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 email@example.com
Important Acquisitions 601 to 615 of 835:
Ordered by date acquired |
Order by author
| Order by title
|Title||Illustrated price list of bowling green bowls and bowling requisites|
|Date of Publication||1955|
|Notes||This is an attractive trade catalogue from a Glasgow manufacturer of lawn bowling equipment.
The company, established in 1796, was the first to offer standard bias on bowls by creating the world's first bowl shaping machine. In the same year that the shaping machine was invented and patented - 1871 - Thomas Taylor Bowls also constructed the first bowls testing table, using a slate base similar to a billiards table and covering it in felt and canvas. The bowls were made of lignum-vitae, a special wood obtainable only from the West Indies.
In 1928 the newly formed International Bowling Board adopted the Scottish Bowling Association's rules of the game and the Thomas Taylor standard bowl as the minimum bias bowl for all international matches. As well as bowls the company also manufactured bowl measures and bowl cases. The Library also holds trade catalogues from this company dating from 1937 and 1962.|
|Title||De' costumi e della morte di Maria Clementina Regina d'Inghilterra, di Francia, e d'Irlanda|
|Imprint||In Roma ed in Bologna|
|Date of Publication||1737|
|Notes||This is a biography of Princess Clementina, the wife of the Old Pretender. She was the granddaughter of John Sobieski, the warrior king of Poland. Her marriage took place in 1719, under the protection of Pope Clement XI, who proclaimed the pair King and Queen of England. The alliance had been vehemently opposed by the Holy Roman Emperor, who had imprisoned the young woman. She was later dramatically rescued by a band of Jacobite adventurers led by Charles Wogan. The marriage proved turbulent, and unhappy with the princess leaving her husband for a time. A reconciliation was eventually arranged, although she did not long survive it as she died in 1731. This is a very good copy of a rare edition complete with portrait, and a final leaf containing an engraved coat of arms.|
|Reference Sources||Booksellers catalogue|
|Title||Spiritual warfare; or some sermons concerning the nature of mortification, together with the right spiritual exercise and spiritual advantages thereof|
|Imprint||Boston: ub N.E. Re-printed by S. Kneeland, for Benj. Eliot, at his shop in King-Street.|
|Date of Publication||1720|
|Notes||This is the first and only American edition of Gray's work, which was first published in Edinburgh in 1670. Gray was a Scottish divine who became extraordinarily popular as a preacher before his sudden death in 1656, at the astonishing age of 22. His writings were all published posthumously.
The present collection of sermons, with a short preface by Thomas Manton, was frequently reprinted throughout the 18th century. This Boston edition is uncommon with the ESTC listing only seven extant copies. The work is in a well-preserved Boston binding of the period.|
|Reference Sources||Booksellers catalogue|
|Title||Brief treatyse settynge forth divers truethes necessary both to be beleved of chrysten people, & kepte also|
|Imprint||London: Thomas Petit|
|Date of Publication||1547|
The acquisition of this item demonstrates how the different aspects of our work can join up serendipitously. Cataloguing the Fort Augustus collections led to a decision to feature Archbishop Hamilton's Catechism of 1552 on our webpages as a Highlight of the collections, and the research for that text meant that we spotted the connection with this Richard Smith item when it was not flagged at all by the vendor.
Richard Smith (1500-1563) was a theologian and divine who, disregarding a couple of tactical recantations, took a staunchly Catholic side during the Reformation. He was the first Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford, and one of the team involved in the production of Henry VIII's Institution of a Christian Man in 1537. When the Protestant party triumphed in England, he twice fled first to Scotland and then to France. While his movements on the accession of Elizabeth I seem fairly clear, there is some confusion over where exactly he was and when, between his first flight from England in 1549 and his return in 1553. He certainly went to St Andrews in Scotland and thence to Louvain.
