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 763 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 481 to 495 of 763:

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AuthorHewit, Alexander.
TitlePoems on various subjects, (English and Scotch).
ImprintBerwick-upon-Tweed: Berwick-upon-Tweed : Printed for the author, by W. Lochhead
Date of Publication1823
LanguageEnglish
NotesAlexander Hewit (1778-1850), "the Berwickshire ploughman" published three editions of his poems in Berwick-upon-Tweed, in 1798, 1807, and this edition of 1823. He was born and grew up in the village of Lintlaw a few miles north of Berwick. After service in the army during the Napoleonic Wars he returned to his native Berwickshire where he worked on local farms for the rest of his life. The poems are divided into parts: religious poems in English and secular ones in Scots. The Scots poems deal mainly with rural life. There is also a poem addressed to Sir Walter Scott, in which he contrasts Scott's brilliance as an author with the humble output of a "rustic bard" such as himself. As might be expected in a book dedicated to his patron, a local landowner, Hewit has a conservative, 'kailyard' outlook on politics; his 'Elegy to Thomas Paine' is in fact a sarcastic attack on the English author. Only two other copies of this edition are recorded in the UK, and this particular copy has an unusual provenance. It has a sturdy, plain, 20th-century leather binding. The binder's ticket reveals that it was done by the Yee Lee Company, bookbinders based in Hong Kong. The question of how the book came to be rebound in Hong Kong is answered by an ownership inscription in the book, namely Alec M. (Alexander Mackenzie) Hardie who worked as a lecturer in the English literature department of Hong Kong University in the 1950s. Hardie had been a contemporary of the 2nd World War poet Keith Douglas, both having been at Oxford in the late 1930s, where they were students of the poet and academic Edmund Blunden. They worked together on the 1940 publication "Augury: An Oxford Miscellany of Verse and Prose". Hardie's inscription records that he purchased the book, "a rarity", in 1943 for around two shillings. When Blunden was appointed as a professor at Hong Kong University in 1953, Hardie also moved out there to work and presumably took this book with him and had it rebound.
ShelfmarkAB.1.212.08
Reference SourcesW.S. Crockett, "Minstrelsy of the Merse", Paisley, 1893.
Acquired on23/12/11
AuthorHighland Society of Scotland.
TitleReport drawn up by a committee of the Highland Society of Scotland.
ImprintStirling: M. Randall,
Date of Publication [1812?]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an unrecorded Stirling printing of a report drawn up by a special committee of the Highland Society of Scotland to recommend "the great utility of establishing a general uniformity of weights and measures all over Scotland". The Act of Union of 1707 had stipulated that weights and measures in Scotland and England should be uniform, but over a century later there was clearly a lack of uniformity within Scotland itself (as well as England), despite a series of Weights and Measures Acts being passed in the British Parliament in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The committee, appointed in January 1811, made a number of recommendations in its report to ensure the co-operation of all the Scottish counties in adopting common standards. The printed report also records the Society's official approval of the recommendations at their general meeting in July of 1811. The whole issue, however, was not decisively tackled by the British government until the Weights and Measures Act of 1824, when the imperial system of units was adopted throughout Britain and its empire. The report was printed by Mary Randall, the widow of Charles Randall who a few years earlier had established the first printing press in Stirling since the 16th century. After her husband's death in 1812, Mary continued the business until 1820, printing large numbers of chapbooks. This particular printing is in chapbook duodecimo format, with typically low quality printing on low-grade paper; the NLS copy is in its original state unbound, uncut and unopened.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2778
Reference SourcesScottish Book Trade Index
Acquired on23/04/10
AuthorHill, Alexander W.
