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 727 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 727:
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|Title||Original history of the abbey, palace and chapel royal of Holyroodhouse|
|Date of Publication||1829|
|Notes||Note: This is a rare edition of a highly popular book on Holyrood, with a fascinating provenance. It ran to at least nine editions from 1819 to 1832 and was one of a series of works which the author Charles Mackie (d. 1864) wrote on the castles and abbeys of Scotland.
It seems that this volume may have been bound as a gift to the exiled king Charles X (1757-1836) of France, when he took up residence at Holyrood in October 1830. Charles as Comte d'Artois had previously stayed in Holyrood from 1796 to 1799, (and periodically until 1803) following an abortive attempt to regain the French throne. He had abdicated from the French throne in August 1830, when Louis Philippe had taken over in a bloodless revolution. Although this volume is ostensibly a copy of the edition of 1829, pasted onto the verso of the title page is a printed dedication of William IV, who did not become king until June 1830. The dedication first appeared in the 1830 8th edition. This indicates that this was a brand new copy of the book at the time when Charles took up residence in Holyrood, which was desribed by one of the emigrés, Baron de Damas, as a residence 'good enough for a private citizen', but not for an exiled monarch used to splendour of Versailles.
The Bourbon court remained in Edinburgh for two years and it is probable that the book passed to Charles's grandson Henry V, Comte de Chambord (1820-1883). When he died, the book passed to Don Jaime de Bourbon, Duc de Madrid (1870-1931) a member of the Spanish branch of the Bourbons, whose ownership stamp marked Frohsdorf (near Salzburg) appears throughout the volume. A bookseller's label on the upper flyleaf verso indicates that the book was purchased by the London booksellers Maggs Bros. from Henry's library, probably at Frohsdorf, where he had spent much of his life from 1840.
The only other known copy is in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.|
|Reference Sources||Mackenzie-Stuart, A.J. A French king at Holyrood. (Edinburgh, 1995) HP1.95.2496|
|Title||History and Travels|
|Date of Publication||1769|
|Notes||This is one of the most significant and interesting (not to mention expensive) chapbooks that the National Library of Scotland has purchased in recent years. Hector Maclean's autobiographical account of his sea-faring life is packed with extraordinary information about how one eighteenth-century Scot saw the world. Hector was born in Argyleshire in 1728, but the story really begins when he stowed away on his brother's ship at the age of eight. He ended up in Greenock, which struck him as such an amazing place that he wandered the town until it was dark, and got lost. Not speaking any English (presumably because his native tongue was Gaelic), Hector ended up being taken in by various families, who put him to work as a farm servant. After some years he managed to return to his family, and was taught to read and write: the urge to travel, however, was still strong, and he took ship for Virginia.
The account of the North American coast which follows is full of keen observations, particularly of the wildlife. The curious behaviour of opossums, sharks, alligators and insects is presented to the Scottish reader. Maclean is also informative about the native Americans; he describes a group presenting a British Governor with the scalp of an enemy. The Portuguese, however, come in for the most scathing criticism, being described as violent thieves.
This is apparently the second edition of the first installment of Maclean's account (there is a 1768 edition in the British Library). We already have a copy of the second installment, (L.C.2811(2)), published in 1771. Any other installments have not been traced. It sounds as though Maclean paid for the printing of these chapbooks himself, so the rarity of the surviving copies may be a result of their being printed in very small numbers. When placed together, the first and second installments of Maclean's History and Travels constitute a truly fascinating account of a Scottish traveller, with some genuine literary merit.
