Rare Book Collections works to build up the national collections through
purchases (through dealers or at auction) and donations. This directory gives details of 835 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Important Acquisitions 481 to 495 of 835:
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|Title||New game of the ascent of Mont Blanc.|
London : A.N. Myers|
|Date of Publication||ca. 1856|
|Notes||A rare Victorian board game comprising a folded lithograph mounted on cloth with 54 coloured vignettes describing a route from London to the summit of Mt Blanc. The game was devised by Albert Smith, a popular author and showman. He drew on his experiences during an ascent of Mt Blanc in 1851 to devise a flamboyant entertainment 'The Ascent of Mt Blanc' which was presented at the Egyptian Halls in Piccadilly from 1852 until his death in 1860. This acquisition complements other items of 'Albert Smithiana' in the Graham Brown and Lloyd collections.|
|Title||New history of the city of Edinburgh, from the earliest times to the present time|
|Date of Publication||1800|
|Notes||There are two different printings of this work in 1800: ESTC N20175 &T110293). The Library has two copies of T110293 but does not have a copy of N20175. Apparently Brown published an edition in 1790 and another in 1797, but these are not recorded in ESTC. The book presents an interesting history of the city starting with a general part tracing its origins back to the Picts and then moves onto to discuss the main features of building and topography: Parliament House, New Town, Register Office, The South Bridge, Palace of Holyrood House etc. Towards the end, the book contains a section of 'Lists and Regulations' which have in part been annotated by a contemporary hand. The 'Regulations for keeping the streets clean' for example are 'violated every day' with such as 'water, ashes 'thrown from the windows... [and] carpets shaked from the windows'.
Although not called for in ESTC, the present copy contains the fold-out map.
Further interesting ink notes on the front pastedown.|
|Title||New South Wales calendar and General Post Office Directory, 1836|
|Date of Publication||1835|
|Notes||This copy of the short-lived New South Wales calendar, published from 1832 to 1837 has an notweworthy Scottish provenance. The upper flyleaf has the signature of one Alexander Imlay (1801-1847), surgeon, landowner and speculator. He was one of a trio of Aberdeenshire brothers, all surgeons, who arrived in Sydney in the early 1830s, a time when the colonies were expanding beyond the south-east corner of the continent. In 1832 Alexander toured the southern coast with Governor Bourke and six years later made a pioneering journey in South Australia across the Mount Lofty Ranges to the Murray river. At the peak of their land speculation the Imlays owned some 1500 sq. miles of southern territory. They remained in the area and in 1839 Alexander, described by 'The South Australian' as an 'eminent and enterprising colonist' arrived in Adelaide with a cargo of cattle and sheep.
The volume contains some useful information about the development of the burgeoning colony in the 1830s. Included are 'regulations for the assignment of male convict servants' and a 'Report on the epidemic catarrh, or influenza, prevailing among the sheep in this colony' which resulted in the loss of 2,500 animals. There are also lists of ministers of the Church of Scotland, (p.325) and arrivals (some from Leith) and departures of ships in Sydney harbour (p. 378-p.397) The Post Office Directory at the back of the volume reveals many Scottish surnames, as well as a number of finely engraved advertisements.
During the period in which this calendar was published, the number of 'unassisted' immigrants from Scotland, mainly from the Lowlands, increased noticeably. Of the 110,000 assisted immigrants who arrived in Australia between 1832 and 1850, about 16,000 (14.5%) were Scots. Although Scots settled throughout the colonies, they tended to favour New South Wales (which then included Queensland and Victoria) as opposed to South Australia, Van Diemen's Land or Western Australia.|
|Title||New spelling, pronouncing, and explanatory dictionary of the English language|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: C. Elliot|
|Date of Publication||1786|
|Notes||This is a pocket dictionary in oblong format published during the heyday of the Age of Augustanism in Scotland with its demand for propriety and its emphasis on southern English models of speech. It consists of an introductory essay on English pronunciation, elocution and grammar, the dictionary proper, and an appendix.
The author points out in his preface that although he is a native of Scotland, it is not presumptuous of him to represent the proper English pronunciation: as a young man, Scott lived in London for many years, instructing "the young gentlemen of the academy the proper reading and reciting of the English language".
The dictionary is particularly interesting because it goes beyond the usual explanation of the meaning of the words. It shows the accented vowels and consonants, thus indicating where the wordstress falls. The pronunciation of every vowel sound in a word is indicated by a number, which refers to one of the 15 vowel sounds Scott distinguishes. Other dictionaries are "extremely deficient" with regard to the indication of the proper pronunciation. Scott's work is therefore important for "provincials and foreigners", in other words anybody outside the Home counties.
