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 745 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 745:

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AuthorGreenshields, John
TitleSelim and Zaida. With other poems.
ImprintEdinburgh: Arch. Constable and Longman & Rees, London
Date of Publication1800
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is the very rare first edition of poems by John Boyd Greenshields (or Greenshiells) published in Edinburgh in 1800. Only two other copies are known - at the Taylorian in Oxford and the University of Kansas. A second edition was published in London in 1802 ([Ai].6.61). It is illustrated with two fine engravings by Isaac Taylor as well as some wood-engraved tailpieces. The half-title has a presentation inscription from the author to Alexander Fraser Tytler, (1747-1813), Lord Woodhouselee, Professor of History at the University of Edinburgh, who like Greenshields was an advocate. Also bound with this item are William Gifford's 'The Baviad and Maeviad' (1797) and Alexander Thomson's 'Sonnets, odes and elegies' (1801). The volume was part of the library at Aldourie, the home of the Tytler family on the shores of Loch Ness. Little is known of Greenshields himself. He was born in Drum, Aberdeenshire and became an advocate in 1793. Another of his works 'Home: a poem' was published in Edinburgh and Boston in 1806. He died in 1845.
ShelfmarkABS.1.204.010(2)
Acquired on06/12/02
AuthorClarke, John
TitleSentences in the Fernandian tongue.
ImprintBimbia, Western Africa: Dunfermline Press
Date of Publication1846
LanguageEnglish, Bube
NotesThis is a very rare vocabulary/phrasebook of the Bube language, compiled by a Scottish Baptist missionary, the Rev. John Clarke (1802-1879); only one other copy has been located (School of African Studies in London). Bube is a language spoken by the Bubi, a Bantu people native to the island of Bioko, known by Europeans as Fernando Po. In the early 1840s both Britain and Spain had a presence on the island, just off the coast of Cameroon, the British leasing naval bases on the island as part of their efforts to stop the slave trade in West Africa. Clarke's interest in African languages had developed in the 1830s, after he had been sent out to Jamaica by the Baptist Missionary Society of London and had encountered slaves of West African descent speaking a variety of languages and dialects. For his own personal recreation, Clarke had compiled vocabularies of these languages and passed on his interest to a young Jamaican protégé, Joseph Merrick, who became a pastor in the Baptist church. Following the emancipation of slaves in 1838, Jamaican Baptists, with support from London, decided to send a mission to West Africa to spread the Gospel to their relatives there. Clarke set off for Africa in 1840, with Dr G.K. Prince, as an advance party for the mission. In 1841 he arrived at Fernando Po, where he was able to continue his studies of the local Bube language for a few months. Suitably encouraged by the friendly reception he received on the island, he and Prince sailed to England, where they were to report on the prospects of founding a West African mission. They were, however, blown off course, ending up back in the Caribbean; this detour had the advantage of giving them the opportunity to recruit volunteers for their mission. In 1843 Clarke sailed to Fernando Po from London, via Jamaica in order to pick up his recruits. He arrived there in 1844, where Prince and Merrick and other missionaries were already established on the island. Clarke and Joseph Merrick subsequently went to mainland Africa, which remained the main goal of the Baptist mission, to continue their linguistic work. Merrick visited Bimbia on the coast of Cameroon and persuaded the king of the local Isubu people to allow the Baptists to found the Jubilee mission there. The Baptist missionaries appear to have brought a printing press along with them, or acquired one after they arrived, leading to the establishment of the Dunfermline Press in Bimbia. The press seems to have operated in Bimbia from 1846 to 1848, printing four Scripture translations by Merrick into the Isubu language and also Clarke's 16-page vocabulary, which contains a list of useful sentences and phrases in Bube with accompanying English translations. Despite Merrick's individual success, the overall Baptist mission in Cameroon was a failure. The local people were unreceptive, there were quarrels regarding inequalities between the European and Jamaican missionaries, and many of the missionaries were suffering from ill health, including Clarke. In 1847 Clarke left Africa, taking the majority of the Jamaicans home. He intended to return, but never did, travelling back to Britain in 1848 to recuperate from his illness. While he was back in England he published two works on African languages: "Specimens of dialects ... in Africa" and an "Introduction to the Fernandian Tongue". The latter is described as a second edition presumably referring to the 1846 vocabulary as the first edition. Both these works were printed in Berwick-upon-Tweed, a place where Clarke had close personal ties. He had been born near Kelso in the Scottish Borders, the son of a farm labourer, before moving to Berwick, where he joined the Baptist Church in 1823, later marrying the daughter of the local pastor, the Rev. Alexander Kirkwood. Clarke's works on the Bube language are some of the earliest works on the North West Bantu language. Although his publications were soon surpassed by those of more accomplished linguists, his pioneering efforts showed the link between the languages of the Cameroon coast and the Bantu languages of the Congo and South Africa. Clarke returned to Jamaica in 1852 where he spent the rest of his life. Before he left Britain he also published a memoir on his fellow missionary and linguist, Joseph Merrick, in 1850, the latter having died in 1849 during a voyage to England.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2831
