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 775 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 775:

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AuthorIsthvanfius, Nicolaus
TitleHistoriarum de rebus Ungaricis
Date of Publication1622
NotesNote: This stunning goatskin binding, bound for King James I (James VI of Scotland), has been attributed to the royal binder John Bateman. The spine and the covers have been entirely tooled in gilt fleur de lys within roundels enclosing small flowers, with the royal arms gilt tooled in the centre of both covers. Appointed as royal binder in 1604, Bateman probably also used a number of quite angular cornerpiece tools in addition to thistle and other smaller ornamentations. Fields (or semis/semées) of fleur de lys were very much in vogue on French bindings from the 1540s onwards and this style was used by English* binders during the late 16th and early 17th centuries. According to Davenport, this form of ornamentation (thistles, tridents, and stars were also employed) was used for James more than for any other sovereign. These distinctive and dominant semis of fleur de lys are found only on folios bound for James and at least four other folios in this style have been attributed to Bateman. As the royal binder he bound many works for James as well as for his sons Charles (when he was Prince of Wales) and Henry, who died in 1612. The designs for these bindings were relatively simple, usually with the respective coats of arms tooled in the centre of the covers. John Bateman was one of only two binders active during the reign of Elizabeth I whose name and work is known. He was the son of John Bateman a London clothworker. Beginning on 29 September 1567, Bateman served a 12 year apprenticeship, and became free of the Stationers' Company in January 1580. He seems to have run a large bindery and is recorded as taking on a number of apprentices between 1584 and 1605. John and his son Abraham received the appointment of royal binder (for life) to James I by warrant dated 3 May 1604 for a yearly fee of £6. Little is known about Abraham. He was apprenticed to his father and was freed by patrimony on 13 April 1607. He took his first apprentice in June 1608 and two further apprentices are recorded. In the Wardrobe accounts between 1609 and 1615 there are frequent mentions of payment made to John Bateman for binding a variety of religious and secular books. Of particular interest is a mention in a warrant to the Great Wardrobe of 1613 of a number of books 'in Turquey lether wrought over wth small tools'. Bateman was one of a few binders using goatskin imported from Turkey. He was still royal binder during Charles I's reign and was last issued with a livery in 1639/40. However no bindings made by him for King Charles survive. The last Bateman binding was for a book printed in 1635. The text of the volume is also noteworthy as it provides further evidence of James's interest in European affairs. It would have provided him with some context for events unfolding in central Europe in the early stages of what was to become the Thirty Years War (1618-1648). Featured on the title page engraved by Balthasar Behrvazin (?), is a central medallion portrait of Ferdinand II, the Holy Roman Emperor, King of Hungary and Bohemia. It was his conflict with Frederick V, the Elector of the Palatinate and husband to James's daughter Elizabeth, which sparked this long series of wars. This book constituted an important addition to James's extensive collection of printed material relating to the affairs of the Palatinate and of the German Empire in general. The book is the first edition of this seminal history of Hungary, covering the period 1490-1607, a time when the Turks were exerting enormous pressure on strongholds of European Christendom. Hungary in fact had been annexed by Sulieman the Magnificent in 1540. The author, Nicolaus Isthvanfius (also known as Miklos Istavanffy, 1536-1615), in addition to being an historian was also a statesman and a soldier, who both fought against and negotiated with the Turks. Much of the work, which he wrote after his retirement from public life, deals with events that Isthvanfius actually witnessed or learnt about at first hand. It is one of the principal source books for the history of the Turks in 16th century Europe. Another edition, riddled with errors, and with an account of the siege and relief of Vienna (1683) was published in 1685. Aside from the binding, the book itself is a significant addition to the Library's collection of continental books. This is a rare text: only 4 other copies of this book have been traced, one of which is in Britain (BL). Provenance: King James I, Chichester Cathedral Library, W.A. Foyle (bookplate on upper flyleaf) -- lot 449 at Foyle sale July 2000, sold for £2350 **The Library now