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 754 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 541 to 555 of 754:
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|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.|
|Author||Ogilvie, John [& John Mayne]|
|Title||Relatio incarcerationis & martyrij P. Ioannis Ogilbei natione Scoti|
|Imprint||Constantiae: ex typographaeo Leonhardi Straub.|
|Date of Publication||1616|
|Notes||This appears to be the second edition of the primary account of the sufferings of John Ogilvie (1580-1615), the Jesuit priest who was hanged for treason in Glasgow, thereby becoming one of the very few Catholic martyrs of the Reformation period. This is his own account of his sufferings, which was continued by John Mayne using the testimony of Ogilvie's fellow-prisoners, and first published at Douai in 1615. The Library has a copy of the first edition at BCL.S165, but the second edition has 7 pages of additional material. This copy has early provenance from German libraries.
Born at Drum na Keith, Ogilvie converted to Catholicism and entered the Society of Jesus. Ordained in either 1610 or 1613, he requested to work in Scotland, despite the danger faced by Catholic priests, and particularly Jesuits, when the penalty for saying Mass was death. After a successful ministry in Edinburgh and Glasgow lasting nine months, he was arrested and tortured to reveal the names of other Catholics, being deprived of sleep by being pricked with needles. James VI had offered him the chance of liberation if he would accept the spiritual supremacy of the monarch, but Ogilvie publicly rejected these terms at his trial. He was executed as a traitor on 10 March 1615.
St. John Ogilvie was canonised by Pope Paul VI in 1976, the first Scot to be canonised for over 700 years.|
|Reference Sources||True Relation of the proceedings against John Ogilvie, Edinburgh: 1615, H.34.c.41|
|Title||Information for Ross of Auchlossin, against the possessors of the Temple-lands.|
|Date of Publication||1706?|
|Notes||This is a most curious document discussing the order of the Knights Templar in Scottish history, of which no other copies can be traced. The text is known from its appearance in 'Templaria', 1828 (shelfmark H.30.c.26): this edition seems to have used the copy we have just acquired, as the 1828 editor notes that the last page seems to be missing a few words of text. In 1828 it was stated that no other copies were known.
A dispute between Robert Ross of Auchlossin and his tenants on lands formerly held by the Templars led to the production of this document. It traces the fortunes of the order, in order to make the case that the Templars were not a religious order, and that therefore their lands were not directly annexed to the crown after the Reformation in 1587. The Lords of Session agreed that Auchlossin's case was correct.
This is a striking example of early Scottish interest in the medieval religious order, often associated with Freemasonry.
The conjectural date of 1706 is taken from a manuscript annotation on the first page.|
|Reference Sources||Fountainhall, 'Decisions', v. 2, 1761, shelfmark Nha.L74, pp. 94-5|
|Title||Cynthio to Leonora: the last poem of William Falconer|
|Imprint||London : R T. Harvey and Co.|
|Date of Publication||1825|
|Notes||William Falconer, born in Edinburgh in 1732, was both a sailor and poet. As a young man he joined a merchant vessel at Leith where he served his apprenticeship. Afterwards, he was servant to Archibald Campbell (1726?-1780) who was then purser on a man-of-war. Campbell was the author of Lexiphanes: A Dialogue Imitated from Lucian (1774), and it was he who discovered and encouraged Falconer's literary tastes. In 1751 Falconer published a poem on the death of Frederick, Prince of Wales and contributed a few poems to the 'Gentleman's Magazine.' In 1762 he published his chief poem, the 'Shipwreck,' which was partly based upon his own earlier experience of being one of only three survivors of a shipwreck on a voyage from Alexandria to Venice.
Although the preface to Cynthio to Leonora states that "the circumstances under which the following poem came into our possession, sufficiently evidence of its being the production of the author of the 'Shipwreck'", the attribution is, in fact, false. Cynthio to Leonora was first published in the Gentleman's Magazine for June and July 1738 (vol. viii, pp. 319, 370-1) and dated 1736. At that date Falconer would have been only 4 years old.
Reasons for a publisher in 1825 reviving a poem written nearly a century earlier may have to do with Falconer's enormous popularity in the first decades of the 19th century. By 1820 there were at least 46 different editions and impressions of 'The Shipwreck' and his works had been praised by Bryon and referred to by Coleridge in Sibylline Leaves. The temptation to publish a hitherto 'unpublished' Falconer poem was clearly too good an opportunity to pass up.
