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 753 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.
Please let us know what you think of this resource, if you have information to add about an acquisition, or if you have rare Scottish books that you would like to donate or sell. Email us at email@example.com
Important Acquisitions 526 to 540 of 753:
Ordered by date acquired |
Order by author
| Order by title
|Title||[Collection of Scottish tracts]|
|Date of Publication||1691-1774|
|Notes||These five volumes, bought at auction as one lot, contain 24 items.
The National Library of Scotland has the world's strongest holdings of early Scottish tracts and pamphlets, and there are some particularly important additions here, with a number of very rare or unrecorded works. Some examples of works new to our collections are given here:
'A letter from a gentleman in Edinburgh to his friend in the country', Glasgow, 1752. Only one copy listed in ESTC (Princeton University)
Andrew Welwood, 'A Glimpse of Glory', Edinburgh, 1774. Unrecorded.
'The Black Book of Conscience', 30th edition, Edinburgh, 1751. Only one imperfect copy in ESTC (Huntington Library)
'A description of all the kings of Scotland', 1713. Unrecorded.
'A non-juror's recantation', London, 1691. Unrecorded.
'Issuasive from Jacobitism', London, 1713. Unrecorded.
It is always particularly useful to acquire unrecorded works bound in volumes with other items, as this helps to indicate the context in which they appeared, and so makes it easier for the unknown work to be interpreted. This is a particularly good group of pamphlets on Scottish religion and politics.|
|Title||[Collection of 42 pamphlets etc]|
|Date of Publication||c. 1859-1900|
|Notes||John Beddoe (1826-1911) was born in Worcestershire but studied medicine at Edinburgh University, becoming house physician at Edinburgh Royal Infimary. He developed a keen, not to say obsessive, interest in the different ethnic or racial groups of Europe. His studies of hair and eye colour, height and physique, are among the early works of the science of anthropology. More disturbingly, his ethnological writings prepare the way for the theories of racial separation and extreme nationalism that disfigured the early twentieth century.
This is a collection of some 43 pamphlets and offprints in two volumes, many inscribed by the author, perhaps to a family member or close friend. Among these are some rare provincial Scottish and English imprints, such as 'Anthropological history of Europe', Paisley, 1893. Beddoe spent much of his life in the English west country, and there are some interesting examples of Bristol printing. Many of the works have a distinct Scottish slant. Notably, his publication 'On the stature and bulk of man' has tables with details of Scottish villagers, measured with and without shoes, and weighed with and without clothes. Amusingly, Beddoe spends some time complaining that people would not always cooperate with his researches. In Scotland, the east coast fishermen proved 'extremely stubborn and suspicious', and a Glasgow manufacturer told him it was a 'waste of workmen's time'.
These pamphlets fit in well with existing collections such as the Combe collection of phrenological writings. Although much of Beddoe's data is of great interest, one feels unhappy at the direction of his arguments. 'On the physical characteristics of the Jewish race' (1869) is not actually coloured by any anti-Semitic remarks, but how much did it contribute to the rise of racist pseudo-science sixty years later? This is, perhaps, the darker side of Edinburgh's contribution to science and medicine.|
|Title||Dance of the Sevin Deidly Synnis|
|Imprint||Market Drayton: Tern Press|
|Date of Publication||2003|
|Notes||This is no. 3 of a limited edition of 25 copies of William Dunbar's "Dance of the Sevin Deidly Synnis". The book was produced by Nicholas and Mary Parry at the Tern Press, and is signed by both at the colophon. It is illustrated with ten black and white lithographs by Nicholas Parry. The design, printing, illustration and binding was done by the Parrys.
William Dunbar (ca. 1460-1513?) was probably from East Lothian. He graduated from the University of St Andrews with a master of arts in 1479. Between 1500 and 1513 he received a pension from King James IV as a member of the royal household in the service of James IV. Dunbar was employed both as a royal clerk or secretary and as the King's laureate.
The Scottish court provided Dunbar not only with his livelihood, but also with the primary audience for his poetry. Dunbar, who wrote in the tradition of Chaucer in Middle Scots, has been decsribed as the greatest of the "makaris", to use his own vernacular equivalent for poets. One of his best known poems is "The Thrissill and the rose", which celebrates the wedding of James IV to Margaret Tudor in 1503. He is also famous for the "Flyting between Dunbar and Kennedy", a comparative trial of wits, and "The Goldyn Targe", to name but two of his works.
"The Dance of the Sevin Deidly Synnis" is Dunbar's greatest humorous satire. The sins, ranging from pride to gluttony, are depicted in all their repulsive deformity: it is a work of gloomy power.
