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 735 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 586 to 600 of 735:

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AuthorOrcadensis
TitleOrcadensis to William Cobbett, M.P. on the political grievances of Orkney and Zetland.
ImprintEdinburgh : John Hamilton,
Date of Publication1833
LanguageEnglish
NotesWritten in the form of a letter to the radical English writer and politician William Cobbett, this very rare pamphlet makes an impassioned plea for separate representation for Orkney and Zetland (Shetland) in the UK parliament. The author, presumably an inhabitant of Orkney (Orcadensis), believes that the Scottish Reform Act of 1832, which had redefined constituencies and greatly widened the franchise in Scotland, is an "ill digested measure". Writing shortly after the recent election of 1833, Orcadensis argues that Orkney and Shetland have major economic and cultural differences, the former being agricultural in nature, the latter being commercial, with little trade or communication occurring between them. The author's arguments do not appear to have had any effect; 170 years later Orkney and Shetland remains a single constituency, its boundaries now uniquely protected by the Scotland Act of 1998. Orcadensis's choice of Cobbett as the addressee of his letter is not just a recognition of Cobbett's leading role in securing parliamentary reform in 1832, but also a conscious copying of the latters epistolary style of writing his "rural rides" - his reports of his extensive travels in southern England. In 1833, moreover, Cobbett was very much in the news in Scotland; he made his one and only visit to the country, visiting Edinburgh, Glasgow, Paisley and New Lanark amongst other places. After a lifetime spent denigrating Scotland and Scots, in particular what he felt was the undue influence of Scottish politicians and "feelosofers" in post-Union Great Britain, Cobbett struck a much more conciliatory tone when in the country itself, and also in his "Tour of Scotland" published that year. As for Orcadensis, he concludes his pamphlet by stating his next letter will contain a plan for "vigorous reform" of the Scottish Church, a letter which does not appear to have been published.
ShelfmarkAP.2.213.04
Acquired on25/05/12
AuthorPark, Mungo
TitleReise in das Innere von Afrika in den Jahren 1795, 1796 und 1797 auf Veranstaltung der Afrikanischen Gesellschaft unternommen. Nebst einem Woerterbuche
ImprintHamburg: bei Benjamin Gottlob Hoffmann
Date of Publication1799
LanguageGerman
NotesThis German translation of Mungo Park's "Travels in the interior districts of Africa" was published in the same year as the English original. The African explorer Mungo Park (1771-1806) hailed from a farm on the estate of the Duke of Buccleuch near Selkirk. He was apprenticed as a surgeon before entering Edinburgh University to study medicine. In 1792 he sailed to the East Indies as assistant medical officer. In 1795 he was sent on behalf of the African Association to discover the true course of the Niger. Barely escaping with his life on more than one occasion, Park did not succeed in his mission and returned at the end of 1797. "Travels in the interior districts of Africa" is an account of this journey. It went through three editions in its year of publication and made Park instantly famous and popular. The book also contains a dictionary of the Mandingo language; Park had learned this in the Gambia before setting off on his journey. In 1805 he was commissioned to go on another journey of exploration to find the termination of the Niger. He sailed down the Niger in a boat he had constructed from a canoe and got past Timbuktu, but lost his life in a fight with natives. Ultimately, his inference that the Niger "could flow nowhere but into the sea" was proved correct. This copy of the German edition has steel engraved plates of African settlements as well as a detailed map of the area explored by Park.
ShelfmarkABS.3.204.011
Reference SourcesDNB
Acquired on20/05/04
AuthorPater, Erra.
TitleBook of knowledge: treating of the wisdom of the ancients.
ImprintGlasgow
Date of Publication1726
LanguageEnglish
NotesAn unrecorded edition of this hugely popular text 'translated' by the Tudor almanac compiler William Lilly who used the pseudonym 'Erra Pater, a Jew'. Most of the many eighteenth century editions are recorded in only one or two copies. The National Library also holds Glasgow imprints of this title dated 1786 and 1794. This edition is strikingly illustrated with a number of crude woodcuts of facial moles and astrological signs. Although most of the book follows the standard format of the almanac with astrological and meteorological predictions and medical advice, there is also some material of a Scottish flavour at the end of the book. This includes lists of Scottish fairs, descriptions of the 'most remarkable highways' and a 'table of the kings of Scotland'. William Lilly (1602-1681), the 'English Merlin', was the most successful and influential astrologer of seventeenth century England. He published an almanac every year from 1644 until his death in 1681. Lilly's almanacs and pamphlets had a tangible effect on public opinion, and his clients included many of the leading political and military figures of an age when most people naturally believed that the stars and planets had a direct influence on human affairs.