The pamphlet is nevertheless extremely rare and may be only extant copy: no bibliographic records have been found for it in NSTC, NUC, OCLC, RLIN, the Library of Congress, British Library, or the libraries at Harvard and Yale. It is bound together with four other titles: Man and the Animals by Mrs. Gordon; The Highlanders and Other Poems by Mrs. Grant, and Human Life, a Poem by Samuel Rogers.
Shipwreck, A Poem: with the life of the author / by J. S. Clarke. London, 1811.|
|Title||Petri Bembi Cardinalis viri clariss. Rerum Venetarum historiae libri XII.|
|Imprint||Lutetiae [Paris]: Ex officina Michaelis Vascosani, via Jacobea ad insigne Fontis|
|Date of Publication||1551|
|Notes||This is a fine addition to the National Library's holdings of books with important early Scottish provenance. The book itself is important, the history of Venice by Pietro Bembo (1470-1547), the famous Italian scholar and churchman. The library has two other copies of this finely-printed volume (Nha.B188, BCL.B3451), but both are imperfect, whereas this is complete, including the folding plates at the end. However, this donation is particularly important because it was owned by at least three well-known sixteenth-century Scots. The title-page is inscribed 'Adamus Episcopus Orchaden[sis]' - this is Adam Bothwell, Bishop of Orkney (c. 1526-1593), the bishop who joined the reformers and whose extensive library has been recorded. On folio 1 and on the verso of folio 311 is the inscription 'Hen. Sinclar' - this is Henry Sinclair (1508-1565), Bishop of Ross and another known collector of books, who wrote additions to Boece's History of Scotland. On the recto following the title-page is the inscription 'W Santclair of roislin knecht', which also appears on the verso of folio 311. This is William Sinclair, who succeeded to the estates of Roslin in 1554 (see Lawlor, p.95). The Sinclairs of Roslin are one of the more famous Scottish families, associated in popular memory with Rosslyn Chapel which they founded. It seems likely that the book came to Henry Sinclair soon after it was printed, then passed to William Sinclair, and then into the library of Adam Bothwell. On the cover is the date 'Aug. 18, 1593', five days before Bothwell's death.
More recently, the book has the bookplate of Arthur Kay designed by Kate Cameron.
The existence of this copy was known, as it appeared for sale in 1814 and 1968 (recorded in our interleaved copy of Durkan & Ross). It is very satisfying to finally add it to the national collections.|
|Reference Sources||Durkan & Ross, Early Scottish Libraries
Cherry, 'Library of Henry Sinclair', Bibliotheck 4 (1963), no. 1
Lawlor, H. J., 'Notes on the library of the Sinclairs of Rosslyn', Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 1898|
|Title||Seelen Artzney. Das ist: Ein schoener und nuetzlicher Tractat, in welchem die Kranckheiten der Seele, ihre Ursachen, Zeichen, Zufaelle und Prognostica ordentlich beschrieben und zugleich angezeigt wird …|
|Imprint||Hanau: David Aubry; Frankfurt: Clemens Schleichen und Peter de Zetter|
|Date of Publication||1634|
|Notes||This is the second German edition of Abernethy's seminal "Christian and heavenly treatise containing Physick for the soule" of 1615; the first German translation was published in 1625.
This edition is bound in contemporary vellum with blind tooling and gauffered edges.
John Abernethy became Bishop of Caithness in 1616, but was deprived of the See in 1638; he died in 1639.
His "Physick" deals with original sin as the source of spiritual illness, and with the cure or "Artzney" for different sins such as jealousy, impatience, fear, intemperance or hatred. The treatise is modelled on medical books detailing cures for certain diseases, and indeed draws on diseases of the body as parallels, such as the "cancer of heresy".
The translator of the German edition is unknown, but he has added comments and enlarged the original English version.|
|Reference Sources||Scott, H. Fasti ecclesiae Scoticanae, 1928: |b vol. 2, p. 125|
|Title||Johann Barclayens Argenis Deutsch gemacht durch Martin Opitzen.|
|Imprint||Breslau: David Mueller|
|Date of Publication||1626|
|Notes||The Scotsman John Barclay published his political novel "Argenis" in Latin in 1621, one month prior to his death. This long romance, which introduces the leading personages of international importance, has been called the prototype of a courtly roman a clef. Martin Opitz made his, the first German translation, from a French version of "Argenis" between 1626 and 1631.
This two volume edition is bound in contemporary vellum over wooden boards. It has 24 engraved plates with scenic illustrations, as well as a portrait of Barclay in volume 2.
