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 766 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 511 to 525 of 766:
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|Title||Reise in das Innere von Afrika in den Jahren 1795, 1796 und 1797 auf Veranstaltung der Afrikanischen Gesellschaft unternommen. Nebst einem Woerterbuche|
|Imprint||Hamburg: bei Benjamin Gottlob Hoffmann|
|Date of Publication||1799|
|Notes||This German translation of Mungo Park's "Travels in the interior districts of Africa" was published in the same year as the English original.
The African explorer Mungo Park (1771-1806) hailed from a farm on the estate of the Duke of Buccleuch near Selkirk. He was apprenticed as a surgeon before entering Edinburgh University to study medicine. In 1792 he sailed to the East Indies as assistant medical officer. In 1795 he was sent on behalf of the African Association to discover the true course of the Niger. Barely escaping with his life on more than one occasion, Park did not succeed in his mission and returned at the end of 1797. "Travels in the interior districts of Africa" is an account of this journey. It went through three editions in its year of publication and made Park instantly famous and popular. The book also contains a dictionary of the Mandingo language; Park had learned this in the Gambia before setting off on his journey.
In 1805 he was commissioned to go on another journey of exploration to find the termination of the Niger. He sailed down the Niger in a boat he had constructed from a canoe and got past Timbuktu, but lost his life in a fight with natives. Ultimately, his inference that the Niger "could flow nowhere but into the sea" was proved correct.
This copy of the German edition has steel engraved plates of African settlements as well as a detailed map of the area explored by Park.|
|Title||Des Herrn Fordyce, beruehmten Professors zu Aberdeen in Engelland, Anfangsgruende der moralischen Weltweisheit; mit Herrn de Joncourt Abhandlung von der Oberherrschaft Gottes, und der sittlichen Verbindlichkeit, vermehrt.|
|Imprint||Zuerich: bey Orell und Comp.|
|Date of Publication||1757|
|Notes||David Fordyce (1711-1751) studied philosophy and mathematics at Marischal College ion Aberdeen, graduating with an MA at the age of 17. He then studied divinity, but despite obtaining a licence as a preacher, he never received a call. Instead, he was appointed professor of philosophy at Marischal College in 1742. Fordyce died in a storm off the coast of Holland at the age of 40.
Fordyce wrote an article called 'Moral philosophy' for the magazin "The Modern Preceptor". This was published separately in 1754 as "Elements of Moral Philosophy". This posthumous publication was the most successful work on moral philosophy hitherto written. By 1769 it had gone through four editions.
This is a copy of the German edition published in 1757.|
|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||Duns Scotus, John|
|Title||Quaestiones in Aristotelis Analytica posteria|
|Imprint||Venice : Simon de Luere|
|Date of Publication||1497|
|Notes||Sources variously state that Duns Scotus (ca. 1266-1308) was born in either Duns, Berwickshire, Friar Minor at Dumfries where his uncle Elias Duns was superior, or Maxton (now Littledean). 'Scotus' is, in fact, a nickname simply identifying him as a Scot. We do not know the precise date of his birth, but we do know that he was ordained to the priesthood in the Order of Friars Minor (Franciscans) at Saint Andrew's Priory in Northampton, England, on 17 March 1291.
He studied at the universities of Oxford and Paris and later lectured at both universities. In 1307 he was sent to Cologne, where he lectured until his death on November 8, 1308. His sarcophagus in Cologne bears the Latin inscription: "Scotia me genuit. Anglia me suscepit. Gallia me docuit. Colonia me tenet." ("Scotland brought me forth. England sustained me. France taught me. Cologne holds me.")
Quaestiones in Aristotelis Analytica Posteria is one of a series of questions and commentaries in which Scotus attempted to show that Christian doctrine was compatible with the philosophical ideas of Aristotle. Some bibliographical sources, including the Gesamtkatalog der Wiegendrucke, posit this edition as "Pseudo Duns Scotus". There are only two other known copies in Great Britain at the Bodleian and the British Library.|
-Catalogue des livres imprimes au quinzieme sicle des
bibliotheques de Belqique
-Incunabula in Dutch libraries
-Biblioteca Nacional [Madrid] Catalogo general de
incunables en bibliotecas espanolas
-An index to the Early Printed Books in the British Museum
from the Invention of Printing to the Year MD
-Catalogue of Books Printed in the XVth Century now in the
|Title||Hai tou Aischulou Choephoroi. Aeschyli Choephoroe. [Aeschylus: Choephori]|
|Imprint||Glasguae: Excudebat Andreas Foulis, M.DCC.LXXVII.|
|Date of Publication||1777 [?]|
|Language||Greek and Latin|
|Notes||One of three additions to the Library's Foulis Press holdings.
