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 754 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 754:
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|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.|
|Author||Contant D'Orville, Andre-Guillaume|
|Title||Les fastes de Grande Bretagne, contentant tout ce qui s'est passe d'interessant dans les trois royaumes d'Angleterre, d'Ecosse, & d'Irelande…|
|Imprint||Paris: J. P Costard|
|Date of Publication||1769|
|Notes||These two volumes claim to describe 'everything interesting that happened in the three realms of England, Scotland, and Ireland, from the foundation of the monarchy until the peace of 1763. In practice, the work has a decidedly Anglocentric focus - the author explains in his preface that he decided to write about England because of the importance of its relationship with France. However, Scottish history is covered in greater detail after the Union of the Crowns in 1603. In short, this book contains an interesting 18th-century French perspective on events such as the Jacobite risings and 'the most brilliant part of Queen Anne's reign ... the union of Scotland and England'.
The author, Andre-Guilliaume Contant d'Orville, (1730-1800), wrote novels and histories, and was influenced by the historical methods of Voltaire. The volumes are in the original stiff paper wrappers, with an 18th-century armorial bookplate (possibly Swedish) inside each front cover.|
|Reference Sources||Booksellers' catalogue|
|Title||Neue philosophische Versuche. Aus dem Englischen uebersezt. Mit einer Vorrede vonm Herrn Professor Meiners.|
|Imprint||Leipzig: in der Weygandschen Buchhandlung|
|Date of Publication||1779-1780|
|Notes||This is the first edition of the German translation of Beattie's "Essay on the nature and immutability of truth, in opposition to sophistry and scepticism; on poetry and music, as they affect the mind; on laughter, and ludicrous composition; and on the utility of classical learning".
James Beattie (1735-1803) was a poet, essayist and moral philosopher. Born in Kincardine and educated at Aberdeen, he became professor of moral philosophy and logic at Marischall College, Aberdeen, in 1760.
The essays assembled in this collection were written over the course of 17 years: on poetry and music in 1762, on laughter in 1764, and on classical learning in 1769. The essay on truth itself does not appear in a German translation here, only Beattie's preface to the new edition of 1776, undated additions and amendments, and an epilogue dated 1770.
In his own preface to the translations, Professor Meiners refers to Beattie as the most thorough contestant of Hume's philosophy and the most fortunate defender of truth and virtue. However, he is much less complimentary about Beattie's essay on laughter and criticises Beattie for not properly distinguishing between the terms ludicrous and ridiculous.|
|Title||Come and play with me|
|Imprint||London: Alexadnra Publishing Company|
|Date of Publication||c.1860-1900|
|Notes||This children's annual contains an unacknowledged abridged and simplified version of George Macdonald's classic children's fantasy story The Princess and the Goblin. Macdonald's story was first published in 1872, and the version here reprints Arthur Hughes' original illustrations. The annual is undated. It contains references to the Arica earthquake of 1868 and the Franco-Prussian war of 1871-2 as recent events, so was presumably first printed around this time, although the advertisements suggest this may be a later reprint.
That an abridged, and presumably unauthorized version of Macdonald's novel appeared so soon after its first publication is a testimony to its contemporary appeal, and shows the wide audience for his works. The annual has a cheerful cover in coloured boards, but the inviting illustration of a girl saying 'Come and play with me' is rather undermined by the stark advertisements on the inside boards: 'DO NOT UNTIMELY DIE!' but take 'Fennings' Fever Curer' instead.|
|Reference Sources||Bookseller's catalogue|
|Title||100 years of guttapercha|
|Imprint||R.&J. Dick, Ltd|
|Date of Publication||1946|
|Notes||This book was published by the firm of R.&J. Dick of Glasgow to celebrate the centenary of the company, and is a fascinating document of Scotland's industrial history.
Robert and James Dick were born in Kilmarnock and in the 1840s were apprentices in Glasgow. In 1843 the first samples of guttapercha (latex gum) arrived in Scotland, and in 1846 the brothers saw the possibilities of this product and formed a partnership for the manufacture of cheap rubber shoes. The 'Dick cheap shoe', the book tells us, was a 'byword in the vocabulary of the working classes'. A factory was built at Greenhead, and the firm prospered. The shoe market declined, but guttapercha was discovered to be good insulation for electrical cables, and the firm's product was used in the laying of transatlantic cables.