Martin Opitz (1597-1639) was the foremost German Baroque poet. He was considered the authority on the best metrical pattern in all genres. Johann Christoph Gottsched called him the father of German poetry. In Vienna in 1623, Opitz was awarded the position of an imperial poet on account of an extempore poem. He received a knighthood from the Austrian Emperor in 1627.
The first volume is Opitz's translation of Barclay's text, whereas the second volume contains the translation of a second instalment by A.M. de Mouchemberg.|
|Title||Essay on the origin and principles of Gothic architecture|
|Imprint||From the transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh|
|Date of Publication||1797|
|Notes||Sir James Hall (1761-1832) gave this paper to the Royal Society of Edinburgh on 6 April 1797. A geologist and chemist, who was actually President of the Royal Society, Hall argued that the characteristic shapes of Gothic architecture had their roots in the forms of nature. The plates which illustrate this volume show Hall's attempts to demonstrate the evolution of design from simple construction based on the natural forms of wood to the elaboration of Gothic stone arches. Hall went as far as to experiment with building a miniature Gothic church out of pieces of wood, which took root and grew. Such interdisciplinary work, of relevance to the arts and the sciences, is now seen as highly important.
This is an uncommon book (the expanded version of 1813 seems to be more common). Our copy is particularly fine, being a presentation copy inscribed to the Bishop of Durham, and bearing the bishop's bookplate. Bound in tree calf, with the spine gilt with various architectural tools.|
|Reference Sources||ESTC T101922|
|Title||Saturday Feb. 18th. For the St. James's Chronicle. Sketch of a comparison between the two late writers of travels in Scotland.|
|Date of Publication||[1775?]|
|Notes||Bound at the end of a copy of the first edition of Samuel Johnson's 'Journey to the Western Islands' of 1775 is this 3-page comparison between the traveller writers Thomas Pennant and Samuel Johnson. The author, who simply signs himself 'Staffa', seems to be a Scot who feels that Johnson has insulted his country. With plenty of satirical humour, he compares the way they approach Scotland, much to Johnson's disadvantage. Pennant looked for interesting landscapes and places, whereas Johnson looked for things to grumble about. Prejudice is the problem:
'Whence can proceed this wide difference between these two travellers, as to their objects, pursuits, reception, and accounts of the same country in the same year? Is it because Mr. Pennant is a gentleman and a scholar, and Dr. Johnson only a scholar? Or is it because Mr. Pennant is a Welchman, and Dr. Johnson an Englishman, and the subject of discourse, Scotland?'
This is a good addition to the Library's holdings of Johnsoniana and books about travellers in Scotland.|
|Reference Sources||ESTC N46421|
|Title||Battle of Culloden|
|Imprint||London: Laurie & Whittle|
|Date of Publication||1797|
|Notes||This original image for this was drawn by 'A. Heckel', probably the German artist Augustin Heckel, 1690-1770 and engraved by 'L.S.'. It depicts the battle of Culloden with William, Duke of Cumberland in the foreground. The fact that it was published over 50 years after the battle demonstrates how evocative the Jacobite rebellion was for many people many years afterwards. The Scottish National Portrait Gallery holds the original engraving which was 'printed for and sold by Tho. Bowles, May 1, 1747'.
There is no copy of this print in the Blaikie Collection at the SNPG.
The use of prints in the political process had been established for many years in Britain, in effect since the Civil War. Although a huge number of the prints produced were aimed at the large constituency of Jacobite sympathizers at home and especially abroad, the victors at Culloden also wished to get their message across in graphic form. This image is a case where the polemical function of the image is further enhance by the inclusion of text in the print itself. The rebels' 'rashness met with its deserved chastisement … from Munro's intrepid regiments'. The rebels are also described as 'disturbers of the publick repose'.|
|Reference Sources||Sharp, Richard. The engraved record of the Jacobite movement. Scolar Press, 1996. HP4.97.202|
|Title||His Royal Highness, William Duke of Cumberland|
|Imprint||London: Bernard Baron|
|Date of Publication||1747|
|Notes||This engraving was executed by B. Baron after a painting by John Wootton (ca. 1686-1765). This pose has been reproduced in a number of other paintings and engravings of Cumberland. The BM catalogue of British engraved portraits (Vol.4, 1914, p.495) lists 43 engraved portraits in total of the victor of Culloden.
