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 835 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 586 to 600 of 835:
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|Title||Eleanora, or a Tragical but true case of incest in Great Britain.|
|Imprint||London: M. Cooper, 1751.|
|Date of Publication||1751|
|Notes||A very rare (only 4 known copies of this edition, another being printed in Dublin in the same year) and very bizarre novella reportedly transcribed from a manuscript compiled by the anonymous author/editor's grandfather in 1685. The main action in the book takes place in Scotland, where the main pseudonymous protagonists, the widow Eleanora and her son Orestes, through an extraordinary and unbelievable chain of events 'enjoy' a night of passion - Orestes believing in the darkness that the woman he is bedding to be another, Arene. The Oedipal encounter results in the birth of a daughter, Cornelia, who when she reaches adulthood meets Orestes and marries him, much to the horror of Eleanora. A few years later Orestes encounters Arene, who tells him that she was not the one he slept with all those years ago. The truth is revealed, and Eleanora dies of shock as does Cornelia, a devastated Orestes commits suicide.
The "Monthly Review" for September 1751 notes very sternly that this work is clearly a piece of fiction and that "the publication of cases of this sort ought never to be encouraged, even if proved to be fact; as the knowledge of such unnatural, and (happily) uncommon crimes, cannot possibly be attended with any good consequences: as examples, they will probably never deter others, but may inspire people with thoughts of such practices as otherwise might never have entered their imaginations."!
There is little attempt to disguise the fictive nature of the torrid prose of "Eleanora", only a few specific events are mentioned: Orestes' father Eugenio dies at the siege of "Fort St. Martins in the Isle of Ree" (Lough Ree in Ireland?); Orestes, after studying at Glasgow University, serves on the Parliamentarian side at the battle of Naseby in 1645; he goes on to enjoy a career in the army which is ended by the Restoration of Charles II; about 7 years after the Restoration he helps a friend to get elected as MP for Pontefract [elections in Pontefract were held in 1661 then 1679).
On the front pastedown of this copy is (a) an old bookseller's slip which notes that this story was used by Horace Walpole for his play "The Mysterious Mother" (1768) (this is unconfirmed) (b) a book label of Diana Maria Dowdeswell (possibly a daughter of the politician William Dowdeswell, a friend of Horace Walpole).|
|Reference Sources||J. Raven "British Fiction 1750-1770" 69|
|Title||Representation of the high-landers, who arrived at the camp of the confederated army, not far off the city of Mayence the 13th of August 1743.|
|Imprint||Norimberga: Excudit Christoph: Weigely Vidua.|
|Date of Publication||1743|
|Language||English / German / French|
|Notes||This is an important acquisition for several reasons. It consists of an engraved title-page and five leaves of plates with engravings of highland soldiers in various supposedly characteristic postures. The plates are signed ''V. G. del', which is believed to be John or Gerard van der Gucht. These brothers, both artists, were working in London in 1743, when the Black Watch regiment was sent to the English capital. At this date (two years before the 1745 Jacobite rebellion), highland dress and manners were unfamiliar to many southerners. Various prints were made of the Black Watch troops.
In 1743, Britain was involved in the War of the Austrian Succession. The Black Watch, who had been told that they were simply going to London to see the King, realised that they might be sent to Flanders. A mutiny took place in May 1743 and a number of soldiers tried to return to Scotland. Three were eventually executed, causing much resentment and possibly contributing to the strength of the Jacobite rebellion. The regiment was indeed sent to Flanders where they distinguished themselves at the battle of Fontenoy.
The Black Watch were the first kilted troops to be seen on the continent, and the interest created probably explains why this publication of plates based on the van der Gucht drawings is trilingual and printed in Nuremberg. (The English is rather unorthodox). These plates were the basis for several other publications, such as the plates engraved by John Sebastian Muller.
This copy comes from the Library of the 17th Earl of Perth (lot 201 at the auction on 20 November 2003 by Christie's).|
|Reference Sources||Eric and Andro Linklater, 'The Black Watch', 1977
John Telfer Dunbar, 'History of Highland Dress', 1979
Colas, 'Bibliographie generale du costume', 1933, 2543
Lipperheide, 'Kostumbibliothek', 1963, 2262|
|Title||Idea di una perfetta repubblica|
|Imprint||Milano: Da' torchi della tipografia milanese in contrada nuova.|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||This is the first translation into Italian of David Hume's 'Idea of a perfect commonwealth', first published as Essay XII in his 'Political Discourses' of 1752..
The translator, Alvise Zenobio, dedicates the work to the people of the Cisalpine Republic. Napoleon Bonaparte's attempts to remodel Europe had led to the creation of this new state in 1797. It was eventually incorporated into the Italian Republic in 1802.