John Durkan in McRoberts' collection "Essays on the Scottish Reformation" assigns the writing of the Hamilton catechism to another Englishman, Richard Marshall, but notes that Smith was distributing copies to clergy in November, and was present at the Synod which commissioned the catechism. In his edition of Hamilton's catechism in 1882, Professor Mitchell says that Smith was one of the theology faculty at St Andrews when the catechism was drawn up, and his involvement may have led to the echoes of the Institution of a Christian Man (in some cases, direct renderings into Scots) in the catechism. It does seem likely that the production of such a text would have involved the available experts, rather than being the work of one sole individual.
Given all these factors, we can see that this Brief Treatyse is an equally significant source for the catechism to the Institution of a Christian Man. It is Smith's third original work, and its title, like that of the Institution ('A necessary doctrine and erudicion for any chrysten man') emphasizes what the ordinary lay Christian should know - exactly what the catechism offers. Certainly the layout of this book is similar to that of the catechism: it is to be hoped that a researcher will take on the task of comparing the contents.
This library is the best in the world for the study of the 1552 catechism (we hold most of the surviving copies), and here we have an opportunity to enrich the understanding of it through the purchase of a little-known item which is at least a valuable context and probably a direct source. There is no other copy in Scotland according to the ESTC.
While the Brief Treatyse is available on microfilm and also via EEBO, original copies are very rare. This copy has been described as 'not great, but better than a "working" copy'. There are a few minor imperfections, but the main problem is the title page, which is 'cut-round and crudely inlaid' without loss of text, and also 'soiled, somewhat browned and stained'.
Finally, this item has a Scottish provenance: it contains the undated bookplate of Alexander Moffat of Edinburgh, who is unlisted in our bookplates index. At least one contemporary owner has left marginalia and other markings in the text; later owners include Wm Herbert, 1760 and the Duke of Sussex, whose armorial bookplate is on the front pastedown. Finally there is the bookplate of the Bristol collector James Stevens Cox (1910-1997). This book is one of three the NLS has purchased from the sale of his library, a collection considered worthy of its own location in the Short Title Catalogue of English books before 1640.|
|Reference Sources||DNB, catalogue, David McRoberts: Essays on the Scottish Reformation; 1882 and 1884 editions of Archibishop Hamilton's Catechism|
|Title||Abridgement or summarie of the Scots chronicles|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Printed by the Heires of George Anderson, for the Company of Stationers|
|Date of Publication||1650|
|Notes||Monipennie: Abridgement or Summarie of the Scots Chronicles
ESTC R223767; Aldis 1394
The only recorded holding of this Aldis item in Scotland.
John Monipennie's abridgement of the Scots Chronicles was first published in 1612, and went through several editions. This edition is described on the title page as 'Newely inlarged corrected and amended', although the text does not indicate what the enlargments, corrections and amendments are. The actual Abridgement ends with Charles I: 'The Lord increase all royall vertues in his Highnesse, that he may remain a comfort to Christs Church within his own dominions' (p.174), a prayer that sits rather problematically with the 1650 publication date.
Monipennie does not record what he is abridging, other than quoting lines from Boethius and Holinshed on the verso of the title page, but as well as his potted guide to Scottish history, this volume includes a list of the Kings and Queens of Scotland, a 'true description and division of the whole realme', and a 'memoriall of the most rare and wonderfull things in Scotland' (title page). Besides describing rare animals and holy wells, these few pages tell the reader that Loch Ness never freezes, 'signifying unto us, that there is a Mine of Brimstone under it, and that 'in the North seas of Scotland are great Clogs of Timber found, in the which are marveilously ingendered a sort of Geese, called Clayk Geese' (pp.285, 287).
Later owners have left their mark: C.A. Martin, December 1842 and Vernon Holt, 1880. Finally there is the bookplate of the Bristol collector James Stevens-Cox (1910-1997). This book is one of three the NLS has purchased from the sale of his library, a collection considered worthy of its own location in the Short Title Catalogue of English books before 1640. As was a common practice of his, Stevens-Cox has left a brief pencil bibliographical note (on the verso of the front free endpaper).|
|Reference Sources||ESTC, sales catalogue|
|Title||Confirming worke of religion, in its necessity and use briefly held forth; that each Christian may have a proper ballast of his own, of the grounds and reasons of his faith, and thus see the greatness of that security; on which he adventures his eternal fate. ?|
|Imprint||Rotterdam: Printed by Reinier Leers.|
|Date of Publication||1685|
A rare work by a popular ejected Scottish minister published in the place of his exile.
