Rare Book Collections works to build up the national collections through
purchases (through dealers or at auction) and donations. This directory gives details of 835 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 835:
Ordered by title |
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|Author||[Morris, James Archibald]|
|Title||Photographs of the auld brig of Ayr (built about fifteenth century)|
|Date of Publication||1910|
|Notes||This a rare privately-published photo album documenting, in a series of 28 numbered photographs, the restoration of Ayr's most famous landmark, the Auld Brig. Built in the 15th-century, the bridge featured in Robert Burns's poems "The Brigs o' Ayr" and "Tam o'Shanter". By the start of the 20th-century the bridge was in poor condition and was almost demolished. However, a campaign led by architect and local historian James Archibald Morris (1857-1942), and supported by the Earl of Rosebery, was successful in raising funds for restoring the Auld Brig to its former glory. As the cover of the album informs us, £11,000 was raised from subscribers around the world, with the restoration work taking place between 1907 and 1910. The Earl of Rosebery re-opened the bridge on 29 July 1910. All bar three of the 28 gelatine prints were taken by Morris, who was a keen amateur photographer. Morris presumably arranged for the photographs to be bound in albums (with a leaf of explanatory notes for each photograph) and distributed, presumably to members of the executive committee of the Ayr Auld Brig preservation campaign whose names appear on the back cover.|
|Reference Sources||Bookseller's notes|
|Title||Physiologia Guillelmi Duncani philosophiae professoris veterani|
|Imprint||Toulouse: Arnaldum Colomerium|
|Date of Publication||1651|
|Notes||This is a rare copy of this work on physiology by the Scot William Duncan and an important addition to the library's collection of books by Scots working abroad. Copies have been traced in the Bibliotheque Nationale, Bibliotheque Municipale (Toulouse), Yale and the National Library of Medicine, but there are no copies in British libraries. Some of the copies appear to have an added engraved title page which is lacking in this copy. Little is known about William Duncan except that he was a teacher in Montauban in the south of France before 1606 when he became a Professor of Philosophy there. He died in 1636. His brother Mark who was born in Roxburghshire c.1570, also worked as an academic in France. He was Professor of Philosophy in Saumur and died in France in 1640.
Lynn Thorndike in The history of magic and experimental science (vol.7) describes it as 'a very backward book' which propounded a 'distinctly Aristotelian' view of the universe. For example Duncan regarded comets as portents of drought, failure of crops, pestilence and the death of leading men. He also believed that most of the water on earth came from the sea via hidden underground channels.|
|Reference Sources||Thorndike, Lynn. The history of magic and experimental science. v.7 (New York, Columbia University Press, 1958) X.81.c
Baxter, J.H. and Fordyce, C.J. 'Books published abroad by Scotmen before 1700' in Records of the Glasgow Bibliographical Society, XI, 1933.|
|Title||Physionomia. Laqual comilo e magistro Michiel Scotto|
|Imprint||Stampata n Venetia, per Bernardin Venetian di Vidali|
|Date of Publication||1507|
|Notes||The birthplace of Michael Scot (1175?-1234?) is not certain. There are some suggestions that he was born in Durham of Borders parentage. Others believe that he was from Balwearie near Kirkcaldy. It is more likely that he was from the Scottish Borders as Scot is a traditionally Borders name, and legends and stories surrounding his magical powers are still common in Southeast Scotland. For example, the division of Eildon Hill into its present three peaks is traditionally credited to his wizardry. Scot studied successively at Oxford and at Paris (where he acquired the title of 'mathematicus'), moved to Bologna, and then to Palermo, where he entered the service of Don Philip, the clerk register of the court of Frederick II, in Sicily.
Though Scot was a serious Aristotelian and one of the great scholars of the 13th century, his varied learning and involvement in alchemy, astrology and astronomy transformed his popular reputation from a man of science to that of a powerful wizard. His name was sufficiently well known to merit a mention in Canto xx of the Dante's Divine Comedy, and Boccaccio uses his name to introduce one of his novels. It is believed that Scot returned to the Scottish Borders for the last few years of his life and was buried in Melrose Abbey, a story that was later embellished by Sir Walter Scott.
