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 763 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 526 to 540 of 763:

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AuthorAdam, William, (1689-1748)
TitleProposals for printing by subscription, in two large volumes in folio, the plans, elevations, and sections, of the principal regular buildings in Scotland, together with several new designs, done for some of the noblemen and gentlemen of that country. To which will be added, the particular sections of the best rooms built in Scotland. Also, some designs of buildings for the decoration of parks and gardens. By the late William Adam, Esq. architect, and continued by his son John Adam, Esq. ...
ImprintLondon
Date of Publication[1766]
LanguageEnglish
NotesDuring the 1720s the Scottish architect William Adam began plans to publish "Vitruvius Scoticus", a work surveying the finest architecture in Scotland. Adam died before his ambitious work came into being. John Adam (1721-1792), William's eldest son, revived the idea of publishing his father's book. In March 1766 this proposal was issued to potential subscribers promoting the intended publication: "this work will consist of 160 copper-plates, near one fourth of which are whole sheets. There will be above 200 folio pages of engravings, done by the best hands, and printed on a French Colombine paper ...". This copy of the proposal includes manuscript inscriptions in the receipt section at the end of the text: "the Marquis of Carnarvon" and "For Mr Adam Ja[me]s Dodsley". The subscription belonged to James Brydges (1731-1789), 3rd Duke of Chandos, who was Marquess of Carnarvon from 1744 to 1771. Although at the time of the proposal's issue sheets of the book (apart from the description or explanation of the plates) are known to have already been printed, the work was not published in 1767 as advertised. It is suggested that issues relating to the copyright holders of the engraved plates prevented Adam from keeping his agreement to transfer sole rights in the book to the London bookseller Andrew Millar (1705-1768) (Harris, p.99-100). It was not until 1811 that "Vitruvius Scoticus" was eventually published under William Adam's grandson, William Adam (1751-1839). This proposal is significant in tracing the history of the publication of this work.
ShelfmarkRB.l.259
Reference SourcesBookseller's catalogue; Harris, Eileen, "British Architectural Books and Writers 1556-1785", Cambridge University Press, 1990; Oxford DNB
Acquired on03/11/09
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
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
AuthorDe Serres, Jean/ Buchanan, George
TitlePsalmorum Davidis aliquot metaphrasis Graeca Ioannis Serrani. Adiuncta eregione paraphrasi Latinia G. Buchanani.
Imprint[Geneva] Henri Estienne
Date of Publication1575
LanguageGreek and Latin
NotesThis copy of Jean de Serres' translation of the Psalms into Greek verse, with George Buchanan's Latin verse paraphrase on facing pages, was presented by de Serres to Buchanan, that 'most excellent' man, as his inscription on the title page attests. It would be wonderful if such a gift were part of a fruitful exchange between two humanist scholars, but the reality seems a more pathetic tale. In the printed preface to his Psalms, de Serres explains how Buchanan's psalm paraphrase inspired his own. In 1578, three years later, when he was one of the editors of Estienne's edition of Plato, he wrote to Buchanan, sending him a copy, and again mentioning how he had produced his Psalm translations and the debt he owed to Buchanan, but commenting that he had written before and had not received a reply. This letter is held by the NLS at Adv.Ms.15.1.6.f24. (There is no record that he ever received a reply to this second gift, either.) Buchanan had by most accounts a good relationship with Henri Estienne, the celebrated scholar-printer who published this book - the Estienne family were the original publishers of Buchanan's psalm paraphrases and indeed brought out an edition of that work in the same year, so why he would not reply to a fellow Estienne author, and a Calvinist and classical scholar at that, is unknown. The obvious conclusion is that this item was sent to Buchanan by de Serres on its publication with a letter of praise and introduction similar to the one that still survives, but Buchanan never acknowledged the gift. However, since it survived and presumably remained in Scottish hands, he must have kept this copy, or at least given it to a good home. This copy is not mentioned in Durkan's Buchanan bibliography. The whereabouts of this item for the next few hundred years are uncertain; the next recorded owner is Alexander Fraser Tytler, Lord Woodhouselee, (1747-1813) whose signature is on the flyleaf. Lord Woodhouselee was an important figure in Edinburgh legal and literary circles at the end of the 18th century, and the NLS holds a number of other items from his library. This book is considerably earlier than those works, perhaps showing an interest in earlier Scottish authors - Woodhouselee's concern with his literary contemporaries, especially Burns, is well documented. More recently this book was owned by the modern scholar Elizabeth Armstrong, whose label is inside the front cover. Presumably she acquired this book through her interest in the Estienne family (her book on Robert Estienne first appeared in 1954).
