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 790 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 790:
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|Title||Saggio sopra la storia delle societa civile [Essay on the history of civil society]|
|Imprint||Vicenza: nella stamperia Turra|
|Date of Publication||1791-92|
|Notes||This is the rare (no copies recorded outside Italy) first Italian translation of Adam Ferguson's "Essay on the History of Civil Society", one of the main works of the Scottish Enlightenment, and regarded as the first work of empirical sociology in English. The work was first published in English in 1767 and made Ferguson famous as a philosopher and historian throughout Europe. The present translation, by the Vicenza-based lawyer Tomasso Cerato, is taken from the French translation of 1783. A further Italian translation was published in Venice in 1807.
|Imprint||Edinburgh: C. Elliot|
|Date of Publication||1787|
|Notes||This book of psalms in Gaelic has been bound in the style of William Scott, probably not long after it was published in 1787. The ornament at foot of the spine is identical to that reproduced by W.S. Loudon as W.12 in his work on the Edinburgh binders William and James Scott. As a binder William was not as prolific as his father James. It is known that William was binding books in Edinburgh from 1785-1787 and possibly into the early 1790s. A larger version of this particular design can be seen on the spine of Samuel Charter's Sermons, published in Edinburgh in 1786. Another piece of evidence pointing to the possibility of this having been bound by William Scott is the fact that this book was printed for Charles Elliot. Scott printed bound at least 3 works printed for Elliot. However it has to be said that evidence linking Scott with this binding is somewhat tenuous. Most of Scott's bindings were far more elaborate - the covers were usually of tree calf and none of them have this simple border. The text is John Smith's revision of the Gaelic Psalter, published by the Synod of Argyll. Smith was assistant minister of the parish of Kilbrandon and Kilchatten and subsequently minister at Campbeltown. The front flyleaf is signed 'Duncan Campbell' which may be Duncan Campbell, the clerk of the Synod of Argyll.|
|Reference Sources||Loudon, J.H. James and William Scott, bookbinders. London : Scolar Press, 1980.|
|Title||Sailm Dhaibhidh a meadar dhana Gaoidheilg|
|Imprint||Dun Edin [Edinburgh]: Aindra Ainderson|
|Date of Publication||1707|
|Notes||This is a fine copy of the very rare fifth edition of the Psalms in Gaelic. Only one other copy in recorded in public collections and Donald Maclean in 'Typographia Scoto-Gadelica' described this edition as 'excessively rare'. The Psalms were first translated into Gaelic by the Synod of Argyle in 1659. Also printed as part of the book was an edition of the Westminster Shorter Catechism 'Foirceadul aithghear cheasnuighe'. This book formed part of the library of the Earls of Macclesfield at Shirburn Castle, Oxfordshire. The first Earl of Macclesfield, Thomas Parker (1666-1732) was deeply interested in theological works and it is likely that he purchased this item in the early 18th century. The Macclesfield bookplate is on the front pastedown with a library label dating from 1860 on the front free endpaper.|
|Reference Sources||Scottish Gaelic Union Catalogue (Edinburgh, 1984) Maclean, Donald. Typographia Scoto-Gadelica (Edinburgh, 1915)|
|Title||Saints recreation, third part, upon the estate of grace|
|Date of Publication||1683|
|Notes||This copy of Geddes's volume of pious verse can perhaps be described as a bibliographical conundrum. It was published in at least two variant forms. The first (of which the NLS holds two copies Cwn.699, H.29.b) contains dedications to Anna, Duchess of Hamilton, Dame Lilias Drummond wife of Lord James Drummond, Earl of Perth and Dame Anna Sinclair, Lady Tarbat. These dedications are dated September and November 1683. This second variant does not include any of the above dedications, but only a dedication to Margaret Lesley, Countess-Dowager of Weems (Wemyss) (d.1688), dated June 1683. This along with 'A summary view of the substance and method of the book' have been clearly inserted as cancellans in this copy and at least one other (Henry E. Huntington Library) which have been identified. It is unclear as to why the book was published with separate dedications and also why the Weems dedication is dated earlier than the publication with the cancellanda.
Geddes (1600?-1694) was a Presbyterian minister at Wick and also at Urquhart, Elginshire. Prior to becoming a minister he was a schoolmaster at Keith and a governor to Hugh Rose of Kilravock. At the time the book was published he had resigned from the ministry on refusing to take the test of 1682. In the imprimatur at the beginning of the volume he mentions a number of books - on history, Hebrew and Latin -for which he had received some financial support towards their publication. However 'The saints recreation' appears to be his only published work. According to the dedication, the Countess-Dowager of Weems clearly assisted Geddes financially in the printing of this book. He praises fulsomely her 'Christian moderation, prudence and sobrietie' 'in this cold, Laodicean-like and backslyding age'.