holds the following items belonging to James: Bdg.m.104 Chard, Simon. Germanicarum rerum quatuor celebriores vetustioresque chronographi. (Frankfurt, 1566) With Scottish royal arms Adv.Ms.19.2.6. Stewart of Baldynneis, John. Ms. of Ane abridgement of Roland Furious translait out of Ariost, etc. (c.1585) Bdg.m.89. Bellarmine, Robert, Saint. Disputationum Roberti Bellarmini Politani. (Ingolstadi, 1601) Fanfare binding by Simon Corberan, Paris, with Scottish royal arms Gray.645 Camden, William. Brittania. (London, 1607) with non-royal coat of arms K.99.a Cotgrave, R. A dictionary of the French and English tongues. (London, 1611) with non-royal coat of arms Adv.Ms.33.3.4 -- early 17th century copies in French of treaties between France and her allies 1552-1615 With royal coat of arms Ry.III.a.11. James I. The workes of the most high and mighty Prince Iames. (London, 1616) with non-royal coat of arms RB.2081(1). James I. A meditation upon the Lords Prayer. (London, 1619) RB.2081(2). James II. Two meditations of the King Maiestie. (London, 1620) Adv.Ms.33.3.3 Anonymous English treaties about the war with Spain. (c.1621) with non-royal coat of arms *See H.25.b.10 - James Keppler, Harmonices mundi libri V (Lincii Austriae, 1619), bound for Charles as Prince of Wales, binding decorated with coat of arms in centre on field of large fleur de lys within a border of thistles.
Reference SourcesBirrell, T.A. English monarchs and their books: from Henry VII to Charles II. (London, 1987) Davenport, Cyril. 'Royal English bookbindings', in The Portfolio. (London, 1896) Foot, Mirjam. The Henry Davis Gift: a collection of bookbindings ? v.1 Studies in the history of bookbinding. (London, 1978) Foot, Mirjam. Studies in the history of bookbinding. (London, 1993) Horne, Herbert P. The binding of books (London, 1915) Maggs. Bros. Bookbinding in the British Isles: sixteenth to the twentieth century. (Cat. 1075) (London, 1987) Nixon, Howard M. Five centuries of English bookbinding. (London, 1978) Nixon, Howard M. and Foot, Mirjam. The history of decorated bookbinding in England. (Oxford, 1992) Royal English bookbindings in the British Museum. (London, 1957) Specimens of royal fine and historical bookbinding, selected from the Royal Library, Windsor Castle. (London, 1893)
Acquired on28/06/01
AuthorJack, Gilbert.
TitleMetaphysicae seu Primae philosophicae institutiones [bound with] Institutiones physicae.
ImprintSchleusingen: Reiffenberg
Date of Publication1638
NotesThis bound volume contains two scarce early editions of works by the Scottish philosopher and physician Gilbert Jack (Jacchaeus) (1578-1628). Jack was born in Aberdeen and studied at the city's Marischal College; he went on to study on the Continent, first, from 1598, at the Lutheran University of Helmstadt and from 1601 at Herborn, where he was appointed professor extraordinarius. In 1603 he moved to the university at Leiden in the Netherlands, where he remained for the rest of his life, studying and teaching philosophy and physics. He became a friend of leading Dutch intellectuals such as Caspar Barlaeus, Hugo Grotius, and G. J. Vossius. Jack was an Aristotelian philosopher and these two textbooks were based on his interpretation of Aristotle's doctrines. "Primae philosophicae institutiones" drew on his philosophy lectures at Leiden and was first published in 1616. This particular edition was printed in the Thuringian town of Schleusingen for a publisher in the nearby university town of Jena. "Institutiones physicae" was first published in 1615, this is the third edition published in Amsterdam in 1644 by Elzevir.
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on02/12/11
AuthorJames Clerk Maxwell
TitleTraite d'Electricite et de Magnetisme
ImprintParis: Gauthier-Villars
Date of Publication1883
NotesThis is the first French translation of James Clerk Maxwell's Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism, based on the second edition which was published in 1881, after Maxwell's death. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography records that 'the impact of the Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism was at first muted, but within a few years of his death his field theory shaped the work of Maxwellian physicists ... Maxwell's field theory and electromagnetic theory of light came to be accepted and regarded as one of the most fundamental of all physical theories.' In his preface, French engineer G. Seligmann-Lui explains that this translation includes extra material designed to help French professors and students understand concepts and theories Maxwell uses which are not yet taught in France, but also that it will be useful to practising engineers. He praises Maxwell for writing a book 'with a good number of chapters, easy to read, where [Maxwell's ideas] can be found set out with perfect clarity'.