In this book, Hume is clearly seen as an important writer to use in the debates over how to set up a working democratic system of government. There are numerous contemporary annotations in Italian. This is another example of the important role played by Scottish Enlightenment works in translation.|
|Reference Sources||Not in Jessop|
|Title||New spelling, pronouncing, and explanatory dictionary of the English language|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: C. Elliot|
|Date of Publication||1786|
|Notes||This is a pocket dictionary in oblong format published during the heyday of the Age of Augustanism in Scotland with its demand for propriety and its emphasis on southern English models of speech. It consists of an introductory essay on English pronunciation, elocution and grammar, the dictionary proper, and an appendix.
The author points out in his preface that although he is a native of Scotland, it is not presumptuous of him to represent the proper English pronunciation: as a young man, Scott lived in London for many years, instructing "the young gentlemen of the academy the proper reading and reciting of the English language".
The dictionary is particularly interesting because it goes beyond the usual explanation of the meaning of the words. It shows the accented vowels and consonants, thus indicating where the wordstress falls. The pronunciation of every vowel sound in a word is indicated by a number, which refers to one of the 15 vowel sounds Scott distinguishes. Other dictionaries are "extremely deficient" with regard to the indication of the proper pronunciation. Scott's work is therefore important for "provincials and foreigners", in other words anybody outside the Home counties.
The Dictionary was first published in 1777, but no copy of this edition is known. This 1786 copy is the only one held in the UK.|
|Reference Sources||ESTC; bookseller's catalogue|
|Title||[3 Dutch translations: De kabinetten der Evangelische beloften; De zwangere belofte in hare vrucht; Blidje boodschap in zware tijden|
|Date of Publication||Various|
|Notes||These three translations into Dutch of the writings of Ralph Erskine (sermons and expositions of pieces of scripture)
demonstrate the popularity of his work in Holland well into the 20th century. They may also demonstrate the closeness in doctrinal terms between the modern Dutch Protestant Church and the 18th century Scottish Secession Church.
Erskine (1685-1752) was one of the key figures in the Secession Church. This church was formed in 1733 when a number of ministers led by Ebenezer Erskine (Ralph's brother) broke away from the Church of Scotland when the General Assembly decreed that elders and heritors only should elect ministers. Ralph Erskine did not join until 1737. In 1744 the Secession Church itself split over the Burgess Oath - the Erskines aligning themselves to the Burgher faction in opposition to the conservative anti-Burghers.
Ralph Erskine was born in Northumberland and educated at Edinburgh University. He spent most of his ministry in Dunfermline, where he was regarded as an excellent preacher. He was proficient on the violin and wrote a number of hymns.|
|Title||Andrew Lammie, or, Mill of Tiftie's Annie|
|Imprint||Banff: J. Davidson|
|Date of Publication||c.1790-1820|
|Notes||This ballad, like many others, was reprinted around Scotland to be sold locally. However, this rare Banff edition is one of only seven Banff imprints listed in ESTC, and the third recorded example of Davidson's chapbook printing to be acquired by the Library. The only other recorded copy is in the Bodleian Library, Oxford.
James Davidson, the 'Bookseller and Bookbinder', as he describes himself in this chapbook, is recorded in Pigot's _Commercial Directory for Scotland_ from 1820-1837 with an address at Bridge Street, but we do not know when he began printing, as all three of his chapbooks are undated. This item may, as ESTC conjectures, have been printed any time from 1790 until a few decades into the 19th century.
|Reference Sources||ESTC; SBTI; Bookseller's catalogue|
|Title||Dirge or a voice in the night, originally addressed to a clergyman at Edinburgh 1845.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Anderson and Bryce|
|Date of Publication||1848|
|Notes||This work is attributed to one Susan Williamson on the strength of a telling inscription on the verso of the dedication to Queen Victoria which reads: 'The writer of this book was Miss Susan Williamson who resided in Edinburgh with her brother Mr. David Williamson, in some of her ways she was odd, but not considered to be insane'. The 600 or so pages which follow can certainly be considered to be odd if not downright unintelligble to readers in the 21st century. An extract from the introduction sets the tone for what follows:
'And all vitellent spirits revolt or resault over whom was ratified reflection as a whispered word imputave before the perfectability of planatory imparature in the temporal attribute, whose nullity remained in premonitory complex'
The book consists of short texts of a religious nature dealing with sin, creation, eternity and so on. The only other copy traced is at the British Library and no other works by Susan Williamson are known.|
|Author||Steuart, James, Sir|
|Title||Untersuchung der Grund-Satze von der Staats-Wirtschaft als ein Versuch uber die Wissenschaft von der innerlichen Politik bey freyen Nationen|
|Imprint||Tubingen: Johann Georg Cotta|
|Date of Publication||1769-1772|
|Notes||This is the very rare first German edition of Steuart's 'An inquiry into the principles of political oeconomy' first published in English in 1767(RB.m.451). Another German edition was published in Hamburg in 1769 (A.109.d). It seems that two editions were published almost simultaneously in Germany, as the publishers in question were in a race to translate this work and so gain de facto copyright. Steuart was a friend of both the translator Christoph Friedrich Schott and the publisher Johann Georg Cotta. He had also lived for three years in Tubingen in the 1760s - as a Jacobite he was exiled after Culloden until 1763.
