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 755 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 571 to 585 of 755:

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AuthorMcPherson, Duncan
TitleThe War in China. 3rd edition.
ImprintLondon: Saunders and Otley
Date of Publication1843
LanguageEnglish
NotesDuncan 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.
ShelfmarkAB.3.207.32
Reference SourcesDNB
Acquired on04/10/07
AuthorMennie, Donald.
TitleGlimpses of China: a series of Vandyck photogravures illustrating Chinese life and surroundings.
ImprintShanghai: A.S. Watson & Co.,
Date of Publication[c. 1920]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis 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.
ShelfmarkPhot.sm.145
Reference SourcesWorswick & Spence, "Imperial China: photographs 1850-1912" (London: Scolar Press, 1979)
Acquired on29/05/10
AuthorMetastasio, Pietro.
TitleBethulia delivered. A sacred nama[sic].
ImprintEdinburgh
Date of Publication1774
LanguageEnglish
NotesA rare edition of this libretto, which was first performed in Vienna in 1734: only one other copy is recorded in Britain. The drama was set to music by Domenico Corri, (1746-1825) originally from Rome, who came to Scotland in on the recommendation of the musician Charles Burney in 1771. He was employed as singing master and composer to the Musical Society in Edinburgh and stayed in Scotland until about 1790. With his brother son Giovanni and later with his brother Natale, Domenico founded a successful musical publishing business before moving to London. He was also manager for a period of the Theatre Royal in Edinburgh. According to the cast list, Corri and his wife took the principal roles. The manuscript annotation on the title page appears to indicate that a benefit performance took place for Corri on 8th March 1774. The item also has a noteworthy provenance being owned by members of the Grant family of Monymusk, Aberdeenshire, the Signet Library and latterly Christina Foyle, of the Foyles London bookselling dynasty.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2073
Acquired on31/10/00
AuthorMetastasio, Pietro.
TitleAlessandro nell'Indie. Artaserse. Didone abbandonata. Demetrio.
ImprintRome: Zempel
Date of Publication[1730-1732]
LanguageItalian
NotesThis 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.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2667(1-4)
Acquired on12/06/07
AuthorMikszath, Kalman
TitleOrszaggyulesi karcolatai
ImprintBudapest
Date of Publication1892
LanguageHungarian
NotesThis is an excellent example of how donations can enrich the Library's collection in surprising ways. This book is by the noted Hungarian writer, Mikszath Kalman (in Hungarian, surnames are placed first). Mikszath (1847-1910) was a writer of satirical stories and novels, including some for children. Several of his works have been translated into English, such as his novel St. Peter's Umbrella (1895). The title of this work roughly translates as 'Sketches of Parliament', and consists of both narrative and dialogue, following events from 1883 to 1891. This copy is particularly interesting as it was a presentation copy from the author to the donor's great-uncle. It appears to be in a special binding, half-leather, with gilt tooling on corners and spine, and with blue satin rather than cloth over the remainder of the boards. There is white satin laid over the endpapers. Tipped in is a card with the author's name printed on one side, and a manuscript note on the other. The recipient was Leopold Goldschmied, a Rabbi, who left Hungary and moved to the new country of Czechoslovakia and became an adviser on Jewish affairs to the government; he died in 1935. A photograph of Leopold and other information is also tipped in. The donor's family came to Britain in 1938. This book is a reminder of the contribution that people from Eastern Europe have made to Scotland, and will be a good addition to our existing collections of East European literature.
ShelfmarkAB.3.203.012
Acquired on01/10/03
AuthorMiller, Philip (1691-1771)
TitleThe gardeners dictionary: containing the methods of cultivating and improving the kitchen, fruit and flower garden, as also, the physick garden, wilderness, conservatory, and vineyard; according to the practice of the most experienced gardeners of the present age. The third edition, corrected.
ImprintLondon: Printed for the author, and sold by C. Rivington, at the Bible and Crown in St. Paul's Church-yard., M.DCC.XXXVII [1737]
Date of Publication1737
LanguageEnglish
NotesMiller, Philip (1691-1771), horticulturist and writer, was the most distinguished and influential British gardener of the eighteenth century. His father, a Scot, was a market gardener at Deptford, near London, and gave young Philip both a good education and training Miller established a nursery of ornamental trees and shrubs in St George's Fields, Southwark. When the Society of Apothecaries needed a new gardener for their Physic Garden at Chelsea, Patrick Blair, a Scottish doctor and author of Botanik Essays (1720), wrote to Sir Hans Sloane, the garden's benefactor, recommending Philip Miller for the post as one 'to go forward with a curiosity and genious superior to most of his profession'. Miller's writing on the theory of gardening matched his expertise in its practice. He helped to produce a quarto Dictionary of Gardening in 1724, and an illustrated Catalogus Plantarum of trees and shrubs flourishing in the London area in 1730. In that year he drew up a list of medicinal plants grown in the garden, and forty years later he made a much longer one. Miller's outstanding work was The Gardeners Dictionary, produced in eight editions during his lifetime. Besides horticulture, it covered agriculture, arboriculture, and wine making. He also produced an Abridgement in eight editions (1735-71) and a practical, cheaper, Gardeners Kalendar in fifteen editions (1731-69). The work was dedicated to Sir Hans Sloane, one of a number of Miller's contemporaries who encouraged his career. Miller was eventually admitted a member of the Botanical Academy of Florence and the Royal Society of London. In spite of his achievements, his contemporaries apparently looked upon Miller with some reservation. This was due partly to his Scottish birth, and also his habit of employing only Scotsmen. Stephen Switzer is believed to refer to Miller in his Ichnographia Rustica as one of the 'northern lads who have invaded the southern provinces'. The National library's copy of the third edition to the Gardeners Dictionary is bound with the only edition of the Appendix (1735), and accompanied by the Second Volume of the Gardeners Dictionary, which was published in 1739.