Andrew Foulis published two editions of Aeschylus' Choephorae in 1777, each with parallel texts of a Greek and Latin translation. The LIbrary already has a copy of the quarto setting of one edition (Gaskell 608, shelfmark NE.732.f.3). This is a copy of the far less common edition (Gaskell 608a, 2nd ed.), apparently unrecorded by ESTC and previously known only from a copy in private hands [which may or may not be this one].
There seems to be a bibliographical mystery about the date of this edition, according to a note by Robert Donaldson dated 1982 in the Library's marked-up copy of the 1st edition of Gaskell. He dates the paper of this edition to 1794, and says it has the same setting as the text of Choephori in the editions of Aeschylus: Tragoediae published by Foulis in 1796 and 1802 (Gaskell 702), and is therefore printed from the same standing type or stereo plates. There seems no explanation for why this text might have been issued separately with a false 1777 date, and copies of all the relevant editions would need to be collated before any conclusions could be reached.
This copy is bound with the edition of Longinus: On the Sublime (Greek and Latin text) published by Foulis in 1790, in what looks like the original binding (which might confirm the later date of publication). The stamp of the Royal School Edinburgh is on the back cover. Along with this item, the Library acquired a copy of John Gay: Poems on Several Occasions (Gaskell 506). The Library has a copy of the variant described on p. 438 of Gaskell, 2nd ed (shelfmark Hall.195.b); this new acquisition accords with the description of the edition on p. 295.|
|Reference Sources||Gaskell: Foulis Press bibliography (both editions)|
|Author||Craig, Thomas, Sir, 1538-1608.|
|Title||D. Thomae Cragii de Riccarton, equitis, ... jus feudale, tribus libris comprehensum: ... Editio tertia, prioribus multáo emendatior. ... Accessit rerum & verborum index locupletissimus, ... Opera & studio Jacobi Baillie|
|Imprint||Edinburgi : apud Tho. & Walt. Ruddimannos, 1732.|
|Date of Publication||1732|
|Notes||Contemporary Scottish binding of red goatskin, the covers tooled in gilt with a border composed of dog-tooth roll and a thistle and floral roll and featuring a centre diamond emblem comprised of roundels and semi-circles. The spine has been rebacked thus preserving the original spine and label. The spine is divided into seven panels with gilt scroll corners, the edges of the boards and turn-ins gilt tooled with thistle and bud roll. The endpapers are floral patterned Dutch gilt.
The tooling and patterns on this copy are very similar to that found on two other Scottish bindings in the NLS collections. Bdg.s.877, also published in 1732, and Bdg.l.8, published in 1734, both feature roundels and semi-circles on red leather.
The text was first published in London in 1655 and in Leipzig in 1716. It is the first systematic work on law in Scotland.|
|Reference Sources||ESTC T144476|
|Title||Eleanora, or a Tragical but true case of incest in Great Britain.|
|Imprint||London: M. Cooper, 1751.|
|Date of Publication||1751|
|Notes||A very rare (only 4 known copies of this edition, another being printed in Dublin in the same year) and very bizarre novella reportedly transcribed from a manuscript compiled by the anonymous author/editor's grandfather in 1685. The main action in the book takes place in Scotland, where the main pseudonymous protagonists, the widow Eleanora and her son Orestes, through an extraordinary and unbelievable chain of events 'enjoy' a night of passion - Orestes believing in the darkness that the woman he is bedding to be another, Arene. The Oedipal encounter results in the birth of a daughter, Cornelia, who when she reaches adulthood meets Orestes and marries him, much to the horror of Eleanora. A few years later Orestes encounters Arene, who tells him that she was not the one he slept with all those years ago. The truth is revealed, and Eleanora dies of shock as does Cornelia, a devastated Orestes commits suicide.