It would appear that the Hamburg edition took precedence over the Tubingen one. However the Tubingen edition is more faithful to Steuart's writing - chapter 28 in this work appears in its entirety, while it was abridged in the Hamburg edition.
Steuart's work was popular for a few years, but was completely overshadowed by Adam Smith's 'Wealth of Nations' (1776). Smith was himself somewhat disparaging about Steuart stating that he understood 'Sir James's system better from his conversation that from his volumes'. Neverthelesss, German scholars of the 19th century hailed Steuart - not Smith - as the true founder of economic science. It is regarded now as the first fully-fledged economic treatise.
Only three other copies of this edition have been located - one in Germany and two in the U.S.|
|Author||Hall, James, Sir|
|Title||Essay on the origin, history and principles of Gothic architecture|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Printed by Andrew Balfour|
|Date of Publication||1813|
|Notes||This is an unrecorded copy of Hall's privately published influential work on Gothic architecture. An edition (with 150 p. as opposed to 74 p. in this edition) was also published in London by John Murray in the same year. The etched frontispiece is signed 'W. & D. Lizars Edinr.' and shows a miniature Gothic cathedral built by Hall in wattle-work.
The first exposition of his theory - that the origins of Gothic architecture can be traced to simple wattle buildings - was published as a 27 p. paper with 6 plates read before the Royal Society of Edinburgh (of which he was also President) in 1797.
Hall was born in Dunglass, East Lothian in 1761. He studied as geologist for many years on the continent and submitted papers to the Royal Society of Edinburgh on the subject. Between 1807 and 1812 he was an MP for a borough in Cornwall.|
|Author||Contant D'Orville, Andre-Guillaume|
|Title||Les fastes de Grande Bretagne, contentant tout ce qui s'est passe d'interessant dans les trois royaumes d'Angleterre, d'Ecosse, & d'Irelande?|
|Imprint||Paris: J. P Costard|
|Date of Publication||1769|
|Notes||These two volumes claim to describe 'everything interesting that happened in the three realms of England, Scotland, and Ireland, from the foundation of the monarchy until the peace of 1763. In practice, the work has a decidedly Anglocentric focus - the author explains in his preface that he decided to write about England because of the importance of its relationship with France. However, Scottish history is covered in greater detail after the Union of the Crowns in 1603. In short, this book contains an interesting 18th-century French perspective on events such as the Jacobite risings and 'the most brilliant part of Queen Anne's reign ... the union of Scotland and England'.
The author, Andre-Guilliaume Contant d'Orville, (1730-1800), wrote novels and histories, and was influenced by the historical methods of Voltaire. The volumes are in the original stiff paper wrappers, with an 18th-century armorial bookplate (possibly Swedish) inside each front cover.|
|Reference Sources||Booksellers' catalogue|
|Title||Neue philosophische Versuche. Aus dem Englischen uebersezt. Mit einer Vorrede vonm Herrn Professor Meiners.|
|Imprint||Leipzig: in der Weygandschen Buchhandlung|
|Date of Publication||1779-1780|
|Notes||This is the first edition of the German translation of Beattie's "Essay on the nature and immutability of truth, in opposition to sophistry and scepticism; on poetry and music, as they affect the mind; on laughter, and ludicrous composition; and on the utility of classical learning".
James Beattie (1735-1803) was a poet, essayist and moral philosopher. Born in Kincardine and educated at Aberdeen, he became professor of moral philosophy and logic at Marischall College, Aberdeen, in 1760.
The essays assembled in this collection were written over the course of 17 years: on poetry and music in 1762, on laughter in 1764, and on classical learning in 1769. The essay on truth itself does not appear in a German translation here, only Beattie's preface to the new edition of 1776, undated additions and amendments, and an epilogue dated 1770.