ShelfmarkABS.1.201.038
Reference Sourceshttp://www.skyhook.co.uk/merlin/ Parker, Derek. Familiar to all: William Lilly and astrology in the seventeenth century. (London, 1975) H3.75.2171
Acquired on25/09/01
AuthorPaterson, William & Francklin, John
TitleWilhelm Patterson's Reisen in das Land der Hottentotten + William Franklin's Bermerkungen auf einer Reise von Bengalen nach Persien
ImprintBerlin: Voss
Date of Publication1790
LanguageGerman
NotesThis volume contains two German editions of important 18th-century British works of travel and exploration, both translated by Johann Reinhold Forster (1729-98). Forster, a German naturalist of partial Scottish descent, was at the time Professor of Natural History and Mineralogy at the University of Halle. The first item in the volume is the rare first German translation, complete with the often missing map, of "A narrative of four journeys into the country of the Hottentots and Caffraria" by the Scots army officer and natural historian Lieutenant William Paterson (1755-1810). Paterson made four journeys from Cape Town into the largely unexplored interior of South Africa between 1777 and 1779 and first published this account of his travels in 1789. It includes a number of plates illustrating indigenous plants, demonstrating Paterson's own particular interest in the flora and fauna of the country. Indeed, his book is dedicated to the eminent English naturalist Sir Joseph Banks. This German translation and a French translation appeared shortly afterwards, an indication of the appetite for information about Africa in Western Europe at this time. Paterson spent the last 20 years of his life involved in colonial administration in Australia, but he is best remembered for his explorations, his South African publications, and his botanical collections, which are located in the Natural History Museum, South Kensington. The second item in the volume is a German translation of "Observations made on a tour from Bengal to Persia" by another soldier turned explorer William Francklin [sic] (1763-1839). Francklin's work was first published in Calcutta in 1788, then in London in 1790. The German translation appeared seven years before the French one. Forster was an ideal choice to do these translations, having lived and taught in Britain for several years and having served as the naturalist on Captain Cook's second voyage 1772-75.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2740(1)
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on16/02/09
AuthorPaton, J. Noel, 1821-1901
TitleMembers of the Peace Society: City of Edinburgh Branch
ImprintEdinburgh: A Ritchie
Date of Publication1861
LanguageEnglish
NotesPrint lithographed in sanguine, depicting a group of the 1st City of Edinburgh Artillery Volunteers on duty at Edinburgh castle. The tone of the print is decidedly humorous; rather than being alert at their posts one volunteer smokes a cigar whilst admiring with two others the view across the city to Calton Hill, another is reading The Times, and a stereotypical Highlander is spinning a yarn to two his companions as a little girl listens with rapt attention. The print reveals that Paton himself had formerly served as a captain in the artillery volunteers at a time when voluntary service in the armed forces was in vogue, hence the patriotic motto on the cannon in the foreground and the caption at the top of the print. Whether the characters in the print are based on former comrades is open to question. Coincidentally the year of this print, 1861, saw the establishment of that famous Edinburgh ritual, the firing of the one o' clock gun. Paton was born in Dunfermline but trained at the Royal Academy in London and became a popular artist, very much in the accepted Victorian style, for his rendering of scenes from literature and history and also for his fairy paintings.
ShelfmarkS.Sh.S.1.204.11
Reference SourcesScheck "Directory of Lithographic Printers" p. 97
Acquired on27/05/04
AuthorPeat, John
TitleViews in Scotland photographed by John Peat
Imprint[Edinburgh : s.n.]
