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 765 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 765:

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AuthorJames VI & I
TitleTwo Meditations of the Kings Maiestie
ImprintLondon: b. Robert Barker & Iohn Bill
Date of Publication1620
LanguageEnglish
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.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2081(2)
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]
LanguageSpanish
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.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2813
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?
LanguageEnglish
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.
ShelfmarkAP.5.212.02
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
LanguageEnglish
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.
ShelfmarkAB.2.209.09
Reference SourcesOxford DNB
Acquired on21/05/09
AuthorJerome, Saint
TitleVitas patrum.
ImprintLyons
Date of Publication1502
LanguageLatin
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]
ShelfmarkRB.s.2082
Acquired on01/08/00
AuthorJoersson, S. A.
TitleAdam Smith auteur des recherches sur la richesse des nations & Thomas Payne
ImprintGermanie
Date of Publication1796
LanguageFrench
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.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2308
Acquired on08/04/03
AuthorJohann N.C. Buchenroeder
TitleElliots Leben: nebst practischen Bemerkungen aus dessen Leben gezogen zur Bildung junger Krieger und anderer Personen vom Stande.
ImprintHamburg: Moellerische Buchhandlung
Date of Publication1783
LanguageGerman
NotesThis is a second edition of a German biography by Johann Nicolaus Carl Buchenroeder of the celebrated Scottish army officer, George Augustus Eliott, later to become first Baron Heathfield of Gibraltar (1717-1790). Eliott was born in Stobs, Roxburghshire, the seventh son of the baronet, Sir Gilbert Eliott. He studied on the continent before beginning a long and illustrious military career, seeing active service as a volunteer in the Prussian army. Eliott also served in the British army on the Continent during the War of the Austrian Succession and Seven Years War, but is now best remembered for his leadership of the British garrison of Gibraltar. He arrived as governor in 1779 and supervised the improvement of fortifications before the impending attack by French and Spanish forces. The garrison had in 1775 also been reinforced by three battalions from Hanover in Germany (King George III being king of Hanover as well). For two and a half years the 6,000 British and German troops were subject to heavy bombardment and a blockade by the French and Spanish floating batteries. The garrison managed to hold firm, despite existing on starvation rations, until the lifting of the siege in 1783. This German biography appeared in the wake of Eliott's triumph and is illustrated with six plates, four of which are folding plates which show plans/battle scenes of Gibraltar, the other two being portraits of George III and Eliott himself. (In this copy the plates have all been hand-coloured). The foreword to this second enlarged edition states that the first edition of 1,500 copies had not been deemed sufficient to meet the demands of the wider German readership, hence the publication of the second edition of 2,000 copies, which includes a poem written on behalf of 'German patriots' in praise of the 'defender of Gibraltar'. The publication of a German biography is a testament to the role the Hanoverian soldiers played in the epic defence of this strategic outpost. It also plays on the close links between the German states and the British Hanoverian monarchy, united against the common foe, France, as well as Eliott's own connection with Germany throughout his career, which is presented as a model one for young German soldiers to follow. The link between Hanover and Gibraltar was maintained by the Hanoverian army; to honour the survivors of the siege, the three battalions that served there were authorised to wear a blue cloth cuff-title embroidered with the name of Gibraltar. Even after Hanover, and its army, was assimilated by Prussia in 1866, the soldiers of the Hanoverian fusilier regiment no. 73 wore the Gibraltar cuff-title right up to the end of the 1st World War. The Gibraltar regiment served on the Western Front throughout the war, ironically fighting against British forces most of the time, with its most famous member being the author Ernst Juenger, author of war memoir "Storm of steel".