Reference SourcesD.M. Lewis ed., The Blackwell Dictionary of Evangelical biography, Oxford, 1995 v. 1; S. Arderner [biographical note in], John Clarke Specimens of dialects, Farnborough, 1972 (facsimile of 1848 publication); Mundus Jamaica and Cameroons Missionary Papers, http://www.mundus.ac.uk/cats/10/1096.htm
Acquired on09/12/11
AuthorAdamson, Patrick
TitleSerenissimi ac nobilissimi Scotiae, Angliae, Hyberniae principis
ImprintParis
Date of Publication1566
LanguageLatin
NotesIn 1566 Patrick Adamson (1537-1592), a Scottish minister who was later to become Bishop of St. Andrews, was working in France as a tutor to the son of a Scottish nobleman. Although Adamson was away from the tumult of Scotland - where a power struggle between Mary Queen of Scots and the Scottish nobles, including James Hamilton, second Earl of Arran, was being played out under the watchful eye of the English government - as a client of Lord Hamilton he still found himself caught up in the events. The birth of Mary's son James in June of that year was a key event, as Mary still pursued a claim to succession of the English throne, occupied by the unmarried and childless Elizabeth. Adamson published this Latin poem in Paris to celebrate the birth of James, describing him as prince of Scotland, England, France, and Ireland. The title would turn out to be an accurate one but the timing was very inopportune as relations between the Scottish and English courts were far from cordial due to the succession issue and Mary's Catholic faith. The poem enraged the English Government, who demanded that Adamson be punished. He was subsequently imprisoned in Paris for six months. After his release Adamson toured the continent before returning to Scotland to re-enter the ministry. He would be at the heart of the religious controversies that raged in Scotland in the latter half of the 16th-century. After his death Adamson's contemporaries regarded him as gifted man of letters who was probably happier and more suited to the world of scholarship than church politics. This poem marked Adamson's entry into the world of political controversy, and in view of the storm it caused it is very rare. there are only four recorded copies, none of them in Scotland.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2600
Reference SourcesShaaber, DNB
Acquired on27/04/05
AuthorNotman, William (1826-1891)
TitleSerjeants of the 78th Highlanders
Date of Publication186?
LanguageEnglish
NotesAn 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.
ShelfmarkIN PROCESS
Acquired on11/06/09
TitleSett of the City of Edinburgh
ImprintEdinburgh: b. Heir of Andrew Anderson
Date of Publication1683
LanguageEngllish
NotesAlthough the library has a copy of this edition at shelfmark H.Br.6, this copy is an interesting addition to the collections for several reasons. Firstly, the gold-tooled binding seems likely to be contemporary and is quite possibly Scottish. Secondly, the physical composition of the book is unusual. The marbled pastedowns have been left with their coloured stubs protruding, so one stub is found after the first two blank leaves, the second between pages 10 and 11. The stitching can be clearly seen, revealing the curious arrangement of the last six leaves (leaves are signed D, D2, [unsigned], E, E2, [unsigned] - conjugate leaves are D1 & [E3], D2 & [D3], E1 & E2). Most importantly, a comparison between this copy and our existing holding shows that our copy at shelfmark H.Br.6 has an additional title-page which has been removed from the newly acquired copy. This title-page, which was placed before sig.A2, was clearly an error as it speaks of 'the two acts of town council', when the text actually contains four acts. None of the other copies recorded by ESTC seem to have this title-page, but in the new copy, the stub where it was cut out can just be seen - presumably it was removed from the other copies too (so ESTC needs to be updated). The work is interesting in its own right, as a centenary printing of the 1583 agreement regarding the running of the burgh, and the place of the craftsmen, merchants, bailies and provost, with the addition of acts from the later seventeenth century. However, it is particularly useful to have these two copies, as they show how two copies of the 'same edition' can have important differences. Collation: 6 unsigned leaves, A8 (A1 cut out), B-C8, D3, E3. Octavo. Contents: 2 blank leaves, half-title, title-page, 'index', stub of cancelled title-page, 'Copy of the Decreet Arbitral' (pp. 1-34), 'Acts of the Town Council of Edinburgh' (title-page, pp. 1-16), 'Act anent the Town Clerks' (pp.[1]-4).