Date of Publication1865
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a very interesting album of Scottish photographs taken by John Peat between the years 1864 and 66. Little is known about Peat himself, he appears to have been an amateur photographer who joined the Edinburgh Photographic Society (EPS) in 1863, about two years after the society was founded, and later became its curator. In addition to giving lectures to the EPS, he exhibited in the 9th Exhibition of the Photographic Society of Scotland, held in Edinburgh in December 1864. The album consists of 128 photographs mounted on 56 leaves and has been specially bound in dark-red morocco, with gilt ornamentation. Each photograph has been numbered and captioned in pencil, mentioning location and sometimes the date when the photograph was taken, presumably by Peat himself. Although the album is dated 1865, and there is a hand-written ownership inscription on the front free endpaper "From my friend Tom Clark. London, 16. Nov. 1865. John Peat", the photographs from number 85 onwards are dated '1866'. The album consists of Scottish landscapes, reflecting Peat's travels in the country, with an emphasis on south-east Scotland, as well as some views of Edinburgh. Complete amateur albums from this period - at a time when commercial photography firms were starting to flood the market - are unusual. Moreover, the choice of subjects and landscapes seem to reflect the photographer's own personal taste and are not the traditional commercial fare.
ShelfmarkPhot.la.72
Acquired on19/12/08
AuthorPhillips, Philip
Title[40 photographs of the Forth Rail Bridge ]
Date of Publication[1887]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThe Forth Railway Bridge, begun in 1883 and completed in 1890, was the world's first major steel bridge. It is still in use today, and has become an icon of Scotland and of Victorian engineering. Photographs of the bridge are ubiquitous, found on postcards, in books and magazines. The photographs here, however, capture the development of the bridge at weekly or fortnightly intervals in 1886-1887, and appear to be extremely rare. These 40 silver gelatin prints, each measuring approximately 17 x 23 inches, are by the photographer Philip Phillips, son of Joseph Phillips, who was one of the contractors. Several prints bear his monogram 'PP'. They are of a very high quality, showing an extraordinary degree of detail down to individual rivets. The bridge is captured from a variety of angles; there are close-ups of particular sections as well as landscape shots. The first photograph has been doctored to show an accurate impression of the bridge when finished. Number 8, taken on 12 December 1886, has the amusing addition of a pencil sketch of a steam train on the track. It seems extraordinary that these photographs have not been recorded or used elsewhere. Only one, no. 21, seems to have been used in another book by Phillips, 'The Forth Bridge in its various stages of construction', [1889], where it appears as no. XVII. In his book 'The Forth Railway Bridge', Edinburgh: 1890, Phillips describes in an appendix a series of 'special' plates published separately. He goes on to give a detailed description of the 40 plates, which provides vital information about this set. Intriguingly, Phillips notes that there are 'about sixty more' such photographs: perhaps these may yet turn up on the market.
ShelfmarkRB.l.229
Reference Sourceshttp://www.forthbridges.org.uk/railbridgemain.htm
Acquired on04/05/05
AuthorPindar
TitleTa tou Pindarou Olympia
ImprintGlasgow: R. and A. Foulis
Date of Publication1754
LanguageGreek
NotesThis is the first volume of the miniature Foulis Press edition of the ancient Greek poet Pindar's odes (printed 1754-58), this copy being one of only a few recorded copies printed on silk. It is a separate bibliographic item as only volume was the only printed in silk and accordingly it does not have the general title page of the regular 4-volume set. This is in fact only one of two miniature books printed on silk by the Foulis Press of Glasgow, the other being an edition of Anacreon printed in 1751 (a copy was acquired by the Library in 2003). It showcases the quality of their printing and the clarity of the Greek type they developed. The book is in a contemporary red morocco binding.
ShelfmarkIN PROCESS
Reference SourcesGaskell, A bibliography of the Foulis Press, 2nd ed., 1986, no. 274
Acquired on28/02/14
AuthorPlato
TitleOeuvres de Platon
ImprintParis: Rey
Date of Publication1823-1846
LanguageFrench
NotesThis mixed edition of the standard French translation of Plato by Victor Cousin (1792-1867) belonged to Arthur James Balfour (1848-1930), statesman and one-time Prime Minister (1902-1905). It adds to the Library's holdings of books with prime ministerial provenance. Balfour was the eldest son of James Maitland Balfour of Whittingehame, East Lothian and of Lady Blanche Gascoyne Cecil. This set has 'A.J. Balfour Whittinghame 1871' tooled in gilt on the front cover along the joint. They have no other marks of ownership and there is no indication whether he read these volumes. However had he not been a politician it is likely he would have been an academic of some description - he had a glittering career in Eton and Cambridge and wrote a number of books on philosophy: "Defense of philosophical doubt" published in 1879 at age 31, "Foundations of belief" (1895) and "Theism and humanism" (1914). Balfour began his career as an MP in 1874 when he was elected to the Hertford constituency. He spent the rest of his active life in the House of Commons. He established a reputation for himself as Chief Secretary for Ireland in the 1880s quelling the Land War with his coercion policy. He served as Foreign Secretary under Lloyd George during World War I and also served under Stanley Baldwin in 1925.