Chepman and Myllar issued an edition of seven of Dunbar's poems in 1508; the first complete collection of his poetry was published in two volumes by the bibliophile David Laing in 1834.|
|Reference Sources||DNB, Reid, A. and Osborne, B.D.: Discovering Scottish Writers (Edinburgh 1997), Catholic Encyclopedia|
|Author||Pringle, Thomas (1789-1834)|
|Title||Südafrikanische Skizzen. Aus dem Englischen übersetzt|
|Imprint||Stuttgart und Tübingen: J. G. Cotta'sche Buchhandlung|
|Date of Publication||1836|
|Notes||Pringle was a farmer's son, born in Teviotdale, Roxburghshire on 5 January 1789. He was educated at the University of Edinburgh and after graduation worked as a copyist in the Register Office. Later in 1817, he and James Cleghorn (1778-1838) were appointed editors of William Blackwood's newly-founded "Edinburgh Monthly Magazine". However, they only lasted six issues before being sacked and replaced by John Wilson and John Gibson Lockhart, who relaunched the journal as 'Blackwood's Magazine'
Pringle fell into poverty and emigrated to South Africa in 1820, where he co-founded a private academy, published a magazine and newspaper, and became prominent in the anti-slavery movement. Suppression of his two publications by the Governor, Lord Charles Somerset, forced him to return to London with his wife in 1826.
An article by Pringle on the South African slave trade, in the 'New Monthly Magazine' for October 1826, led to his appointment in 1827 as secretary to the Anti-Slavery Society. On 27 June 1834, Pringle signed a document which proclaimed the abolition of slavery. The following day he became seriously ill, and died later that year in London on December 5.
'Südafrikanishche Skizzen' is the first German edition of Pringles 'African Sketches' which includes his vivid and impressive 'Narrative of his Residence in South Africa'.|
|Title||Ubaldi Cassina in Parmensi Lyceo Moralis Philosophiae Regii Profressoris De Morali Disciplina Humanae Societatis.|
|Imprint||Parmae : Ex Typographia Regia|
|Date of Publication||1778|
|Notes||This is a rare first edition of Ubaldo Cassina's comprehensive survey of ethics. Cassina (1736-1824) was a professor or moral philosophy at Parma. This work is intended primarily as a guide for students, and is divided into two sections, each of which deals with one of the main concerns of moral philoso[hy of the period. The first part discusses man in the "state of nature". Cassina cites Locke, Grotius, Gerdil, Malebranche and also the Scottish philosophers Francis Hutcheson (1694-1746) and David Hume (1711-1776).
The second part examines the development of society, and discusses the reasons for the formation of human societies, the nature of the fundamental laws which govern them, the importance of justice, temperance, work and the love of glory. Again, Cassina draws heavily on the work of other philosophers, in particular Plato and Aristotle, but also citing Hume's Essays Moral and Political (1741). Cassina's work clearly documents the transmission of Scottish philosophical thought throughout continental Europe in the 18th century.|
|Title||Gedancken vom Waaren und Geld-Handel [translation of Money and Trade]|
|Imprint||Leipzig: Jacob Schustern|
|Date of Publication||1720|
|Notes||The Library has a strong collection relating to John Law (1671-1729), particularly in the Lauriston Castle collection, and has purchased actively Law-related materials in recent years. As a Scottish-born financier (his family lived at Lauriston Castle) who had a huge impact on the French economy in the short-term, and on the development of the paper-money system in the longer term, Law is a key figure to collect.
We have several copies of the 1705 English edition of Money and Trade, a copy of the second English edition of 1720 (L.C.2539), and two copies of the 1720 French edition. There are no copies in Scotland of the first German edition which we have now acquired. As well as two copies in North America, there is a copy in the University of London Library, which matches the description here. Our new copy is very good and in contemporary boards.
Antoin Murphy, John Law: Economic Theorist and Policy-Maker (1997) discusses the French translation as being a work of some importance, but does not mention a German edition. It is quite possible that this translation may shed new light on how Law was seen in 1720, the year that the Mississippi Bubble burst and his schemes collapsed. As Law's main written work, it is important for the Library to have comprehensive holdings in this area, and thus this is a most desirable acquisition.|
|Reference Sources||Antoin Murphy, John Law, 1997|
|Title||Neues Constitutionenbuch der alten ehrwuerdigen Bruederschaft der Freimaurer|
|Imprint||Frankfurt: In der Andreaeischen Buchhandlung|
|Date of Publication||1743|
|Notes||This is the second, enlarged edition of the German translation of James Anderson's "The Constitutions of the Free Masons; containing the History, Charges, Regulations, &c. of that Most Ancient and Right Worshipful Fraternity. For the Use of the Lodges", which was first published in 1723. Organised freemasonry became established in 1717 when four London lodges formed themselves into a Grand Lodge. In 1721 Anderson, himself a freemason, was asked to produce a rulebook, the Constitutions, which passed through several English editions and was translated into German. The Constitutions are based on a manuscript rulebook which existed in several handwritten copies, dealing with the masons' duties and regulations as well as the history of masonry from the creation.