Scot's writings on astrology, alchemy and the occult sciences form a trilogy: Liber Introductorius, Liber Particularis and Physionomia (De secretis nature). The Liber Introductorius is a compendium of astrological, scientific and general knowledge and the Liber Particularis is a more advanced treatment of the same topics. The Physionomia is a treatise on human anatomy, physiology and reproduction, along with some zoology followed by an examination of how an individual's nature may be discerned from each part of the body. Much of the text is derived from Arabic and Egyptian authors.
There is no record for this Venice 1507 edition of the Physionomia in COPAC, OCLC, RLIN, CURL or HPB.|
|Author||Byron, George Gordon, Lord|
|Title||Piec Poematów Lorda Birona przelozyl Franciszek Dzierzyrkraj Morawski [Five poems of Lord Byron translated by Morawski]. |
|Imprint||Nakladem autora [Printed for the author]. Leszno. Drukiem Ernesta Günthera. |
|Date of Publication||1853|
|Notes||These are translations of Byron's poems by the soldier and poet Franciszek Morawski (1783-1861), with the translator's notes. Translated here are Byron's Manfred, Mazeppa, The Siege of Corinth, Parisina, and The Prisoner of Chilon. Morawski was a patriot and was Minister for War during the 1830-1 uprising against Russian rule; when the revolt failed, he went into semi-retirement and composed verses and translations of Byron and Racine. There are other early Polish translations, such as those by Adam Mickiewicz and Anton i Odyniec, but this is the first edition of this particular translation. This is a good copy in a contemporary Polish binding.
The Library's interest in developing its Byron collections was given new impetus by the arrival of the John Murray Archive in 2006, with its unrivalled Byron correspondence. Our collections of books in Polish have also taken on new prominence recently, with the arrival of many Polish people to work in Scotland. This is, apparently, the only example of a Polish translation of the works of Byron in our collections. Hopefully we will be able to acquire more.
|Author||John Muir (ed.)|
|Title||Picturesque California and the region west of the Rocky Mountains, from Alaska to Mexico.|
|Imprint||San Francisco & New York: J. Dewing Company|
|Date of Publication||1888|
|Notes||2014 marks the centenary of the death of Scottish-born naturalist and conservationist John Muir (1838-1914), who is regarded as the founder of national parks in the USA. He edited this great work of pictorial Western Americana. Among the famed artists who contributed to the work are Frederick Cozzens, Thomas Hill, Thomas Moran and Frederick Remington. Their work is reproduced here in engravings, etchings and photogravures, which fill 120 full-page plates (with printed tissue descriptions). The 35 separate articles are written by a variety of authors, with Muir contributing seven articles, three of them on the High Sierras and his beloved Yosemite Valley (two of them were written especially for this work, the others were edited from earlier publications). This edition includes his article on Alaska which is not included in later abridged editions. Publication was issued by subscription, and no subscription was accepted "for less than the entire work." The work was issued in a bewildering number of different formats and editions, initially between 1887 and 1890, the latest edition with this title being 1894. Muir wrote in a letter of 1889 that he had finished his contributions by shutting himself up in a room in the Old Grand hotel San Francisco for two weeks.|
|Reference Sources||Bookseller's notes; Oxford DNB; W.F. Kimes & M.B. Kimes 'John Muir: a reading bibliography' (Palo Alto, 1977) (no. 175); L.G. Currey & D.G. Kruska "Bibliography of Yosemite, the Central and the Southern High Sierra" (Palo Alto, 1992) (no. 257)|
|Title||Picturesque sketches in Spain taken during ye years 1832 & 1833|
|Date of Publication||1837|
|Notes||This volume of tinted lithographs was David Roberts's first published set of views. After working as a house painter in Edinburgh he became a scene painter at theatres in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Carlisle and London. He began travelling on the continent in the 1820s and visited Spain and Tangier on the recommendation of his fellow Scottish artist David Wilkie. Roberts's skill as a draughtsman and his love of architecture are clearly to be seen in this work. Though not as well-known as his later sketches of the Holy Land and Egypt, these lithographs helped to establish Roberts as a topographical artist and aided his election as a Royal Academician in 1841.