ShelfmarkAB.2.204.23
Reference SourcesDNB
Acquired on01/09/04
AuthorPownall, Thomas.
TitleLetter from Governor Pownall to Adam Smith being an Examination of several points of doctrine, laid down in his 'Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations'.
ImprintLondon: J. Almon
Date of Publication1776
LanguageEnglish
Notes4to, [11], 48 p. Without the errata slip, sometimes pasted onto the verso of the half-title. ESTC T55254 According to ESTC (English Short-Title Catalogue) and discussions with the main central belt libraries, there is no copy of this work in a public institution in Scotland. Reference to ABPC (American Book Prices Current) and BAR (Book Auction Records) demonstrates that no copy has come up for sale in the last twenty-five years (1975-1999). There are two imperfect copies in the British Library and a complete copy in Cambridge University Library, and there are a number of copies in the USA and one in Germany. The majority of copies are either lacking the half-title or errrata slip, or both. This is one of the earliest, if not the earliest, criticisms of Adam Smith's An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations [hereafter Wealth of Nations] which was published earlier the same year. The author, Thomas Pownall (1722-1805), known as 'Governor Pownall' was Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Company between 1757 and 1759, very briefly Governor of South Carolina (late 1759 to early 1760) and, after quitting the American Colonies, sat as an MP between 1767 and 1780. In Parliament, and in his publications, Pownall was liberal in his views towards England's relationship with the American Colonists. He published on a wide range of subjects including the administration of the colonies, international trade and law. The publication of the Wealth of Nations in 1776 provoked an immediate response from Pownall and within a few months he produced 'A letter from Governor Pownall to Adam Smith ... being an Examination of several points of doctrine, laid down in his 'Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations'' which though disagreeing with key elements in Smith's arguments remained very complimentary throughout and even prompted Smith to address him a letter of thanks for "his very great politeness" (DNB; Gent. Mag. 1795, ii, 634-5). Pownall's critique of Smith's book is one of the earliest to appear in print. His criticisms of the Wealth of Nations have been well summarised by a recent biographer of Smith: Pownall had a clear perception of Smith's system of political economy as a form of 'moral Newtonianism', and he thought that if it were corrected on the salient points he brought up, it might become an institutional work on which could be based lectures 'in our Universities'. The chief criticisms in the Letter were at Smith's formulations concerning price, patterns of trade, restraints on importation, and the monopoly of colony trade. (Ian Simpson Ross, The Life of Adam Smith (Oxford, 1995), p.346). Given the Library's strengths in material by and relating to Adam Smith and our international reputation as a repository for Enlightenment texts and manuscripts, this is an excellent addition.
ShelfmarkRB.m.447
Acquired on06/11/00
AuthorPrimrose, James.
TitleDe vulgi erroribus in medicina.
ImprintAmsterdam: Joh. Janssonius,
Date of Publication1639
LanguageLatin
NotesThis is the rare first overseas edition of the physician James Primrose's 'De vulgi in medicina erroribus' (literally 'Of the common mistakes [by people] in medicine'). Primrose (also known as Jacques Primerose) (1600-1659) was born and brought up in France to a Scottish family which had close links to the house of Stuart, in particular to James VI/I. The family moved to England in the 1620s and Primrose eventually moved to Hull in Yorkshire where he worked as a doctor and also built a career as a prolific and highly regarded medical author. In this book, his most popular, first published in London in 1638, he attacks the non-professional practice of medicine, and the widespread use of folk remedies by quack doctors. Two of the common errors refuted by Primrose were that the linen of the sick ought not to be changed; that remedies ought not to be rejected for their unpleasantness; and that gold boiled in broth will cure consumption. Despite his rational approach to medicine, Primrose remained devoted to the writings of ancient physicians, such as Galen, which led to him to reject William Harvey's discovery that the heart pumps blood around the body.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2765
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on04/11/09
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
AuthorQuentin Craufurd, 1743-1819
TitleEssais sur la Litterature Francaise, ecrits pour l'usage d'une Dame etrangere compatriote de l'auteur
ImprintS.L.
