Rare Books - Important Acquisitions List All

Rare Book Collections works to build up the national collections through purchases (through dealers or at auction) and donations. This directory gives details of 727 of the most important items we have acquired since 2000. We update it regularly as new material comes in. The description gives information about why it was chosen and what makes it particularly interesting. You can order the list by date of acquisition, author or title.

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Important Acquisitions 571 to 585 of 727:

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AuthorSinclair, Sir John
TitleSketch of the improvements now carrying on in the county of Caithness, north Britain.
ImprintLondon
Date of Publication1803
LanguageEnglish
NotesA 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.
ShelfmarkRB.m.448
Acquired on01/12/00
AuthorFoott, [Elizabeth Anne] Mrs. James
TitleSketches of life in the bush
ImprintSydney: George Loxton & Co.
Date of Publication1878
LanguageEnglish
NotesElizabeth 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.
ShelfmarkAP.1.208.010
Acquired on29/10/07
TitleSlave trade.
ImprintHaddington: G. Miller and Son, printers.
Date of Publication1814
LanguageEnglish
NotesAn 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.'
ShelfmarkRB.m.702
Acquired on06/07/10
AuthorHardiviller, Charles-Achille d'
TitleSouvenirs des highlands voyage a la suite de Henri V en 1832
ImprintParis: Dentu
Date of Publication1835
LanguageFrench
NotesChambord, 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.
ShelfmarkFB.m.613
Acquired on30/01/01
AuthorLizars, W[illiam]. H[ome].
Title[Specimen book of lithographs, engravings, copper plate and letterpress]
Date of Publication[1851?]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis 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.
ShelfmarkABS.8.202.36
Acquired on23/09/02
AuthorA.B. Fleming & Co.
TitleSpecimen book of fine colours for letterpress and lithographic printers.
Imprint[Leicester: Raithby, Lawrence & Co.]
Date of Publication[1893?]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThe 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.
ShelfmarkAB.2.209.23
Acquired on14/10/09
AuthorGray, Andrew
TitleSpiritual warfare; or some sermons concerning the nature of mortification, together with the right spiritual exercise and spiritual advantages thereof
ImprintBoston: ub N.E. Re-printed by S. Kneeland, for Benj. Eliot, at his shop in King-Street.
Date of Publication1720
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis 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.
ShelfmarkAB.1.204.07
Reference SourcesBooksellers catalogue
Acquired on03/01/04
AuthorOlin, Valerian Nikolaevich.
TitleSrazhenie pri Lore: epicheskaia poema iz Ossiana [The Battle of Lora: an epic poem from Ossian].
ImprintSt Petersburg: at the Navy Press,
Date of Publication1813
LanguageRussian
NotesIn 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.
ShelfmarkRB.m.740
Reference SourcesP. 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)
Acquired on01/02/13
TitleStaffa, Iona, Inverness, Cromarty, Invergordon, Burghead & Oban, Tobermory, Strontian, &c. Regular and more speedy conveyance to the above ports & .
ImprintGlasgow
Date of Publication1835
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis 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.
ShelfmarkAP.4.207.09
Reference SourcesDuckworth, C.L.D. and Langmuir, G.E. West Highland steamers. 1987.
Acquired on30/01/07
Author[Anon]
TitleStates of the affairs of Messrs Douglas, Heron, and company, at August 1773, when they finally gave up business.
Imprint[Edinburgh: s.n.]
Date of Publication1780
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis 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.
ShelfmarkRB.l.251
Reference SourcesAntoin E. Murphy, 'The Genesis of Macroeconomics', Oxford, 2009.
Acquired on18/06/09
TitleStevensoniana: being a reprint of various literary and pictorial miscellany associated with Robert Louis Stevenson the man and his work
ImprintNew York: Bankside Press
Date of Publication1900
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis 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.
ShelfmarkFB.s.888
Reference SourcesBeinicke Stevenson bibliography vol. 1 item 1425; bookseller's catalogue
Acquired on11/08/06
AuthorStevenson, Robert Louis
TitleStrange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde
ImprintParis: Ateliers Leblanc
Date of Publication1994
NotesWith 10 copper engravings preceding the text, executed by Didier Mutel. Oblong folio, loose as issued in original printed white wrappers, in matching slipcase. Like most art books this effort provokes a reaction from the viewer/reader. The conceit is simple enough, the central duality between the eponymous characters in Stevenson's story is transferred to the suite of 10 copper engravings that map the change from Jekyll into Hyde. The engravings are particularly well-executed. In the text the duality is explored through the use of type of different sizes, and with the increase in point size of the pronoun 'I' to illustrate the gradual domination of Hyde in the relationship. Finally, the typography is employed to show the fatal predominance of Hyde's personality. It is a hackneyed enough phrase, but this is a book that has to be seen to be 'appreciated'. One of a limited edition of 61, this copy is number 37 signed by the artist.
