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 761 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 761:

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AuthorBurns, Robert
TitlePoems, chiefly in the Scottish dialect.
ImprintEdinburgh : Printed for A. Constable & Co.
Date of Publication1807
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis early 19th-century edition of Burns's "Poems, chiefly in the Scottish dialect" was published in 1807 and was printed by Francis Ray of Dundee. It resembles closely, up to p. 228, the edition printed in the same year by Abernethy & Walker for booksellers in Stirling and Glasgow. However, there is a different type-setting of the words "Scottish dialect" on the title page, and minor changes elsewhere in the use of font, as well as the correct spelling of "idiot" on p. iii. It also includes 'Miscellaneous poems' from pp. 229-251, which are popular poems in Scots not by Burns: Shepherd Lubin, The farmer's ingle, Rab and Ringan, The loss o' the pack, Marg'ret and the minister, The twa cats. The glossary of Scots words follows these miscellaneous words and is not separately paginated, as in the Abernethy & Walker printing. This copy has an interesting provenance. It belonged to the Stark family of Cupar as can be seen by the inscription of James F. Stark, dated 1854, on the front pastedown. There is also a blue library label numbered '32'. James Stark was a writer/solicitor in Cupar who became procurator fiscal in the town. However, the book was clearly in the family from an earlier date. On the rear pastedown there is a crude drawing of houses (in Cupar?) and inscriptions by Jn. Stark (John Stark), and on the endpaper an inscription in Latin: Hic liber pertinet ad me Ioannem [?] Stark ut praemium [?] virtutis Doctore Jacobi Clark (this book belongs to me John Stark as a reward of good behaviour, [given] by Dr James Clark). John Stark would appear to have been a pupil of Dr James Clarke/Clark, the rector of Cupar grammar school from 1802 onwards. Clarke was a friend and correspondent of Robert Burns. He was working at Moffat grammar school when, in 1791, he fell out with the parents of some of the pupils. They, along with the Earl of Hopetoun, the local landowner, tried to get him sacked for cruelty to the children. Burns took on it himself to defend Clarke, writing to his friend Alexander Cunningham in June 1791 asking him to join the cause, which would also be joined by Robert Riddell of Glenriddell and Alexander Fergusson of Craigdarroch. Burns refers to Clarke as a "man of genius and sensibility" who was being persecuted for alleged "harshness to some perverse dunces". Burns's help extended to drafting a letter for Clarke to send to Sir James Stirling, one of the school's trustees, protesting his innocence, and another letter later that year which was sent to Alexander Williamson, the Earl of Hopetoun's factor. Two letters also survive from Burns to Clarke in early 1792, asking him to hold his nerve and assuring him of his unwavering support. Clarke travelled to Edinburgh in February 1792 to clear his name. Burns had drafted a letter for him to send to the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, one of the patrons of the school, requesting a fair hearing of his case. Clarke was successful in defending himself and remained at Moffat until 1794, when he moved to a school in Forfar, before going on to Cupar. Burns also lent money to Clarke during the crisis of 1791/92, even though he had enough financial problems of his own. The schoolmaster was still paying back his debt in instalments at the time of Burns's death in July, 1796. The poet wrote one last plaintive letter to Clarke in June 1796, acknowledging receipt of the latest repayment and asking for another to be sent by return of post. By this stage Burns was aware that he was dying, and noted that his old friend would not recognise the "emaciated figure" writing to him and that it was highly improbable that they would see each other again.
ShelfmarkAB.1.213.202
Reference Sources"The complete letters of Robert Burns" ed. J. Mackay, Alloway, 1987; bookseller's notes
Acquired on13/09/13
AuthorBurns, Robert
TitlePoems, chiefly in the Scottish dialect. 2nd edition.