The two pamphlets combined would be excellent candidates for a short publication.|
|Reference Sources||Lauriston Castle chapbook catalogue|
|Author||MacLeod, Fiona [William Sharp]|
|Title||Re-issue of the shorter stories of Fiona Macleod: rearranged, with additional tales.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Patrick Geddes & Colleagues,|
|Date of Publication||1897-1903|
|Notes||This is a three-volume set of William Sharp's short stories, written under the pseudonym 'Fiona MacLeod', in original wrappers. Volume 1 was published in Edinburgh ca. 1897 by the publishing company founded by Patrick Geddes and Sharp to publish literature in support of the Celtic revival taking place in the British Isles. Volumes 2 and 3 have the imprint: 'London: David Nutt, at the sign of the Phoenix, Long Acre, 1903', but have the same overall layout as volume 1.|
|Title||Treubhantas na'n Gaidheal Albanach. The valour of the Scottish Gael|
|Date of Publication||c.1918|
|Notes||This seems to be the only known copy of this book of Gaelic poems. Macpherson, a former soldier himself, wrote these poems 'in praise of the bravery of the Scottish Gael from time immemorial', in the language which he calls 'the most expressive in recording the actions of the bold, the valorous, and the true of any living language'. His preface criticizes those 'Highlanders into whose hands this volume may fall, and whose mother tongue is the Gaelic', who 'know less of the Gaelic than they do of the English language'. The volume is dedicated to Lady Macdonald of the Isles: Macpherson's only other known work is Welcome to Alexander Somerled Angus, the son of the Heir of MacDonald, Prince of the Western Isles, published in Gaelic with an English translation in 1918 (shelfmark NG.1526.a.11).|
|Title||Tales of Ossian for use and entertainment. Ein Lesebuch für Anfänger im Englischen|
|Imprint||Nurnberg: Gabriel Nicolaus Raspe|
|Date of Publication||1784|
|Notes||This is a rare first edition of the English version of Macpherson's landmark work. It is probably based on the 1783 pirated reprint of Ossian prepared by Goethe and his friend Johann Heinrich Merck, (first ed. Darmstadt and Leipzig 1773-7). It contains an extensive German glossary, index of names, historical preface, and footnotes, all by Johann Balbach. The tales are taken exclusively from the epics of Fingal and Temora and have been made quite accessible and readable - obviously intended for quite young students of English. A second edition appeared in 1794 and a third in 1822. Only 3 other copies of this text have been recorded - none in Britain (copies at Harvard and Rice University in the United States and at Biblioteka Narodowa, Warsaw). This is also an unusual text as it is arguably the earliest adaptation published for children. It is an important addition to the National Library's corpus of Ossianic works.|
|Reference Sources||Gaskill, Howard. 'German Ossianism: a reappraisal', German life and letters, vol. 42, no.4, July 1989. HJ3.455
Stafford, Fiona and Gaskill, Howard (eds.). From Gaelic to Romantic: Ossianic translations (Amsterdam, 1998) HP2.99.8029
Tombo, Rudolf. Ossian in Germany. (New York, 1901). Oss.295 (p.25)|
|Author||Macvicar, Symers Macdonald |
|Title||The distribution of hepaticae in Scotland|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||This is an annotated proof copy of Macvicar's (1857-1932) work on Scottish non-vascular plants known as liverworts. The text is complete although there are no preliminaries. The inkstamp "Neill & Co. Edinburgh First Proof" appears on a number of pages and there are numerous manuscript corrections and annotations by Macvicar throughout the text. An inscription on the front pastedown indicates that the book was bound during Christmas 1945 and presented to Mr. A. D. Banwell by the bryologist P. W. Richards (b. 1908).|
|Author||Maidment, J[ames], P[itcairn], R[obert], and H[ill], James, editors and publishers|
|Title||Nugae Derelictae, quas colligerunt …|
|Date of Publication||[1815?-] 1823|
|Notes||A very rare collection of current jeaux d'esprit and reprints of rare pieces brought together by a triumvirate of lawyers led by James Maidment. There may well have been only three copies made, one for each of the collaborators, Maidment, Pitcairn and Hill. Maidement's bibliographer Thomas G Stevenson certainly knew nothing of the collection. This collection should not to be confused with a similar collection brought together by Maidment and Pitcairn in 1822 and comprising 18 separate tracts (Ry.IV.c.11). There are 20 of a possible 21 separartely printed pieces including The Election, a new song; The Fornicator's Court by Robert Burns, The Thimble by Alan Ramsay and Two ancient ballads published in Aberdeen. The missing piece is deduced to be 'Original letter thereanent' comprising two leaves and relating to the foregoing piece (Item XII) a mock broadsheet on Professor Dunderhead.
