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 721 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Important Acquisitions 556 to 570 of 721:
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|Title||Short Apology for Apostacy|
|Date of Publication||1797|
|Notes||This provocative title introduces a scathing and witty attack on established religion in Scotland by a former minister. Mitchell describes how he had come to detest the task of using the pulpit to uphold the policies of the political establishment. He goes further, however, arguing that heresy should be considered as a positive term as it simply means individuals are free to follow their own religious opinions. Clearly a humanist free-thinker, Mitchell denounces the practice of churches praying for the success of their country's armies in war. Towards the end of the work, he gives a long list of the various Christian doctrines which he finds incomprehensible. This first edition is a rare work, and only two other copies have been located. One can imagine that the reaction of many readers would have been unfavourable: indeed, this copy has a contemporary manuscript note on the title-page which includes the irritated remark that this work is 'nothing to do with religion'. (ESTC T117542)|
|Reference Sources|| ESTC T117542|
|Author||Monboddo, James Burnett, Lord|
|Title||Des Lord Monboddo Werk von dem Ursprunge und Fortgange der Sprache|
|Imprint||2 vols. Riga|
|Date of Publication||1784-1785|
|Notes||This is the first German edition, an abridged translation of volumes 1-3,of Monboddo's seminal work Of the origin and progress of language, which was published in six volumes between 1773 and 1792. It is in fact the only translation of any of his works, published until the 1970s. The translation by E.A. Schmid, was prefaced with a translation by Johann Gottfried von Herder, the leading German philsopher. Herder praised the broad philosophical perspective from which Monboddo approached the topic of the origin of language. Although he believed that Monboddo did not have sufficient anatomical information to maintain the humanity of the orang-outang (one of the controversial claims made in vol.I), Herder did not think that this critique impacted on the thrust of the Scot's theory. Monboddo's claims that the men in the Nicobar Islands had tails and that the orang-outang was a class of the human species, lacking only speech, were ridiculed by his contemporaries including David Hume and Lord Kames. His linguistic descriptions were largely ignored. Herder was one critic who took a broader view, believing that Monboddo's comparison of a variety of languages of different cultures opened a new field of inquiry.
According to Cloyd 'it is probable that Monboddo had influence in Germany, on Jacob Grimm and the other great nineteenth-century students of language ... German studies came closer to following directions suggested by Monboddo than British studies did; but there is nothing to indicate that he had any real influence in either place ... '.
Monboddo (1714-1799), one of the key figures of the Scottish Englightenment, was born on the family estate of Monboddo in Kincardineshire, studied law at Edinburgh and Groningen, and was called to the bar in 1737. He rose through the legal hierarchy and became a Lord of Session in 1767. A member of the Select Society, he was a close friend of James Boswell. His other major work was Antient metaphysics, published in six volumes between 1779 and 1799.|
|Reference Sources||Cloyd, E.L. James Burnett Lord Monboddo. (Oxford, 1972) NC.273.h.20
Jooken, Lieve. The linguistic conceptions of Lord Monboddo (1714-1799) (Leuven, 1996) HP2.97.2761|
|Title||Abridgement or summarie of the Scots chronicles|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Printed by the Heires of George Anderson, for the Company of Stationers|
|Date of Publication||1650|
|Notes||Monipennie: Abridgement or Summarie of the Scots Chronicles
ESTC R223767; Aldis 1394
The only recorded holding of this Aldis item in Scotland.
John Monipennie's abridgement of the Scots Chronicles was first published in 1612, and went through several editions. This edition is described on the title page as 'Newely inlarged corrected and amended', although the text does not indicate what the enlargments, corrections and amendments are. The actual Abridgement ends with Charles I: 'The Lord increase all royall vertues in his Highnesse, that he may remain a comfort to Christs Church within his own dominions' (p.174), a prayer that sits rather problematically with the 1650 publication date.
Monipennie does not record what he is abridging, other than quoting lines from Boethius and Holinshed on the verso of the title page, but as well as his potted guide to Scottish history, this volume includes a list of the Kings and Queens of Scotland, a 'true description and division of the whole realme', and a 'memoriall of the most rare and wonderfull things in Scotland' (title page). Besides describing rare animals and holy wells, these few pages tell the reader that Loch Ness never freezes, 'signifying unto us, that there is a Mine of Brimstone under it, and that 'in the North seas of Scotland are great Clogs of Timber found, in the which are marveilously ingendered a sort of Geese, called Clayk Geese' (pp.285, 287).