Title[Archive of pictorialist photographs taken in Scotland c. 1907-1945]
Imprint[Edinburgh: A.W. Hill]
Date of Publication[c. 1907-1945]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an important archive of bromoil transfer photographs/prints, consisting of 60 images on 57 paper sheets, by the Scottish amateur photographer A.W. Hill. This group of images has been selected from the largest known archive of Hill's work to come on the market. It ranges from unsigned trial prints, three of which printed on the reverse of others, to signed and mounted exhibition prints. The prints are on a variety of papers and in different sizes; most of them are signed and titled in pencil by the photographer. Born in Girvan, southwest Scotland, Alexander Wilson Hill (1867-1949) was a bank manager by profession but also a dedicated photographer. He took up photography in the 1890s after dabbling with painting, and was to become a longstanding member of the Edinburgh Photographic Society (EPS). He became a devotee of pictorialism, a late 19th-century movement which believed that photography should seek to mimic the painting and etching of the time. Using methods such as soft focus, special filters, lens coatings, manipulation of images in the darkroom and exotic printing processes, often on rough-surface printing papers, pictorialist photographs were intentionally fuzzy. They often mirrored the then fashionable impressionist style of painting in their composition and choice of subject matter. Pictorialism went out of fashion after 1914, but Hill remained loyal to its aesthetic, using the bromoil (transfer) process as his preferred means of expression over a period spanning approximately forty years. The bromoil process was introduced in 1907 and was based on a conventional photographic print made on gelatine silver bromide paper. The introduction of a dichromated bleach allowed for the softening of parts of the original silver-based image, enabling the gelatine to absorb an oil-based pigment, applied selectively by the photographer. To achieve a bromoil transfer print this pigmented (bromoil) image was then transferred to plain paper with the aid of a press. The resulting transfer print was therefore a hand-crafted process, in which the image comprised pigment on plain paper, and was not susceptible to the fading more often associated with silver-based prints of the same period. Although Hill appears to have standardised his technique from an early date, he remained open to a broad range of subject matter, as can be seen in this archive. He photographed extensively in and around Edinburgh, in particular in the Merchiston area near his home in Polwarth. The archive also includes street scenes and images of workers in rural settings and the fishing industry, adding an unusual 'documentary' edge to images that were otherwise still executed within pictorial traditions. There are also landscapes and coastal views from elsewhere in Scotland and a few examples of portraiture and still life. Hill exhibited from the early 1900s to the 1940s, at regular intervals during the 1920s and 1930s, not just in the UK, but also elsewhere in Europe and in North America. He was a regular exhibitor at the annual exhibition of the EPS, The Scottish National Salon and the London Salon of Photography. He taught photography at the Boroughmuir Commercial Institute in Edinburgh and lectured at the EPS on landscape photography and on the bromoil process, as well as being the first convenor of their photographic gallery and museum, which was established in 1931. Hill was one of the first to support the idea of the creation of a national collection of Scottish photography and actively encouraged gifts and donations to this end. It was therefore fitting that in 1987 his own personal photography collection was gifted to the national collection held at Scottish National Portrait Gallery; it includes examples of his own work.
ShelfmarkPhot.la.75
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes; EdinPhoto website www.edinphoto.org.uk
Acquired on04/11/09
AuthorHodgson & Co. [Auctioneers]
TitleCatalogue of an extensive & valuable library of economic, historical and general literature.
ImprintLondon: [Hodgson & Co.],
Date of Publication1904
LanguageEnglish
NotesAuction sale catalogues may not at first sight seem particularly interesting but the stories that lie behind them often are. This catalogue was produced for the sale in London in 1904, between May 9th and 13th, of the "property of a gentleman" - a substantial library covering mainly trade and commerce. The books on sale included several early works on Scotland, America and the West Indies, works on tobacco, and a large number of 17th-century books of the Civil War and Commonwealth periods. The "gentleman" in question was J.T. (James Taylor) Bell of Glasgow. Bell was a senior partner in the tobacco firm of J. & F. Bell, founded by his father and uncle in the mid-19th century, which manufactured Three Nuns tobacco and Three Bells cigarettes. The company ran into severe financial difficulties in the early 1900s and went into voluntary liquidation in early 1904. At the bankruptcy court in Glasgow in October of that year, the sorry state of Bell's finances was revealed. James Taylor Bell himself owed the company £12,000, and, as a means of reducing his debts, he revealed that he had had his library of c. 9000 volumes valued and then sold. He admitted that he had spent over £11,000 acquiring his library but that the Hodgson's sale in May had only realised £2,000, leaving with him a loss of £9,000. This particular copy of the sale catalogue reveals all the details of the sale; it has been neatly annotated in ink with the prices realised for each lot in the sale. The name of the London booksellers Francis Edwards is inscribed on the front pastedown which suggests that it belonged to an employee of the firm who attended the sale. Most of the c. 1700 lots in the sale sold for very modest prices, rarely going above the £1-2 range. The apparent lack of interest in Bell's library is in stark contrast to the prices realised for 15 lots of old English literature, owned by a separate collector, which were sold at the end of the third day of the sale. These books attracted far higher prices, most notably £230 for a "clean and perfect copy" of the London, 1598 edition of George Chapman's translation of Homer's "Iliad".
ShelfmarkRB.s.2796
Reference SourcesThe Scotsman "Failure of a Tobacco Manufacturer"(article October 15 1904).