ShelfmarkAB.1.212.43
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on23/12/11
AuthorJohannes de Colonia
TitleQuestiones magistrales in divina subtilissimi Scoti volumina
ImprintBasel : Adam Petrus de Langendorff
Date of Publication1510
LanguageLatin
NotesThree early Duns Scotus-related volumes (others at RB.s.2066, RB.s.2067), bought at the most recent sale of books from the Donaueschingen Court Library in Germany. All three volumes are in contemporary blind-stamped pigskin bindings and in fine condition. All of them bear the ink stamp of the Fuerstliche Hofbibliothek Donaueschingen on the verso of the title page, but also show earlier marks of ownership. Note: Adams J230, which records one copy in Cambridge UL. A very rare compendium of Scotist theses, the second and last edition after one incunable edition. The title page shows an attractive woodcut border created by the Swiss engraver Urs Graf (1485-1529) with his initials, including the Basel coat of arms at the top. The volume is bound in contemporary pigskin over wooden boards, decorated with blind fillets and rolls arranged in a panel design. Remains of two clasps. The spine with five raised bands and a paper label in the top compartment. The initials LCV of the Franciscan Convent at Villingen added later in the top half of the upper board. Ownership inscription (18th-century?) of the Villingen convent on title page. An earlier inscription on the back free endpaper, dated [15]12, records the donation of the volume to a minorite friar Henricus Seratoris.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2065
Acquired on14/06/00
AuthorJohn Catnach
TitleAbove 1200 volumes of books to be sold by auction, in the town-hall, Alnwick, on Tuesday the 2d, March
ImprintAlnwick: J. Catnach
Date of Publication1802
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a very rare hand-bill, dated 12 February 1802, advertising the sale of the remainder of the stock of the printer and bookseller John Catnach from 2 March onwards. Would-be purchasers were also directed to purchase any of the books by private contract until 27 February by contacting the two agents for the sale, who had catalogues available. John Catnach was born in Burntisland, Fife, in 1769. Having served an apprenticeship as a printer in Edinburgh, he started in business in Berwick-upon-Tweed in the late 1780s, moving to Alnwick in 1790. The work of the Catnach press was of high quality but Catnach himself was not a successful businessman. He was declared bankrupt in 1801, hence the sale advertised in this hand-bill. He managed to start in business again, before moving to Newcastle in 1808, where he eventually ended up in the debtors prison. He moved again, this time to London, in 1812, where he and his family lived in poverty until his death the following year. His son James later became famous for the street literature publications produced on his press at Seven Dials. This hand-bill has survived among the recently dispersed personal papers of Thomas Adams, solicitor, Alnwick agent for the Duke of Northumberland and owner of Eshott Hall, south of Alnwick; a Joseph Moor has used the verso to record the receipt of the final five shillings and six pence due to him from Adams for building work on the property.
ShelfmarkAP.3.207.08
Reference SourcesC. Hindley "History of the Catnach Press" London, 1886.
Acquired on15/05/07
AuthorJohn Gibson Lockhart
TitleLe Ministre Ecossais, ou le Veuvage d' Adam Blair
ImprintParis: Charles Gosselin
Date of Publication1822
LanguageFrench
NotesThis is an unrecorded French translation of Lockhart's controversial work "Some Passages in the Life of Mr. Adam Blair, Minister of the Gospel at Cross-Meikle". The first English edition was published in Edinburgh in the same year. The identity of the translator is unknown; he/she is referred to on the title page as the translator of "Edouard en Ecosse". This work is presumably the translation of David Carey's "Lochiel; or, the Field of Culloden" by 'baron Vel', which also appeared in 1822. "Le Ministre ecossais", published by Gosselin who also published translations of Walter Scott, was clearly aimed at enthusiastic French readers of Scott and all things Scottish. "Some Passages in the Life ..." was Lockhart's second novel and is generally regarded as his best. It was based on a true story that Lockhart heard from his father about a widowed minister who had an affair with a married woman. Lockhart was criticised for his immorality in recounting the tale; some of the disapproval may also have stemmed from the lack of a happy ending in the novel - the real 'Adam Blair' minister was deposed in 1746, but went on to marry his mistress and was eventually accepted back into the church. This three-volume set is from the library of a French noblewoman Diane-Adelaide Damas d' Antigny, madame de Simiane (1761-1835), former mistress of the marquis de Lafayette, which was housed in the Chateau de Cirey in Champagne.
ShelfmarkAB.1.213.153-154
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on31/05/13
AuthorJohn James Audubon
TitleOrnithological biography vol. 1
ImprintPhiladelphia: Carey and Hart
Date of Publication1832
LanguageEnglish
NotesIn 1830 John James Audubon began working in Edinburgh with the Scottish ornithologist William Macgillivray on a five-volume work "Ornithological Biography". The work was designed to accompany the double elephant folio plates of "Birds of America", which were being engraved in London at the time. Volume one was first published in Edinburgh in 1831, and in order to safeguard his copyright in the USA, Audubon also arranged for an edition to be printed and published in his adopted homeland in the same year by Dobson and Porter. This 1832 Philadelphia edition appears to be a reprint of the Dobson and Porter version, identical apart from the title page; it presumably had a larger print-run. An American edition of volume 2 was published in Boston in 1835, but no further volumes of "Ornithological Biography" were printed in America during Audubon's lifetime.