ShelfmarkFB.l.284
Acquired on23/05/01
AuthorPringle, Thomas (1789-1834)
TitleSüdafrikanische Skizzen. Aus dem Englischen übersetzt
ImprintStuttgart und Tübingen: J. G. Cotta'sche Buchhandlung
Date of Publication1836
LanguageGerman
NotesPringle was a farmer's son, born in Teviotdale, Roxburghshire on 5 January 1789. He was educated at the University of Edinburgh and after graduation worked as a copyist in the Register Office. Later in 1817, he and James Cleghorn (1778-1838) were appointed editors of William Blackwood's newly-founded "Edinburgh Monthly Magazine". However, they only lasted six issues before being sacked and replaced by John Wilson and John Gibson Lockhart, who relaunched the journal as 'Blackwood's Magazine' Pringle fell into poverty and emigrated to South Africa in 1820, where he co-founded a private academy, published a magazine and newspaper, and became prominent in the anti-slavery movement. Suppression of his two publications by the Governor, Lord Charles Somerset, forced him to return to London with his wife in 1826. An article by Pringle on the South African slave trade, in the 'New Monthly Magazine' for October 1826, led to his appointment in 1827 as secretary to the Anti-Slavery Society. On 27 June 1834, Pringle signed a document which proclaimed the abolition of slavery. The following day he became seriously ill, and died later that year in London on December 5. 'Südafrikanishche Skizzen' is the first German edition of Pringles 'African Sketches' which includes his vivid and impressive 'Narrative of his Residence in South Africa'.
ShelfmarkAB.2.203.14
Reference SourcesDNB
Acquired on30/10/03
AuthorJames Dinwiddie
TitleSyllabus of a course of lectures on experimental philosophy
ImprintDublin: D. Graisberry
Date of Publication1782
LanguageEnglish
NotesHitherto unrecorded edition of Dinwiddie's syllabus for lectures on experimental philosophy (there are other editions printed in Dumfries in 1778, and in London in 1789). James Dinwiddie (1746-1815) was born in Dumfriesshire and in 1771 became a mathematics teacher at Dumfries Academy. He went on to study at Edinburgh University, graduating in 1778. He subsequently went on a lecture tour of Scotland and, from 1779 onwards, of Ireland to pay off debts incurred during his studies. As well as lecturing on chemistry and mechanics, Dinwiddie also gave lectures on gunnery, fortification, pyrotechnics and the diving bell. This series of lectures, held in Dublin, covers what is termed 'experimental philosophy', i.e. electricity, heat, magnetism, optics, astronomy amongst other subjects. During his stay in Ireland Dinwiddie carried out experiments with diving bells and hot-air balloons and was renowned for the impressive and expensive scientific apparatus he collected. In 1792 he accompanied the British embassy to China and then stayed for a number of years in India, carrying out further scientific experiments and becoming professor in Fort William College, Calcutta.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2639
Reference SourcesDNB
Acquired on12/12/06
Author[Morris, William and Wyatt, A.J. translators]
TitleTale of Beowulf sometime king of the folk of the Weder Geats
ImprintHammersmith: Kelmscott Press
Date of Publication1895
LanguageEnglish
NotesWith the purchase of this item along with "Atalanta in Calydon" the NLS has completed its collection of books which were available for public sale at the Kelmscott Press (there are 2 remaining items in the A section of Peterson's bibliography but it is unlikely that copies will be available for purchase). Beowulf seems to have been a favourite and long-cherished project of Morris. He described the Anglo-Saxon epic poem as "the first and best poem of the English race, [with] no author but the people", which would have appealed to his socialist principles. In 1893 he began his own translation of the poem using a papraphrase by the scholar Alfred John Wyatt. He completed the translation the following year then worked with Wyatt to revise his text. The book was issued in February 1895, 300 copies were printed on paper and 8 on vellum, and, costing over £485 to produce, was one of the more of the more expensive productions of the KP. Problems with the initial printing led to several sheets having to be reprinted. Morris was later to claim that he had lost money on the book; but the final publication ranks as one of the triumphs of the press, living up to Morris's dictum that his book were "beautiful by force of mere typography" . Morris and Wyatt's translation was reprinted by Longmans in 1898.
ShelfmarkKP.21
Reference SourcesPeterson "Bibliography of the Kelmscott Press" A32
Acquired on30/07/04
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