Later owners have left their mark: C.A. Martin, December 1842 and Vernon Holt, 1880. Finally there is the bookplate of the Bristol collector James Stevens-Cox (1910-1997). This book is one of three the NLS has purchased from the sale of his library, a collection considered worthy of its own location in the Short Title Catalogue of English books before 1640. As was a common practice of his, Stevens-Cox has left a brief pencil bibliographical note (on the verso of the front free endpaper).|
|Reference Sources||ESTC, sales catalogue|
|Imprint||A Paris: Chez P.F. Didot le jeune|
|Date of Publication||1769|
|Notes||Donald Monro (1727-1802) was the second son of Alexander Monro, the first professor of anatomy and surgery at Edinburgh University. He was educated under the care of his father and graduated M.D. in 1753. In December 1760 during the Seven Year war (1756-1763) he was commissioned as army physician to the British military hospital in Germany. He published "An account of the diseases which were most frequent in the British military hospitals in Germany" together with an essay on the means of preserving the health of soldiers, and conducting military hospitals, in 1764. A classic of preventive and social medicine, this is undoubtely his most important work, providing valuable descriptions of campaign diseases.
This is a copy of the first French edition, revised and expanded by Achille le Beque de Presle.|
|Title||Dream of John Ball and a king's lesson.|
|Imprint||Hammersmith, Kelmscott Press|
|Date of Publication||1892|
|Notes||A valuable addition to the Library's large collection of Kelmscott Press publications. The Kelmscott Press, modestly described by William Morris himself, as 'a little typographical adventure' is regarded as the most influential and famous of the private presses which emerged in the latter years of the nineteenth century. Between 1891 and 1898, 52 books were produced of which the Library holds 49. Morris sought to emulate the books produced in the early years of printing and 'to produce books which it would be a pleasure to look upon as pieces of printing and arrangement of type'. Morris oversaw every aspect of the production and design of the Kelmscott books 'the paper, the form of the type, the relative spacing of the letters, the words and the lines, and lastly the position of the printed matter on the page'.
A king's lesson and A dream of John Ball were first published in the socialist journal Commonweal in 1886 and 1887. This utopian socialist work is one of the few writings of the press with clear political overtones. Most of the Kelmscott books, were works of literature, including many medieval texts. This is one of the 300 copies printed on paper; 11 were also printed on vellum. The frontispiece was engraved by W.H. Hooper based on a design by Sir Edward Burne-Jones, with the lettering and border being designed by Morris.|
|Author||Mounier, Jean Joseph|
|Title||On the influence attributed to the philosophers, Free-masons, and to the Illuminati, on the Revolution of France.|
|Date of Publication||1801|
|Notes||This is the rare English edition of Mounier's "De l'influence attribuee aux philosophes aux franc-macons et aux illumines sur la revolution de France" published in the same year as the first edition in French. The author, Jean Joseph Mounier (1758-1806), was a French lawyer and politician, who had been a leading figure in the first stages of the French Revolution in the summer of 1789. He proposed the famous Tennis Court Oath, which asserted the right of the French people to have a written constitution despite the French king's opposition, and helped to frame the Declaration of the Rights of Man. Mounier, however, quickly became disillusioned with the political intrigues of Paris. In 1790 he secretly left France using an assumed name. He moved around Europe, living in Switzerland, England, Italy and Germany for the rest of the decade, thus avoiding the excesses of the Revolution. In this polemical work he attacks the conspiracy-theorists who had explained the French Revolution in terms of the malign influence of the Freemasons and Illuminati (secret societies). In particular, the book is a detailed refutation of the influential "Memoirs Illustrating the History of Jacobinism" by the Jesuit priest Augustin Barruel, first published in 1797. The translation of Mounier's manuscript was undertaken in Germany by a Scot, James Walker (c. 1770-1841), Scottish Episcopal minister and scholar (and later Bishop of Edinburgh). Walker spent two or three years travelling in Europe, after becoming tutor to Sir John Hope Bt, of Craighall in 1800. He presumably met Mounier when the latter was living and teaching in Weimar. As well as having his book published 1801, Mounier also felt sufficiently secure in that year to end his exile, returning to a France which was now ruled by Napoleon.|
|Author||Murray, Mungo, d. 1770.|
|Title||A treatise on ship-building and navigation. In three parts wherein the theory, practice, and application of all the necessary instruments are perspicuously handled. With the construction and use of a new invented shipwright's sector, for readily laying down and delineating ships, whether of similar or dissimilar forms. Also tables of the sun's declination, of meridional parts, of difference of latitude and departure, of logarithms, and of artificial sines, tangents and secants. By Mungo Murray. Shipwright, in His Majesty's Yard, Deptford. To which is added by way of appendix, an English abridgment of another treatise on naval architecture, lately published at Paris by M. Duhamel, Mem. of the R. Acad. of Sciences, Fellow of the Royal Society of London, and Surveyor General of the French Marine. The whole illustrated with eighteen Copper Plates.|
|Imprint||London: Printed by D. Henry and R. Cave, for the author; and sold by A. Millar, in the Strand; J. Scott, in Exchange-Alley; T. Jeffreys, at the Corner of St Martin's Lane, Charing-Cross; Mess. Greig and Campbell, at Union-Stairs, and by the author, at his house at Deptford., M,DCC,LIV. |
|Date of Publication||1754|
|Notes||Murray, Mungo (1705-1770) was born in Fowlis Wester, near Crieff, Perth. In 1738, after completing a customary seven-year apprenticeship at an unknown shipyard, he entered the naval dockyard at Deptford as a shipwright. In 1754 he published his first book: 'A Treatise on Shipbuilding and Navigation'. A second larger edition would appear in 1765. To the Victorian historian Nathan Dews, it was 'the only English treatise on ship-building that can lay any claim to a scientific character; and [Murray] was a man "whose conduct was irreproachable".'