ShelfmarkRB.s.2296
Reference SourcesDurkan: Bibliography of George Buchanan 1994
Acquired on16/04/03
TitlePsalterium Sancti Ruperti (Vollstandige Faksimile-Ausgabe im Originalformat des Manuale)
ImprintGraz, Austria : Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt
Date of Publication[2007]
LanguageLatin
NotesThis is a facsimile of the miniature codex 'Psalterium Sancti Ruperti' from the library foundation of St. Peter in Salzburg. The pages measure only 37 x 31 mm in size and the Carolingian minuscule is easily legibile in spite of a font size of 1.5mm and a maximal line-spacing of only 1.2mm The original Psalterium was most likely written in the third-quarter of the 9th century in north-eastern France. All 117 folios of the facsimile are according to the original border cuttings. The binding closely follows the details of the original and feature front and back book covers out of wood, two authentic, bicoloured trusses and a hand-stitched headband with exposed book spine.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2677
Acquired on28/08/07
AuthorRamsay, James
TitlePublic confession of Christ illustrated, and the obligations to it stated. A sermon preached at Newton of Mearns 5th of September, 1780. being [sic] a day of solemn fasting and covenanting
ImprintGlasgow: John Bryce
Date of Publication1780
LanguageEnglish
NotesAn interesting insight into the late 18th-century Scottish book trade is provided by this rare pamphlet, one of only three known copies. James Ramsay, 'Minister of the Gospel in Glasgow' here says that he is only putting his sermon into print because of 'the importunate request of many of the hearers in different Congregations'. It was printed by John Bryce of Glasgow, and sold 'at his shop opposite Gibson's-Wynd, Saltmarket'. Bryce took the opportunity at the back of the book to list other 'pamphlets' which he also printed and sold, and which he thought might appeal to the purchasers of Ramsay's sermon. Besides some other sermons, these 'pamphlets' inclued 'A Defence of National Covenanting' and 'The Form of Process used in Kirk Courts, with relation to scandals'. Their prices range from two pence to the most expensive, a 'Weavers Pocket Companion' at sixpence. Bryce adds 'Considerable allowance will be given to those who take quantities, either for selling or giving away.' From this we can deduce that Bryce is not just selling to readers, but to other booksellers, chapmen, and perhaps also to ministers and others who might buy his pamphlets to give away, perhaps as part of a religious exercise. Bryce also lists religious books, whose prices range from one shilling and sixpence to 'fine copies' of a bound ten-volume set of Ralph Erskine's Practical Works, at 'two pound sterling'. Finally, Bryce uses the empty space at the end of the text of Ramsay's sermon to advertise 'Proposals for Printing by Subscription, twenty eight Lectures on the first, second, and third Chapters of Matthew, and to the 14th verse of the fourth' by Reverend William Mair, a recently-deceased popular preacher. These proposals 'may be had' from a list of booksellers around the country, from Stranraer to Edinburgh - one wonders if these booksellers participated in a regular network of such proposals, and if Stirling and Perth were the closest towns to Mair's home territory with booksellers. Bryce duly published Mair's sermons the next year. The volume contains no evidence of being a subscription publication. Perhaps the call for subscribers was unsuccessful but Bryce, or Mair's anonymous editor thought it worth proceeding with the publication anyway. Only two copies survive, which may suggest the demand for Mair's sermons was not strong, or perhaps it was, after all, only produced in a limited print run. From this one pamphlet, therefore, we can see John Bryce at work as printer, publisher, bookseller and supplier to other sellers, and the relationships that existed between the ministers who wrote the religious texts which formed such a large part of the 18th-century Scottish book trade, their publishers, and their readers from the buyers of cheap sermons to those who wanted 'fine copies' of theological discourses.