The volume is bound unusually in pink/red stained deerskin, decorated with gilt tooling on the borders. This material had been used primarily by medieval monastic binders, but was rarely used as late as the 17th century.|
|Reference Sources||Aldis 2381/ESTC R37394|
|Author||Charles Buick & Sons|
|Imprint||[Edinburgh: W & A.K. Johnston, Ltd]|
|Date of Publication||1907|
|Notes||Trade catalogues often contain fascinating insights into aspects of social and industrial history which would otherwise be hard to recover. This catalogue of 'sanitary appliances' from the firm of Charles Buick and Sons of Alloa documents the range of 'fireclay baths, lavatories, sinks, wash tubs, urinals, closets, hospital appliances, channels and every other description of enamelled goods' the firm manufactured and made available to 'architects, sanitary engineers, plumbers and builders' in 1907, with details of the designs, materials and costs involved. Many of the items illustrated in this catalogue, such as the 'range of 4 independent school closets' and hospital 'slop sinks' would have remained in use throughout the twentieth century. The occasional handwritten notes on this catalogue suggest that it was used by a French speaker. |
|Reference Sources||Bookseller's catalogue|
|Title||Saturday Feb. 18th. For the St. James's Chronicle. Sketch of a comparison between the two late writers of travels in Scotland.|
|Date of Publication||[1775?]|
|Notes||Bound at the end of a copy of the first edition of Samuel Johnson's 'Journey to the Western Islands' of 1775 is this 3-page comparison between the traveller writers Thomas Pennant and Samuel Johnson. The author, who simply signs himself 'Staffa', seems to be a Scot who feels that Johnson has insulted his country. With plenty of satirical humour, he compares the way they approach Scotland, much to Johnson's disadvantage. Pennant looked for interesting landscapes and places, whereas Johnson looked for things to grumble about. Prejudice is the problem:
'Whence can proceed this wide difference between these two travellers, as to their objects, pursuits, reception, and accounts of the same country in the same year? Is it because Mr. Pennant is a gentleman and a scholar, and Dr. Johnson only a scholar? Or is it because Mr. Pennant is a Welchman, and Dr. Johnson an Englishman, and the subject of discourse, Scotland?'
This is a good addition to the Library's holdings of Johnsoniana and books about travellers in Scotland.|
|Reference Sources||ESTC N46421|
|Author||Murray, W., Leut.-Col., of Ochtertyre|
|Title||Scenery of the Highlands and islands of Scotland, lithographed by S. Leith, Banff, from drawings in outline, by Lieut. Colonel W. Murray, Younger of Ochtertyre|
|Imprint||Perth : D. Morison, Junr. & Co.|
|Date of Publication||[181-?]|
|Notes||This is a rare book of letterpress and lithographs by S. Leith from drawings by Lieut.-Colonel W. Murray, Younger of Ochtertyre. Although there is no publication date on the title page, there is a textual reference to a letter from Sir Walter Scott which was written in 1812. No biographical information was found for Lt.-Col. Murray. Although the title page indicates that this is "Part 1" there is no indication that any further volumes were published.
There are 26 leaves of plates and also a variety of smaller engravings situated throughout the text. Scottish scenes featured include: Loch Maree; Scuir of Eigg; Loch Awe; Loch Alsh; Ben Venue and the Trossachs; North East coast of Skye; The Red Head, Angus; Dunottar Castle; Coir-Urchran; Perth; The Hebrides; Ben Arthur; Doune Castle; Dunblane Cathedral; St. Andrews; Dunsinnane and Abbotsford.
Compare Murray, 'Sketches in Scotland', , ABS.8.202.26. This appears to have some, but not all, of the same plates.
