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 697 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 541 to 555 of 697:
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|Title||Silva: or a discourse of forest-trees.|
|Imprint||York: A. Ward for J. Dodsley|
|Date of Publication||1776|
|Notes||This is a magnificent binding of a York printing of the 17th-century English scholar John Evelyn's "Silva". The binding has been done by James Scott of Edinburgh, generally acknowledged as the finest bookbinder in Scotland in the 18th-century and indeed one of the finest in Britain at this time. Both volumes are bound in brown tree calf with gilt column style tools and musical trophy on the boards and Minerva ornament on the spines. Vol. 1 contains Scott's binder's label on the title page. The book has a distinguished provenance, as identified in J.S. Loudon's bibliography of Scott's work (JS 62). There is an inscription "Lauderdale" on the title page of vol. 1, which indicates that the book formerly belonged to James Maitland, 7th Earl of Lauderdale (1718-1789) and was presumably bound for him. It was sold by the 15th Earl at Sotheby's in 1950 and bought by the famous book collector Major John Roland Abbey (1894-1969) and has his bookplate on the front pastedowns. It was sold again at Sotheby's in 1967 and was acquired by NLS when the library of the 17th Earl of Perth was sold at auction in 2012.|
|Reference Sources||J.S. Loudon, James Scott and William Scott, bookbinders, 1980.|
|Title||Six Glasgow Poems|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||This is the rare first edition of Tom Leonard's best known work. Written in Scots, these abrasively witty poems attempt to recreate the language of ordinary people in Glasgow. Leonard completed the work by January 1968, but had difficulty finding a printer willing to do the job. Instead, he typed the sheets himself and had them reproduced in the Glasgow University student magazine office. This counts as the first edition. The poems were subsequently published by Midnight Publications in 1969, and the Library has a copy of this second edition at shelfmark 5.4593. This edition contains at least one typographical deviation from the first edition.|
|Title||Sixty-six years' residence in South Africa: an autobiographical sketch.|
|Imprint||[Fort Beaufort, South Africa]: Fort Beaufort Printing and Publishing Company|
|Date of Publication||1899|
|Notes||This rare book, crudely printed in the small South African town of Fort Beaufort, documents the experiences of a Scottish emigrant to South Africa. William Ainslie was born c. 1820 in Hawick in the Scottish Borders. His father worked there as a brewer and bookbinder. In 1833 the Ainslie family decided to move to South Africa, on the advice of William's famous uncle Thomas Pringle, who had lived there in the 1820s. Pringle (1789-1834) was a writer and campaigner for abolition of slavery, who became known as the father of South African Poetry, being the first successful English language poet and author to describe South Africa. The Ainslie family eventually purchased a farm in what was then called Kaffraria, the southeast part of what is today the Eastern Cape Province. They inevitably got caught up in the conflicts between European settlers and the native Xhosa people (referred to in the book as 'Kaffirs'). From the late 18th century onwards a series of armed conflicts between the Xhosa, British army and settlers had taken place as more and more settlers encroached on Xhosa lands. In the preface to the book, written by one A. Hanesworth, it is stated that: "No savage people has given Great Britain so much trouble in open fight and secret foray as the Coloured races of Kaffraria". When William Ainslie acquired his own farm, he became a 'burgher' who was obliged to arm himself to defend his property and also to assist the army and the other settlers. As such he was participant in what is now termed the 8th Xhosa War of 1850-53, which he describes at length. In 1859 Ainslie settled in the Fort Beaufort area, where he continued to farm as well as making a brief foray into diamond mining. Ainslie's book documents the struggle of an emigrant to establish himself in an often hostile and unforgiving environment. It was written on the eve of the Boer War and he criticises the Dutch Bond politicians "who are doing everything in their power to cause race-hatred between the Dutch and English".|
|Author||Burrard, S.G., Heron, A.M.|
|Title||Sketch of the geography and geology of the Himalaya Mountains and Tibet.|
|Imprint||Delhi : Manager of Publications|
|Date of Publication||1933|
|Notes||Revised and updated edition of the 1907 work by Burrard and Hayden which had been produced to mark the centenary of geographical and
geological exploring expeditions of the Himalaya Mountains. This had become an invaluable reference work for surveyors and explorers. The present work, which revises and updates it, is equipped with a large number of plates, maps and illustrations.|
|Reference Sources||Yakushi : Catalogue of the Himalayan literature|
|Author||Sinclair, Sir John|
|Title||Sketch of the improvements now carrying on in the county of Caithness, north Britain.|
|Date of Publication||1803|
|Notes||A brief description, beautifully illustrated with four fine engraved plans, of proposed improvements to 'a remote and neglected district of a country', most of which was the property of the author, Sir John Sinclair of Ulbster. The work was later included as an appendix to Captain John Henderson's 'General view of the agriculture of the county of Caithness', published in 1812. On the title page is a presentation inscription from the author to a 'General Melville', dated 30 May, 1803.