ImprintEdinburgh & London: Creech and Cadell
Date of Publication1793
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a copy of the 2-volume second edition of Burns's "Poems chiefly in the Scottish dialect" with a noteworthy provenance. It is a presentation copy from Burns's good friend William Nicol (1744-1797) to a Mrs Bain. Nicol has inscribed the front free endpaper of vol. 1, presenting the book as "a sincere friend and admirer of her virtuous, learned and highly ingenious husband". The inscription is dated "Edinr. 27 September 1793". The identity of Mrs Bain and her husband is not known; there is no recorded correspondence between Burns and anyone of that name, so the Bains may have been only friends of Nicol. A William Bain, who was teacher in Anderston, Glasgow, was the author of a work titled "The family instructor: being, an attempt to illustrate the principles of Christianity" (Glasgow, 1788). Nicol was at this time employed as a schoolmaster at Edinburgh High School, a post he occupied until 1795, so it may be that he knew Bain as a fellow-teacher. Nicol, himself, was an irascible character who tended to polarise opinions amongst those he met and worked with. He became a friend of Burns at some point in the 1780s. In a letter written on 1st June 1787, Burns, on his Border tour, addressed his only surviving letter in Scots to 'Kind honest hearted Willie'. Nicol would provide moral support (and a useless old bay mare when Burns was farming at Ellisland) to Burns for the rest of the poet's life. Burns, in return, would name one of his sons after his friend.
ShelfmarkAB.2.213.59-60
Reference SourcesBurns Encyclopedia (http://www.robertburns.org/)
Acquired on05/07/13
AuthorBurns, Robert
TitlePoetical Works
ImprintAlnwick: by W. Davison
Date of Publication[1812]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an attractive set of the works of Burns, published with engravings by Thomas Bewick, and bound in brown gilt crushed morocco by the late 19th-century binder Joseph William Zaehnsdorf. The date 1812 is found on the original boards of our existing copy at shelfmark X.171.h. The two volumes were formerly owned by the noted collector of Scottish books John Gribbel. All this, however, is put into the shade by the fact that the first volume has the title-page inscribed 'Robert Louis Stevenson'. Stevenson is known to have owned various copies of Burns' poems, but this one does not seem to have been previously noted. It has not been traced in the various auctions of Stevenson's books. The signature has his characteristic looped 'L' and the long cross-bar of the 't' in 'Stevenson'. Stevenson and Burns are two of the best known names in Scottish literature, although Stevenson had reservations about Burns. In his essay 'Some aspects of Robert Burns', published in 1879, Stevenson refers to the personal remarks in Burns' poetry as 'his own pitiful apology for such a marred existence and talents so misused and stunted'. There are, nevertheless, many striking parallels in the lives of the two writers, not least their passionate rebellion against orthodox morality and their early deaths. It is enormously plesasing that the National Library of Scotland now has a set of Burns with Stevenson provenance.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2331
Reference SourcesEgerer 130
Acquired on10/06/04
AuthorScott, Walter
TitlePoetical works
ImprintEdinburgh: Adam and Charles Black
Date of Publication1882
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a fine Scottish publisher's binding in red cloth, with the arms of Sir Walter Scott stamped in gilt on the front board. The black and gold decoration is striking and in good condition. Scott's initials are at the upper right of the front board, and at the foot of the board are various flowers and moths. The overall impression is striking. The Library has a copy of the text at SP.94, in a plain binding of polished calf.
ShelfmarkBdg.m.165
Acquired on17/08/05
AuthorSpenser, Edmund.
TitlePoetical Works.
ImprintLondon: [by S. and R. Bentley for] William Pickering, Nattali and Combe, and Talboys and Wheeler in Oxford
Date of Publication1825
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis edition of the works of the great English poet Spenser was not, for some reason, acquired by the Advocates Library through the copyright privilege, but the main reason for purchasing these five volumes now is the binding. The books were from the library of one James Hamilton, whose red ink stamp appears on the title pages. Mr. Hamilton had a number of his books bound in the unusual material of chenille - using a different colour or pattern for each set. This set is bound in red chenille with yellow dots. Inside the rear board of the first volume is the printed label of R. Grant & Son, an Edinburgh firm listed in the Scottish Book Trade Index under this name from 1840 onwards. The Library has another binding identified as the work of the same firm (William Aytoun, Lays of the Scottish cavaliers, 1863, Bdg.m.115). It is possible that both bindings date from the 1860s. It is difficult to know why Mr. Hamilton chose to have his books bound in this way; the effect of a whole library bound in brightly coloured chenille would be quite overpowering. It is not a durable material and these books would not withstand heavy handling. Other curious features of this binding are the fact that the boards are so much larger than the text block, the elaborately gauffered gilt edges, the brass and velvet catches and clasps, and the brass frames nailed on the front covers with a vellum slip to write the title or volume number. This is a curiosity of Scottish binding creativity.