Reference SourcesOxford DNB.
Acquired on19/02/09
AuthorJames Dinwiddie
TitleSyllabus of a course of lectures on experimental philosophy
ImprintDublin: D. Graisberry
Date of Publication1782
NotesHitherto unrecorded edition of Dinwiddie's syllabus for lectures on experimental philosophy (there are other editions printed in Dumfries in 1778, and in London in 1789). James Dinwiddie (1746-1815) was born in Dumfriesshire and in 1771 became a mathematics teacher at Dumfries Academy. He went on to study at Edinburgh University, graduating in 1778. He subsequently went on a lecture tour of Scotland and, from 1779 onwards, of Ireland to pay off debts incurred during his studies. As well as lecturing on chemistry and mechanics, Dinwiddie also gave lectures on gunnery, fortification, pyrotechnics and the diving bell. This series of lectures, held in Dublin, covers what is termed 'experimental philosophy', i.e. electricity, heat, magnetism, optics, astronomy amongst other subjects. During his stay in Ireland Dinwiddie carried out experiments with diving bells and hot-air balloons and was renowned for the impressive and expensive scientific apparatus he collected. In 1792 he accompanied the British embassy to China and then stayed for a number of years in India, carrying out further scientific experiments and becoming professor in Fort William College, Calcutta.
Reference SourcesDNB
Acquired on12/12/06
AuthorJames I
TitleThe Kings Maiesties speech
ImprintLondon: Robert Barker
Date of Publication1604
NotesThis is the speech which James I delivered to the House of Lords on 19 March 1604, the first day of the Parliament at Westminster, and indeed the first Parliament of his reign as King of Scotland and England. This copy has the text printed in italic type. We also hold the issue in roman type at shelfmark 1.174(1). Curiously, both issues were published by Robert Barker in the same year. It could be surmised that there was such a high demand for copies of the speech that Barker had to print on two presses at the same time and decided to print different versions for the sake of variety. There are slight spelling differences between the two editions too. The speech was certainly very popular and was published in Edinburgh as well as London.
Acquired on22/06/05
AuthorJames Maxwell
TitlePaisley Dispensary. A poem.
ImprintPaisley: printed and sold for the author
Date of Publication1786
NotesJames Maxwell (1720-1800), the self-styled 'Poet in Paisley' worked as a packman, weaver, clerk, school usher, and stone-breaker; in 1787 he was awarded a charitable allowance by the town council of Paisley, which he continued to enjoy until his death. One of the most prolific versifiers of his day, Maxwell wrote nearly 60 separate poetical pieces which had little in the way of literary merit. "Paisley dispensary" is a poem in praise of the recently-established dispensary in his home town, created through the good offices of the local rich, who were profiting from Paisley's expansion as a weaving and textile centre. John Wilson's "General View of the Agriculture of Renfrewshire" (1812) notes that the dispensary's establishment in 1786 "has been attended with very happy effects among the lower classes of industrious inhabitants of the town and suburbs. It has been uniformly supported by yearly subscriptions; and ... much distress had been alleviated, by the distribution of medicines, and the gratuitous advice of the medical practitioners in Paisley" (p. 322). A House of Recovery was added in 1805.
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on21/06/13
AuthorJames Maxwell
TitleA poem descriptive of the ancient and noble seat of Hawk-head.
ImprintPaisley: printed and sold for the author
Date of Publication1786.
