles. The Bourbon court remained in Edinburgh for two years and it is probable that the book passed to Charles's grandson Henry V, Comte de Chambord (1820-1883). When he died, the book passed to Don Jaime de Bourbon, Duc de Madrid (1870-1931) a member of the Spanish branch of the Bourbons, whose ownership stamp marked Frohsdorf (near Salzburg) appears throughout the volume. A bookseller's label on the upper flyleaf verso indicates that the book was purchased by the London booksellers Maggs Bros. from Henry's library, probably at Frohsdorf, where he had spent much of his life from 1840. The only other known copy is in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2083
Reference SourcesMackenzie-Stuart, A.J. A French king at Holyrood. (Edinburgh, 1995) HP1.95.2496
Acquired on03/07/01
AuthorGeorge Ure & Coy. (Limited.)
TitleOrnamental and general iron founders. Bonnybridge foundry. [Catalogue]
ImprintGlasgow: [s.n.]
Date of Publication[1885]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis trade catalogue of Bonnybridge iron foundries dates from the 1880s, the heyday of heavy industry in central Scotland. The firm of Smith & Wellstood was established in Glasgow in 1858 to sell American-style free-standing stoves in Britain. Outlets were subsequently opened in Liverpool, Dublin and London. The firm was the driving force in persuading the British public to invest in efficient, slow-burning stoves in place of open fires. These stoves used less fuel and produced more heat than the type being used in Britain in the 1850s. The founders were James Smith and Stephen Wellstood, both Edinburgh-born entrepreneurs who had begun their business careers in the United States. Smith decided it would be more economic to produce the stoves in Scotland than to import them from the United States. In 1855 James Smith had contracted the services of George Ure, an ironfounder of some repute and a partner of Crosthwaite, Ure & Co. of Camelon. Ure opened his own foundry - the Columbian Stove Works - in Bonnybridge in 1860 to make the castings for the stoves. The finished products were transported down the Forth-Clyde canal to Smith's warehouses in Glasgow. Smith & Wellstood opened their foundry in 1873 and in 1890 amalgamated with George Ure & Co. In addition to stoves, baths, ranges, gates, railings, pots, pans, piano frames and umbrella stands were manufactured. At the turn of the century Smith & Wellstood introduced the first closed anthracite-burning stoves onto the UK market. These were modelled on a French design and became known as the Esse range of stoves.
ShelfmarkABS.8.202.02
Reference SourcesBorthwick, Alastair. The history of Smith & Wellstood Ltd. ironfounders. (Bonnybridge, 1954) H4.80.755 McIntosh, Fiona. Bonnybridge in bygone days. (Falkirk, 1989) HP3.90.453 Smith & Wellstood Ltd., Ironfounders, Bonnybridge. (Survey / National Register of Archives (Scotland) no.2198) (Edinburgh, 1989) GRH.9
Acquired on19/06/01
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
AuthorJohn James Audubon
TitleOrnithological biography vol. 1
ImprintPhiladelphia: Carey and Hart
Date of Publication1832
LanguageEnglish
NotesIn 1830 John James Audubon began working in Edinburgh with the Scottish ornithologist William Macgillivray on a five-volume work "Ornithological Biography". The work was designed to accompany the double elephant folio plates of "Birds of America", which were being engraved in London at the time. Volume one was first published in Edinburgh in 1831, and in order to safeguard his copyright in the USA, Audubon also arranged for an edition to be printed and published in his adopted homeland in the same year by Dobson and Porter. This 1832 Philadelphia edition appears to be a reprint of the Dobson and Porter version, identical apart from the title page; it presumably had a larger print-run. An American edition of volume 2 was published in Boston in 1835, but no further volumes of "Ornithological Biography" were printed in America during Audubon's lifetime.
ShelfmarkAB.4.207.05
Reference SourcesWilliam Braislin, "An American edition of Audubon's 'Ornithological biography'" The Auk, v. 35 (1918)pp. 360-362.
Acquired on30/03/07
AuthorMikszath, Kalman
TitleOrszaggyulesi karcolatai
ImprintBudapest
Date of Publication1892
LanguageHungarian
NotesThis is an excellent example of how donations can enrich the Library's collection in surprising ways. This book is by the noted Hungarian writer, Mikszath Kalman (in Hungarian, surnames are placed first). Mikszath (1847-1910) was a writer of satirical stories and novels, including some for children. Several of his works have been translated into English, such as his novel St. Peter's Umbrella (1895). The title of this work roughly translates as 'Sketches of Parliament', and consists of both narrative and dialogue, following events from 1883 to 1891. This copy is particularly interesting as it was a presentation copy from the author to the donor's great-uncle. It appears to be in a special binding, half-leather, with gilt tooling on corners and spine, and with blue satin rather than cloth over the remainder of the boards. There is white satin laid over the endpapers. Tipped in is a card with the author's name printed on one side, and a manuscript note on the other. The recipient was Leopold Goldschmied, a Rabbi, who left Hungary and moved to the new country of Czechoslovakia and became an adviser on Jewish affairs to the government; he died in 1935. A photograph of Leopold and other information is also tipped in. The donor's family came to Britain in 1938. This book is a reminder of the contribution that people from Eastern Europe have made to Scotland, and will be a good addition to our existing collections of East European literature.
ShelfmarkAB.3.203.012
Acquired on01/10/03
Author[Anon]
TitleOverland route to India and China.