ShelfmarkBdg.s.921
Acquired on16/02/07
AuthorSmith, Adam
TitlePolitisk undersokning om lagar, som hindra och tvinga inforseln af sadana utlandska varor
ImprintGoteborg: S. Norberg
Date of Publication1804
LanguageSwedish
NotesThis is a rare copy of the first appearance in Swedish of book IV, chapter 2, of 'An inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations'. This chapter in English was titled: 'Of restraints upon the importation from countries of such goods as can be produced at home'. This is the key chapter in which Smith discusses laissez faire. Part of 'The wealth of nations' first appeared in Swedish in 1799-1800 in the literary periodical 'Lasning I blandade amnen'. (ABS.1.81.113) It is also the second translation of Smith by Erik Erland Bodell who was, like Smith, a customs official. He published a translation of Book V, chapter 2 of the same work in Stockholm in 1800: 'Undersokning om Kongl. Stora sjo och granse-tullar,'. A Swedish translation of a German abridgement of the 'Wealth of nations' was published in Stockholm in 1800 (RB.s.2055). A full Swedish translation of this work was not published until 1911.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2346
Reference SourcesTribe, Keith (ed.) A critical bibliography of Adam Smith (London, 2002)
Acquired on30/10/04
AuthorHowe, James (1780-1839)
TitlePortraits of Highland Society prize cattle and others of distinguished merit. Part II
ImprintEdinburgh: Printed by Ballantyne and Company, MDCCCXXXII [1832]
Date of Publication1832
LanguageEnglish
NotesJames Howe, James was born 30 Aug. 1780 at Skirling in Peeblesshire, where his father, William Howe, was minister. After attending the parish school Howe was apprenticed to a house-painter at Edinburgh, but his interest was in picture painting and his particular talent was for animals. Howe eventually obtained a great reputation for his skill in drawing horses and cattle. Between 1830 and 1831 he was employed in drawing portraits of well-known animals for a series of illustrations of British domestic animals published by the Highland Society of Scotland in order to help stimulate breeding. A series of forty-five engravings of horses and cattle was later published in 1832. Part I -- of which the National Library does not own a copy -- presumably presented portraits of various horse breeds. Part II gives 10 portraits of prize cattle: Ayrshire heifer; Highland heifers; Galloway heifer; Arran ox; Aberdeenshire horned ox; Aberdeenshire Polled cow; Pilton ox; Angus heifer; West Highland ox, Princess (short horned cow). Howe came once to London to paint the horses of the royal stud, but resided principally at Edinburgh, where he was a frequent exhibitor at the Edinburgh exhibitions, Royal Institution, and Royal Scottish Academy from 1808 to the time of his death. Howe died at Edinburgh, 11 July 1836.
ShelfmarkFB.l.331
Reference SourcesA Dictionary of Sporting Artists 1650-1990 / Mary Ann Wingfield The Dictionary of British Equestrian Artists / Sally Mitchell
Acquired on04/07/03
AuthorFriedrich von Coelln
TitlePraktisches Handbuch fuer Staats- und regierungsbeamte besonders in den preussischen Staaten: nach Anleitung Adam Smiths Untersuchung ueber die Natur des Nationalreichthums.
ImprintBerlin : G. Hann,
Date of Publication1816
LanguageGerman
NotesCölln's substantial commentary on Adam Smith is one of a handful of early nineteenth century works that helped stimulate his study and appreciation in Germany. This scholarship into Smith was one of the prime factors that led to a general increase in German literature on pure and applied economics in these formative years. The same publisher issued the first edition in 1812 under the title Die neue Staatsweisheit; both editions are rare.
ShelfmarkRB.m.739
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on09/04/13
AuthorStevenson, Robert Louis
TitlePrayers written at Vailima
ImprintPacific Palisades, California: The Melville Press
Date of Publication1999
LanguageEnglish
NotesA fine printing of the Stevenson prayers (first published London, 1904) illustrated with original lino cuts by Catherine Kanner from the Melville Press. Letterpress printed by Bonnie Thompson Norman at the Windowpane Press in Seattle. Bembo typeface on Hiromi-Sansui paper and handbound by Allwyn O'Mara. Ltd edition 20/200, signed on colophon by the illusrator. A very delicate, artistic production.