Roberts being dissatisfied with the quality of many of the lithographs, worked on many of the lithographic stones himself, erasing some of the original engravings. Instead of taking two months, this work took seven months. It is perhaps significant that Roberts's later work was lithographed by Louis Haghe and printed by Day and Haghe, rather than Charles Hullmandel, who printed 'Picturesque sketches'. Although Roberts received £350 for the drawings, he felt he had been cheated by Hodgson and Graves, the publishers. They sold the drawings to Colnaghi for £300 and sold the book of the prints for four guineas. According to James Ballantine, Roberts's first biographer, 'the views ? when they were published had an enormous sale, and since then the work has gone through more printings than any work in lithography ever published'. Within 2 months they had sold 1,200 copies and reprints were still selling twenty years later.
Only copies in UK at BL and V&A (imperfect).|
|Title||Plain directions for raising potatoes on the lazy bed|
|Imprint||Edinburgh : Printed for the author, and sold by him at his house in Leith, and by the booksellers in Edinburgh,|
|Date of Publication||1757|
|Notes||A rare work (not in ESTC or OCLC) by an unknown author who was 'Collector of Shore-dues in the Port of Leith' (t.p.) He appears not to have been a major writer on agricultural matters as he doesn't appear in either; Early Scottish agricultural writers (1697-1790) by Watson and Amery. Oxford : School of Rural Economy, 1931 or Agricultural writers ... 1200 to 1800 by Donald McDonald. London : Horace Cox, 1908.
The earliest accounts of potato cultivation in Scotland date from the latter 17th century but it seems that it was not widely grown until around 1725. The lazy bed system is used to aid cultivation on damp soils. The potatoes are planted on the surface with trenches either side. As the plant grows more soil is taken from the trenches to earth them up.|
|Title||Plan for Raising a Militia in that part of Great Britain called Scotland|
|Notes||Only three copies of this draft bill for regulating the militia in Scotland, by means of adapting the English Militia Acts, are recorded by ESTC (T42402). Interesting details include the fact that on page 9 the blanks relating to the number of privates to be raised for each county have been filled in manuscript (the city of Edinburgh was to raise 333 men). On the verso of the title-page is a full page of manuscript notes signed 'Richd Hewit. Clerk', which explains how the plan was drawn up by a committee of notables following a meeting in Edinburgh on 30 November 1759. The bill was rejected at its second reading in Westminster on 15 April 1760: although there was much sympathy for Scotland's vulnerability to French invasion, many still had doubts about giving arms to the Jacobites among the Highlanders. (John Robertson, Scottish Enlightenment and the Militia Issue, Edinburgh: John Donald, 1985).|
|Title||Plates for the deaf and dumb|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Printed by J. Ritchie, published by William Oliphant|
|Date of Publication||1820|
|Notes||The Institution for the Education of Deaf and Dumb Children in Edinburgh was established in June 1810. One of the teachers, Robert Kinniburgh, designed illustrated educational materials for the school. We already have a copy of his book 'The manual alphabet', which has a title-page with illustrations showing a kind of sign language, followed by 55 numbered plates with woodcuts of important objects, animals and scenes of work. The book we have just purchased appears to be an earlier edition, with the illustrations ordered differently. There are some changes in the states of the woodcuts; for example, on p. 9 in 'Plates for the deaf and dumb', the top woodcut is of an agricultural scene with a gardener surrounded by tools and a cold-frame; the same woodcut appears on p. 30 of 'The manual alphabet', but without the cold-frame. Perhaps the woodcut had become damaged.
It is interesting to speculate about the use of these books. Perhaps the illustrations were shown first and the students were expected to then learn the relevant word. In the new copy of 'Plates for the deaf and dumb', someone has added captions in pencil to several illustrations. The order of the plates in the two editions may be significant; in 'Plates for the deaf and dumb', the book starts with people in different clothing engaged in different tasks, and moves on to animals and then household objects. In 'The manual alphabet', however, the animals come first, followed by the household objects, and the people last.