Robert Dick also used Balata, another form of latex, to produce the 'Dickbelt' - industrial-strength belting used around the world. He was a scientific experimenter and friend of Lord Kelvin, while his brother was the financial wizard - James died a millionaire, and left his fortune to charity.
The book still has its dustjacket, illustrating the 'Dickbelt' and guttapercha footwear, and still contains the original compliments slip from the firm.|
|Reference Sources||The book itself|
|Date of Publication||1838|
|Notes||William Anderson (1805-1866) was born at Edinburgh. His maternal grandfather was the author of the 'Natural History of the Mineral Kingdom' and his brother John was the historian of the house of Hamilton. Apart from newspaper contributions, his first publication was 'Poetical Sketches' in 1833. By 1838 he was living in London where he moved in literary circles. Later he returned to Scotland, continuing to publish and working for Scottish newspapers.
The DNB characterizes Anderson's poetry as 'generally sweet and tuneful' but 'not characterized by much merit of a literary kind'. These 'Landscape Lyrics' are typical mid-19th century verse in their style and subject. This copy, however, is of particular interest, being the author's proof copy of the first edition, without title page or plates. As the bookseller's catalogue says, 'These pleasantly messy proofs were evidently corrected currente calamo as they came off the press'. As such, they are a good example of writing and publishing practices of the period, and complement the Library's holdings of publisher's archives in this regard. A copy of the publication in its final state is at AB.8.83.5, which would make an interesting comparison.|
|Reference Sources||DNB; Bookseller's catalogue.|
|Author||St Peters Church, Edinburgh.|
|Title||Report by the Committee of Management of St. Peter's Episcopal Church new building: with first list of subscribers.|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||This is a report on the building of and fund-raising for a new Church in the southside of Edinburgh, by the building committee for the congregation of St. Peter's Roxburgh Place. This congregation had begun in 1791 as an 'overflow' from Old St. Paul's in Carrubber's Close. It continued in Roxburgh Place until the 1850s when it was decided to move further south to Lutton Place. The new building was of a neo-gothic style and designed by William Slater of London.
The church was opened for worship on Whitsunday 1860, though the debt was not cleared until 1889.
The report is accompanied by two fine lithographs by Friedrich Schenck of George St. Edinburgh. Neither lithograph is recorded in the entry for Schenck in the Directory of lithographic printers of Scotland 1820-1870. No copy of this work with plates has been traced in any library (BL, CURL, OCLC, RLIN).
The library already has a copy of this work at Dowd.465(15) which differs from this copy in a number of respects:
1. Dowd is a proof copy; this copy is a corrected proof
2. Dowd lacks the plates
3. The five lists of subscribers in Dowd are dated 25 June; the six in this copy are dated 15 July.|
|Title||Illustrated price list of bowling green bowls and bowling requisites|
|Date of Publication||1955|
|Notes||This is an attractive trade catalogue from a Glasgow manufacturer of lawn bowling equipment.
The company, established in 1796, was the first to offer standard bias on bowls by creating the world's first bowl shaping machine. In the same year that the shaping machine was invented and patented - 1871 - Thomas Taylor Bowls also constructed the first bowls testing table, using a slate base similar to a billiards table and covering it in felt and canvas. The bowls were made of lignum-vitae, a special wood obtainable only from the West Indies.
In 1928 the newly formed International Bowling Board adopted the Scottish Bowling Association's rules of the game and the Thomas Taylor standard bowl as the minimum bias bowl for all international matches. As well as bowls the company also manufactured bowl measures and bowl cases. The Library also holds trade catalogues from this company dating from 1937 and 1962.|
|Title||De' costumi e della morte di Maria Clementina Regina d'Inghilterra, di Francia, e d'Irlanda|
|Imprint||In Roma ed in Bologna|
|Date of Publication||1737|
|Notes||This is a biography of Princess Clementina, the wife of the Old Pretender. She was the granddaughter of John Sobieski, the warrior king of Poland. Her marriage took place in 1719, under the protection of Pope Clement XI, who proclaimed the pair King and Queen of England. The alliance had been vehemently opposed by the Holy Roman Emperor, who had imprisoned the young woman. She was later dramatically rescued by a band of Jacobite adventurers led by Charles Wogan. The marriage proved turbulent, and unhappy with the princess leaving her husband for a time. A reconciliation was eventually arranged, although she did not long survive it as she died in 1731. This is a very good copy of a rare edition complete with portrait, and a final leaf containing an engraved coat of arms.|
|Reference Sources||Booksellers catalogue|
|Title||Spiritual warfare; or some sermons concerning the nature of mortification, together with the right spiritual exercise and spiritual advantages thereof|
|Imprint||Boston: ub N.E. Re-printed by S. Kneeland, for Benj. Eliot, at his shop in King-Street.|
|Date of Publication||1720|
|Notes||This is the first and only American edition of Gray's work, which was first published in Edinburgh in 1670. Gray was a Scottish divine who became extraordinarily popular as a preacher before his sudden death in 1656, at the astonishing age of 22. His writings were all published posthumously.