Described by a contemporary as 'the most indefatigable man in Britain', Sinclair was a man of many parts. He served as M.P. for Caithness in the early 1780s, inaugurated the British Wool Society in 1791, founded the Board of Agriculture in 1793 and was almost single-handedly responsible for the preparation of the mammoth 'Statistical account of Scotland', which was published in 1799.
This book is a microcosm of Sinclair's interests as an economic improver. The promotion of sheep farming, the cultivation of 'fenland', the establishment of new villages both inland and on the coast, the promotion of fisheries and the construction of a new town in Thurso are all described. Ultimately, Sinclair's 'improvements' changed the face of the county. Sinclair also had great hopes for Thurso and envisaged that it would trade with the West Indies. At the time of writing, work had already begun and Sinclair described his involvement in financing the enterprise, advancing a sum for every house built and promoting the work of the Building Society. His geometric town plan is similar to that for Edinburgh's New Town and apart from some public buildings - the academy, infirmary and public wash house - most of the plan was realised.|
|Author||Foott, [Elizabeth Anne] Mrs. James|
|Title||Sketches of life in the bush|
|Imprint||Sydney: George Loxton & Co.|
|Date of Publication||1878|
|Notes||Elizabeth Foott was a Scot who emigrated to Australia and wrote this interesting account of her journey to a new farm settlement on the Darling River. She set out in May 1860, and describes the countryside and the people they encountered while travelling to their new home. She reflects on relations with the native inhabitants, on the role of women in Australian society and on the economic development of the new colony. She describes dramatic events such as being stranded on a hill when floods overwhelmed their house and their servants fled with many of their possessions. Foott seems to have been reasonably well-read, and she mentions the small library they took with them. She includes a chapter on 'Romantic adventures', consisting of a selection of Australian tales, to show that the new colony had its stories as well.
Her Scottish origins are clear, although the way she speaks of visiting England suggests that her family had moved to England before she emigrated. The book is dedicated to her brother, Captain John Tower Lumsden, who was killed at the siege of Lucknow in 1857; this allows us to identify her father, Henry Lumsden, an Advocate from Aberdeen (1784-1856). She quotes Walter Scott (p.9), recalls 'my native land, with its pure fresh air blowing over our Scottish hills, wafting in the breeze the fragrance of the purple heather, blue bell, and sweet wild thyme' (p.20) and she teaches her daughter 'some of our beautiful Scotch paraphrases' (p.40).