Acquired on30/04/10
AuthorHowe, James (1780-1839)
TitlePortraits of Highland Society prize cattle and others of distinguished merit. Part II
ImprintEdinburgh: Printed by Ballantyne and Company, MDCCCXXXII [1832]
Date of Publication1832
LanguageEnglish
NotesJames Howe, James was born 30 Aug. 1780 at Skirling in Peeblesshire, where his father, William Howe, was minister. After attending the parish school Howe was apprenticed to a house-painter at Edinburgh, but his interest was in picture painting and his particular talent was for animals. Howe eventually obtained a great reputation for his skill in drawing horses and cattle. Between 1830 and 1831 he was employed in drawing portraits of well-known animals for a series of illustrations of British domestic animals published by the Highland Society of Scotland in order to help stimulate breeding. A series of forty-five engravings of horses and cattle was later published in 1832. Part I -- of which the National Library does not own a copy -- presumably presented portraits of various horse breeds. Part II gives 10 portraits of prize cattle: Ayrshire heifer; Highland heifers; Galloway heifer; Arran ox; Aberdeenshire horned ox; Aberdeenshire Polled cow; Pilton ox; Angus heifer; West Highland ox, Princess (short horned cow). Howe came once to London to paint the horses of the royal stud, but resided principally at Edinburgh, where he was a frequent exhibitor at the Edinburgh exhibitions, Royal Institution, and Royal Scottish Academy from 1808 to the time of his death. Howe died at Edinburgh, 11 July 1836.
ShelfmarkFB.l.331
Reference SourcesA Dictionary of Sporting Artists 1650-1990 / Mary Ann Wingfield The Dictionary of British Equestrian Artists / Sally Mitchell
Acquired on04/07/03
AuthorHume, David
TitleEssais sur le commerce, le luxe, l'argent, l'interet de l'argent, les impots, le credit public, etc.
ImprintParis: Chez Guillaumin et Cie Libraires
Date of Publication1847
LanguageFrench
NotesThis is a French translation of the essays by David Hume first published in Political Discourses (1752). Hume's essays were first published in France soon after their original appearance in English: this edition is part of the series Collection des principaux economistes edited by Eugene Daire and G. de Molinari, and appears in a volume in that series with the half-title Melanges d'Economie Politique (volume 1). Also in the volume are works by Forbonnais, Condillac, Condorcet, Lavoisier, and Benjamin Franklin. De Molinari contributes a general introduction to the volume which praises Hume's economic ideas; Daire writes a 'Notice sur D. Hume', which discusses Hume's life. He explains the history of the translations of the Political Discourses, saying that this volume uses the translation of Mademoiselle de La Chaux with some corrections from the translation of L'abbe Blanc. He also states that Of the Jealousy of Trade, originally published in 1760, is translated here for the first time.
ShelfmarkAB.4.207.17
Reference SourcesBookseller's Catalogue; Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy (http://www.iep.utm.edu/h/humeessa.htm)
Acquired on17/10/07
AuthorHume, David
TitleIdea di una perfetta repubblica
ImprintMilano: Da' torchi della tipografia milanese in contrada nuova.
Date of Publication[1801]
LanguageItalian
NotesThis is the first translation into Italian of David Hume's 'Idea of a perfect commonwealth', first published as Essay XII in his 'Political Discourses' of 1752.. The translator, Alvise Zenobio, dedicates the work to the people of the Cisalpine Republic. Napoleon Bonaparte's attempts to remodel Europe had led to the creation of this new state in 1797. It was eventually incorporated into the Italian Republic in 1802. In this book, Hume is clearly seen as an important writer to use in the debates over how to set up a working democratic system of government. There are numerous contemporary annotations in Italian. This is another example of the important role played by Scottish Enlightenment works in translation.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2332
Reference SourcesNot in Jessop
Acquired on05/04/04
AuthorHume, David
TitleHistoire d'Angleterre... par David Hume et ses continuateurs Goldsmith et W. Jones; traduction nouvelle ou revue par M. Langlois
ImprintParis: Jubin
Date of Publication1829-32
LanguageFrench
NotesThis rare French edition of David Hume's History of England, edited by Alexandre Langlois, brings together extant French translations of Hume's work with continuations designed to bring the narrative down to as recent a date as possible, the accession of George IV (1820). The Avertissement which prefaces vol. 13 explains that it was decided not to present the usual continuation of Hume's work, that by Smollett: 'we recoiled at the necessity of presenting our readers with too many volumes' (there are 16 in all). Instead the first 13 chapters of this volume (covering William and Mary to George II) are taken from the more concise History of England by Oliver Goldsmith. The text for the reign of George III is taken from the now forgotten History of England during the Reign of George III by William Jones, first published in 1825. The Avertissement contains some interesting comments on the translation of a History of England covering the recent period when England and France were at war: 'What recommends this author [Jones] above all is a critical integrity ... he knows how to praise the French'; the translation is faithful apart from the omission of 'some exaggerated epithets' (presumably anti-French) in the English original. Also included, bound at the end of vol. 5, is a separate publication: Justification de quelques passages des IVe et Ve volumes de l'Histoire d'Angleterre par le Docteur Lingard (Paris: Librairie de Carie de la Charie, 1827), a work which defends Hume's account of the Reformation period and his comments on the French history of that period in particular. Volume 12 also contains Abbe Prevost's appendix to Hume's history, which first appeared in his own translation. This edition, therefore, shows a somewhat controversial French reception of Hume's History at this period, with the translator, the editor and the owner (who chose to have Lingard's Justification bound in) all finding it necessary to justify and qualify Hume's original.