ShelfmarkAP.1.209.026
Acquired on08/07/09
AuthorDuns Scotus, John
TitleQuaestiones in Aristotelis Analytica posteria
ImprintVenice : Simon de Luere
Date of Publication1497
LanguageLatin
NotesSources variously state that Duns Scotus (ca. 1266-1308) was born in either Duns, Berwickshire, Friar Minor at Dumfries where his uncle Elias Duns was superior, or Maxton (now Littledean). 'Scotus' is, in fact, a nickname simply identifying him as a Scot. We do not know the precise date of his birth, but we do know that he was ordained to the priesthood in the Order of Friars Minor (Franciscans) at Saint Andrew's Priory in Northampton, England, on 17 March 1291. He studied at the universities of Oxford and Paris and later lectured at both universities. In 1307 he was sent to Cologne, where he lectured until his death on November 8, 1308. His sarcophagus in Cologne bears the Latin inscription: "Scotia me genuit. Anglia me suscepit. Gallia me docuit. Colonia me tenet." ("Scotland brought me forth. England sustained me. France taught me. Cologne holds me.") Quaestiones in Aristotelis Analytica Posteria is one of a series of questions and commentaries in which Scotus attempted to show that Christian doctrine was compatible with the philosophical ideas of Aristotle. Some bibliographical sources, including the Gesamtkatalog der Wiegendrucke, posit this edition as "Pseudo Duns Scotus". There are only two other known copies in Great Britain at the Bodleian and the British Library.
ShelfmarkInc.205.2
Reference Sources-ISTC -Catalogue des livres imprimes au quinzieme sicle des bibliotheques de Belqique -Incunabula in Dutch libraries -Biblioteca Nacional [Madrid] Catalogo general de incunables en bibliotecas espanolas -An index to the Early Printed Books in the British Museum from the Invention of Printing to the Year MD -Catalogue of Books Printed in the XVth Century now in the British Museum
Acquired on10/05/04
AuthorDurdent, Rene-Jean
TitleQuatre Nouvelles. Lismore, ou le minstrel ecossais; Theresa, ou la peruvienne; Lycoris, ou les enchantemens de Thessalie; Eudoxie et Stephanos, ou les Grecs modernes.
ImprintParis: Chez Cogez, Libraire
Date of Publication1818
LanguageFrench
NotesThis rare publication is a set of four short novels by the minor French novelist Rene-Jean Durdent (1776-1819) which perhaps testifies to the early European enthusiasm for the novels of Walter Scott. How else to account for a tale set in 14th-century Perth to be laid alongside three other short novels in more exotic-sounding Peru, Thessaly and Greece? The story recounts the tragic love affair of the aristocratic Clara and the talented minstrel Lismore. A brief introduction asserts the historical likelihood of such a relationship taking place in an age when minstrels wandered from castle to castle, and quotes Sophie Cottin: 'They love; therefore it is necessary that they experience some great catastrophe.'
ShelfmarkRB.s.2682
Acquired on04/10/07
TitleQueen's Arctic Theatre. H.M.S. Assistance ... Commander. G.H. Richards, of the Royal Arctic Navy ... has the honour to acquaint, the nobility, and gentry, of North Cornwall that he has ... engaged a highly select, and talented, corps dramatique, and has entirely rebuilt, and re-embellished, the Queens, Arctic Theatre, and that ... will be performed ... the inimitable comedy, of The Irish tutor
ImprintNorthumberland Sound, 1852.
Date of Publication1852
LanguageEnglish
NotesA rare and very attractive example of on-board silk printing from the Arctic. In an attempt to maintain crew morale during the long winter freeze, many of the naval expeditions searching for Rear Admiral Sir John Franklin, staged impromptu plays and music-hall type entertainments. Printed records of these amusements are extremely scarce particularly so when printed on the more demanding silk medium.
ShelfmarkGB/C.219
Acquired on17/02/03
TitleQueensland Scottish Advocate
ImprintBrisbane
Date of Publication1908-1911
LanguageEnglish
Notes'The official organ of the Queensland Scottish Union', this journal does not appear in COPAC, OCLC, or the catalogues of the National Library of Australia or of Queensland State Library. It provides a fascinating insight into the Scottish community in Brisbane at the start of the twentieth century, with photographs of 'our Queensland Scottish' in full Scottish costume, articles about local and Scottish current affairs (including at least one by Lord Rosebery), Scottish history, Scots poetry and songs (again by locals as well as traditional ballads). There are also reports of the activities of Caledonian Societies and Burns Nights throughout the region, articles on Scottish history and culture, 'household hints' and recipes, and advertisements with a Scottish theme (many for Scotch whiskey). Bought from an Australian bookseller, this copy is probably the only one in Scotland, and almost certainly the only one in public hands in the UK. Nothing is known to us about the Queensland Scottish Union other than what appears in this bound volume, containing Vol. 1.1 to 3.12, and we do not know if any further issues were produced.