The title-page with 'Scenery of the Highlands' is probably a survivor of the original title-pages that were issued with each part: most of the plates do not relate to the highlands. Perhaps this should be regarded as a different edition of 'Sketches in Scotland', lacking the main title page?|
|Reference Sources||Schenck, Directory of the Lithographic Printers of Scotland, p.66|
|Title||Scotch gallantry display'd: or the life and adventures of the unparralel'd [sic] Col. Fr-nc-s Ch-rt-s, impartially related. With some remarks on other writers on this subject.|
|Imprint|| London: printed for, and sold by the booksellers in town and country, |
|Date of Publication||1730|
|Notes||This is the rare first edition of a pamphlet which gives an account of the life of the infamous Francis Charteris (c.1665-1732), gambler and rake, who was born in Edinburgh, and whose family were major landowners in Scotland. The work was published at the height of his notoriety; in December 1729 Charteris was charged with the attempted rape of Ann Bond, one of his maidservants, who had been in his employment for only a few days. After hearing testimony from the girl herself, as well as from fellow servants, Charteris was found guilty and in February 1730 was sentenced to death by hanging. It was unusual at the time for a gentleman to be punished for what many contemporaries considered an act of gallantry, and his conviction may have been secured by influential parties hostile to Charteris. The rape, however, was just one such in a long career of gambling, extortion, and serial seduction, usually of tall young lower class girls (Charteris was 6 feet tall), recently arrived in London, ensnared by one of his employees and brought to his houses in the West End. If unable to secure their favours by fair means, he would resort to force. Charteris, however, escaped the gallows. On the advice of judges, privy council, and his advocate, Duncan Forbes (another legatee of Charteris's will), George II granted him a full pardon on 10 April. The trial and its aftermath had incurred expenses amounting to £15,000, but Charteris's personal fortune was estimated at £200,000 so this was a sum he could well afford. He may have bought his freedom, but for the rest of his life Charteris was vilified, and was once physically attacked in his coach. He left London for good in 1730, retiring to his property in Lancashire before returning to Scotland in February 1732. He died the following month at his Stony Hill estate near Musselburgh, after using "Opiates in great Quantities" (The Country Journal, 4 March 1732. At his burial in the family vault at the Greyfriars churchyard, Edinburgh, the populace gave a "loud Huzza" (Fog's Weekly Journal, 11 March 1732). Only one copy (in the British Library) is recorded in ESTC.|
|Reference Sources||Oxford Dictionary of National Biography|
|Date of Publication||1807|
|Notes||A presentation copy, with the note in the author's hand, of the 1807 printing of this important work. This copy is in good condition and complete with both large folding tables. The Library currently holds only an imperfect copy (wanting tables) of the 1808 printing, the first which was actually published. Bentham, the political philosopher who has come to be known as one of the founders of utilitarianism, wrote this work in favour of reforming the Scottish legal system as a series of letters. Clearly written and full of detail and practical examples, his proposals relate in particular to the workings of juries and appeal courts.|
|Reference Sources||Chuo University Library, Bibliographical Catalogue of the Works of Jeremy Bentham, Tokyo: 1989, S1-1
The Bentham Project http://www.ucl.ac.uk/Bentham-Project/index.htm|
|Author||Fordun, John of|
|Date of Publication||1722|
|Notes||Scotichronicon, the key text of early Scottish history, was written in the later 14th century, but was late in appearing in print: this appears to be the first printing of all five books with this title. Thomas Hearne worked from the manuscript sources to produce this impressive edition, which has in addition to the Latin text an extensive editorial preface, a list of subscribers, appendices, four engraved plates (one folding), and detailed indexes. This is a large-paper copy on thick, good quality paper in good condition: the advertisement of 25 April 1722 before the start of the main text in the first volume states that the subscribers were expected to make an initial payment of a guinea and a half for a large paper copy, as opposed to a guinea for the 'regular' version. It is also in an attractive calf binding by Thomas Elliott of London, who was one of the main binders of the Harleian Library. The covers have a gilt border with a double fillet, a floral roll and an ornamental roll, both recorded in Nixon, Five Centuries of English Bookbinding, no. 60. The spines are divided into seven panels separated by raised bands: the second and third panels have red goatskin labels with respectively the title and the volume number in gilt letters, the other panels and the raised bands are also gold-tooled. There is a gilt floral roll on the board edges and a blind-tooled roll on the turn-ins. It has marbled endleaves and the edges of the leaves are red sprinkled. From the library at Fort Augustus. This is an appropriate addition to the collections, particularly as our existing two small paper sets of this edition are both imperfect.|
|Reference Sources||Howard Nixon & Mirjam Foot, History of Decorated Bookbinding in England, Oxford, 1992, p. 82-3
Howard Nixon, Five Centuries of English Bookbinding, London, 1978, p. 136 (no. 60)
Maggs Bros., catalogue 1075, no. 135; catalogue 1212 (no. 87)|
|Title||Sea sermons: or, a series of discourses for the use of the Royal Navy. |
|Imprint||London: J. Rivington|
|Date of Publication||1781|