ShelfmarkAB.4.207.05
Reference SourcesWilliam Braislin, "An American edition of Audubon's 'Ornithological biography'" The Auk, v. 35 (1918)pp. 360-362.
Acquired on30/03/07
AuthorJohn Muir (ed.)
TitlePicturesque California and the region west of the Rocky Mountains, from Alaska to Mexico.
ImprintSan Francisco & New York: J. Dewing Company
Date of Publication1888
LanguageEnglish
Notes2014 marks the centenary of the death of Scottish-born naturalist and conservationist John Muir (1838-1914), who is regarded as the founder of national parks in the USA. He edited this great work of pictorial Western Americana. Among the famed artists who contributed to the work are Frederick Cozzens, Thomas Hill, Thomas Moran and Frederick Remington. Their work is reproduced here in engravings, etchings and photogravures, which fill 120 full-page plates (with printed tissue descriptions). The 35 separate articles are written by a variety of authors, with Muir contributing seven articles, three of them on the High Sierras and his beloved Yosemite Valley (two of them were written especially for this work, the others were edited from earlier publications). This edition includes his article on Alaska which is not included in later abridged editions. Publication was issued by subscription, and no subscription was accepted "for less than the entire work." The work was issued in a bewildering number of different formats and editions, initially between 1887 and 1890, the latest edition with this title being 1894. Muir wrote in a letter of 1889 that he had finished his contributions by shutting himself up in a room in the Old Grand hotel San Francisco for two weeks.
ShelfmarkAB.10.214.07-09
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes; Oxford DNB; W.F. Kimes & M.B. Kimes 'John Muir: a reading bibliography' (Palo Alto, 1977) (no. 175); L.G. Currey & D.G. Kruska "Bibliography of Yosemite, the Central and the Southern High Sierra" (Palo Alto, 1992) (no. 257)
Acquired on16/05/14
AuthorJohnston, James F. W.
TitleQueries regarding the potato disease.
ImprintEdinburgh: Laboratory of the Agricultural Chemistry Association,
Date of Publication[1845?]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an interesting questionnaire sent out to Scottish farmers ('the most skilful local farmers') by the laboratory of the Agricultural and Chemistry Association regarding potato disease. The 26 questions on the sheet were intended to get an understanding of the extent of potato disease in Scotland. In 1844, a new form of potato blight was identified in America, an air-carried fungus 'Phytophthora Infestans'. It basically turned a potato into a mushy mess that was completely inedible. The American blight was first identified in France and the Isle of Wight in 1845. The summer of 1845 turned out to be mild but very wet in Britain and Ireland. It was almost the perfect weather conditions for the blight to spread, which it did in Ireland to a catastrophic effect. It also badly affected the Highlands of Scotland, another area where the potato had become the staple food, from 1846 to 1852.
ShelfmarkAP.4.209.26
Acquired on10/04/09
AuthorJong, Dirk de.
TitleNieuwe Beschryving der Walvischvanst en haringvisschery.
ImprintAmsterdam: Gert Jan Bestebreurtje
Date of Publication1791
LanguageDutch
NotesThis 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.
ShelfmarkGB/A.3813
Acquired on30/09/04
AuthorJosephus, Flavius
TitleGenuine Works
Imprint6 vols., Edinburgh: for William Coke
Date of Publication1777
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a fine set of an interesting edition of William Whiston's translation of the works of Josephus. Whiston's famous translation of the Jewish historian's writings had its first Scottish publication in Scotland in 1777. There seem to have been two issues; the Library already has a copy of the issue printed for Alexander Donaldson. (VV.1/2). ESTC N64882 records only one copy of the issue printed for the Leith bookseller William Coke, which is at the University of Texas. According to SBTI, William Coke had fomerly been Alexander Donaldson's clerk, and was a witness in the case of Donaldson v John Reid in 1767. All six volumes are bound in contemporary polished calf; each spine has raised bands between gilt rules and a red morocco label, gilt lettered. Each volume has the attractive armorial bookplate of Thomas Lowndes.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2274
Acquired on12/06/02
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