ShelfmarkFB.s.743
Acquired on09/03/00
AuthorStevenson, Robert Louis
TitlePrince Otto
ImprintLondon
Date of Publication1888
LanguageEnglish
NotesPurchased with a selection of other yellowbacks by two popular Scottish authors. Yellowbacks (less commonly called 'mustard-plaster' novels) was the name given to the form of cheap fiction developed from the late 1840s and competed with the 'penny dreadful' as an accessible source of entertaining reading. The distinctive brightly coloured covers made the books very attractive for a growing reading public encouraged by the spread of education and the expansion of the railways. Routledges in establishing their 'Railway Library' in 1849, were the first of many publishers to target a new reading public with yellowbacks. This series ran to 1,277 titles, ending in 1899. Most works of fiction in this format were stereotyped reprints of earlier cloth editions. By the end of the 19th century, sensational fiction and adventure stories in addition to more 'educational' manuals, handbooks and cheap biographies were being published in this manner. These yellowback novels of Grant and Stevenson were typical of those published at this time. Edinburgh-born, James Grant (1822-1887), a distant relation of Sir Walter Scott, was a prolific author, writing some 90 books. Many of his 56 novels deal with key characters and events in Scottish history. In 1853 he founded the National Association for the Vindication of Scottish Rights. Grant is best remembered today as an historian - his thoroughly-researched 'Old and new Edinburgh' was published in 1880.
ShelfmarkABS.2.201.011
Acquired on05/01/03
AuthorJames VI & I
TitleProclamation ... March.24 ... 1602 [1603]
ImprintLondon: b. Robert Barker
Date of Publication1602/3
LanguageEnglish
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'.
ShelfmarkRB.el.5
Acquired on04/10/00
AuthorDalrymple, Hew Whitefoord.
TitleProclamation by his excellency Lieutenant General Sir Hugh Dalrymple = Proclamacao de sua excellencia o Tenente General Sir Huch [sic] Dalrymple.
ImprintLisbon : Na impressae regia
Date of Publication[1808]
LanguageEnglish, Portuguese
NotesThis three-page proclamation was drafted by Scottish army officer Sir Hew Whitefoord Dalrymple (1750-1830), at his headquarters in Sintra in Portugal on 18 September 1808. Dalrymple mentions this proclamation on p. 96 in his posthumously published memoir of his conduct in the Peninsular War. As overall commander of the British forces based in Portugal he had, amongst other things, the task of sorting out a new government for the country once the French had been expelled from the country. A French army had invaded Portugal in late 1807 and Dom Joao VI, heir to the Portuguese throne and acting regent, had fled, under British protection, to Brazil. A regency junta had been formed to govern the country in Joao's absence but the French had suspended it, putting its own administration in place. In August 1808 a British expeditionary force had landed in Portugal to drive the French out of the country. Initially commanded by the young, dashing Lt.-Gen. Sir Arthur Wellesley (later to become the Duke of Wellington), the British force had defeated the French decisively at the battle of Vimeiro. Wellesley, however, was unable to pursue his advance against the French as the older, more experienced, Dalrymple arrived in Portugal the day after the battle to assume command. Dalrymple distrusted Wellesley and chose to negotiate an armistice and evacuation of the French by the British navy under the convention of Sintra, much to the dismay of Wellesley and the Portuguese. As well as ensuring that the French would all be safely evacuated, Dalrymple also had to ensure the establishment of new national government. He claims in his memoir that he was at the time "in total ignorance of the intentions of His Majesty's Government as to the sort of Regency that was to be established". After much deliberation Dalrymple decided to restore the 1807 regency junta as far as possible in Lisbon, dismissing the claims to govern of a rival junta which had been established in the city of Oporto and which was led by the bishop of Oporto. He did, however, give the bishop the chance to serve in the reconstituted junta. The text of his proclamation, printed in both English and Portuguese in parallel columns on the page, explains the current situation, assuring the Portuguese of the honour and good faith of the British army. He insists that their presence in the country is only for the "happy means of re-establishing order, and restoring to the Sovereign and the people their just rights". The proclamation also calls upon the leading members of the Portuguese regency junta to repair to Lisbon and to take upon themselves the functions of government; moreover, all inferior jurisdictions and tribunals are required to pay deference and submit to the new government. Dalrymple could later take pride in the fact that his political arrangements in Portugal received official approval from the King. However, his decision to negotiate the convention of Sintra, on terms which seemed highly advantageous to the beaten French, damaged his standing within Portugal and at home. Under Dalrymple's command the British force in Portugal became, after Sintra, "demoralized and faction-ridden" (ODNB). Details of the convention finally reached London on 16 September, causing public outrage; Dalrymple was recalled to Britain to face a government inquiry in November that year, which did exonerate him and all the other British army officers concerned, but Dalrymple was never employed in active service again.