The artist John Wootton was a popular painter of landscapes, topographical views, battle and sporting scenes but he was best known as an equestrian artist. He was the first Englishman to paint horses and he worked at Newmarket for a while. The engraving shows Cumberland in complete control of proceedings at Culloden with an unfortunate Jacobite swordsman cowering at his feet.
This is a significant addition to the National Library's holdings of Jacobite material, notably to the Blaikie prints on deposit at the Scottish National Portrait. There are nearly 20 other engravings of Cumberland held there.|
|Reference Sources||Sharp, Richard. The engraved record of the Jacobite movement. Scolar Press, 1996. HP4.97.202|
|Author||Murray, W., Leut.-Col., of Ochtertyre|
|Title||Scenery of the Highlands and islands of Scotland, lithographed by S. Leith, Banff, from drawings in outline, by Lieut. Colonel W. Murray, Younger of Ochtertyre|
|Imprint||Perth : D. Morison, Junr. & Co.|
|Date of Publication||[181-?]|
|Notes||This is a rare book of letterpress and lithographs by S. Leith from drawings by Lieut.-Colonel W. Murray, Younger of Ochtertyre. Although there is no publication date on the title page, there is a textual reference to a letter from Sir Walter Scott which was written in 1812. No biographical information was found for Lt.-Col. Murray. Although the title page indicates that this is "Part 1" there is no indication that any further volumes were published.
There are 26 leaves of plates and also a variety of smaller engravings situated throughout the text. Scottish scenes featured include: Loch Maree; Scuir of Eigg; Loch Awe; Loch Alsh; Ben Venue and the Trossachs; North East coast of Skye; The Red Head, Angus; Dunottar Castle; Coir-Urchran; Perth; The Hebrides; Ben Arthur; Doune Castle; Dunblane Cathedral; St. Andrews; Dunsinnane and Abbotsford.
Compare Murray, 'Sketches in Scotland', , ABS.8.202.26. This appears to have some, but not all, of the same plates.
The title-page with 'Scenery of the Highlands' is probably a survivor of the original title-pages that were issued with each part: most of the plates do not relate to the highlands. Perhaps this should be regarded as a different edition of 'Sketches in Scotland', lacking the main title page?|
|Reference Sources||Schenck, Directory of the Lithographic Printers of Scotland, p.66|
|Author||Howe, James (1780-1839)|
|Title||Portraits of Highland Society prize cattle and others of distinguished merit. Part II|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Printed by Ballantyne and Company, MDCCCXXXII |
|Date of Publication||1832|
|Notes||James 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.|
|Reference Sources||A Dictionary of Sporting Artists 1650-1990 / Mary Ann Wingfield
The Dictionary of British Equestrian Artists / Sally Mitchell|
|Author||Scott, Robert Eden (1770-1811)|
|Title||Elements of Rhetoric|
|Imprint||Aberdeen: b. J. Chalmers|
|Date of Publication||1802|
|Notes||Robert Eden Scott was an important figure in the Aberdeen Enlightenment. Born in 1769 or 1770, he studied at Aberdeen and Edinburgh (where he was taught by Dugald Stewart, among other notables), eventually returning to his native Aberdeen to teach at King's College. Scott taught a wide range of topics, including mathematics and geology, moral philosophy and rhetoric - he even became involved in the Ossian controversy. Scott was well informed and interested in new scientific developments, but his traditional Christian beliefs led him to take a stand against many new theories. He associated the theory that the earth was older than the traditional interpretation of Genesis would permit with the violence of the French revolution.
Scott became the first Professor of Moral Philosophy at King's, and this work seems to have arisen from private classes he held while in that position. Scott analyses the workings of language, style, taste, and the different effects of different kinds of writing. The book is extremely rare, with two copies at Aberdeen University Library only. As Scott's first published work, it is an important addition to our holdings of Scottish philosophy and literary theory.|
|Reference Sources||Jessop, Bibliography of David Hume, 1938, p. 169.
Wood, Paul B., The Aberdeen Enlightenment, 1993
|Title||My Bible. Embellished with engravings|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: John Elder|
|Notes||This is a rare edition of a chapbook where the leaves are printed on one side only, although the pagination is continuous. It contains four-line verses, all ending with the line "My Bible" and paraphrasing different passages from the Bible. It was published between 1837 and 1844 by John Elder, who is also known for printing a slip ballad called "Alice Grey".
The chapbook contains 8 wood-engraved illustrations which are hand-coloured in green and yellow. It is in its original printed wrappers with wood engravings to both covers.|