NotesThis is an unrecorded topographical poem by James Maxwell (1720-1800), the self-styled 'poet in Paisley'. Maxwell worked as a packman, weaver, clerk, school usher, and stone-breaker; in 1787 he was awarded a charitable allowance by the town council of Paisley, which he continued to enjoy until his death. One of the most prolific versifiers of his day, Maxwell issued nearly 60 separate poetical pieces, most of them of not particularly high quality, although his biographer in ODNB notes that he represents "the terminus of the virile strain of poetry of Calvinist pietism in eighteenth-century Scotland". This particular poem is dedicated to the Dowager Countess of Glasgow, Elizabeth (d. 1791), daughter of Lord Ross. The final leaf carries some additional lines, seemingly printed after the poem had been sent to the press, celebrating the ice house with its pineapple and strawberry ice creams, and the pigsties which produce 'charming ham'. The Hawkhead estate, situated just over two miles south east of Paisley, had descended in the Countess of Glasgow's own family and came to her as sole heiress of the Ross barony. In 1914 the house became part of a mental hospital called Hawkhead Asylum (now Leverndale Hospital) before being eventually demolished in 1953. The provenance of this copy is noteworthy. It belonged to Alexander Boswell Dun, the son of James Boswell's tutor, John Dun, as can be seen by the ownership inscription 'Boswell Dun' at the head of the title page. John Dun had been hired as tutor by the biographer's father when he came to Auchinleck in 1749, and a few years later he became minister at the local church, through the patronage of Boswell's father. Alexander Boswell Dun of Rigg was presumably named clearly in honour of the Laird who had done so much for his father.
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on22/02/13
AuthorJames VI & I
TitleTwo Meditations of the Kings Maiestie
ImprintLondon: b. Robert Barker & Iohn Bill
Date of Publication1620
NotesDespite the rare title page, this work consists of one meditation only, A Paterne for a Kings inauguration. Addressed to Prince Charles as a handbook for kingship, the Paterne is a kind of second Basilicon Doron (written for Prince Henry). James describes the burdens of kingship, comparing them to the sufferings of Christ in his Passion, and using the gospel of St. Matthew as illustration. It seems very likely that King Charles's own conception of martyrdom was influenced by this work. First published 1620, STC 14381.5. The library has a copy of another 1620 issue, STC 14382, shelfmark 2.325(20). Details: STC 14412, octavo, pp. [30], 84 (p. 84 misnumbered 88), [2], sig. A8 (-A1), B-G8, H3. Final leaf is colophon. Initials J.R. on title page, probably in James's own hand. Numerous contemporary annotations throughout. This book is bound, as is its companion volume RB.s.2081(1), in calf with a gilt panel design enclosing a central medallion with the armorial design of Robert Day, a previous owner, on front and rear board. Both volumes contain bookplates of Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex (1773-1843), 6th son of George III, William Wrixon Leycester and Robert Day. The folding case which contains both books includes a plaintive manuscript letter to King Charles I from James's wayward doctor George Eglisham, who notoriously accused the Duke of Buckingham of having murdered King James and the Duke of Hamilton.
Acquired on04/10/00
AuthorJames VI & I
TitleMeditation vpon the Lords Prayer
ImprintLondon: b. Bonham Norton & Iohn Bill
Date of Publication1619
NotesAttractive copy of the first edition, STC 14384. King James's straightforward exposition of the Lord's Prayer is dedicated to the Duke of Buckingham, as one who has no time to spend on complex and lengthy prayer. Details: octavo, pp. [16], 146, sig. A-K8, L1. With notably pedantic explanatory annotations in contemporary hand with pointing fingers and underlining. Title page slightly stained; lacks sig. L2 (colophon). For more information, see on the companion volume RB.s.2081(2), Two Meditations of the Kings Maiestie (A Paterne for a Kings inauguration), which is in the same binding and has notes in the same hand; both were apparently in the Royal Library.
Acquired on04/10/00
AuthorJames VI & I
TitleProclamation ... March.24 ... 1602 [1603]
ImprintLondon: b. Robert Barker
Date of Publication1602/3
NotesThis is a fine uncut copy of the second edition of the proclamation in which the English privy council announced that James VI of Scotland succeeded Queen Elizabeth. James's hereditary right to the English throne is described and explained, and the text stresses that in addition to his legitimacy, James comes with 'all the rarest gifts of mind and bodie'. Details: STC 8298, black letter, 2 sheets, horizontal chain lines. Modern portfolio includes a misleading note identifying this work as STC 8297. Setting 2a, with first line of second sheet having reading 'Kingdomes, all'.