The "Monthly Review" for September 1751 notes very sternly that this work is clearly a piece of fiction and that "the publication of cases of this sort ought never to be encouraged, even if proved to be fact; as the knowledge of such unnatural, and (happily) uncommon crimes, cannot possibly be attended with any good consequences: as examples, they will probably never deter others, but may inspire people with thoughts of such practices as otherwise might never have entered their imaginations."!
There is little attempt to disguise the fictive nature of the torrid prose of "Eleanora", only a few specific events are mentioned: Orestes' father Eugenio dies at the siege of "Fort St. Martins in the Isle of Ree" (Lough Ree in Ireland?); Orestes, after studying at Glasgow University, serves on the Parliamentarian side at the battle of Naseby in 1645; he goes on to enjoy a career in the army which is ended by the Restoration of Charles II; about 7 years after the Restoration he helps a friend to get elected as MP for Pontefract [elections in Pontefract were held in 1661 then 1679).
On the front pastedown of this copy is (a) an old bookseller's slip which notes that this story was used by Horace Walpole for his play "The Mysterious Mother" (1768) (this is unconfirmed) (b) a book label of Diana Maria Dowdeswell (possibly a daughter of the politician William Dowdeswell, a friend of Horace Walpole).|
|Reference Sources||J. Raven "British Fiction 1750-1770" 69|
|Title||Representation of the high-landers, who arrived at the camp of the confederated army, not far off the city of Mayence the 13th of August 1743.|
|Imprint||Norimberga: Excudit Christoph: Weigely Vidua.|
|Date of Publication||1743|
|Language||English / German / French|
|Notes||This is an important acquisition for several reasons. It consists of an engraved title-page and five leaves of plates with engravings of highland soldiers in various supposedly characteristic postures. The plates are signed ''V. G. del', which is believed to be John or Gerard van der Gucht. These brothers, both artists, were working in London in 1743, when the Black Watch regiment was sent to the English capital. At this date (two years before the 1745 Jacobite rebellion), highland dress and manners were unfamiliar to many southerners. Various prints were made of the Black Watch troops.
In 1743, Britain was involved in the War of the Austrian Succession. The Black Watch, who had been told that they were simply going to London to see the King, realised that they might be sent to Flanders. A mutiny took place in May 1743 and a number of soldiers tried to return to Scotland. Three were eventually executed, causing much resentment and possibly contributing to the strength of the Jacobite rebellion. The regiment was indeed sent to Flanders where they distinguished themselves at the battle of Fontenoy.
The Black Watch were the first kilted troops to be seen on the continent, and the interest created probably explains why this publication of plates based on the van der Gucht drawings is trilingual and printed in Nuremberg. (The English is rather unorthodox). These plates were the basis for several other publications, such as the plates engraved by John Sebastian Muller.
This copy comes from the Library of the 17th Earl of Perth (lot 201 at the auction on 20 November 2003 by Christie's).|
|Reference Sources||Eric and Andro Linklater, 'The Black Watch', 1977
John Telfer Dunbar, 'History of Highland Dress', 1979
Colas, 'Bibliographie generale du costume', 1933, 2543
Lipperheide, 'Kostumbibliothek', 1963, 2262|
|Title||Idea di una perfetta repubblica|
|Imprint||Milano: Da' torchi della tipografia milanese in contrada nuova.|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||This 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.|
|Reference Sources||Not in Jessop|
|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||[3 Dutch translations: De kabinetten der Evangelische beloften; De zwangere belofte in hare vrucht; Blidje boodschap in zware tijden|
|Date of Publication||Various|
|Notes||These three translations into Dutch of the writings of Ralph Erskine (sermons and expositions of pieces of scripture)
demonstrate the popularity of his work in Holland well into the 20th century. They may also demonstrate the closeness in doctrinal terms between the modern Dutch Protestant Church and the 18th century Scottish Secession Church.
Erskine (1685-1752) was one of the key figures in the Secession Church. This church was formed in 1733 when a number of ministers led by Ebenezer Erskine (Ralph's brother) broke away from the Church of Scotland when the General Assembly decreed that elders and heritors only should elect ministers. Ralph Erskine did not join until 1737. In 1744 the Secession Church itself split over the Burgess Oath - the Erskines aligning themselves to the Burgher faction in opposition to the conservative anti-Burghers.