The first edition appeared in 1872; all editions are very rare, and there does not seem to be a copy of the second edition in any public library in Britain.
|Imprint||Haddington: G. Miller and Son, printers.|
|Date of Publication||1814|
|Notes||An abolitionist broadside printed in Haddington, East Lothian indicating that the residents of Dunbar are petitioning Parliament for the universal abolition of the slave trade. Beneath the title is a woodcut of a slave being whipped by a white man, followed by an abolitionist poem and a call to the residents of Dunbar to sign the petition: 'It is requested that every well wisher to the melioration of the poor Africans, and those who, from motives of humanity, are inclined to give their dissenting vote to the revival of the bloody traffic, will come forward without delay.'|
|Author||Hardiviller, Charles-Achille d'|
|Title||Souvenirs des highlands voyage a la suite de Henri V en 1832|
|Date of Publication||1835|
|Notes||Chambord, Henri Dieudonné d'Artois, Count (comte) de, Duke (duc) De Bordeaux was the last heir of the elder branch of the Bourbons and, as Henry V, pretender to the French throne from 1830. He was a lover of Scotland and travelled through the country in 1832. Charles-Achille d'Hardiviller accompanied the young 'king' into exile. He was his drawing master and was reponsible for the images which were lithographed by Villain. The thirty plates depict various scenes in Scotland, including Fort Augustus, Inverlochy, Lochleven and Edinburgh. There is a particularly striking one of Henri V in full highland dress at the Rest and Be Thankfull.
This copy is as issued in three parts with the original green paper covers. There are two slips accompanying the three issues. One declares that the frontispiece of Henri V will come with the second part, which will be July 1835, and mentions postal rates for the provinces. The second one, in mss, announces that the Examination Committee have withheld the litho of Francesse Louise because it does not reach an acceptable quality.|
|Author||Lizars, W[illiam]. H[ome].|
|Title||[Specimen book of lithographs, engravings, copper plate and letterpress]|
|Date of Publication||[1851?]|
|Notes||This is a sample book of engravings produced in Edinburgh ca. 1851 by William Home Lizars (1788-1859). W. H. Lizars was first apprenticed to his father, the publisher and engraver Daniel Lizars, from whom he first learned engraving. He then entered as a student under John Graham (1754-1817) in the Trustees' Academy at Edinburgh, where he was a fellow-student with Sir David Wilkie. From 1808 to 1815 he was a frequent exhibitor of portraits, or of sacred and domestic subjects, at exhibitions in Edinburgh. In 1812, on the death of his father, Lizars was compelled to carry on the business of engraving and copperplate printing in order to support his mother and family. Lizars perfected a method of etching which performed all the functions of wood-engraving in connection with the illustration of books. He died in Edinburgh on 30 March 1859, leaving a widow and family. Lizars took an active part in the foundation of the Royal Scottish Academy.
This sample specimen book gives an excellent idea of the wide range of products produced by W. H. Lizars in his Edinburgh studio: business receipts, company letterheads, picturesque scenes of Scotland, bankers' notes, cheques, maps, portraits, reproductions of charters and seals, book illustrations and examples of typefaces and fonts.|
|Author||A.B. Fleming & Co.|
|Title||Specimen book of fine colours for letterpress and lithographic printers.|
|Imprint||[Leicester: Raithby, Lawrence & Co.] |
|Date of Publication||[1893?]|
|Notes||The firm A.B. Fleming & Co. was founded c. 1854 and was initially based in Salamander Street in Leith. The firm developed a technique of producing much cheaper newspaper ink which led to a rapid expansion of the business. By the 1880s they could claim to have the largest printing ink works in the world in Caroline Park, Granton, north of Edinburgh city centre. This specimen book is one a series of specimen books produced from the 1870s onwards to showcase their wares nationally and internationally. The book also includes the text of a lecture 'The chemistry of colour printing' given to the Edinburgh Branch of the British Typographia in 1891 by Robert Irvine (d. 1902), who was a chemical director of A.B. Fleming & Co. This copy has an American provenance, containing the embossed stamp of one F. Grant Schleicher, who was superintendent of the W. D. Wilson Printing Ink Company in Long Island City, N. Y.|
|Title||Spiritual warfare; or some sermons concerning the nature of mortification, together with the right spiritual exercise and spiritual advantages thereof|
|Imprint||Boston: ub N.E. Re-printed by S. Kneeland, for Benj. Eliot, at his shop in King-Street.|
|Date of Publication||1720|
|Notes||This is the first and only American edition of Gray's work, which was first published in Edinburgh in 1670. Gray was a Scottish divine who became extraordinarily popular as a preacher before his sudden death in 1656, at the astonishing age of 22. His writings were all published posthumously.