The present collection of sermons, with a short preface by Thomas Manton, was frequently reprinted throughout the 18th century. This Boston edition is uncommon with the ESTC listing only seven extant copies. The work is in a well-preserved Boston binding of the period.|
|Reference Sources||Booksellers catalogue|
|Title||Brief treatyse settynge forth divers truethes necessary both to be beleved of chrysten people, & kepte also|
|Imprint||London: Thomas Petit|
|Date of Publication||1547|
The acquisition of this item demonstrates how the different aspects of our work can join up serendipitously. Cataloguing the Fort Augustus collections led to a decision to feature Archbishop Hamilton's Catechism of 1552 on our webpages as a Highlight of the collections, and the research for that text meant that we spotted the connection with this Richard Smith item when it was not flagged at all by the vendor.
Richard Smith (1500-1563) was a theologian and divine who, disregarding a couple of tactical recantations, took a staunchly Catholic side during the Reformation. He was the first Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford, and one of the team involved in the production of Henry VIII's Institution of a Christian Man in 1537. When the Protestant party triumphed in England, he twice fled first to Scotland and then to France. While his movements on the accession of Elizabeth I seem fairly clear, there is some confusion over where exactly he was and when, between his first flight from England in 1549 and his return in 1553. He certainly went to St Andrews in Scotland and thence to Louvain.
John Durkan in McRoberts' collection "Essays on the Scottish Reformation" assigns the writing of the Hamilton catechism to another Englishman, Richard Marshall, but notes that Smith was distributing copies to clergy in November, and was present at the Synod which commissioned the catechism. In his edition of Hamilton's catechism in 1882, Professor Mitchell says that Smith was one of the theology faculty at St Andrews when the catechism was drawn up, and his involvement may have led to the echoes of the Institution of a Christian Man (in some cases, direct renderings into Scots) in the catechism. It does seem likely that the production of such a text would have involved the available experts, rather than being the work of one sole individual.
Given all these factors, we can see that this Brief Treatyse is an equally significant source for the catechism to the Institution of a Christian Man. It is Smith's third original work, and its title, like that of the Institution ('A necessary doctrine and erudicion for any chrysten man') emphasizes what the ordinary lay Christian should know - exactly what the catechism offers. Certainly the layout of this book is similar to that of the catechism: it is to be hoped that a researcher will take on the task of comparing the contents.
This library is the best in the world for the study of the 1552 catechism (we hold most of the surviving copies), and here we have an opportunity to enrich the understanding of it through the purchase of a little-known item which is at least a valuable context and probably a direct source. There is no other copy in Scotland according to the ESTC.
While the Brief Treatyse is available on microfilm and also via EEBO, original copies are very rare. This copy has been described as 'not great, but better than a "working" copy'. There are a few minor imperfections, but the main problem is the title page, which is 'cut-round and crudely inlaid' without loss of text, and also 'soiled, somewhat browned and stained'.
Finally, this item has a Scottish provenance: it contains the undated bookplate of Alexander Moffat of Edinburgh, who is unlisted in our bookplates index. At least one contemporary owner has left marginalia and other markings in the text; later owners include Wm Herbert, 1760 and the Duke of Sussex, whose armorial bookplate is on the front pastedown. Finally there is the bookplate of the Bristol collector James Stevens Cox (1910-1997). This book is one of three the NLS has purchased from the sale of his library, a collection considered worthy of its own location in the Short Title Catalogue of English books before 1640.|
|Reference Sources||DNB, catalogue, David McRoberts: Essays on the Scottish Reformation; 1882 and 1884 editions of Archibishop Hamilton's Catechism|
|Title||Confirming worke of religion, in its necessity and use briefly held forth; that each Christian may have a proper ballast of his own, of the grounds and reasons of his faith, and thus see the greatness of that security; on which he adventures his eternal fate. …|
|Imprint||Rotterdam: Printed by Reinier Leers.|
|Date of Publication||1685|
A rare work by a popular ejected Scottish minister published in the place of his exile.