On the title page Murray describes himself as 'Shipwright in His Majesty's yard, Deptford'. He makes clear his relatively modest position by acknowledging 'the great obligation I am under to the principle officers and gentlemen in His Majesty's service, not only in the yard where I have the happiness to be employed, but in several others'. Interestingly, he also used the book to advertise for extra income: 'The several branches of mathematicks treated of in this book are expeditiously taught by the author, at his house in Deptford; where may be had all sorts of sliding rules and scales: As also sectors for delineating ships, diagonal scales, &c. on brass, wood or paste-board. Attendance from six to eight every evening, except Wednesdays and Saturdays.'
Murray's fortunes improved after the publication of his first book with Lord Howe appointing him as a mathematics and navigation teacher on board his ships Magnanime and Princess Amelia. Among his pupils was Henry, Earl of Gainsborough to whom Murray dedicated his next book on navigation. Murray would go on to publish several more volumes before his death in 1770.
|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|
|Title||The history of King Lear, a tragedy.|
|Imprint||Glasgow : Printed by William Duncan Junior,|
|Date of Publication||1756|
|Notes||R. and A. Foulis had issued 'Lear' in 1753, using Pope's text, including it in their 'works' of 1766. They were following the literary tradition. William Duncan junior chose instead to publish Nahum Tate's adaptation, which was used for performances of the play. Another edition of Tate's version was issued in Glasgow, anonymously, in 1758.
Tate's adaptation is not well regarded today. He axes the fool and gives the play a happy ending with Lear surviving to see Cordelia and Edgar marry. Addison disapproved but Dr. Johnson defended Tate's version and it seems to have been popular: the happy ending and exclusion of the weirder bits presumably ensured 'bums on seats'. Tate's version was the version of 'Lear' that audiences almost always saw, from the Restoration through to the Romantic period. It wasn't performed at all when George III began to suffer from mental health problems, and then, after his death, the literary original began to be used again.
|Reference Sources||Bookseller's notes|
|Title||Bibliography of Robert Burns in Japan|
|Date of Publication||1977|
|Notes||The donor's father, Mr. Robert McLaren, was a president of the Robert Burns Federation, and his work brought him into contact with Professor Toshio Namba. Namba, a professor of English Literature, was deeply interested in Burns, and translated many of the poems into Japanese. This bibliography, with additional translations, is an important addition to our collections. It contains a manuscript dedication to Mr. McLaren, and is in fine condition in its original cardboard slipcase.
With this donation we have received a copy of another book of relevance to Scottish-Japanese studies. Album England (1979), despite its title, consists of photographs of Scottish scenes with Japanese accompanying text. It also has a manuscript dedication from Namba.
We have also been given a number of photographs including some of Mr. Namba and others of scenes in Tokyo. The notes on these photographs show that a warm friendship had developed between the Japanese researcher and the McLarens.|
|Title||The Triumphs of Love|
|Imprint||Glasgow : Printed by William Duncan,|
|Date of Publication||1753|
|Notes||A work adapted by Crouch, writing under his Robert Burton pseudonym, from an unidentified work by a P. Camus. The book is a collection of short stories "Containing the surprizing adventures, and accidents and misfortunes, that many persons have encountred [sic] in the eager pursuit of their amorous inclinations. In fifteen pleasant relations, or histories. For the recreation of gentlemen, ladies and others, who are pleased with such innocent diversions and amusements". The front pastedown bears the die-sinker bookplate of Frederic Perkins, Chipstead Place, Kent. This edition is unrecorded in ESTC.|
|Title||An Account of the Rise, Progress and Present State of The Society for the Discharge and Relief of Persons Imprisoned for Small Debts Throughout England and Wales.|
|Imprint||London: Printed by John Nichols and Son.|
|Date of Publication||1808|
|Notes||This is a signed presentation copy of the third edition of James Neild's account of the state of debtor's prisons in the early nineteenth century. The book was presented to Reginald Pole Carew (1753-1835), an MP in Devon. Neild wrote his report when he found the horrors of the debtors prison were very much the same as they had been when exposed by John Howard in the latter part of the eighteenth century.