The present collection of sermons, with a short preface by Thomas Manton, was frequently reprinted throughout the 18th century. This Boston edition is uncommon with the ESTC listing only seven extant copies. The work is in a well-preserved Boston binding of the period.|
|Reference Sources||Booksellers catalogue|
|Author||Olin, Valerian Nikolaevich. |
|Title||Srazhenie pri Lore: epicheskaia poema iz Ossiana [The Battle of Lora: an epic poem from Ossian]. |
|Imprint||St Petersburg: at the Navy Press, |
|Date of Publication||1813|
|Notes||In 1792 Ermil Ivanovich Kostrov produced the first complete prose version of James Macpherson's Ossianic poems in Russian, based largely Letourneur's 1765 French translation. Over the next 30 years Kostrov's translation of the poems was very influential in Russia, stimulating interest in folk poetry and the national past, and serving as the basis of numerous versified translations in the late 18th and early 19th century by Ozerov, Pushkin and others. In 1813 the St Petersburg translator, journalist, and editor Valerian Olin (1788-1840?) produced this free translation of The Battle of Lora into Russian verse. The Battle of Lora was one of the poems that appeared first in prose form in James Macpherson's "Fingal an ancient epic poem" (London, 1762); an English verse translation by Samuel Derrick being published the same year. Olin in the introduction to his translation defends the authenticity of Ossian, regarding, like other Russians of his generation, the Ossianic poems as models of northern European poetry on a par with the Classical poetry of Greece and Rome. Olin would go on to publish two further adaptions taken from Fingal in 1823 and 1824. The provenance of this volume is particularly interesting as it was formerly in the Russian Imperial Library at Tsarsko(y)e Selo, as is shown by the stamp on the half title, and pencilled shelf-mark '64/1' to front end-leaf. It is bound in a contemporary red morocco binding with a gilt border. Tsarskoe Selo, a country estate 14 miles south of St Petersburg was owned by the Russian royal family and was developed by the empress Catherine the Great, who had the existing palaces and buildings extended and refurbished. Much of the work was carried out under the supervision of the London Scot, Charles Cameron (1745-1812), who was Catherine's chief architect on the site. Tsarskoe Selo served as a primary summer residence of the Russian tsars. It was also the place for official receptions of Russian nobility and representatives of foreign states, who were visiting Russia with diplomatic missions. Following the overthrow of the Tsar Nicholas II in 1917, the Russian royal family were kept under house arrest at Tsarskoe Seloe from March to August of that year. Nicholas II's loyal minister Count Paul Benckendorff, in his account of their captivity at the estate "Last days at Tsarskoe Seloe", noted that the library of the Alexander Palace, which was a very good one, was thrown open to the Tsar's children who were being educated, in the absence of their usual schoolmasters, by their parents and the staff at the palace. After the October Revolution of 1917, the contents of the Imperial Library were dispersed, with many of the books ending up in the USA in the 1920s and 30s. Only two other copies of this translation are recorded in major libraries, in Harvard University in the USA and the National Library of Russia. This particular copy is lacking the leaf of errata and leaf with dedication to the statesman and book collector Count Nikolai Petrovich Rumiantsov; it is possible that both were removed when the book was bound for the Imperial Palace. |
|Reference Sources||P. France, 'Fingal in Russia' in "The reception of Ossian in Europe" ed. H. Gaskill (London & New York, 2004)
The Caledonian Phalanx: Scots in Russia (Edinburgh: NLS, 1987)|
|Title||Staffa, Iona, Inverness, Cromarty, Invergordon, Burghead & Oban, Tobermory, Strontian, &c. Regular and more speedy conveyance to the above ports & .|
|Date of Publication||1835|
|Notes||This is a very rare and relatively undamaged broadside from the early years of steamships plying the west coast of Scotland. The very first steamer was the Comet which sailed from Glasgow to Fort William via the Crinan Canal in 1819. Throughout the 1820s a number of ships made the long and sometimes arduous trip from Glasgow to Fort William or to Inverness via the newly opened Caledonian Canal. One of the ships mentioned here - 'The Highlander' had from 1822 taken passengers and freight from the Clyde to the Sound of Mull. 'The Staffa' operated from 1832 to 1848 mainly to the west coast and to Inverness. 'The Maid of Morven' operated from 1827 to 1850 to both west coast but also to the east coast ports of Invergordon, Cromarty and Burghead.