Robert Fleming the elder (his son followed him as a writer and minister) was born in 1630 at Yester, Haddingtonshire, studied at Edinburgh and St Andrews, and may have fought in the Scottish army during the Civil War. He was called to the ministry in 1653, and deprived of his parish of Cambuslang, Lanarkshire, on the restoration of episcopacy in 1662. He preached in Scotland and London, in spite of problems with the authorities and other difficulties, until 1677, when he was called to a collegiate charge in the Scots Church at Rotterdam, a city where many religious exiles took refuge in the 17th century. On a visit to Edinburgh in 1679 he returned to Edinburgh, where he was imprisoned for holding conventicles, but escaped and returned to Rotterdam. His troubles with the Scottish authorities ended with the political changes of 1689, but he remained in Holland and died on a visit to London in 1694.
The DNB lists eleven works by Fleming, in addition to sermons: he defended his own kind of protestantism against Quakers and Catholics alike, and related the lives of Scottish and Ulster Protestants to his own faith and what he saw as the workings of divine providence. This book, in that vein, attempts to show 'the true and infallible way, for attaining a confirmed state in Religion', as the title page says, relating spiritual doctrines and experiences to contemporary events - 'a short confirming prospect of the work of the Lord about his Church, in these last times.'
The NLS already holds other editions of this work, but according to the ESTC there is no other copy of this edition in Scotland, and only seven others are recorded altogether. This copy comes to us with three interesting provenances. On the verso of the title page is an inscription signed 'H.D.A.': Omne tulit punctum/ Qui miscuit Utile dulci ['he has gained every point who has mixed the useful and the agreeable', from Horace's Ars Poetica]. I got this token of kindness from Mr. R.F. the author, my very worthy friend'. The book also has the bookplate of Patrick Hume, 1st Earl of Marchmont, Lord High Chancellor of Scotland, dated 1702. The gilt crowned orange from the arms of the Earl of Marchmont can still be seen on the spine panels, though faded. Finally there is the bookplate of the Bristol collector James Stevens Cox (1910-1997). This book is one of three the NLS has purchased from the sale of his library, a collection considered worthy of its own location in the Short Title Catalogue of English books before 1640.|
|Reference Sources||DNB; sale catalogue|
|Title||Abridgement or summarie of the Scots chronicles|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Printed by the Heires of George Anderson, for the Company of Stationers|
|Date of Publication||1650|
|Notes||Monipennie: Abridgement or Summarie of the Scots Chronicles
ESTC R223767; Aldis 1394
The only recorded holding of this Aldis item in Scotland.
John Monipennie's abridgement of the Scots Chronicles was first published in 1612, and went through several editions. This edition is described on the title page as 'Newely inlarged corrected and amended', although the text does not indicate what the enlargments, corrections and amendments are. The actual Abridgement ends with Charles I: 'The Lord increase all royall vertues in his Highnesse, that he may remain a comfort to Christs Church within his own dominions' (p.174), a prayer that sits rather problematically with the 1650 publication date.
Monipennie does not record what he is abridging, other than quoting lines from Boethius and Holinshed on the verso of the title page, but as well as his potted guide to Scottish history, this volume includes a list of the Kings and Queens of Scotland, a 'true description and division of the whole realme', and a 'memoriall of the most rare and wonderfull things in Scotland' (title page). Besides describing rare animals and holy wells, these few pages tell the reader that Loch Ness never freezes, 'signifying unto us, that there is a Mine of Brimstone under it, and that 'in the North seas of Scotland are great Clogs of Timber found, in the which are marveilously ingendered a sort of Geese, called Clayk Geese' (pp.285, 287).
Later owners have left their mark: C.A. Martin, December 1842 and Vernon Holt, 1880. Finally there is the bookplate of the Bristol collector James Stevens-Cox (1910-1997). This book is one of three the NLS has purchased from the sale of his library, a collection considered worthy of its own location in the Short Title Catalogue of English books before 1640. As was a common practice of his, Stevens-Cox has left a brief pencil bibliographical note (on the verso of the front free endpaper).|
|Reference Sources||ESTC, sales catalogue|