Given that it is highly likely that the other two copies have long since been broken up for their constituent parts, this may, arguably, be the sole survivor of the three. Hence the want of item XIII is easier to accept.|
|Title||Dialectica Guillelmi Ma[n]deston. Tripartitum epithoma|
|Imprint||[Lyon: Jacques Giunta]|
|Date of Publication||[c. 1520]|
|Notes||This is an extremely rare Lyons printing of the "Tripartitum", a work on logic by the Scottish philosopher and logician William Manderston, with only one other copy being recorded, in the bibliotheque municipale of Lyons. Described as "one of the leading Scottish intellectuals of his age" (ODNB) Manderston (c.1485-1552) followed the standard career path of Scottish 15th- and 16th-century scholars. After graduating from Glasgow University in 1506, he moved to France and continued his education at the University of Paris, where he studied alongside other Scots including John Mair, George Lokert, and David Cranston. The "Tripartitum", Manderston's first published work, was first printed in Paris in 1517. It is, as the title implies, a three-part work in Latin on the principles of logic, dedicated to Andrew Forman, archbishop of St Andrews. A year later Manderston's "Bipartitum", a two-part work on moral philosophy, was published. Manderston remained in France until 1528, eventually becoming rector of the University of Paris and acting as a tutor and mentor to prominent Scots such as George Buchanan and the theologian Patrick Hamilton. On his return to Scotland he moved to St. Andrews, becoming rector of the University. This book also has an interesting provenance; an inscription on the title page of the book, 'Collegio de Montilla', shows that the book was formerly in the collection of the Jesuit college of Montilla, near Cordoba in southern Spain. It also has extensive marginal annotations in a 16th-century hand, by a former owner or student of the college.|
|Reference Sources||Oxford Dictionary of National Biography|
|Title||Ode sur la rebellion de MDCCXLV en Ecosse|
|Imprint||Amsterdam: Jean Joubert|
|Date of Publication||1746|
|Notes||The NLS's collections of material relating to the Jacobite uprising of 1745-46 have been enhanced by the acquisition of this very rare poem by Matthew Maty (1718-1776). The Maty family were Huguenot refugees who moved first to Holland, where Matthew was born, then, in 1740, to London. Matthew Maty practised medicine there but also contributed to various British literary publications. This short French-language poem, printed in his native Netherlands, is uncompromising in its anti-Catholic, anti-Jacobite stance. Maty describes Prince Charles as a tyrant seduced by pride "un Tiran, que l' orgueil seduit" and praises the Duke of Cumberland for 'calming the storm' and punishing the 'criminal cohorts' of the rebels. The poem is preceded by a six-page preface dedicated to 'M.L.C.D.C.', presumably My Lord [or perhaps Milord Le] Comte de Chesterfield, the fourth earl of Chesterfield, who was a keen literary patron. Maty addresses him in the preface as dear friend and almost as an equal. Maty would go on to found the "Journal Britannique" (published at the Hague from 1747 onwards) which reviewed British works for continental readers. He also earned the hatred of Samuel Johnson for his implication, in a review of Johnson's Dictionary in 1755, that Johnson had been ungrateful to the Earl of Chesterfield. From 1756 he was employed as a librarian at the British Museum, taking charge of the printed books in the royal library, gifted to the Museum by George II, and from 1772 he was Principal Librarian there. Only two copies of this poem have been traced, one at the British Library and the other at the University of Virginia.|
|Reference Sources||Oxford Dictionary of National Biography; bookseller's notes|
|Title||A grammar of the Carnataca language|