This edition has a beautiful folded frontispiece engraving representing the armorial sword. The sword plays an important part in Masonic ceremonial and the Grand Sword Bearer leads all processions of Grand Lodge carrying a similar sword.|
|Title||Book of ceilings|
|Imprint||London: Printed for the author|
|Date of Publication||1776|
|Notes||The copy on offer seems to differ from the copy purchased by the Library in 1980 (Sotheby's auction - £456) only by the fact that all of the 48 plates have been coloured. The possibility of acquiring coloured copies of A book of ceilings was mentioned in an advertisement in Richardson's New designs in architecture (1792). The cost was 48 guineas - a guinea per plate - a colossal sum even in those days (in today's terms about over £3500). The only coloured copies traced are at the British Library and the National Library in Warsaw.
The British Library copy (55.I.18 from the Royal Library in an 'Adam' design binding) has both the coloured and uncoloured copies of each plate bound together. The coloured plates have less rich colour and 'white' areas are left as plain paper as compared to the body-colouring in the NLS copy. Also the coloured and uncoloured copies seem not be always the same printed state - e.g. for plate XII Richardson's name is engraved and printed in black on the uncoloured copy whereas on the coloured copy his name is in brown and may be in manuscript. A possible explanation is that the colouring in the BL copy was carried out separately and at an earlier stage.
ESTC lists 13 copies - the only other copies in Scotland are at Bowhill (the then Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch are listed among the subscribers), and Paxton House, Berwickshire, which has the first four plates published in 1774. Both copies are uncoloured. Eileen Harris in British architectural books and writers 1556-1785 lists 4 additional holdings (2 British). Two of the designs (plates XVII and XVIII) were carried out for Sir Lawrence Dundas of Edinburgh, one of which is now to be seen in the Board Room of the Royal Bank of Scotland building in St. Andrew Square, Edinburgh.
Ian Gow, Head of the Curators Department of the National Trust for Scotland has examined the work and believes it more likely that such a deluxe work would have been purchased by book collectors rather than by architects. He has also remarked on the unusual use of gouache and the body-colouring employed in the roundels in the designs. Mr. Gow believes that the acquisition of this work by the National Library offers the opportunity for art and architecture historians to find out more about the colouring of ceilings in 18th century houses and mansions.
There is little doubt that Richardson (who may have come from Inveresk, Midlothian) was closely associated with the Adam brothers earlier in his career. At the age of about 20 he was involved, albeit in a minor capacity and under James Adam's direction, in turning Robert Adam's plates of and commentary on Diocletian's Palace at Split into a publishable book (this was published in 1764 as Ruins of the Palace of the Emperor Diocletian at Spalatro in Dalmatia. Richardson accompanied James Adam on his Grand Tour from 1760 to 1763 and had plenty of opportunity to study the remains of ancient architecture and painting. The National Library holds 2 of Richardson's letters written to his patron (Archibald Shiells of Inveresk) recording his observations of Rome (MS.3812). He probably left the employ of the Adams prior to 1773 as he is not listed among the numerous artists and architects employed by them. According to Eileen Harris it was however Adam's folio of executed designs described in French and English (Works in architecture, published in parts from 1773) which prompted Richardson to start publishing his own works in a similar fashion in 1774. By publishing the work in instalments over a number of years he helped to increase the sales to those unable to invest 3-4 guineas all at once.
A book of ceilings did not have the desired effect of attracting new patrons for Richardson. By publishing his own designs he made available his works for imitation and execution by others and rendered unnecessary his actual employment as an architect.|
|Reference Sources||DNB, Harris, Eileen, British architecture books and writers 1556-1785 (Cambridge, 1990)|
|Title||Epitome colloquiorum Erasmii Roterodami|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Joannes Reid|
|Date of Publication||1696|
|Notes||This is an extremely rare and hitherto unrecorded printing of Erasmus's Colloquia by the Edinburgh publisher John Reid. No copies have been traced in ESTC, OCLC or the British Library and it is not recorded in Aldis.