Only one other copy of 'Plates for the deaf and dumb' has been traced, at the John Rylands library in Manchester. This acquisition complements some of our special collections such as the Royal Blind School Collection.
|Title||Poema posledniago barda. [Lay of the last minstrel]|
|Imprint||Moscow: V Universitetskoi Tipografii|
|Date of Publication||1823|
|Notes||This is the rare first edition in Russian of "The Lay of the Last Minstrel", first published in English in 1805. Only one other copy has been located in western European libraries at the National Library of Finland. The publisher/translator of the prose translation was Mikhail Kachenovsky (1775-1842), professor at Moscow University and editor of the journal "Vestnik Evropy" (Herald of Europe). |
|Author||Drummond, William, 1585-1649|
|Imprint||London: for Richard Tomlins|
|Date of Publication||1656|
|Notes||This is a rare copy of one of the two editions of Drummond?s works published in London in 1656, seven years after the poet?s death. Two other copies of this work are held in public institutions in Scotland ? at Edinburgh University Library and at Innerpeffray Library, near Crieff. The only difference between the two editions is the imprint ? this edition was ?Printed for Richard Tomlins, at the Sun and Bible?? whereas the other edition was ?Printed by W.H. and are to be sold at the Company of Stationers?. Both copies have the fine frontispiece portrait by Richard Gaywood (1630-1680).The binding ? calf, blind tooled - probably dates from the 18th century. Drummond spent most of his life on his estate at Hawthornden near Edinburgh. Most of his poems were written in the Petrarchan tradition and he was thus considered to be out of tune with metaphysical poets of his day. He wrote in English rather than Scots. In political terms he supported the Royalists and wrote a pamphlet attacking the Covenanters, but his isolation cut him off from the main events of his lifetime. His death was apparently hastened by news of the execution of Charles I in London.|
|Reference Sources||Wing D2202|
|Author||Burns, Robert [et al.] + Armstrong, John.|
|Title||Poems chiefly by Robert Burns, and Peter Pindar, &c. &c. To which is added the Life of Robert Burns. + The Oeconomy of love [by John Armstrong]|
|Imprint||London: Printed for the booksellers, |
|Date of Publication||1798|
|Notes||This small volume contains two unrecorded editions bound together; the first is an anthology which contains nine of Robert Burns's most famous poems, as well as works from other poets including John Wolcot 'Peter Pindar'; the second is an Oxford printing of Scottish poet John Armstrong's erotic poem "The oeconomy of love", a bestseller in the 18th century. The Burns edition is probably a piracy, appearing under the convenient, catch-all imprint "Printed for the booksellers". The composition of the book suggests that it was hastily put together. The contents page lists a 'Life of Robert Burns' on pp. 3-4 but in fact on pp. [v]-xx there is an unacknowledged reprint of Robert Heron's "A memoir of the life of the late Robert Burns" which had first appeared the previous year, 1797, the earliest printed biography of the poet. In addition to the Burns poems there are the following: four poems by 'Peter Pindar'; an unacknowledged printing of Matthew Lewis's "Alonzo the brave"; Thomas Holcroft's satirical song "Gaffer Gray" which first appeared in print in 1794; two Border ballads "Lord Gregory/The lass of Loch Royan" (which both Burns and Wolcot produced versions of) and "The battle of Otterburn"; four anonymous poems "Saint Genevieve of the Woods" (which was first printed in Warrington, c. 1780, under the title "The saint of the woods, or the loves of Siffred, and the maid of Brabant"), "The contented cottager", "Poem translated from the Persian" and "The blind boy".|
|Title||Poems on various subjects.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Gordon and Murray|
|Date of Publication||1780|
|Notes||This is the only published collection of poems by the Church of Scotland minister William Cameron (1751-1811), who was educated at the Marischal College, Aberdeen, where he had been a pupil of James Beattie. It has been bought for its contemporary tree calf binding by James Scott of Edinburgh - NLS already has two copies of this book with Scott bindings. The title page has Scott's circular binder's ticket stuck on at the foot of the page (Scott was the first Scottish bookbinder to have used a ticket). This copy is not recorded in J.S. Loudon's bibliography of Scott bindings but the tools used on the binding can be found in Loudon's book. The boards are decorated with Greek key borders, the spine with olive morocco label, and with musical instrument ornaments. This copy was one of two in the library at Invercauld Castle, near Braemar. Both copies were bound by James Scott (the other binding does not contain Scott's ticket). Invercauld has been the seat of the Farquharson family since at least the sixteenth century. It seems very probable that the Farquharson family knew Cameron well, as of the three copies of this book identified by Loudon in 1980 as being in Scott bindings, two (JS 74 and 74.5) have associations with the family, one is inscribed with the names of F. Farquharson and C. Farquharson, the other is noted as 'a present ... from Mr. Farquharson 1781'. The family may in fact have been responsible for distributing the book to their friends. The binding became available when the library of Invercauld was sold at auction in 2012.