|Imprint||Madras: College Press|
|Date of Publication||1820|
|Notes||This is the first published grammar of the Kannada language of India. The author was a member of the McKerrell family of Hillhouse in Ayrshire. He travelled to India in 1805 and later became master of the mint in Madras. In his preface he explains that he was initially employed in a "judicial situation" in the region of British Carnara (Karnataka - formerly known as the kingdom of Mysore) and was required to learn the Carnataca (Kannada) language of the local inhabitants. He proposed compiling a grammar as early as 1809, but ill health and demands of work delayed the publication of this book until 1820. A new grammar of the Kannada language, based on McKerrell's earlier work, was published in 1859 in Bangalore.|
|Title||McKinlay's Journal of Exploration in the Interior of Australia (Burke Relief Expedition)|
|Imprint||Melbourne: F. F. Bailliere|
|Date of Publication||1862|
|Notes||John McKinlay (1819-1872) was born at Sandbank, on Holy Loch, Argyll, Scotland. He was educated at Dalinlongart School and immigrated with his brother Alexander in 1836 to New South Wales, where his uncle was a landholder at Goulburn. After 1840 he moved to the Victorian side of the Murray/Darling area, from where he explored the country in New South Wales and South Australia towards Lake Frome and earned a reputation as an expert bushman.
In 1861, McKinlay was the South Australian government's choice to lead an expedition to ascertain the fate of Robert O'Hara Burke and William Wills, who had failed to return from their expedition to cross Australia south to north. This is the first edition of McKinlay's diary written during his expedition to locate Burke and his men. This he did not do, finding only the remains of William Gray, the first victim of the expedition. Under the impression that he had found the graves of all the leaders of the expedition, he carried out the second part of his instruction and explored the country between Eyre's Creek and Central Mount Stuart. All his party survived although they had been reduced to dire straits, having had to eat most of the camels and horses. Ultimately, it was McKinlay's great ingenuity and perseverance which saw his men through to safety.
|Reference Sources||Oxford DNB|
|Title||Illustrations to the Epitome of the ancient history of Japan, including illustrations to the guide book.|
|Date of Publication||1878|
|Notes||This is, by any standards, a strange book. It was published in 1878 to accompany the author's 'Epitome of the ancient history of Japan', first published in Nagasaki in 1878. Central to the 'Epitome' is McLeod's belief that the Shindai or holy class of Japan are descended from the Lost Tribes of Israel. He also calls attention to the fact that the first known king of Japan was Osee, who came to the throne in 730 B.C. and that the last king of Israel was, the similarly named Hosea who died in 722 B.C.
In the preface McLeod mentions that 'the engravings are the workmanship of the best Japanese artists, but as they have had as yet so little experience of foreign letters, the execution is imperfect'. There are engravings of kings, temples as well as some relating to the author's thesis such as 'supposed order of march of Israelites to Japan'. The work is bound in contemporary, though faded Japanese silk wrappers.
Little is known about the author, whose first name is thought to have been Norman. He has been variously described as a Scots businessman or a Scots missionary wo started his career in the herring industry. His name is not listed in Fasti or any of the biographical dictionaries of other denominations. The second edition of the edition (1878) which is held by the Library (5.1009(27)) is dedicated to Rev. William Mackenzie 'late of Leith Free Church, Scotland', which may give an indication of Mcleod's religious allegiance.