Acquired on04/10/00
AuthorJames VII and II
TitleNuevo triunfo de la religion Catolica, que los fieles deven al Christiano real cuydado, y magnanima providencia de serenissimo rey de la Bretaña Jacobo Segundo.
ImprintSevilla: por Juan Francisco de Blas
Date of Publication[1687]
NotesBy the third year of his reign as king of England, Scotland and Ireland, James VII and II was finding it increasingly difficult to work with Anglican politicians who were hostile to him as a Catholic; he was more inclined to work with those who dissented from the established religions in his kingdoms. He therefore adopted his late brother's approach to religious toleration, seeking to remove religious persecution from Catholics, Quakers and other peaceable dissenters. Bypassing the parliament in Scotland, James's first declaration of indulgence (or toleration) was issued in Edinburgh on 12 February 1687. 'Moderate Presbyterians' were allowed to meet in their private houses, while Quakers could 'meet and exercise in their form in any place or places appointed for their worship'. All laws and acts of Parliament against Catholics were suspended. This Spanish translation of James's proclamation includes not only the text of the proclamation and its introductory letter, both signed by his Scottish secretary the earl of Melfort, but also the response of the Scottish privy council. The proclamation is mistakenly dated here 22 February 1687. In the Spanish editor's preamble it is stated that news of the proclamation was sent to the court of Spain's Charles II. The declaration of indulgence is regarded here as part of a wave of recent Catholic victories (also comprising successes by the Austrian emperor against the Ottomans, and the King of France against Calvinists). James went on to introduce a similar declaration in England in April of that year.
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography; bookseller's notes
Acquired on10/12/10
AuthorJames, Prince of Wales, 1688-1766.
TitleHis Majesty's most gracious declaration. James R.
Imprint[Edinburgh? s.n.]
Date of Publication1744?
NotesThis four-page declaration by James Stuart 'The Old Pretender', "given at our court at Rome, the 23d day of December 1743", appears to be part of a charm offensive in Scotland prior to a planned Jacobite uprising. The year 1743 had brought fresh impetus to the Jacobite cause, with the French taking the opposing side to Britain in the war of Austrian Succession. English Jacobites requested a French-led invasion of Britain and Louis XV of France was actively considering an expedition to reinstate the Stuarts on the British throne. News of the French king's intentions reached the Jacobite court in Rome in late December, resulting in the drafting of this declaration for publication and display at the market crosses throughout Scotland. James professes to having "always born the most constant affection to our ancient kingdom of Scotland, from whence we derive our royal origin". He notes with concern the miseries suffered by the country due to the "foreign usurpation", and how it has been reduced to the status of a province "under the specious pretence of an union with a more powerful neighbour". Having emphasised the Scottish roots of the Stuarts, James goes on to sketch out the details of a Jacobite Scotland free from the Hanoverian kings; if not independent, then at least with some greater degree of political autonomy. He promises an amnesty for opponents of his late father and the Jacobite cause, and, perhaps mindful of his father's brief, autocratic, reign as king of Britain, he undertakes to govern Scotland constitutionally with a free parliament and to allow Protestants "free exercise of their religion". In return he asks that his Scottish subjects assist him in recovering his rights and their own liberties. James's son, Charles Edward, meanwhile, travelled to France in January 1744, but his arrival in Paris in the following month had not gone unnoticed by the British government. Although an invasion force assembled at Gravelines, near Dunkirk, on the French coast, a combination of bad weather, storm damage to the French ships, and the presence of English warships in the Channel led to Louis cancelling the planned invasion in March, much to Charles's fury. The date and place of printing for the declaration is unknown; a sympathetic Jacobite printer in Edinburgh may have produced it in early 1744 before the cancellation of the French invasion plans made it redundant for the immediate future. ESTC records just three copies of this work in the UK, none in Scotland.