Robert Fleming the elder (his son followed him as a writer and minister) was born in 1630 at Yester, Haddingtonshire, studied at Edinburgh and St Andrews, and may have fought in the Scottish army during the Civil War. He was called to the ministry in 1653, and deprived of his parish of Cambuslang, Lanarkshire, on the restoration of episcopacy in 1662. He preached in Scotland and London, in spite of problems with the authorities and other difficulties, until 1677, when he was called to a collegiate charge in the Scots Church at Rotterdam, a city where many religious exiles took refuge in the 17th century. On a visit to Edinburgh in 1679 he returned to Edinburgh, where he was imprisoned for holding conventicles, but escaped and returned to Rotterdam. His troubles with the Scottish authorities ended with the political changes of 1689, but he remained in Holland and died on a visit to London in 1694.
The DNB lists eleven works by Fleming, in addition to sermons: he defended his own kind of protestantism against Quakers and Catholics alike, and related the lives of Scottish and Ulster Protestants to his own faith and what he saw as the workings of divine providence. This book, in that vein, attempts to show 'the true and infallible way, for attaining a confirmed state in Religion', as the title page says, relating spiritual doctrines and experiences to contemporary events - 'a short confirming prospect of the work of the Lord about his Church, in these last times.'
The NLS already holds other editions of this work, but according to the ESTC there is no other copy of this edition in Scotland, and only seven others are recorded altogether. This copy comes to us with three interesting provenances. On the verso of the title page is an inscription signed 'H.D.A.': Omne tulit punctum/ Qui miscuit Utile dulci ['he has gained every point who has mixed the useful and the agreeable', from Horace's Ars Poetica]. I got this token of kindness from Mr. R.F. the author, my very worthy friend'. The book also has the bookplate of Patrick Hume, 1st Earl of Marchmont, Lord High Chancellor of Scotland, dated 1702. The gilt crowned orange from the arms of the Earl of Marchmont can still be seen on the spine panels, though faded. Finally there is the bookplate of the Bristol collector James Stevens Cox (1910-1997). This book is one of three the NLS has purchased from the sale of his library, a collection considered worthy of its own location in the Short Title Catalogue of English books before 1640.|
|Reference Sources||DNB; sale catalogue|
|Title||Poems on various subjects|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Gordon and Murray|
|Date of Publication||1780|
|Notes||The Library bid successfully for this lot at the auction of part of the library of the late Lord Perth. The lot comprised two books: a fine copy of William Cameron's Poems bound by James Scott of Edinburgh, and a fine copy of the Foulis Press Terence printed in 1742 in a 'Chippendale' binding.
William Cameron of Kirknewton (now in West Lothian) is the anonymous writer of these poems. The Library has another copy also bound by Scott showing the same gilt twist-roll border and ornamented spine, but that copy is very worn. Our new copy is crisp and attractive, with Scott's label affixed to the title-page. It is the same copy that was photographed for J. H. Loudon's book on James and William Scott, which helped to bring their innovative bindings to widespread attention.
The second item is Terence, Comoediae, Glasgow, printed by Robert Urie for Robert Foulis, 1742. This is a most attractive red morocco binding with a gilt-tooled design in the 'Chippendale' style, with flowers and birds around the scrolls of foliage. The textblock, printed by the important Foulis Press, is not on large paper but is uncut.
Both books are important additions to our collection of Scottish bindings, and their provenance makes them particularly pleasing; Lord Perth was a good friend of the Library and a remarkable Scottish collector.|
|Reference Sources||Loudon, p.190-1
|Title||[Collection of Scottish tracts]|
|Date of Publication||1691-1774|
|Notes||These five volumes, bought at auction as one lot, contain 24 items.