ShelfmarkAB.3.207.02
Reference SourcesBookseller's catalogue; DNB
Acquired on17/01/07
AuthorHume, David
TitleHistoire de la maison de Stuart [de Tudor]
ImprintLondres
Date of Publication1761
LanguageFrench
NotesThis is the first duodecimo edition in French of this part of David Hume's History of Great Britain. This 6-volume set is accompanied by a 6-volume duodecimo set of Hume's Histoire de la maison de Tudor (Amsterdam, 1763). Hume actually wrote the volumes on the Stuarts first, only turning later to the Tudors (and then to the Plantagenets). The Library collects translations of Scottish works written during the Enlightenment, as evidence for the influence of Scottish thought on Europe as a whole. The Stuart set was translated by A.-F. Prevost, the Tudor set was translated by Octavie Guichard (Mme. Belot). This is a handsome set in a contemporary binding; the volumes have both early and later bookplates.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2327 and RB.s.2328
Reference SourcesESTC T229804 Jessop, Bibliography of David Hume, p.32
Acquired on02/07/04
AuthorHume, David
TitleWysgeerige en staatkundige verhandelingen [Political Discourses]
ImprintRotterdam : Abraham Bothall,
Date of Publication1766
LanguageDutch
NotesThis is a rare edition (no copies recorded elsewhere in the UK) of the first Dutch translation of David Hume's "Political Discourses", which was the first work by Hume to be translated into Dutch. The translation was published in Amsterdam by Kornelis van Tongerlo in 1764, with this particular edition appearing two years later in Rotterdam under a different publisher, but with identical collation. The identity of the translator remains unknown. The "Political Discourses", first published in Edinburgh in 1752, was arguably the only one of Hume's works to enjoy immediate commercial success in Britain. In addition to a series of essays on economic matters, Hume also discusses at length a number of other diverse Enlightenment topics such as: whether the ancient world had been more populous than the modern, the Protestant succession to the British throne, and the model of a perfect republic. The work quickly became very influential throughout Europe among the leading economic theorists of the day, including Adam Smith, but Hume does not appear to have appealed to a wider readership within the Netherlands. A translation of Hume's "History of England" appeared between 1769 and 1774, but these seem to be the only Dutch translations of his works in the 18th century.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2785
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on23/04/10
AuthorHume, David
TitleVier Philosophen
ImprintGlogau: bey Christian Friedrich Guenthern
Date of Publication1760
LanguageGerman
NotesThis is the extremely rare German translation of Hume's essays 'The Epicurean', 'The Stoic', "The Platonist' and 'The Sceptic'. Interestingly, the translation was not done from the English original, but from a French translation of 1758 done by Jean Bernard Merian. Now for the first time the German public was able to read the enlarged version of the essay 'The Sceptic' which Hume had produced for inclusion in his 'Essays and treatises on several subjects'. The only hitherto available German translation of 'The Sceptic' was a shorter version of 1748, which had been translated from the third edition of Hume's collected works. There are remarkable differences between the two versions of different length of 'The Sceptic'. The translator of the 1760 edition tried hard to praise the volume as a comfort in difficult times, almost regarding Hume's essay to be edifying when he says, "It can serve to cheer up the mind during the present sorrowful times, in order to glimpse the glow of merciful predestination, notwithstanding all gloomy shades." The hopes this blurb aroused in the readers would be bitterly disappointed, because the sceptic Hume himself, who has no belief whatsoever in any divine providence, is the actual hero of all four essays. There are no known copies of this item in Britain or the US.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2795
Acquired on10/04/10
AuthorHume, David and Smollett, Tobias
TitleThe history of England
ImprintLondon: J. Walker & Co.