Although this is the second edition, it is not known when the first edition was published. There are six copies of this edition listed on OCLC, all in the United States.|
|Reference Sources||Bookseller's description|
|Title||The War in China. 3rd edition.|
|Imprint||London: Saunders and Otley|
|Date of Publication||1843|
|Notes||Duncan McPherson (1812-1867) trained in medicine at Edinburgh University, and was appointed surgeon to the Madras Native Infantry in 1836. When the first Opium War between Britain and China broke out in 1840, he served with the 37th grenadier regiment in China, and was severely wounded at Chuenpe (Chuanbi). He told of his experiences in his book "Two Years in China" (1842). The book gives an account of the military campaign against the Chinese and also includes a chapter on opium and opium smoking. McPherson admits to having tried the drug. He regards it as potentially useful cure-all, and believes that moderate habitual use of it is more acceptable than over-indulging in alcohol. A second edition was published in 1843, followed by this third edition in the same year which had a new title, 'The War in China'. The third edition includes two colour lithograph plates and a map, which were not present in "Two Years in China". It also omits the transcripts of official reports and despatches, which were included in a lengthy appendix in the first two editions. Of particular interest is the additional material in the third edition on the ending of the war, which had yet to be resolved when "Two years in China" was first published. The author now adopts a more positive tone when discussing the Chinese. Gone are the disparaging comments in the first two editions on the Chinese emperor and his "deceitful and lying mandarins"; he even ends the book with the hope that "seeds of Christianity" can be sown "amongst a skilful and intelligent people". This particular copy is a presentation copy from the author to another family member.|
|Title||Glimpses of China: a series of Vandyck photogravures illustrating Chinese life and surroundings.|
|Imprint||Shanghai: A.S. Watson & Co.,|
|Date of Publication||[c. 1920]|
|Notes||This is a welcome addition to the Library's holdings of photographically illustrated books on the Far East. Not much is known about the early years of Donald Mennie (d. 1941), the photographer who produced this book. He appears to have been of Scottish origin, later becoming an American citizen. He arrived in China in 1899 and worked initially for the firm Mactavish & Lehman & Co., one of the first producers of picture post-cards of Shanghai, before moving to the Shanghai-based company of A.S. Watson & Co. Watson's had been founded by a Scot in 1828, as a chemists and druggists, and had branched out into wine and spirits and photographic services (the firm still exists to this day as the largest health and beauty retailer in the world). Mennie became a managing director of the firm and a leading entrepreneur in China in 1920s and 30s, but he also had a passion for photography. He was able to use his position in Watson's to get his photographs published, being best known for his books "The pageant of Peking" (1920) and "The grandeur of the Gorges" (1926). Both of them were expensively produced, with handsome bindings, and with hand-coloured photogravures in the pictorialist style. Mennie specialised in depicting the faded grandeur of imperial China and the eye-catching landscapes of China's gardens, rivers and mountains. "Glimpses of China", while still using the same photogravure process, is a more modest affair. Produced in oblong quarto format, with plain cloth covers, it is possibly an early work by Mennie or a spin-off from "The pageant of Peking". Of particular interest are the street scenes of ordinary Chinese people which are reminiscent of the street-photography of the early Scottish photographic pioneer in the Far East, John Thomson.|
|Reference Sources||Worswick & Spence, "Imperial China: photographs 1850-1912" (London: Scolar Press, 1979)|
|Title||Alessandro nell'Indie. Artaserse. Didone abbandonata. Demetrio.|
|Date of Publication||[1730-1732]|
|Notes||This is a very rare set of four librettos by Pietro Metastasio. The first two are dedicated to the Old Pretender (James VIII of Scotland, James III of England and Scotland) and his queen Maria Clementina. Both had been prominent patrons of the opera scene since their marriage in 1719. All four operas were performed during carnival at Teatro del Dame, the most prestigious of the Roman opera houses. Between 1721 and 1724, each opera season opened with a pair of operas, one dedicated to James and one to Maria Clementina. The Old Pretender (1688-1766) eventually arrived in Rome in 1717 following the collapse of the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715-1716. There he married Maria Clementina Sobieski, grand-daughter of the Polish king.
Pietro Metastasio (1698-1782) is regarded as possibly the greatest Italian poet and playwright of the 18th century. He composed no less than 1,800 pieces, including 28 grand operas, music for numerous ballets and celebrations of festivals. He borrowed his subjects almost indiscriminately from mythology or history. The music to 'Alessandro nell'Indie' and 'Artaserse' was composed by Leonardo Vinci (1696-1730), a Neapolitan composer closely associated with Metastasio.