ShelfmarkDJ.m.2373
Reference SourcesCatalogue
Acquired on12/03/03
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
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
AuthorSmith, Adam
TitleRECHERCHES SUR LA NATURE ET LES CAUSES DE LA RICHESSE DES NATIONS
ImprintA Avignon, Chez J.J. Niel, Imprimeur-Libraire, rue de la Balance
Date of Publication1791
LanguageFrench
NotesThis French edition of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations was printed in Avignon in southern France. The bookseller describes this as 'perhaps the rarest of all Adam Smith's works in any language', and indeed only one library copy has been located, at Northwestern University. It seems that many copies were destroyed during the Revolution; indeed, the printer-bookseller Jean-Joseph Niel also perished in a massacre on 16-17 October 1791. 'This edition, an attempt to capitalize on the popularity of the Wealth of Nations, added to Roucher's translation some preliminary material, notes, and the promise of a translation from Xenophon, all to make it marketable and to defend it against charges of piracy... The editor of this edition was Agricole Joseph Francois Xavier Pierre Esprit Simon Paul Antoine, marquis de Fortia d'Urban (1756-1843).' (Carpenter, p. 117). 'Niel had additional reasons to try to emphasize that his was a new edition. The work advertised along with Recherches was a collection of decrees of the National Assembly: 'Il importe a tous les Francais de connoitre & d'avoir sous les yeux les Decrets de l'auguste Assemblee Nationale. Ces loix, dictees par la sagesse, doivent etre gravees dans la memoire & dans le coeur de tous les individus'. Thus, he was issuing Recherches, a work that he termed the 'second torch of liberty', as part of what might be called a publishing program in support of the Revolution. And, indeed, Recherches was regarded as such by the government. In May 1793 the Committee of Public Safety agreed that a copy should be given to each of the 'Commissaires observateurs' who were being sent to various regions to report on economic matters and the state of public opinion' (Carpenter, p. lii). However, there were probably too few copies left by then to make this scheme practical. This set is in good condition, uncut and largely unopened in contemporary mottled boards.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2614
Reference SourcesVanderblue Catalogue p. 24; See Carpenter The Dissemination of the Wealth of Nations in French and in France, 1776-1843, New York, 2002, pp. 117-127.
Acquired on02/06/06
AuthorGreat Britain. Record Commission
TitleRecord Commission. Scotland. Correspondence of C.P. Cooper, Esq. Secretary to the Board, with Thomas Thomson, Esq. deputy clerk register [etc] + 2 other items
ImprintLondon : [Record Commission],
Date of Publication1835
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis particular volume contains three works relating to Thomas Thomson (1768-1852), record scholar and advocate, who, as the first deputy clerk register of Scotland, played an important role in making available early Scottish legal and parliamentary records to scholars in the early 19th century. They appear to have been specially printed for the Record Commission based in London (the Record Commission is the collective name given to a series of six Royal Commissions on the Public Records appointed between 1800 and 1831, the last one lapsing in 1837) and can be regarded as marking the start of an investigation into Thomson's financial mismanagement of Commission money with regard to the various publications he was supervising and his payment of staff working under him. Thomson had been appointed to his post at General Register House in 1806 and his achievements there were overall very impressive, but by the 1830s his rather dubious accounting procedures and tendency to get bogged down in an increasing number of editorial projects had begun to have repercussions. The first part of the first item in this volume, "Correspondence of C.P. Cooper [etc]", reproduces letters written by Thomson and Charles Purton Cooper (1793-1873), the secretary of the Record Commission, concerning the long-delayed publication of vol. 1 of "Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland". A version of volume one had been printed as early as 1800, edited by the antiquary William Robertson; but in 1804 Thomson had argued successfully that this version should not be published as it was flawed and in need of updating and expanding. As deputy clerk register of Scotland Thomson presided over the publications of vols 2-11 of the "Acts" between 1814 and 1824, but continually delayed publication of the revised version of vol. 1, covering the earliest Scottish parliaments, due his tendency to procrastinate and his obsessive desire to produce a superior version to the suppressed 1800 edition. The printed correspondence here records Cooper's exasperation at the delays and his "mortification and vexation" caused by Thomson's "long and unaccountable silence". As well as documenting Cooper's annoyance with Thomson, the second part of this first item also puts Thomson's lax financial arrangements in the spotlight by printing letters and a memorial by the Scottish antiquary Robert Pitcairn (1793-1855). In addition to claiming public money for the financial losses he had incurred publishing his 1833 work "Criminal trials in Scotland & 1488 to 1624" - a work that he had undertaken at the suggestion of Thomson - Pitcairn was also complaining that Thomson had asked him to prepare an abridgement of the register of the great seal of Scotland, while leading Pitcairn to understand that the Record Commission would pay his salary. When, after many years of research, the salary was not forthcoming, Pitcairn stated his grievances in his "Memorial" to the Commission, reproduced here; he also went to London in person in 1835 to complain about Thomson's mismanagement of the project and state his case. As an appendix to the Cooper correspondence and the Pitcairn memorial, Thomson's quarterly reports to the Record Commission for the years 1822 to 1831 are printed here. The other two items in the volume are further reports from Pitcairn to Cooper, dated February 1835 and April 1835 respectively, concerning his unpaid work on the abridgement of the register of the great seal of Scotland. Pitcairn's revelations of irregular payments to staff eventually led to a Treasury inquiry in 1839 into the financial maladministration of the Register House. In 1840 the inquiry concluded that 8570 was owing to the crown, but Thomson avoided prosecution by convincing the government that the money had been applied to record work and not for his private use. He was dismissed from his post of deputy clerk register in 1841, but was allowed to continue to work as clerk of session to the Scottish courts. Thomson, like his predecessor as president of the Bannatyne Club, Sir Walter Scott, was determined to pay off all his debts. Most of his salary as clerk of session subsequently went to pay off his creditors and the sale of his library in 1841 met nearly half of his 7,000 debt to the crown.
ShelfmarkAB.3.212.03(1)
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography; Cosmo Innes, "Memoir of Thomas Thomson, advocate" (Edinburgh: Bannatyne Club, 1854).
Acquired on03/06/11
AuthorAlexander, Sir William, Earl of Stirling
TitleRecreations with the Muses
ImprintLondon: b. Tho. Harper
Date of Publication1637
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis collection of the works of William Alexander is of central importance to the development of Scottish literature. Alexander was a member of the 'Castalian band' (named after the mythical spring on Mount Parnassus, a symbol of the inspiration of the muses) of poets at the court of King James VI, along with writers such as Alexander Montgomerie, William Fowler, Robert and Thomas Hudson, and the king himself. When the court moved to London in 1603 with the accession of James to the English throne, the 'Castalian band' was dispersed. Alexander, like other writers who moved to London with the king, began to modify his verse, expunging Scotticisms and adopting the southern English language, so that this publication of 1637 is substantially a book of poetry in English, not Scots. Alexander was highly regarded by James VI and I and by Charles I, and was chosen by James to help him produce a new translation of the Psalms; the translation was published under James's name although it was almost all the work of Alexander. Alexander, who died in 1640, was by 1637 Secretary of State for Scotland; more notable, perhaps, is the fact that he had been granted the colonial territories of Nova Scotia (and, indeed, much of what is now Canada and the USA!). This book is thus a collection of a major Scottish author's writings, and one of the last editions published during his lifetime. Of enormous symbolic importance is the fact that this copy contains a fine impression of the extremely rare portrait of Alexander. On the portrait is the manuscript inscription 'Liber Fra: Kinaston ex dono Nobilissimi Authoris'. Sir Francis Kynaston (1587-1642) was an influential English poet of the court of Charles I, and an appropriate recipient for this collection of Anglicised works by a Scottish-born writer. The bookseller describes the portait as one of the 'black tulips' of early English print-making, and there does not seem to be another copy with the portrait in any UK public library. This copy is of some bibliographical importance, as the inscription indicates clearly that the portrait was issued with the book (it had been argued that the rarity of the portrait was a consequence of its having been issued separately). An eighteenth-century facsimile is also bound in this copy. Another interesting bibliographical feature of this and at least two other copies is that two leaves ([2]X1 and [2]X6) were missing due to an error in printing early copies of that sheet; here they have been supplied from another copy. The book is attractively bound in early nineteenth-century green morocco with gold-tooled decoration and lettering on the spine; the edges of the leaves are gilt. A note on a front flyleaf signed 'H.C.' probably indicates the ownership of the nineteenth-century collector Henry Cunliffe. The National Library of Scotland had two copies of this text already (H.29.a.3, H.29.a.4), but the additional features of this copy enable us to claim that our holdings of this important book now approach bibliographical completeness. This will enhance further our standing as a centre for studies of early Scottish literature.
ShelfmarkRB.m.502
Reference SourcesDNB
Acquired on07/10/02
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