Date of Publication1803
LanguageFrench
NotesThis is an extremely rare edition of only 100 copies to have been distributed among the friends of the author. The first part, taking up the entirety of the first volume and pages 1 to 289 of the second, examines various French literary styles and their most representative authors. Craufurd was particularly critical of Voltaire. The rest of the second volume gathers the essays of such French authors as Montesquieu, Voltaire, Diderot, Rousseau, Raynal, Mably, Condillac and D'Alembert, etc. This work was republished in 1815 and 1818 with additions. Quentin Craufurd, the younger brother of Baronet Sir Alexander Craufurd, was born on 22 Sept. 1743 at Kilwinnock, Renfrewshire. He entered the East India Company's service at a young age, and after making a large fortune returned to Europe in 1780. He eventually settled in Paris where his wealth allowed him to become an active collector of books, pictures, prints and manuscripts. He was a loyal friend and supporter of the French royal family after the revolution of 1789, and was received with favour at the court of the Bourbons after the Restoration on account of his behavior between the years 1789 and 1792. He published his first work in 1790 and over eight others followed. He died in Paris on 23 Nov. 1819.
ShelfmarkABS.8.204.07
Reference SourcesDNB
Acquired on23/05/04
AuthorR.C.H.
TitleEdinburgh weekly miscellany.
ImprintEdinburgh: J. Elder [J. Colston]
Date of Publication1831-1832
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is the second recorded copy of the complete run (14 issues) of a short-lived Edinburgh newspaper, the other complete run being in the Mitchell Library, Glasgow. The editorial to the first issue reveals that this will be a literary newspaper/periodical with a difference: 'As it is a well known fact, that many possessed of genius, and strong mental power, have, from diffidence, want of opportunity, and a thousand other obvious reasons, confined their efforts to their own solitary perusal, or, at most, to the limited circle of their private friends. To give such an opportunity of placing their productions before the public eye, a column will always be reserved in the Weekly Miscellany'. Despite these fine sentiments, the paper also relied on snippets of works taken from established authors, such as John Galt, Francis Jeffrey and Washington Irving. The "Waterloo directory of Scottish newspapers and periodicals" also notes that the paper continually stresses the evils of intemperance. Issued on a weekly basis, the 8-page long "Weekly Miscellany" appears initially to have been a success. By the time of the fifth number in December 1831 the editor refers to the 'unprecedented demand' for the publication; moreover, the list of agents selling it in Edinburgh grows considerably over the first few issues, with agents appearing in other places in central Scotland by the time issue 7 is printed. By issue 13 the publication date has shifted from Wednesday to Saturday as a result of a delay in producing a masthead (an engraving of the goddess Minerva) for the Miscellany. However, the next issue proved to be the last one, with the editor revealing that some of the agents had been less than forthcoming in paying him for the copies they had sold, leaving him unable to continue to producing the paper. At the end of this final issue is a note by the editor, asking for any unwanted copies of issues one and two, in order to make up complete sets, which were bound up with a general title page and index. This particular copy is a complete set, with a general title page which reveals that the Miscellany was 'conducted by R.C.H.'. The identity of R.C.H., who was presumably the editor and founder of the paper, is not known. The NLS copy has an inscription on the general title page: Janet Howison Craufurd Craufurdland 1833. Craufurdland castle in Ayrshire is the family seat of Howison (Houison) Craufurd family, (Winifred) Janet was a daughter of the then laird William Howison Craufurd. There is a further note in pencil on the title page stating that someone recovered this book from becoming snuff paper.
ShelfmarkAB.10.212.44
Reference SourcesWaterloo directory of Scottish newspapers and periodicals, 1800-1900 (ed. J.S. North), Waterloo, Ont., 1989, no. 2296
Acquired on23/12/11
AuthorRamsay, Allan
TitleGentle Shepherd
ImprintGlasgow: by A. Foulis
Date of Publication1788
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a most unusual binding, with elements that suggest the influence of the style of James Scott of Edinburgh. The chequerboard design has alternating panels of tree and sprinkled calf, and the central panel has a gilt-bordered oval containing a stencilled star-burst within which is a gilt design of musical instruments and player's mask. The binding is probably Scottish, but we do not have anything comparable. The sense of structured design, and the use of the musical instruments within the oval, do suggest James Scott's work. The book contains aquatint plates by the Scottish artist and engraver David Allan, and also has two additonal plates (after p.14 and before p.93).
ShelfmarkBdg.m.156
Reference SourcesGaskell 688
Acquired on10/06/04
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