Reference SourcesESTC; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on18/11/11
AuthorJebb, Samuel
TitleThe life of Robert Earl of Leicester, the favourite of Queen Elizabeth: drawn from original writers and records
ImprintLondon: Woodman and Lyon
Date of Publication1727
NotesThis book comes from the library of Gordon Castle, home of the Dukes of Gordon, and contains that library's booklabel, shelf label and armorial bookplate. However originally it belonged to one particular member of the Gordon family, as revealed by a flyleaf inscription: 'Lord Lewis Gordon his Book given to him by his Mamma Janry 17th 1733'. Lord Lewis Gordon (c.1725-54) would be one of Bonnie Prince Charlie's members of council in 1745, and end his life in exile in France. This life of a prominent Elizabethan courtier at first glance does not seem a likely present for the Jacobite Henrietta Gordon to give to her 8-year-old fatherless son, and one wonders if he in fact ever read the book, or if it made its way into the family library because it failed to hold his interest.
Reference SourcesOxford DNB
Acquired on21/05/09
AuthorJerome, Saint
TitleVitas patrum.
Date of Publication1502
NotesThis volume, an account of the lives of the church fathers by St. Jerome, was acquired primarily because of its intriguing Scottish provenance, which spans either side of the religious tumult in 16th century Scotland. The works of St. Jerome were not unknown in Scotland at the time - Durkan and Ross record nine titles, although not this particular one. The ownership of such a text by two Presbyterian ministers in the late 16th and early 17th century is indicative of a widening of interest in patristic scholarship among ministers following the religious polarisation of previous decades. There are two pre-Reformation inscriptions one of John Guthrie, dated 1529, - on the final leaf - and David Fothringham on the title page. The surname Guthrie is very prevalent in Forfarshire and a number of John Guthries from Angus attended St. Andrews during the late 1520s and 1530s. Fothringham was possibly a contemporary of Guthrie's; the inscription on the title page reads: 'Ex dono magis. David Fotheringham Rector[-] de Kirk[den] quod nemo aufert sub pena excommunicationis est'. In the same hand, also on the title page 'Ave Maria' has been written, from which can be inferred that the writer was probably a Catholic. On the final leaf is inscribed, 'Braktolo' possibly in Fothringham's and there is a Bractullo in the parish of Kirkden, Forfarshire. The other people whose names are recorded on the title page, both Presbyterian ministers, are a little easier to trace and identify. The clearest and latest inscription reads: 'Carloi Lumisden ex dono Mri Jacobi Balfour 160[-] 12.IX (29 September). James Balfour, (1540-1613) was a minister in a number of parishes Guthrie, Dunnichen, Kirkden of old Idvie in Forfarshire between 1563 and 1589 before moving to Edinburgh, where he was minister of St. Giles until his death in 1613. There he had a chequered career escaping to Fife in 1596 after refusing to offer thanksgiving for the failure of the Gowrie conspiracy, taking up his duties again the following year, being summoned to London in 1606 and confined to Cockburnspath and Alford in 1607. Charles Lumsden who received the book from Balfour was minister of Duddingston from 1588 to 1630. There is a long gap of over two hundred years in picking up the threads of the ownership of this volume. The bookplate of David Maitland Titterton dates from the late 19th century and then it became part of the famous library of William Foyle. [Adams J144]
Acquired on01/08/00
AuthorJoersson, S. A.
TitleAdam Smith auteur des recherches sur la richesse des nations & Thomas Payne
Date of Publication1796
NotesThis book sets Smith against Paine, arguing that Paine's teaching in 'The decline and fall of the English system of finance' threatens disastrous war and political disorder. This work, presented to the French government, offers Smith's philosophy as the sensible alternative. The author quotes from the 1781 Yverdon edition of Smith's 'Wealth of Nations'. The work seems to have been published simultaneously in English, French and German. NLS currently has only a copy of the English version, at shelfmark NG.1300.b.16. Despite being published in multiple languages, it seems to be an uncommon book, and it clearly did not have the effect its author was seeking. The appeal to France to seek peace rather than further destructive conflict evidently did not prevent the Napoleonic wars. This is a very nice copy in gilt red morocco, with marbled endpapers.
Acquired on08/04/03
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