It is an abridged version of one of the Dutch humanist's (1466-1636) most popular works and was first published in a collected form in Basle in 1518 as 'Familiarium colloquiorum formulae'. The Catholic Encyclopedia describes the colloquies as 'a kind of textbook for the study of the Latin language, and introduction to the purely natural formal training of the mind, and a typical example of the frivolous Renaissance spirit. The defects of ecclesiastical and monastic life are in this work held up to pitiless scorn; moreover, he descends only too often to indecent and cynical descriptions.' Even Luther condemned Erasmus for scattering 'poison' and declared that if he died he would forbid his children to read the work.
Another edition of this work was printed in Edinburgh in 1691 by Societatis Bibliopolarum and the John Reid's printing of this edition a few years later indicates that there was some appetite for Erasmus's writings in Scotland at the time. Reid was active in Edinburgh from 1680 until 1712. Early in his printing career Reid had been imprisoned for not serving his full apprenticeship. He had also incurred the wrath of another printer for stealing type.
This copy is lacking some text on the final leaf and it is clear that is was well used. It is signed by one 'William Horsburgh' in 1754.|
|Reference Sources||SBTI; Catholic Encyclopedia online|
|Date of Publication||1892|
|Notes||This is an excellent example of how donations can enrich the Library's collection in surprising ways. This book is by the noted Hungarian writer, Mikszath Kalman (in Hungarian, surnames are placed first). Mikszath (1847-1910) was a writer of satirical stories and novels, including some for children. Several of his works have been translated into English, such as his novel St. Peter's Umbrella (1895). The title of this work roughly translates as 'Sketches of Parliament', and consists of both narrative and dialogue, following events from 1883 to 1891.
This copy is particularly interesting as it was a presentation copy from the author to the donor's great-uncle. It appears to be in a special binding, half-leather, with gilt tooling on corners and spine, and with blue satin rather than cloth over the remainder of the boards. There is white satin laid over the endpapers. Tipped in is a card with the author's name printed on one side, and a manuscript note on the other.
The recipient was Leopold Goldschmied, a Rabbi, who left Hungary and moved to the new country of Czechoslovakia and became an adviser on Jewish affairs to the government; he died in 1935. A photograph of Leopold and other information is also tipped in.
The donor's family came to Britain in 1938. This book is a reminder of the contribution that people from Eastern Europe have made to Scotland, and will be a good addition to our existing collections of East European literature.|
|Author||Forrester, Alexander; MacFarlane, Thomas; MacGregor, James Gordon|
|Title||Objects, Benefits and History of Normal Schools, with Acts of the Legislature of Nova Scotia Anent Normal School, &c.; Observations on Canadian Geology; Technical Education Abroad and at Home.|
|Imprint||Halifax : James Barnes, 1855; Montreal : Dawson Bros., 1871; Halifax : Heral Publishing Company, 1882.|
|Date of Publication||see imprints above|
|Notes||Three items highlighting the activity and influence of Scots in 19th century Canada. Canada has always had strong emotional and historical ties to Scotland. For example, the first two Prime Ministers of Canada, Sir John A. Macdonald and Alexander Mackenzie, were both born in Scotland.
Alexander Forrester (1805-1869) the author of The Objects, Benefits and History of Normal Schools, was typical of many Scots who made a name for themselves in the New World. He was educated at the University of Edinburgh and immigrated to Nova Scotia in 1848. He would later become the Principal of the Normal School in Truro, Nova Scotia and Superintendent of Education for Nova Scotia from 1855 to 1864.
Thomas MacFarlane (1834-1907), the author of Observations on Canadian Geology, was born at Pollockshaws, Renfrewshire and came to Canada as a mining engineer. He was later to discover the famous Silver Inlet Mine on Lake Superior.
James Gordon MacGregor (1852-1913), the author of Technical Education Abroad and at Home, presents the interesting case of a type of Scottish/Canadian cross-pollination. MacGregor was the Canadian born grandson of the Scottish emigrant Rev. James MacGregor (1759-1830). James Gordon MacGregor later immigrated to Scotland where he became a professor of natural philosophy at the University of Edinburgh from 1901-1913.|
|Shelfmark||AP.3.203.02; AP.1.203.11; AP.2.203.04|
|Date of Publication||1782|
|Notes||The 'Joy of Sex' of its day, this is a revised version of the work that first appeared with this title in 1694, and was continually republished thereafter. A compendium of popular medical knowledge, folklore and myth, it promises a guide to marriage, copulation and procreation, plus 'the picture of several monstrous births'. There are various unpleasant woodcuts, some derived from the first edition, of deformed babies. All kinds of remedies are proposed for infertility, difficult childbirth or 'green sickness' in virgins. There are detailed descriptions of the genitals and practical sections for midwives. Works like this have an enduring popularity. This Glasgow edition of 1782 is otherwise unrecorded.