|Reference Sources||J.H. Loudon, James Scott and William Scott, bookbinders (1980); Bookseller's notes |
|Title||Poems on various subjects, (English and Scotch).|
|Imprint||Berwick-upon-Tweed: Berwick-upon-Tweed : Printed for the author, by W. Lochhead|
|Date of Publication||1823|
|Notes||Alexander Hewit (1778-1850), "the Berwickshire ploughman" published three editions of his poems in Berwick-upon-Tweed, in 1798, 1807, and this edition of 1823. He was born and grew up in the village of Lintlaw a few miles north of Berwick. After service in the army during the Napoleonic Wars he returned to his native Berwickshire where he worked on local farms for the rest of his life. The poems are divided into parts: religious poems in English and secular ones in Scots. The Scots poems deal mainly with rural life. There is also a poem addressed to Sir Walter Scott, in which he contrasts Scott's brilliance as an author with the humble output of a "rustic bard" such as himself. As might be expected in a book dedicated to his patron, a local landowner, Hewit has a conservative, 'kailyard' outlook on politics; his 'Elegy to Thomas Paine' is in fact a sarcastic attack on the English author. Only two other copies of this edition are recorded in the UK, and this particular copy has an unusual provenance. It has a sturdy, plain, 20th-century leather binding. The binder's ticket reveals that it was done by the Yee Lee Company, bookbinders based in Hong Kong. The question of how the book came to be rebound in Hong Kong is answered by an ownership inscription in the book, namely Alec M. (Alexander Mackenzie) Hardie who worked as a lecturer in the English literature department of Hong Kong University in the 1950s. Hardie had been a contemporary of the 2nd World War poet Keith Douglas, both having been at Oxford in the late 1930s, where they were students of the poet and academic Edmund Blunden. They worked together on the 1940 publication "Augury: An Oxford Miscellany of Verse and Prose". Hardie's inscription records that he purchased the book, "a rarity", in 1943 for around two shillings. When Blunden was appointed as a professor at Hong Kong University in 1953, Hardie also moved out there to work and presumably took this book with him and had it rebound.|
|Reference Sources||W.S. Crockett, "Minstrelsy of the Merse", Paisley, 1893.|
|Title||Poems on various subjects|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Gordon and Murray|
|Date of Publication||1780|
|Notes||The Library bid successfully for this lot at the auction of part of the library of the late Lord Perth. The lot comprised two books: a fine copy of William Cameron's Poems bound by James Scott of Edinburgh, and a fine copy of the Foulis Press Terence printed in 1742 in a 'Chippendale' binding.
William Cameron of Kirknewton (now in West Lothian) is the anonymous writer of these poems. The Library has another copy also bound by Scott showing the same gilt twist-roll border and ornamented spine, but that copy is very worn. Our new copy is crisp and attractive, with Scott's label affixed to the title-page. It is the same copy that was photographed for J. H. Loudon's book on James and William Scott, which helped to bring their innovative bindings to widespread attention.
The second item is Terence, Comoediae, Glasgow, printed by Robert Urie for Robert Foulis, 1742. This is a most attractive red morocco binding with a gilt-tooled design in the 'Chippendale' style, with flowers and birds around the scrolls of foliage. The textblock, printed by the important Foulis Press, is not on large paper but is uncut.
Both books are important additions to our collection of Scottish bindings, and their provenance makes them particularly pleasing; Lord Perth was a good friend of the Library and a remarkable Scottish collector.|
|Reference Sources||Loudon, p.190-1