The National Library of Scotland has the world's strongest holdings of early Scottish tracts and pamphlets, and there are some particularly important additions here, with a number of very rare or unrecorded works. Some examples of works new to our collections are given here:
'A letter from a gentleman in Edinburgh to his friend in the country', Glasgow, 1752. Only one copy listed in ESTC (Princeton University)
Andrew Welwood, 'A Glimpse of Glory', Edinburgh, 1774. Unrecorded.
'The Black Book of Conscience', 30th edition, Edinburgh, 1751. Only one imperfect copy in ESTC (Huntington Library)
'A description of all the kings of Scotland', 1713. Unrecorded.
'A non-juror's recantation', London, 1691. Unrecorded.
'Issuasive from Jacobitism', London, 1713. Unrecorded.
It is always particularly useful to acquire unrecorded works bound in volumes with other items, as this helps to indicate the context in which they appeared, and so makes it easier for the unknown work to be interpreted. This is a particularly good group of pamphlets on Scottish religion and politics.|
|Title||[Collection of 42 pamphlets etc]|
|Date of Publication||c. 1859-1900|
|Notes||John Beddoe (1826-1911) was born in Worcestershire but studied medicine at Edinburgh University, becoming house physician at Edinburgh Royal Infimary. He developed a keen, not to say obsessive, interest in the different ethnic or racial groups of Europe. His studies of hair and eye colour, height and physique, are among the early works of the science of anthropology. More disturbingly, his ethnological writings prepare the way for the theories of racial separation and extreme nationalism that disfigured the early twentieth century.
This is a collection of some 43 pamphlets and offprints in two volumes, many inscribed by the author, perhaps to a family member or close friend. Among these are some rare provincial Scottish and English imprints, such as 'Anthropological history of Europe', Paisley, 1893. Beddoe spent much of his life in the English west country, and there are some interesting examples of Bristol printing. Many of the works have a distinct Scottish slant. Notably, his publication 'On the stature and bulk of man' has tables with details of Scottish villagers, measured with and without shoes, and weighed with and without clothes. Amusingly, Beddoe spends some time complaining that people would not always cooperate with his researches. In Scotland, the east coast fishermen proved 'extremely stubborn and suspicious', and a Glasgow manufacturer told him it was a 'waste of workmen's time'.
These pamphlets fit in well with existing collections such as the Combe collection of phrenological writings. Although much of Beddoe's data is of great interest, one feels unhappy at the direction of his arguments. 'On the physical characteristics of the Jewish race' (1869) is not actually coloured by any anti-Semitic remarks, but how much did it contribute to the rise of racist pseudo-science sixty years later? This is, perhaps, the darker side of Edinburgh's contribution to science and medicine.|
|Title||Dance of the Sevin Deidly Synnis|
|Imprint||Market Drayton: Tern Press|
|Date of Publication||2003|
|Notes||This is no. 3 of a limited edition of 25 copies of William Dunbar's "Dance of the Sevin Deidly Synnis". The book was produced by Nicholas and Mary Parry at the Tern Press, and is signed by both at the colophon. It is illustrated with ten black and white lithographs by Nicholas Parry. The design, printing, illustration and binding was done by the Parrys.
William Dunbar (ca. 1460-1513?) was probably from East Lothian. He graduated from the University of St Andrews with a master of arts in 1479. Between 1500 and 1513 he received a pension from King James IV as a member of the royal household in the service of James IV. Dunbar was employed both as a royal clerk or secretary and as the King's laureate.
The Scottish court provided Dunbar not only with his livelihood, but also with the primary audience for his poetry. Dunbar, who wrote in the tradition of Chaucer in Middle Scots, has been decsribed as the greatest of the "makaris", to use his own vernacular equivalent for poets. One of his best known poems is "The Thrissill and the rose", which celebrates the wedding of James IV to Margaret Tudor in 1503. He is also famous for the "Flyting between Dunbar and Kennedy", a comparative trial of wits, and "The Goldyn Targe", to name but two of his works.