ShelfmarkRB.m.619
Reference SourcesESTC T059422
Acquired on22/02/05
AuthorMilton, John
TitleParadise Regain'd. A poem, in four books. To which is added Samson Agonistes; and poems on several occasions, with a tractate of eduction
ImprintGlasgow: Printed and sold by Robert and Andrew Foulis
Date of Publication1752
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis two-volume work from the Foulis press clears up a small mystery in Philip Gaskell's Bibliography of the Foulis Press. Gaskell records this work as his item 235, and lists item 236 as an unseen work entitled Poems on Several Occasions, by Milton. He suggests that this was 'probably an extract from Paradise Regain'd', using the sub-title provided in that edition as the new title page. This was exactly what happened with this copy, with the complete text as listed on the title page split between the two volumes. Gaskell's item 236, therefore, is a bibliographical ghost. Certainly the separate title pages for the different items in the work lend themselves to physical separation during binding. The spine title, Milton's Works 3 [and 4] suggests that the original owner of this volume had also a copy of Gaskell's item 234, Paradise Lost, similarly split between two volumes, and saw the whole as a bibliographical unity.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2616
Reference SourcesPhilip Gaskell: A Bibliography of the Foulis Press. 1986.
Acquired on31/05/06
AuthorMissionary Society for Africa and the East
Title[Handbill for sermon to be preached at Glasgow Episcopal Chapel, August 14 1814, by Rev. Isaac Saunders]
ImprintGlasgow: Chapman, Printer
Date of Publication1814
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis broadside handbill or flyer advertises a sermon to be preached at the Episcopal Chapel, Glasgow, in 1814, by the Rev. Isaac Saunders, on behalf of the Missionary Society for Africa and the East. This was an English society, whose vice-presidents included William Wilberforce, and Saunders was a minister in London who would preach three sermons on the day. The handbill lists the Society's activities around the world from Malta to New Zealand, including the offer to sponsor a child: 'The Society clothes, maintains, and educates a poor African child for 5 per annum, and affixes any name to such poor liberated child, as the benefactor may wish.' This is the only known surviving copy of this handbill. It is interesting to note that it lists the Glasgow booksellers Steven & Fraser, Brash & Reid and Turnbull and Smith's Circulating Library as places where donations to the Missionary Society may be made by those who wish to contribute but cannot attend the sermon.
ShelfmarkAP.4.210.27
Reference Sourceshttp://blogs.nls.uk/rarebooks/?p=107
Acquired on05/08/10
AuthorMitchell, Hugh
TitleShort Apology for Apostacy
ImprintGlasgow
Date of Publication1797
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis 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)
ShelfmarkAPS.1.202.076
Reference Sources ESTC T117542
Acquired on02/11/01
AuthorMonboddo, James Burnett, Lord
TitleDes Lord Monboddo Werk von dem Ursprunge und Fortgange der Sprache
Imprint2 vols. Riga
Date of Publication1784-1785
LanguageGerman
NotesThis 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.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2108
Reference SourcesCloyd, 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
Acquired on22/06/01
AuthorMonipennie, John
TitleAbridgement or summarie of the Scots chronicles
ImprintEdinburgh: Printed by the Heires of George Anderson, for the Company of Stationers
Date of Publication1650
LanguageEnglish
NotesMonipennie: 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).
ShelfmarkRB.s.2320
Reference SourcesESTC, sales catalogue
Acquired on17/12/03
AuthorMonro, Donald
TitleMedicine d'armee
ImprintA Paris: Chez P.F. Didot le jeune
Date of Publication1769
LanguageFrench
NotesDonald 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.
ShelfmarkABS.2.204.019
Reference SourcesDNB
Acquired on20/05/04
AuthorMorris, William.
TitleDream of John Ball and a king's lesson.
ImprintHammersmith, Kelmscott Press
Date of Publication1892
LanguageEnglish
NotesA 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.
ShelfmarkFB.s.752
Acquired on02/11/00
AuthorMounier, Jean Joseph
TitleOn the influence attributed to the philosophers, Free-masons, and to the Illuminati, on the Revolution of France.
ImprintLondon: Spilsbury
Date of Publication1801
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis 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.
ShelfmarkAB.2.207.30
Reference SourcesDNB
Acquired on02/10/07
AuthorMurray, Mungo, d. 1770.
TitleA 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.
ImprintLondon: 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. [1754]
Date of Publication1754
LanguageEnglish
NotesMurray, 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.
ShelfmarkRB.m.694
Acquired on27/11/09
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