ShelfmarkABS.1.202.035
Reference SourcesWing S2647, Aldis 2426, ESTC R217074
Acquired on09/08/01
Author[Anon.]
TitleShipped by the grace of God in good o[r]der ... by Ro[bert] Stuart for Henry Leivie ...
Imprint[Edinburgh?: s.n.],
Date of Publication[1671?]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a rare piece of 17th-century printed ephemera, presumably printed in Scotland, namely a bill of lading (a document issued by a carrier to a shipper, acknowledging that specified goods have been received on board as cargo for transport to a named place for delivery to the consignee, who is usually identified on the bill). Manuscript inscriptions in blank spaces on the bill give details of the persons involved. It records the shipment of six tons of wines "fully well conditioned" from Bordeaux to Leith on 30 October 1671 on the "David" of Bruntiland (Burntisland) captained by Patrick Angus. The wine was destined for the merchant William Inglish (Inglis?) of Leith. The bill is signed by Patrick Stuart and has a MS note on the back by him. Scotland had been importing wine from France since the Middle Ages; thanks to the Auld Alliance Scottish merchants had the privilege of having the first choice of Bordeaux's finest wines. Leith was the centre for importing French wine, which was prized by the upper classes. This printed document shows that despite the political and religious upheavals which made trade with France more difficult (the Reformation, Union of the Crowns) the Scots were still using their privilege of selecting Bordeaux wines in the 1670s.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2770
Acquired on24/11/09
TitleShort address to the weavers of Paisley and the neighbourhood : (suggesting a plan for their relief.) by an Inhabitant. An answer to the address (lately sold at three-pence) "by a Burgess," (on the road to preferment) to the feuars and burgesses of Paisley by "Shifty". Paisley, 1817. And 3 others
ImprintAir
Date of Publication1819
LanguageEnglish
NotesA collection of five rare tracts published variously in Ayr, Paisley and Glasgow between 1817 and 1819 and bound in one volume. The tone is radical and reforming reflecting the appetite for electoral and civic reform in the industrial west in the years after Waterloo.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2029(1-5)
Acquired on03/02/00
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
AuthorKazumasa Ogawa & James Murdoch
TitleSights and Scenes on the Tokaido.
ImprintTokyo: K. Ogawa
Date of Publication1892
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis handsome volume was one of a series of views of Japan that the pioneering photographer, Kazumasa Ogawa (1860-1930) produced in the 1890s. Ogawa set out to photograph a Japanese society that was rapidly vanishing. His images recorded Japanese life, customs, culture and scenery at a time when Japan was modernising after emerging from self-imposed isolation during the second half of the 19th century. The photographs were then reproduced using the collotype process, a high quality photomechanical process capable of creating sharp images with a wide variety of tones. Ogawa published and printed all of the collotypes personally from the original prints, becoming a master of the process. His collotype books all had distinctive paper covers, lithographed in colour with a repeating pattern of concentric overlapping half circles, stylized clouds with leaves inside and breaking waves in silver. This particular book traces the route of the historic Tokaido (Road of the Eastern Sea) which starts in Tokyo and follows the Pacific coast for 320 miles where it joins the Nakasendo (Central Mountain Road) at Kusatsu. There are 20 black and white collotype plates containing a total of 44 images based on photographs by Ogawa himself, another Japanese photographer, Kusakabe Kimbei, the Italian photographer Adolfo Farsari, and also one by a Scot, William K. Burton (William Kinnimond Burton, an engineer and photographer, who in 1887 was appointed as first professor of sanitary engineering at Tokyo Imperial University). Ogawa clearly had an international readership in mind for his books. For the descriptive text in English which accompanied each plate of this book, he turned to another ex-pat Scot based in Japan, James Murdoch (1856-1921). Murdoch was born in Kincardineshire; from humble origins he was able to graduate M.A. with first-class honours in classics in 1879 from Aberdeen University and take up a scholarship at Oxford. After returning to Aberdeen he then emigrated to Australia in 1881, where he worked as a teacher and journalist. In 1889 he became a lecturer in European history at the First Higher School in Tokyo, an elite institution which young men attended before entering Tokyo Imperial University. His job gave him time to pursue a literary career as well, including writing a novel, "Ayame-san", which was published in Japan and London. Apart from a brief spell in South America and London, Murdoch remained in Japan until 1917, marrying a Japanese woman and working in various teaching jobs. He wrote three volumes of a history of the country before returning to Australia where he taught Japanese. The volume was acquired by NLS when the library of the 17th Earl of Perth was sold at auction in 2012.