This edition has an amusing section at the end, 'Observations on the human body', which discusses how appearances reveal more about the person. ('When the nostrils are close and thin, they denote a man to have but little testicles'.)
A curious feature of this copy is that the endpapers are printed leaves from an Edinburgh sermon. The bookseller suggests that the binder had a sense of humour.|
|Reference Sources||Wing, EEBO, ESTC|
|Title||Newcastle Courant, giving an account of the most material occurrences, both foreign and domestick.|
|Imprint||Newcastle upon Tyne: printed and sold by John White|
|Date of Publication||1716|
|Notes||This bound volume contains of 20 of the tri-weekly issues of the Newcastle Courant for 1716. It brings together news of British affairs from places such as Gibraltar, Amsterdam, Cologne, Paris, Venice, Malta, Petersburg, Warsaw, London and Edinburgh. For instance, one news item reports the drowning at sea in a storm of the chief of Clanranald and 20 of his followers on 1 March.
The Newcastle Courant is particularly interesting for its coverage of events relating to the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715 and its aftermath. It has numerous reports of executions, such as the "decollation" of the Jacobite rebels the Earl of Derwentwater and the Lord Viscount Kenmure on 25 February 1716. The escape via Caithness and Kirkwall to Sweden of 120 rebels, among them Lord Duffus, Sir George Stirling of Sinclair and Keith Seaton of Touch, appeared on 3 March. A journal of the proceedings of captured rebels from Edinburgh to London, written by a Scots prisoner in the Marshal Sea, was published in instalments.
ESTC records 9 holdings of the Newcastle Courant in Britain, but none in Scotland.|
|Author||Stevenson, Robert Louis [transl. Mme B.-J. Lowe]|
|Title||Cas etrange du Docteur Jekyll|
|Imprint||Paris: Librairie Plon|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||The first French edition of Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is one of those books which one would automatically assume could be found in the National Library of Scotland. However, this seems to be an extremely rare book, which was not included in the extensive library of Stevenson's works collected by Edwin J. Beinecke. One copy is located in the Bibliotheque Nationale. The rarity of this work is something of a puzzle as the book is a typical yellow paperback, the format in which many popular works were published in the late nineteenth century. Perhaps the other copies were simply read to death.
The copy we have just acquired is in near-mint condition.|
|Imprint||Glasguae: R. & A. Foulis|
|Date of Publication||1751|
|Notes||This is a beautiful Scottish edition of a classic, and a fine example of the aesthetically innovative and well-constructed books produced by Glasgow's Foulis Press. It measures 84 x 51 x 11 mm. Anacreon, the 6th-century BC Greek poet who wrote on wine, women and song, is here celebrated in a neat miniature version.
This copy is remarkable as it is printed on silk of four different colours, blue, pink, yellow and cream. The silk is not backed with paper, which makes the pages of some books printed on silk quite thick and rigid; here the silk is limp and the sheets are neatly sewn around the edges.
There is an ink inscription on the first (blank) leaf: "This Book was given to Mr. Baker by the Revd Mr Lumley Jan 10th 1771". A few sheets are a little spotted but the overall condition is delightful. Bound in contemporary red goatskin, gilt, with double gilt embossed endleaves (of two different patterns).
ESTC T85607 notes 4 copies on silk. See Bondy, Miniature Books, p.24, and Gaskell, Foulis Press, no. 181. The bookseller notes 'It doesn't appear in Book Auction Records and neither Houghton (who had a great miniature book collection) nor Getty ever found one.' The opportunity to acquire such a book is unlikely to recur.
NLS has a copy printed on paper, ABS.1.84.108. We also have a copy of Anacreon's Odes printed on silk by Hamilton, Balfour and Neill (1754), Nha.Misc.47. Other copies of books on fabric in NLS are at F.5.g.31 (limp white linen, not sewn at the edges) and F.6.b.4 (limp white silk, interleaved with paper, not sewn at the edges). There seems to have been a minor cult of printing on silk in Scotland at this period; see Brian Hillyard, 'Books printed on silk or linen', Factotum 28 (1989) pp.19-20. In 2000 we bought an unrecorded Aberdeen thesis printed on silk in 1675.
The National Library of Scotland has purchased this as an item of outstanding importance, which demonstrates how much Scots of the eighteenth century loved and admired their books. It is also a fine example of the Scottish cult of printing on silk, and of the Scottish tradition of producing miniature books, which arguably culminated in the work of David Bryce of Glasgow at the start of the 20th century.|
|Reference Sources||Gaskell, Foulis Press.
Bondy, Miniature Books.|