The Dictionary was first published in 1777, but no copy of this edition is known. This 1786 copy is the only one held in the UK.|
|Reference Sources||ESTC; bookseller's catalogue|
|Title||New Testament and Psalms
(Unidentified copy, t.p. missing)|
|Date of Publication||ca. 1867|
|Notes||This small format Bible (16mo) belonged to Rev. John Baird, father of John Logie Baird, inventor of the television. It is heavily inscribed with Biblical notes by Rev. Baird on pastedowns and endpapers including his signature dated 'Jany: 1867'. It was in this year that Baird was awarded his B.D. from the University of Glasgow. He was ordained as minister of West Parish Church in Helensburgh on 19th August 1869 and became first minister of the parish in 1883, resigning on 23rd October 1918. After his ordination he remained in Helensburgh for the rest of his life though made occasional trips through Europe and Africa. Although devoting his life to the one congregation and holding fast to the strict tenets of the Church of Scotland he was also interested in German culture and eastern religion. John Logie Baird was born in Helensburgh on 13th August 1888.
The Bible comes with; a port. of Rev. Baird pasted to an endpaper, a newspaper clipping reporting on a memorial window to John Logie Baird to be unveiled in Helensburgh to mark the centenary of his birth and a provenance note written by Mrs Edith Brown whose family was in possession of the Bible until a move from Helensburgh to the Moray Coast in the 1930s/40s.|
|Title||Newcastle Courant, giving an account of the most material occurrences, both foreign and domestick.|
|Imprint||Newcastle upon Tyne: printed and sold by John White|
|Date of Publication||1716|
|Notes||This bound volume contains of 20 of the tri-weekly issues of the Newcastle Courant for 1716. It brings together news of British affairs from places such as Gibraltar, Amsterdam, Cologne, Paris, Venice, Malta, Petersburg, Warsaw, London and Edinburgh. For instance, one news item reports the drowning at sea in a storm of the chief of Clanranald and 20 of his followers on 1 March.
The Newcastle Courant is particularly interesting for its coverage of events relating to the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715 and its aftermath. It has numerous reports of executions, such as the "decollation" of the Jacobite rebels the Earl of Derwentwater and the Lord Viscount Kenmure on 25 February 1716. The escape via Caithness and Kirkwall to Sweden of 120 rebels, among them Lord Duffus, Sir George Stirling of Sinclair and Keith Seaton of Touch, appeared on 3 March. A journal of the proceedings of captured rebels from Edinburgh to London, written by a Scots prisoner in the Marshal Sea, was published in instalments.
ESTC records 9 holdings of the Newcastle Courant in Britain, but none in Scotland.|
|Author||Jong, Dirk de.|
|Title||Nieuwe Beschryving der Walvischvanst en haringvisschery.|
|Imprint||Amsterdam: Gert Jan Bestebreurtje|
|Date of Publication||1791|
|Notes||This is the second edition (first published 1784-86) of a classic work on Dutch whaling together with an article on a herring fishery. It contains accounts of whaling expeditions in Arctic Regions as well as descriptions of types of whales and other animals. Included are engraved plates depicting whaling and herring fishery scenes as well as a number of engraved maps and plates.|
|Author||Stevenson, Robert Louis (1850-1894) |
|Title||Not I, and Other Poems|
|Imprint||[Davos, S. L. Osbourne]|
|Date of Publication||1881|
|Notes||The tiny pamphlet 'Not I, and Other Poems', is among the rarest of all Stevensoniana. On medical advice, Stevenson, his wife and 12-year-old stepson Lloyd Osbourne, spent the winters of 1880-81 and 1881-82 at a health resort at Davos, Switzerland. A major amusement for Stevenson during these convalescences was writing poems for his stepson to print on the boy's small hand press. A total of only fifty copies were produced of 'Not I, and Other Poems'.
The final page of the pamphlet serves as a wry colophon: 'The author and the printer, / With various kinds of skill, / Concocted it in winter / At Davos on the hill. / They burned the nightly taper / But now the work is ripe / Observe the costly paper, / Remark the perfect type! / begun Feb. ended Oct. 1881'. The actual press is presently housed at the Writers' Museum at Lady Stair's House in Edinburgh.