ShelfmarkFB.l.408
Reference Sourceshttp://www.baxleystamps.com/litho/ogawa/ogawa_tokaido.shtml; Australian Dictionary of Biography
Acquired on31/08/12
TitleSignal [+ misc. other French-language periodicals from World War II from 1940-44]
ImprintBerlin: Deutscher Verlag
Date of Publication1941-44
LanguageFrench
NotesA collection of periodicals relating to the Second World War in France. Apart from the English-language 'Life', the periodicals are all in French. The collection consists of: 'Life'- 20 November 1944, 'La Semaine'- 23 April 1942, 'Match' - 15 February 1940; and the following Nazi propaganda publications: 'Le Cahier Jaune'- 2 Dec 1941 (A French anti-Semitic publication), 'Dieppe 1942' (a news sheet published in response to the failed Allied raid on the port of Dieppe in August 1942), 'Der Adler' ('The Eagle' -Luftwaffe propaganda magazine)-20 May 1941; 29 July 1941; 24 March 1942: 19 Oct 1943 and 71 issues of 'Signal' from May 1941 to September 1944. 'Signal' was a key part of Nazi war propaganda: a magazine created in an effort to win over other European nations to the Nazi cause, and to promote and justify German hegemony over Europe. It was based on the format of the 'Berliner Illustrirter Zeitung' (BIZ), the leading picture and news magazine in Germany, and was first published on in April 1940 by the Deutscher Verlag in Berlin. It subsequently appeared on a fortnightly basis, and at its peak it reached a maximum circulation of 2,500,000 copies per issue, appearing in over 20 different languages. Due to its central role as a propaganda tool, the reporting of current affairs in 'Signal' had to fit in with the official Nazi line, and from 1943 onwards, as the war began to go badly for Germany, the focus of the magazine shifted more to celebrity gossip, sporting events and fashion. No expense was spared on illustrations, 'Signal' boasted full-page colour plates, and colour covers from 1944 onwards. With articles by an elite group of staff authors and war correspondents, the magazine quickly established itself as the number one propaganda publication in wartime Europe. The magazine continued to be produced well into 1945, but distribution was by then extremely limited due to the Allied advance into continental Europe.
ShelfmarkRB.l.244
Reference Sources"Hitler's Wartime Picture Magazine" (ed. S.L. Mayer) London, 1978
Acquired on22/08/08
AuthorEvelyn, John.
TitleSilva: or a discourse of forest-trees.
ImprintYork: A. Ward for J. Dodsley
Date of Publication1776
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis 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.
ShelfmarkBdg.m.173-174
Reference SourcesJ.S. Loudon, James Scott and William Scott, bookbinders, 1980.
Acquired on31/08/12
AuthorLeonard, Tom
TitleSix Glasgow Poems
Imprint[Glasgow]
Date of Publication[1968]
LanguageScots
NotesThis 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.
ShelfmarkRB.m.628
Acquired on17/12/04
AuthorAinslie, William.
TitleSixty-six years' residence in South Africa: an autobiographical sketch.
Imprint[Fort Beaufort, South Africa]: Fort Beaufort Printing and Publishing Company
Date of Publication1899
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis 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".
ShelfmarkAB.1.212.26
Acquired on23/03/12
AuthorBurrard, S.G., Heron, A.M.
TitleSketch of the geography and geology of the Himalaya Mountains and Tibet.
ImprintDelhi : Manager of Publications
Date of Publication1933
NotesRevised 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.
ShelfmarkGB/B.1491
Reference SourcesYakushi : Catalogue of the Himalayan literature
Acquired on29/10/02
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
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