Although the main purpose of these ships was trade - carrying freight and passengers going about their business - they also accomodated tourists visiting Staffa and Iona. The painter J.M.W. Turner travelled on 'The Maid of Morven' when he went on a sketching tour of the west coast in 1831. During this trip he visited Fingal's Cave on Staffa and made some pencil sketches.
|Reference Sources||Duckworth, C.L.D. and Langmuir, G.E. West Highland steamers. 1987.|
|Title||States of the affairs of Messrs Douglas, Heron, and company, at August 1773, when they finally gave up business.|
|Date of Publication||1780|
|Notes||This is an unrecorded broadside of 1780, presumably printed in Edinburgh, which summarises the financial state of the failed Ayr Bank, one of the most dramatic crashes in the history of early Scottish, indeed European, banking. The bank had been founded in 1769 by the firm of Douglas, Heron & Co. with the motto "Pro bon publico", as a response to a rapidly growing demand in Scotland for banking facilities. Credit was tight among the existing banks and there was a general belief that a new bank could unleash the potential of land ownership in Scotland. The bank was supported by some of the leading aristocratic landowners in Scotland, its credit backed by the collateral of large tracts of land. However, in order to support land improvement schemes, the Ayr Bank adopted policies that proved to be far too risky. Adam Smith, would later comment in his 'Wealth of Nations', "this bank was far more liberal than any other had been, both in granting cash accounts, and in discounting bills of exchange" (II.ii.73). By June 1772 the bank had issued £1.2 million through advances and bills of exchange, around two thirds of the currency of the country. In the same month, news of the collapse of a London bank, which had extensive dealings with the Ayr Bank, reached Scotland; a financial crisis ensued which led to the eventual collapse of all but three of the country's 30 private banks. There was a run on the Ayr Bank forcing it to suspend payments on June 25. To shore up the loan book of the bank its partners had to put up the collateral of their lands; these lands were gradually sold over the following years to meet the bank's huge losses. The collapse of the bank was thus a major blow to the great Scottish landowning families, including Adam Smith's patron and former pupil, the Duke of Buccleuch, who was a major shareholder in it.|
|Reference Sources||Antoin E. Murphy, 'The Genesis of Macroeconomics', Oxford, 2009.|
|Title||Stevensoniana: being a reprint of various literary and pictorial miscellany associated with Robert Louis Stevenson the man and his work|
|Imprint||New York: Bankside Press|
|Date of Publication||1900|
|Notes||This rare item is, indeed, a collection of miscellaneous items by and about Robert Louis Stevenson: it includes texts such as Stevenson's article on Beranger in the Encyclopaedia Britannica and a poem about Stevenson by W.E. Henley, and illustrations including facsimile title pages and reproductions from earlier editions. It is a fine example of American private press de luxe publication of the period, one of a series of such literary productions by the Bankside Press at this time, with M.F. Mansfield accredited as the publisher and Blanche McManus responsible for the illustrations. Originally published in 6 parts (12 are advertised in this volume, but only 6 were produced), the whole, including the original paper covers, has been rebound in contemporary maroon half morocco with black and pink marbled boards and endpapers.|
|Reference Sources||Beinicke Stevenson bibliography vol. 1 item 1425; bookseller's catalogue|