Ralph Erskine was born in Northumberland and educated at Edinburgh University. He spent most of his ministry in Dunfermline, where he was regarded as an excellent preacher. He was proficient on the violin and wrote a number of hymns.|
|Title||Andrew Lammie, or, Mill of Tiftie's Annie|
|Imprint||Banff: J. Davidson|
|Date of Publication||c.1790-1820|
|Notes||This ballad, like many others, was reprinted around Scotland to be sold locally. However, this rare Banff edition is one of only seven Banff imprints listed in ESTC, and the third recorded example of Davidson's chapbook printing to be acquired by the Library. The only other recorded copy is in the Bodleian Library, Oxford.
James Davidson, the 'Bookseller and Bookbinder', as he describes himself in this chapbook, is recorded in Pigot's _Commercial Directory for Scotland_ from 1820-1837 with an address at Bridge Street, but we do not know when he began printing, as all three of his chapbooks are undated. This item may, as ESTC conjectures, have been printed any time from 1790 until a few decades into the 19th century.
|Reference Sources||ESTC; SBTI; Bookseller's catalogue|
|Title||Dirge or a voice in the night, originally addressed to a clergyman at Edinburgh 1845.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Anderson and Bryce|
|Date of Publication||1848|
|Notes||This work is attributed to one Susan Williamson on the strength of a telling inscription on the verso of the dedication to Queen Victoria which reads: 'The writer of this book was Miss Susan Williamson who resided in Edinburgh with her brother Mr. David Williamson, in some of her ways she was odd, but not considered to be insane'. The 600 or so pages which follow can certainly be considered to be odd if not downright unintelligble to readers in the 21st century. An extract from the introduction sets the tone for what follows:
'And all vitellent spirits revolt or resault over whom was ratified reflection as a whispered word imputave before the perfectability of planatory imparature in the temporal attribute, whose nullity remained in premonitory complex'
The book consists of short texts of a religious nature dealing with sin, creation, eternity and so on. The only other copy traced is at the British Library and no other works by Susan Williamson are known.|
|Author||Steuart, James, Sir|
|Title||Untersuchung der Grund-Satze von der Staats-Wirtschaft als ein Versuch uber die Wissenschaft von der innerlichen Politik bey freyen Nationen|
|Imprint||Tubingen: Johann Georg Cotta|
|Date of Publication||1769-1772|
|Notes||This is the very rare first German edition of Steuart's 'An inquiry into the principles of political oeconomy' first published in English in 1767(RB.m.451). Another German edition was published in Hamburg in 1769 (A.109.d). It seems that two editions were published almost simultaneously in Germany, as the publishers in question were in a race to translate this work and so gain de facto copyright. Steuart was a friend of both the translator Christoph Friedrich Schott and the publisher Johann Georg Cotta. He had also lived for three years in Tubingen in the 1760s - as a Jacobite he was exiled after Culloden until 1763.
It would appear that the Hamburg edition took precedence over the Tubingen one. However the Tubingen edition is more faithful to Steuart's writing - chapter 28 in this work appears in its entirety, while it was abridged in the Hamburg edition.
Steuart's work was popular for a few years, but was completely overshadowed by Adam Smith's 'Wealth of Nations' (1776). Smith was himself somewhat disparaging about Steuart stating that he understood 'Sir James's system better from his conversation that from his volumes'. Neverthelesss, German scholars of the 19th century hailed Steuart - not Smith - as the true founder of economic science. It is regarded now as the first fully-fledged economic treatise.
Only three other copies of this edition have been located - one in Germany and two in the U.S.|
|Author||Hall, James, Sir|
|Title||Essay on the origin, history and principles of Gothic architecture|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Printed by Andrew Balfour|
|Date of Publication||1813|
|Notes||This is an unrecorded copy of Hall's privately published influential work on Gothic architecture. An edition (with 150 p. as opposed to 74 p. in this edition) was also published in London by John Murray in the same year. The etched frontispiece is signed 'W. & D. Lizars Edinr.' and shows a miniature Gothic cathedral built by Hall in wattle-work.
The first exposition of his theory - that the origins of Gothic architecture can be traced to simple wattle buildings - was published as a 27 p. paper with 6 plates read before the Royal Society of Edinburgh (of which he was also President) in 1797.
Hall was born in Dunglass, East Lothian in 1761. He studied as geologist for many years on the continent and submitted papers to the Royal Society of Edinburgh on the subject. Between 1807 and 1812 he was an MP for a borough in Cornwall.|