"The Dance of the Sevin Deidly Synnis" is Dunbar's greatest humorous satire. The sins, ranging from pride to gluttony, are depicted in all their repulsive deformity: it is a work of gloomy power.
Chepman and Myllar issued an edition of seven of Dunbar's poems in 1508; the first complete collection of his poetry was published in two volumes by the bibliophile David Laing in 1834.|
|Reference Sources||DNB, Reid, A. and Osborne, B.D.: Discovering Scottish Writers (Edinburgh 1997), Catholic Encyclopedia|
|Author||Pringle, Thomas (1789-1834)|
|Title||Südafrikanische Skizzen. Aus dem Englischen übersetzt|
|Imprint||Stuttgart und Tübingen: J. G. Cotta'sche Buchhandlung|
|Date of Publication||1836|
|Notes||Pringle 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'.|
|Title||Ubaldi Cassina in Parmensi Lyceo Moralis Philosophiae Regii Profressoris De Morali Disciplina Humanae Societatis.|
|Imprint||Parmae : Ex Typographia Regia|
|Date of Publication||1778|
|Notes||This is a rare first edition of Ubaldo Cassina's comprehensive survey of ethics. Cassina (1736-1824) was a professor or moral philosophy at Parma. This work is intended primarily as a guide for students, and is divided into two sections, each of which deals with one of the main concerns of moral philoso[hy of the period. The first part discusses man in the "state of nature". Cassina cites Locke, Grotius, Gerdil, Malebranche and also the Scottish philosophers Francis Hutcheson (1694-1746) and David Hume (1711-1776).
The second part examines the development of society, and discusses the reasons for the formation of human societies, the nature of the fundamental laws which govern them, the importance of justice, temperance, work and the love of glory. Again, Cassina draws heavily on the work of other philosophers, in particular Plato and Aristotle, but also citing Hume's Essays Moral and Political (1741). Cassina's work clearly documents the transmission of Scottish philosophical thought throughout continental Europe in the 18th century.|
|Title||Gedancken vom Waaren und Geld-Handel [translation of Money and Trade]|
|Imprint||Leipzig: Jacob Schustern|
|Date of Publication||1720|
|Notes||The Library has a strong collection relating to John Law (1671-1729), particularly in the Lauriston Castle collection, and has purchased actively Law-related materials in recent years. As a Scottish-born financier (his family lived at Lauriston Castle) who had a huge impact on the French economy in the short-term, and on the development of the paper-money system in the longer term, Law is a key figure to collect.
We have several copies of the 1705 English edition of Money and Trade, a copy of the second English edition of 1720 (L.C.2539), and two copies of the 1720 French edition. There are no copies in Scotland of the first German edition which we have now acquired. As well as two copies in North America, there is a copy in the University of London Library, which matches the description here. Our new copy is very good and in contemporary boards.
Antoin Murphy, John Law: Economic Theorist and Policy-Maker (1997) discusses the French translation as being a work of some importance, but does not mention a German edition. It is quite possible that this translation may shed new light on how Law was seen in 1720, the year that the Mississippi Bubble burst and his schemes collapsed. As Law's main written work, it is important for the Library to have comprehensive holdings in this area, and thus this is a most desirable acquisition.|
|Reference Sources||Antoin Murphy, John Law, 1997|
|Title||Neues Constitutionenbuch der alten ehrwuerdigen Bruederschaft der Freimaurer|
|Imprint||Frankfurt: In der Andreaeischen Buchhandlung|
|Date of Publication||1743|
|Notes||This is the second, enlarged edition of the German translation of James Anderson's "The Constitutions of the Free Masons; containing the History, Charges, Regulations, &c. of that Most Ancient and Right Worshipful Fraternity. For the Use of the Lodges", which was first published in 1723. Organised freemasonry became established in 1717 when four London lodges formed themselves into a Grand Lodge. In 1721 Anderson, himself a freemason, was asked to produce a rulebook, the Constitutions, which passed through several English editions and was translated into German. The Constitutions are based on a manuscript rulebook which existed in several handwritten copies, dealing with the masons' duties and regulations as well as the history of masonry from the creation.