ShelfmarkAP.4.212.01
Reference SourcesH.W. Dalrymple, Memoir written by ... Sir H. Dalrymple ... of his proceedings as connected with the affairs of Spain, and the commencement of the Peninsula War, London, 1830. Stephen Wood, 'Dalrymple, Sir Hew Whitefoord, first baronet (1750-1830)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008
Acquired on03/02/12
AuthorScotland. Estates.
TitleProclamation welcher Gestalt Carolus Stuard Prince von Schottlandt und Walles Koenig in Schottlandt und Irrlandt den 5. Februarii S.V. 1649, zu Edenburg in Schottlandt solenniter und offentlich aussgeruffen und proclamirt worden.
ImprintFrankfurt : Philipps Fievet
Date of Publication1649
LanguageGerman
NotesThis is one of two recorded German-language translations of the proclamation issued by the Estates of the Scottish Parliament in February 1649, proclaiming Charles II king. Charles's father had been executed in England, without Scottish approval, on 30 January that year and the Scottish Parliament had moved swiftly to recognise him as heir a few days later. The Scots' recognition of Charles II came with a price: they demanded from the new king satisfaction concerning religion, union, and the peace of Scotland, according to the covenants. The existence of two German translations of the proclamation can be seen as evidence of how events in England and Scotland at that time, and in particular the public execution of a reigning monarch, Charles I, were of great interest to people in continental Europe.
ShelfmarkRB.m.697
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on29/01/10
AuthorAssociation for Promoting the Discovery of the Interior Parts of Africa
TitleProposals for printing by subscription ... Travels in the interior parts of Africa
Imprint[London: G. Nicol]
Date of Publication1798
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an unrecorded single sheet, dated June 4th 1798, outlining the conditions for subscribing to the forthcoming publication of Mungo Park's "Travels in the interior districts of Africa". The young Scot (1771-1806) had been appointed by the Association for Promoting the Discovery of the Interior Parts of Africa (African Association) to lead an expedition to 'ascertain the course, and if possible, the rise and termination' of the river Niger. Park set out for Africa in 1795 and returned home two and a half years later, having survived a series of arduous adventures in which he was able to ascertain that the river flowed inland to the east. An abridged account of his expedition was privately printed for African Association members in 1798 while Park returned to his home town of Selkirk and wrote up his notes for his planned book, which was to be published by subscription. This sheet reveals the completed book would "form one handsome volume in quarto" and would be ready "early in the ensuing season". Subscribers would pay an initial guinea for which they were likely to get the book in boards along with the engravings, but may have to pay an extra half guinea for any additional expenses in printing and engraving. They would also have their names printed. Subscriptions were to be received by the London bookseller George Nicol, who was already exhibiting a map of Park's route in his shop (the map engraved by James Rennell showed the Niger flowing eastward, but, incorrectly, also showed it petering out into an inland swamp). Park's "Travels" was published the following year and would prove to be a bestseller, going through three editions in its first year of publication.
ShelfmarkAP.5.212.01
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on18/11/11
AuthorCunningham, James, Captain.
TitleProposals for printing, by subscription, Tartuffe: or, The holy hypocrite detected and exposed.
Imprint[Edinburgh?: s.n.],
Date of Publication[1764?]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a single sheet item in the form of a spoof prospectus which is referred to in a 1764 legal action entitled: 'Memorial for Mr. David Blair, minister of the Gospel and Brechin, defender, against Captain James Cunningham, defender'. David Blair (1701-1769), minister at Brechin, believing that his second wife Ann was having an adulterous affair with Captain Cunningham of Balbougie, Fife, published a story that the child recently born to his wife was not his but was fathered by Cunningham. Blair had married his second wife in 1759, his first wife having died some years previously, and is recorded as having one child with her in 1762, a daughter who lived only for a few months. Cunningham denied the charges, but admitted to publishing several satirical publications on Blair of which this is most probably one. The reference to "Tartuffe" in the title recalls the famous 17th-century French comedy by Moliere, in which the main character is a scheming hypocrite, who ostensibly and exaggeratedly feigns virtue, especially religious virtue.
ShelfmarkAP.5.209.09
Acquired on10/04/09
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