'Not I, and Other Poems' makes a nice addition to two other Davos Press publications held by the National Library of Scotland. These are 'Moral emblems: a Second Collection of Cuts and Verses' produced in 1882 (shelfmark RB.s.148), and a broadside announcing one of Osbourne's publications: 'Black Canyon, or, Wild adventures in the far West: an Instructive and Amusing Tale'. (shelfmark RB.s.1721)
|Title||Notes sur la lettre de Monsieur de Voltaire a Monsieur Hume + Reflexions posthumes sur le grand procees de Jean-Jacques, avec David.|
|Date of Publication||1766|
|Notes||Two anonymous, rare pieces on the Hume Rousseau dispute that gripped Enlightenment Europe. In the first pamphlet comes the assertion that Voltaire did not write the "La letter au Docteur Pansophe", which helped inflame the dispute. In 1766 David Hume helped the philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau, who no longer felt safe in his place of exile, his native Switzerland, to find refuge in England. Once there Rousseau soon fell out with Hume. Rousseau began to question Hume's motives in offering him shelter in England. When anonymous poems poking fun at Rousseau were published, he immediately and wrongly assumed they had been written by Hume. Rousseau retaliated by writing letters to his French associates denouncing Hume for his treacherous behaviour. When Hume eventually learnt of Rousseau's accusations he was shocked, and then angered that the fine reputation he had acquired when living in Paris was now being dragged through the mud. The two men became estranged from each other and Rousseau returned to France in 1767. In less than a year, the relationship between Hume and Rousseau had gone from love to mockery by way of fear and loathing, and much of the dispute was played out in letters and in print to the scandal and delight of literary salons in England and France.|
|Title||Notes upon, and illustrations of, the treatise intitled the Life of God in the soul of man. To which is prefixed a preface taking off the material objections lately published against that little Book, to which are subjoined, a poem upon prayer, with a short account of Dr. Scougal's life, &c. By a young gentleman.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: W. Cheyne|
|Date of Publication||1744|
|Notes||This rare book offers an insight into contemporary responses to one of the most popular Scottish devotional works. Henry Scougal (1650-1678) was a Church of Scotland minister in Aberdeenshire and professor of divinity at King's College, Aberdeen. He first published The Life of God in the Soul of Man, originally a manual for his private devotion, in 1677. It was reprinted many times into the 19th century, with enthuasiastic admirers as diverse as Gilbert Burnet, John Wesley, and Benjamin Franklin. This work shows the effect Scougal's book had on one reader described as a 'young gentleman' on the title page. The publisher's address to the reader refers to 'the author's distance from the press' (perhaps like Scougal he was based in Aberdeenshire) and his 'youthful modesty' which led to the anonymous publication. It also mentions that this 'impression' amounts 'only to a very small number, and upon a fine paper, neatly bound, for the reader's pocket', which must explain the scarcity of the book today. The author's preface, where he says that like Scougal he was a young man training for the ministry, explains that he was provoked to write by criticisms of Scougal's book: the first that Scougal's description of Christ as 'he never knew the nuptial bed' was indecent, and the second that he was accused by 'a sect pretty well known' of being Arminian and Socinian. A search of ESTC and ECCO does not uncover any details of these controversies, which would have remained unknown were it not for the 'young gentleman's' defence. His book itself contains several different responses to Scougal: a commentary on The Life of God; a poem 'On Prayer', a 'Life and Character' of Scougal, including a Latin text translated into English, and a poem in praise of Scougal. The author was clearly as much an admirer of Scougal the person as Scougal the theologian, perhaps identifying the young clergyman as a role model, and the mixture of prose and poetry in the volume show him inspired intellectually and emotionally by Scougal's life and work.
Only one other copy of this book is listed in ESTC, at the British Library, with a different collation. Though the edges of the first few leaves are damaged, the book preserves its original wrappers. It comes from the library of the 20th-century book collector Bent Juel-Jensen.|
|Reference Sources||Bookseller's catalogue; Oxford DNB entry for Henry Scougal|
|Title||Notes, respecting the situation and improvements of the lands of Boquhan, parish of Gurgunnock|
|Imprint||Stirling: C. Randall|
|Date of Publication||1793|
|Notes||An unrecorded, early Stirling printing relating to the hamlet of Boquhan in Stirlingshire, Scotland, together with an account of new farming and land-management techniques introduced there at the end of the eighteenth century. The author was probably General John Fletcher-Campbell FRSE (1727-1806), a local landowner who built Boquhan House in 1784. The work was dedicated to the Rev. Mr. George Robertson, minister of Gurgunnock (now known as Gargunnock), the preface is signed "I.F.C.", suggesting the authorship of General John Fletcher-Campbell FRSE. Fletcher-Campbell was a founder of the Gargunnock Farmers Club in 1794. This text is full of literary quotes and classical allusions, but there are also references to innovations in agriculture such as turnip husbandry, trials of new grasses, corn feed, a threshing-machine, a weigh-bridge, top dressing with lime, experiments with gypsum and the management of labourers working on the estate. The text has been bound in late nineteenth-century blue morocco, with marbled endpapers and gilt dentelles, and gilt edges.