In his own preface to the translations, Professor Meiners refers to Beattie as the most thorough contestant of Hume's philosophy and the most fortunate defender of truth and virtue. However, he is much less complimentary about Beattie's essay on laughter and criticises Beattie for not properly distinguishing between the terms ludicrous and ridiculous.|
|Title||Come and play with me|
|Imprint||London: Alexadnra Publishing Company|
|Date of Publication||c.1860-1900|
|Notes||This children's annual contains an unacknowledged abridged and simplified version of George Macdonald's classic children's fantasy story The Princess and the Goblin. Macdonald's story was first published in 1872, and the version here reprints Arthur Hughes' original illustrations. The annual is undated. It contains references to the Arica earthquake of 1868 and the Franco-Prussian war of 1871-2 as recent events, so was presumably first printed around this time, although the advertisements suggest this may be a later reprint.
That an abridged, and presumably unauthorized version of Macdonald's novel appeared so soon after its first publication is a testimony to its contemporary appeal, and shows the wide audience for his works. The annual has a cheerful cover in coloured boards, but the inviting illustration of a girl saying 'Come and play with me' is rather undermined by the stark advertisements on the inside boards: 'DO NOT UNTIMELY DIE!' but take 'Fennings' Fever Curer' instead.|
|Reference Sources||Bookseller's catalogue|
|Title||100 years of guttapercha|
|Imprint||R.&J. Dick, Ltd|
|Date of Publication||1946|
|Notes||This book was published by the firm of R.&J. Dick of Glasgow to celebrate the centenary of the company, and is a fascinating document of Scotland's industrial history.
Robert and James Dick were born in Kilmarnock and in the 1840s were apprentices in Glasgow. In 1843 the first samples of guttapercha (latex gum) arrived in Scotland, and in 1846 the brothers saw the possibilities of this product and formed a partnership for the manufacture of cheap rubber shoes. The 'Dick cheap shoe', the book tells us, was a 'byword in the vocabulary of the working classes'. A factory was built at Greenhead, and the firm prospered. The shoe market declined, but guttapercha was discovered to be good insulation for electrical cables, and the firm's product was used in the laying of transatlantic cables.
Robert Dick also used Balata, another form of latex, to produce the 'Dickbelt' - industrial-strength belting used around the world. He was a scientific experimenter and friend of Lord Kelvin, while his brother was the financial wizard - James died a millionaire, and left his fortune to charity.
The book still has its dustjacket, illustrating the 'Dickbelt' and guttapercha footwear, and still contains the original compliments slip from the firm.|
|Reference Sources||The book itself|
|Date of Publication||1838|
|Notes||William Anderson (1805-1866) was born at Edinburgh. His maternal grandfather was the author of the 'Natural History of the Mineral Kingdom' and his brother John was the historian of the house of Hamilton. Apart from newspaper contributions, his first publication was 'Poetical Sketches' in 1833. By 1838 he was living in London where he moved in literary circles. Later he returned to Scotland, continuing to publish and working for Scottish newspapers.
The DNB characterizes Anderson's poetry as 'generally sweet and tuneful' but 'not characterized by much merit of a literary kind'. These 'Landscape Lyrics' are typical mid-19th century verse in their style and subject. This copy, however, is of particular interest, being the author's proof copy of the first edition, without title page or plates. As the bookseller's catalogue says, 'These pleasantly messy proofs were evidently corrected currente calamo as they came off the press'. As such, they are a good example of writing and publishing practices of the period, and complement the Library's holdings of publisher's archives in this regard. A copy of the publication in its final state is at AB.8.83.5, which would make an interesting comparison.|
|Reference Sources||DNB; Bookseller's catalogue.|
|Author||St Peters Church, Edinburgh.|
|Title||Report by the Committee of Management of St. Peter's Episcopal Church new building: with first list of subscribers.|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||This is a report on the building of and fund-raising for a new Church in the southside of Edinburgh, by the building committee for the congregation of St. Peter's Roxburgh Place. This congregation had begun in 1791 as an 'overflow' from Old St. Paul's in Carrubber's Close. It continued in Roxburgh Place until the 1850s when it was decided to move further south to Lutton Place. The new building was of a neo-gothic style and designed by William Slater of London.
The church was opened for worship on Whitsunday 1860, though the debt was not cleared until 1889.
The report is accompanied by two fine lithographs by Friedrich Schenck of George St. Edinburgh. Neither lithograph is recorded in the entry for Schenck in the Directory of lithographic printers of Scotland 1820-1870. No copy of this work with plates has been traced in any library (BL, CURL, OCLC, RLIN).
The library already has a copy of this work at Dowd.465(15) which differs from this copy in a number of respects:
1. Dowd is a proof copy; this copy is a corrected proof
2. Dowd lacks the plates
3. The five lists of subscribers in Dowd are dated 25 June; the six in this copy are dated 15 July.|