This edition has a beautiful folded frontispiece engraving representing the armorial sword. The sword plays an important part in Masonic ceremonial and the Grand Sword Bearer leads all processions of Grand Lodge carrying a similar sword.|
|Title||Book of ceilings|
|Imprint||London: Printed for the author|
|Date of Publication||1776|
|Notes||The copy on offer seems to differ from the copy purchased by the Library in 1980 (Sotheby's auction - £456) only by the fact that all of the 48 plates have been coloured. The possibility of acquiring coloured copies of A book of ceilings was mentioned in an advertisement in Richardson's New designs in architecture (1792). The cost was 48 guineas - a guinea per plate - a colossal sum even in those days (in today's terms about over £3500). The only coloured copies traced are at the British Library and the National Library in Warsaw.
The British Library copy (55.I.18 from the Royal Library in an 'Adam' design binding) has both the coloured and uncoloured copies of each plate bound together. The coloured plates have less rich colour and 'white' areas are left as plain paper as compared to the body-colouring in the NLS copy. Also the coloured and uncoloured copies seem not be always the same printed state - e.g. for plate XII Richardson's name is engraved and printed in black on the uncoloured copy whereas on the coloured copy his name is in brown and may be in manuscript. A possible explanation is that the colouring in the BL copy was carried out separately and at an earlier stage.
ESTC lists 13 copies - the only other copies in Scotland are at Bowhill (the then Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch are listed among the subscribers), and Paxton House, Berwickshire, which has the first four plates published in 1774. Both copies are uncoloured. Eileen Harris in British architectural books and writers 1556-1785 lists 4 additional holdings (2 British). Two of the designs (plates XVII and XVIII) were carried out for Sir Lawrence Dundas of Edinburgh, one of which is now to be seen in the Board Room of the Royal Bank of Scotland building in St. Andrew Square, Edinburgh.
Ian Gow, Head of the Curators Department of the National Trust for Scotland has examined the work and believes it more likely that such a deluxe work would have been purchased by book collectors rather than by architects. He has also remarked on the unusual use of gouache and the body-colouring employed in the roundels in the designs. Mr. Gow believes that the acquisition of this work by the National Library offers the opportunity for art and architecture historians to find out more about the colouring of ceilings in 18th century houses and mansions.
There is little doubt that Richardson (who may have come from Inveresk, Midlothian) was closely associated with the Adam brothers earlier in his career. At the age of about 20 he was involved, albeit in a minor capacity and under James Adam's direction, in turning Robert Adam's plates of and commentary on Diocletian's Palace at Split into a publishable book (this was published in 1764 as Ruins of the Palace of the Emperor Diocletian at Spalatro in Dalmatia. Richardson accompanied James Adam on his Grand Tour from 1760 to 1763 and had plenty of opportunity to study the remains of ancient architecture and painting. The National Library holds 2 of Richardson's letters written to his patron (Archibald Shiells of Inveresk) recording his observations of Rome (MS.3812). He probably left the employ of the Adams prior to 1773 as he is not listed among the numerous artists and architects employed by them. According to Eileen Harris it was however Adam's folio of executed designs described in French and English (Works in architecture, published in parts from 1773) which prompted Richardson to start publishing his own works in a similar fashion in 1774. By publishing the work in instalments over a number of years he helped to increase the sales to those unable to invest 3-4 guineas all at once.
A book of ceilings did not have the desired effect of attracting new patrons for Richardson. By publishing his own designs he made available his works for imitation and execution by others and rendered unnecessary his actual employment as an architect.|
|Reference Sources||DNB, Harris, Eileen, British architecture books and writers 1556-1785 (Cambridge, 1990)|