Date of Publication1822
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a beautiful 16-volume stereotyped edition of Hume's classic "History of England" (vol. 1-10) and its continuation by Tobias Smollett (vol. 11-16). Hume's "History", first published in eight volumes between 1754 and 1761, gives an account of English history from the Roman invasion under Julius Caesar to the Glorious Revolution of 1688. Smollett's continuation, first published 1757-58, starts with the reign of William and Mary and ends with George II's death in 1760. The volumes are bound in green morocco and have bright gilt frames on the covers; the title is lettered in gilt on the spines and there is dense gilt tooing in the other spine compartments.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2714
Acquired on20/06/08
AuthorHume, David, (1711-1776)
TitleFour Dissertations. I. The Natural History of Religion. II. Of the Passions. III. Of Tragedy. IV. Of the Standard of Taste
ImprintLondon: A. Millar
Date of Publication1757
LanguageEnglish
NotesA copy of the second state of the first edition, printed on large uncut paper. The largest leaves, for example the title page, measure 187mm by 110mm. Todd observed that a few copies on superfine Royal Paper may have measured 180 x 110mm (as against a maximum size of 170 x 100mm for the others) and have the words on pages 9, and 131 in final corrected state. For a full account of the muddled and controversial publishing history of these four important essays see Mossner, pages 319-335.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2893
Reference SourcesE.C. Mossner, The life of David Hume, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1980; W.B. Todd, 'David Hume: a preliminary bibliography', in Hume and the Enlightenment: essays presented to Ernest Campbell Mossner, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1974
Acquired on13/07/14
AuthorHume, David.
TitleDialogues sur la religion naturelle.Ouvrage posthume.
ImprintEdimbourg [i.e. Amsterdam] : [s.n.]
Date of Publication1780
LanguageFrench
ShelfmarkRB.s.2759
Reference SourcesThis is the second issue of the rare first French translation (by Paul Henri Thiry, baron d' Holbach) of Hume's "Dialogues concerning Natural Religion", his most important posthumous publication. Hume had been engaged on the work for many years, the first mention of the dialogues being in 1751; pressure from friends prevented their publication during his lifetime. In his will he left Adam Smith the job of overseeing their publication, but in a codicil he altered this to his publisher, Strahan. The task was probably finally executed by his nephew David. Despite the imprint this first French edition is probably printed and published in Holland, an assumption which is corroborated by the number of copies found in Dutch libraries. The first issue of the French translation appeared in 1779, the same year as the first English edition. In the Avertissement to the translation, Holbach notes that the Inquisition, "plus habile à brûler qu' à raisonner", viewed Hume's work as a "persifflage impie", but wonders if among the bookburners of Lisbon and Rome, there were not a few who would surreptitiously slip a copy of the "Dialogues" into their pocket, "pour le lire à la place de leur bréviaire".
Acquired on04/08/09
AuthorHume, David.
TitleDavid Hume's vollkommne [sic] Republik [Idea of a perfect commonwealth].
ImprintLeipzig: in der Schaeferischen Buchhandlung
Date of Publication1799
LanguageGerman
NotesDavid Hume's 'Idea of a perfect commonwealth' was first published as Essay XII of his "Political Discourses" in 1752. Hume's essay discusses previous authors' ideas of political utopia and sketches what he thought was the best form of government. Hume's perfect commonwealth is a very pragmatic affair - a republic with a government subject to many check and balances; he acknowledges "the resemblance that it bears to the commonwealth of the United Provinces [i.e Netherlands], a wise and renowned government". This is the very rare first German translation by a German professor at the University of Wuerzburg, Christian August Fischer (1771-1829). The title states that this is a free translation "frey nach dem Englischen", and the translator has made Hume's scepticism about politics and utopias more pronounced. Fischer is best known for his travel writing, although he also had a profitable sideline in writing erotic literature under the pseudonyms Adam Pruzum and Christian Althing. This particular copy was originally in the large library of the Dukes of Oettingen-Wallerstein, as can be seen from the book label on the front pastedown and stamp on the title page. The library's origins can be traced back to the late 15th-century; its holdings of contemporary German literature were considerably enhanced by Fuerst Kraft Ernst von Oettingen-Wallerstein (1748-1802) and his son Ludwig. A substantial part of the library is now in the University of Augsburg, the rest having been dispersed in the 20th century.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2823
Acquired on05/08/11
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