ImprintLondon: T. Nelson and Sons,
Date of Publication1858
LanguageEnglish
NotesIn the 19th century the firm of Thomas Nelson became of the most successful publishing houses in the world. From its bookselling origins in Edinburgh at the end of the 18th century the firm expanded into publishing and printing. This particular book is an example of their success in printing good quality, affordable, small format books. Despite the title, this anonymous work describes a sea journey to China, stopping in Gibraltar, Malta, Egypt and India, Ceylon, Hong Kong and Singapore, before ending up in Shanghai. The only real overland part of the journey was travelling from Alexandria to Suez (the Suez canal was yet to be built), which involved, according to the author, "incessant galloping and jolting over the parched desert" as the railway line through the desert was still in construction. The book has particularly attractive colour plates, produced using an early chromolithograph technique based on G. J. Cox's invention of transferring steel and copperplate engraving onto lithographic stone but using a combination of light blue, chocolate brown, and beige. This technique proved to be a cost effective way to print colour illustrations. "Overland route" appears to be a particularly rare Nelson publication, with only two other UK library locations in WorldCat.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2815
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on20/05/11
AuthorJames Maxwell
TitlePaisley Dispensary. A poem.
ImprintPaisley: printed and sold for the author
Date of Publication1786
LanguageEnglish
NotesJames Maxwell (1720-1800), the self-styled 'Poet in Paisley' worked as a packman, weaver, clerk, school usher, and stone-breaker; in 1787 he was awarded a charitable allowance by the town council of Paisley, which he continued to enjoy until his death. One of the most prolific versifiers of his day, Maxwell wrote nearly 60 separate poetical pieces which had little in the way of literary merit. "Paisley dispensary" is a poem in praise of the recently-established dispensary in his home town, created through the good offices of the local rich, who were profiting from Paisley's expansion as a weaving and textile centre. John Wilson's "General View of the Agriculture of Renfrewshire" (1812) notes that the dispensary's establishment in 1786 "has been attended with very happy effects among the lower classes of industrious inhabitants of the town and suburbs. It has been uniformly supported by yearly subscriptions; and ... much distress had been alleviated, by the distribution of medicines, and the gratuitous advice of the medical practitioners in Paisley" (p. 322). A House of Recovery was added in 1805.
ShelfmarkAP.1.213.63
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on21/06/13
Title[Pamphlets relating to Nova Scotia, 1830s]
Date of Publication[1830s]
LanguageEnglish
NotesA most interesting collection of pamphlets, manuscript letters, maps and newspaper cuttings relating to the claims of one Alexander Humphrys that he was the legitimate Earl of Stirling, with extensive rights in Nova Scotia and Canada. These rights had first been granted to Sir William Alexander of Menstrie in 1621, who died without recognised male heirs. Alexander Humphrys attempted to claim the title in the 1830s, offering to create people baronets of Nova Scotia (for a fee). His lawyer, Thomas Banks, helped to prepare extensive documentation for the court cases which followed, and may well have prepared this very volume. The DNB gives an amusing account of Banks's attempts to further all kinds of spurious peerage claims. The Humphrys claim was ignominiously dismissed in 1839. Most of these items, particularly the ephemera, are not held by NLS, and as a collection this is a most valuable resource for anyone investigating the case. The maps, showing the extent of Humphrys' claims to vast tracts of North America, give a good indication of the ambition and imagination behind this audacious scheme.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2090(1-31)
Reference SourcesDNB
Acquired on18/12/01
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
AuthorMilton, John
TitleParadise Regain'd. A poem, in four books. To which is added Samson Agonistes; and poems on several occasions, with a tractate of eduction
ImprintGlasgow: Printed and sold by Robert and Andrew Foulis
Date of Publication1752
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis two-volume work from the Foulis press clears up a small mystery in Philip Gaskell's Bibliography of the Foulis Press. Gaskell records this work as his item 235, and lists item 236 as an unseen work entitled Poems on Several Occasions, by Milton. He suggests that this was 'probably an extract from Paradise Regain'd', using the sub-title provided in that edition as the new title page. This was exactly what happened with this copy, with the complete text as listed on the title page split between the two volumes. Gaskell's item 236, therefore, is a bibliographical ghost. Certainly the separate title pages for the different items in the work lend themselves to physical separation during binding. The spine title, Milton's Works 3 [and 4] suggests that the original owner of this volume had also a copy of Gaskell's item 234, Paradise Lost, similarly split between two volumes, and saw the whole as a bibliographical unity.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2616
Reference SourcesPhilip Gaskell: A Bibliography of the Foulis Press. 1986.
Acquired on31/05/06
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
TitlePennsylvania Packet, and Daily Advertiser for Saturday December 5, 1789
ImprintPhiladelphia: John Dunlap and David C. Claypoole
Date of Publication1789
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis single issue of the Pennsylvania Packet contains an advertisement for the first American edition of Adam Smith's Enquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, which was printed for and sold by Thomas Dobson, Second Street, Philadelphia in three volumes, price £1-2-6. 'The superior merit of this interesting Work is universally acknowledged where the Book itself is known ... The Publisher flattered himself he should perform an acceptable service to the generous and discerning Public, by presenting to them an Elegant American Edition of this Work at this important period - Printed on a superfine paper and good type, handsomely bound and lettered, at not more than one half the price for which the London Edition can be imported and sold.' While many American libraries hold copies of Dobson's edition, the National Library is one of only two British institutions recorded in ESTC as possessing a copy (shelfmark RB.s.1408). Dobson was born in Scotland but emigrated to Philadelphia. Best known for publishing the first American edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, he also published other books by Scottish authors such as Robert Burns.
ShelfmarkRB.l.256
Reference SourcesRobert D. Arner: Dobson's Encyclopaedia : the publisher, text, and publication of America's first Britannica, 1789-1803 (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1991)
Acquired on12/08/09
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
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