|Reference Sources||Bookseller's notes|
|Author||Edinburgh (Scotland) Town Council|
|Title||Notice. The Magistrates, in consequence of a complaint by the possessors of shops between the North Bridge and the Stamp Office Close ? hereby give notice ... Given at Edinburgh, this 4th day of March 1814 years. |
|Imprint||[Edinburgh] : Alex Smellie|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||This broadside outlines the regulations affecting street sellers and casual vendors in Edinburgh in response to complaints from shopkeepers in Edinburgh's Old Town. The shopkeepers on the High Street in the area between the North Bridge and the Stamp Office Close were concerned that the pavement in front of their shops was being obstructed by "the number of carts, creels, stands, &c. placed there without any authority". The Edinburgh magistrates therefore decreed that "from and after this date, no stands or creels will be allowed to be placed on the street ... No carts bringing in vegetables, or fish of any kind, will be permitted to remain there after eight o'clock in the morning ... Nor will those exposing gingerbread for sale be allowed to stand on that part of the pavement between the South Bridge and the head of Niddry Street". The broadside warns those flouting these regulations that they would have their goods seized by police officers. Despite this attempt to gentrify part of the High Street, street vendors would continue to be a major presence in Edinburgh's Old Town throughout the 19th century and early 20th century. Gingerbread was a popular street food, particularly at Halloween and during the winter months. William Tennant's mock-heroic poem "Anster fair", first published in 1812, which describes the annual fair held in Anstruther in Fife in 16th-century Scotland, mentions the "market-maids, and apron'd wives that bring their gingerbread in baskets to the fair". |
|Title||Noticia e Circunstancias da Felicissima hora, em que a Senhora Rainha da Grao Bretanha deu a luz o suspirado Principe de Gales, herdeiro dos Reynos de Inglaterra, Escocia, & Irlada. |
|Imprint||Lisbon: Na Officina de Miguel Manescal|
|Date of Publication||1688|
|Notes||This is rare Portuguese newsletter, dated 16 August 1688, which reports the birth of James Francis Edward, Prince of Wales (the Old Pretender, 1688-1766), son of the James VII/II and his second wife Mary of Modena. The pamphlet describes events relating to the birth of the Prince, the baptism, diplomatic responses and the celebrations. 4 months after the publication of this newsletter James fled London on the approach of an army led by William of Orange, never to return to his capital.|
|Reference Sources||Bookseller's notes|
|Title||Notitia codicis Samaritano-Arabici in Bibliotheca Bodleiana|
|Date of Publication||1817|
|Notes||This is a pamphlet on Arabic manuscript versions of the Pentateuch (first five books of the Old Testament) held in the Bodleian Library, Oxford. The author, Alexander Nicoll (1793-1828), was a Snell Exhibitioner, i.e. a recipient of a scholarship for Scottish scholars at Balliol College, Oxford. He became a sub-librarian in the Bodleian Library and later a professor of Hebrew at Oxford. Nicoll, originally from Monymusk, Aberdeenshire, was famed for both his linguistic abilities and his dedication to cataloguing the Bodleian's collection of Oriental manuscripts. In the pamphlet he draws attention to errors in interpretation of these Pentateuch manuscripts by the 18th-century biblical scholar David Durell of Hertford College, Oxford, and the German professor of oriental languages at Jena, Heinrich Eberhard Gottlob Paulus. The latter had visited England as a part of a tour of Europe in the years 1787-88 and had presumably seen these manuscripts in the Bodleian. Only 60 copies in total of the book were printed, the present example being one of 10 on large paper. A manuscript annotation on the front fly-leaf notes the distribution of each of the 10 large-paper copies: some went to professors of Hebrew and Arabic; some to Oxford librarians, tutors, and fellows. This copy has a pasted piece of paper on it showing that it was formerly owned by George Williams (1814-1878), who served as Vice-Provost of King's College, Cambridge from 1854 to 1857.|
|Reference Sources||Oxford Dictionary of National Biography|
|Title||Novus cursus philosophicus Scotistarum complectens universam philosophiam, rationalem, naturalem, moralem & transnaturalem?|
|Imprint||Lugduni : Sumpt. Lavr. Arnavd, et Petri Borde|
|Date of Publication||1669|
|Notes||This is a one volume compendium of the works of John Duns Scotus (1265/66-1308). Sources variously state that Scotus was born in Duns, Berwickshire, Friar Minor at Dumfries where his uncle Elias Duns was superior, or Maxton (now Littledean).
Scotus was one of the most important and influential philosopher-theologians of the High Middle Ages. His complex and nuanced thought, which earned him the nickname "the Subtle Doctor," left a mark on discussions of such disparate topics as the semantics of religious language, the problem of universals, divine illumination, and the nature of human freedom.
The recto of the front free endpaper has a manuscript entry in the hand of Professor Geoffrey W.S. Barrow, M.A., B.Litt., D.Litt., Hon.D.Litt. Barrow was formerly a professor in the Scottish History Department of the University of Edinburgh and the inscription indicates that the book was once in his ownership. The inscription begins: "This is a remarkable compendium of the philosophy of John Duns Scotus ... NB. There is no copy of this work listed in the catalogues of the British Library not that of the Bibl. Nat. at Paris."|