|Notes||This is collection of fourteen sermons by the Scottish surgeon and abolitionist James
Ramsay (1733-1789), "which reveal a genuine affection for the sailor, an understanding of his character,
and an appreciation of his contribution to the nation"(ODNB). Ramsay was born in Fraserburgh and educated at Aberdeen University. He joined the Navy in 1757, serving as ship's doctor on board "The Arundel". When his ship intercepted the British slave ship "Swift" in 1759, Ramsay found over 100 slaves suffering from dysentery, lying in their own blood and excreta, a scene which affected him so profoundly that, on returning to his ship, he fell and fractured his thigh bone. Made permanently lame by the fall, and
facing the end of his naval career, Ramsay sought ordination in the Anglican church to enable
him to work among slaves. He served as both clerk and surgeon in St. Kitts from 1761 to 1777, then rejoined the navy in 1778 as a chaplain in the West Indies station. "Sea sermons" address the perils and temptations of a life at sea, such as mutiny, desertion, drunkenness, and swearing. His phrase used in the book, "You and your fellow combattants[sic] were a band of brothers engaged in one cause", was a phrase later adopted by Nelson when seeking to inspire his crew. The same year as this book was published, Ramsay returned from the West Indies to live in London, where he was occupied with reform of the Navy Board, the recruitment of surgeons for the first colonising expedition to Australia in 1787 and promoting the abolitionist cause. Only 4 other copies of this book are recorded in ESTC.|
|Reference Sources||Oxford Dictionary of National Biography|
|Title||Seelen Artzney. Das ist: Ein schoener und nuetzlicher Tractat, in welchem die Kranckheiten der Seele, ihre Ursachen, Zeichen, Zufaelle und Prognostica ordentlich beschrieben und zugleich angezeigt wird ?|
|Imprint||Hanau: David Aubry; Frankfurt: Clemens Schleichen und Peter de Zetter|
|Date of Publication||1634|
|Notes||This is the second German edition of Abernethy's seminal "Christian and heavenly treatise containing Physick for the soule" of 1615; the first German translation was published in 1625.
This edition is bound in contemporary vellum with blind tooling and gauffered edges.
John Abernethy became Bishop of Caithness in 1616, but was deprived of the See in 1638; he died in 1639.
His "Physick" deals with original sin as the source of spiritual illness, and with the cure or "Artzney" for different sins such as jealousy, impatience, fear, intemperance or hatred. The treatise is modelled on medical books detailing cures for certain diseases, and indeed draws on diseases of the body as parallels, such as the "cancer of heresy".
The translator of the German edition is unknown, but he has added comments and enlarged the original English version.|
|Reference Sources||Scott, H. Fasti ecclesiae Scoticanae, 1928: |b vol. 2, p. 125|
|Author||Leighton, John M.|
|Title||Select views of the lakes of Scotland : from original paintings by John Fleming / engraved by Joseph Swan ; with historical and descriptive illustrations by John M. Leighton.|
|Date of Publication||1830-1833|
|Notes||This is the full set of the 16 part issues of the book published in 1834 (A.116.a.12-13) as 'The lakes of Scotland'. That it was a work of some popularity is evidenced by the lengthy subscription list in part 16, the enthusiastic reviews reprinted inside the lower cover of each part and the publication of further editions in 1836 and 1839. The 48 engraved plates contained in this set were printed on what the publisher and engraver, Joseph Swan described as 'very superior India paper, which for purity, clearness and colour, will be found equal to any which has yet met the public eye' The India proofs cost 7s. 6d. per part with Royal folio copies at 12 shillings per part and the cheapest fine impressions at 5s. 6d.
The work was aimed at 'all lovers of the fine arts' as well as 'admirers of Scotland's picturesque and romantic scenery'. According to the preface, which was written for and included in the final part in 1833, this was the first work 'entirely devoted to this branch of Scottish scenery'. Not only the well-known lakes were described but also but also those 'seldom visited and little heard of, and others which were quite terra incognita to tourists'.
Joseph Swan had previously published 'Select views of Glasgow and its environs' (1828) and 'Select views on the Clyde' (1830), both of which were collaborations with the author of this work, John M. Leighton and the artist, John Fleming. Greenock-born Fleming (1792-1845) specialized in painting mountain scenery in oils and watercolours, was a member of the West of Scotland Academy and exhibited in Glasgow.|
|Title||Selection of blocks from the collection of John A. Birkbeck|
|Imprint||Alan Anderson and Alex M. Frizzell|
|Date of Publication||1971|
|Notes||This is a most attractive selection of examples of printing from the ornamental blocks in the collection of the Scottish printer John A. Birkbeck. Many of Birkbeck's manuscripts and books are now held by the Library, including those in the Birkbeck special collection. This acquisition complements these existing holdings. It is also notable that this is printed by the Edinburgh-based Tragara Press, whose publications we have been collecting over the years. This work was printed by Alan Anderson and Alex M. Frizzell on 15 June 1971, in a run of 25 copies only. It is in fine condition, loose in blue wrappers as issued.|
|Reference Sources||Anderson, Alan. The Tragara Press 1954-1979. Edinburgh, 1979.|
|Title||Selim and Zaida. With other poems.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Arch. Constable and Longman & Rees, London|
|Date of Publication||1800|
|Notes||This 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.|