This present edition was increased in size to reflect not only new data gathered by Neild, but also to add new information on the state of Scottish prisons. The information includes names, salaries, fees and garnish due to the gaolers, with similar information on the chaplain and surgeon attached to each prison followed by the number debtors and the allowance, if any, allocated to each.
The book describes the anarchy at many prisons with no attempt at any sanitation or provisions for keeping the inmates alive. Neild observes that Scottish prisons were often the worst of all.
James Neild (1744-1814) was a jeweler by trade who became interested in prisons in the 1760's. He was a founding member of the Society for the Discharge of Persons throughout England and Wales, Imprisoned for Debt and later became their treasurer.
|Author||Nicholson, Francis, 1753-1844|
|Title||Views in Scotland drawn from nature|
|Imprint||London: Engelmann, Graf, Coindel & Co.|
|Date of Publication||1828|
|Notes||This is a very rare copy of Francis Nicholson's lithographed views of Scotland. Only one other copy in public ownership has been traced - that at Princeton University, New Jersey.
On the title page it is stated that the views have been 'chiefly selected from scenery described by Sir Walter Scott'. Scott's novels and poems were at the height of their popularity - there are views of Loch Katrine and Goblin Cave which featured in the Lady of the Lake. Most of the scenes are of rugged mountain scenery, brooding castles and wild waterfalls. These appealed to a public who had read of such romantic locations in Scott's works.
Francis Nicholson (1753-1844) was a Yorkshire-born artist who specialised in painting landscapes. When he moved to London he was one of the founders of the Society of Painters in Watercolours in 1804 and was a major contributor to its exhibitions. He contributed 14 engravings to Walker's 'Copper-plate magazine' between 1792 and 1801. He made use of the newly invented lithograph to produce 'Six views of Scarborough' (1822) as well as contributing to 'Havel's Aquatints of Noblemen's and Gentlemen's Seats' and 'The Northern Cambrian Mountains,' both 1820.
This copy which is bound in the original lithographed wrappers is wanting the plate titled 'On the Forth, in Aberfoyle'.|
|Reference Sources||Abbey, J.R. Scenery of Great Britain in aquatint and lithography.|
|Title||Notitia codicis Samaritano-Arabici in Bibliotheca Bodleiana|
|Date of Publication||1817|
|Notes||This is a pamphlet on Arabic manuscript versions of the Pentateuch (first five books of the Old Testament) held in the Bodleian Library, Oxford. The author, Alexander Nicoll (1793-1828), was a Snell Exhibitioner, i.e. a recipient of a scholarship for Scottish scholars at Balliol College, Oxford. He became a sub-librarian in the Bodleian Library and later a professor of Hebrew at Oxford. Nicoll, originally from Monymusk, Aberdeenshire, was famed for both his linguistic abilities and his dedication to cataloguing the Bodleian's collection of Oriental manuscripts. In the pamphlet he draws attention to errors in interpretation of these Pentateuch manuscripts by the 18th-century biblical scholar David Durell of Hertford College, Oxford, and the German professor of oriental languages at Jena, Heinrich Eberhard Gottlob Paulus. The latter had visited England as a part of a tour of Europe in the years 1787-88 and had presumably seen these manuscripts in the Bodleian. Only 60 copies in total of the book were printed, the present example being one of 10 on large paper. A manuscript annotation on the front fly-leaf notes the distribution of each of the 10 large-paper copies: some went to professors of Hebrew and Arabic; some to Oxford librarians, tutors, and fellows. This copy has a pasted piece of paper on it showing that it was formerly owned by George Williams (1814-1878), who served as Vice-Provost of King's College, Cambridge from 1854 to 1857.|
|Reference Sources||Oxford Dictionary of National Biography|
|Author||Notman, William (1826-1891)|
|Title||Serjeants of the 78th Highlanders|
|Date of Publication||186?|
|Notes||An outstanding composite albumin photograph entitled 'Serjeants of the 78th Highlanders' by the photographer William Notman (1826-1891). The photograph measures 23 cm. tall by 18 cm. wide and is mounted on a large backing card. It incorporates 51 small oval images of soldiers, all numbered neatly beneath in ink. These numbers refer to the key below the photograph which lists, in very neat small writing, the ranks and names of the 51 soldiers depicted in the image. Notman was born in Scotland and immigrated to Canada in 1856 where he established himself as a photographer in Montréal. He eventually became one of the most important photographers in Canada. His fame as a portrait photographer drew the Montréal elite, prominent visitors to the city, and ordinary citizens to his studio. Although the major portion of his work was devoted to portraits, he also did landscapes, street scenes, and city views across Canada. Over the years the business expanded to include studios in Montréal, Toronto and Boston.