Important acquisitions

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Rare Book Collections works to build up the national collections through purchases (through dealers or at auction) and donations. This directory gives details of 899 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 601 to 615 of 899:

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AuthorJane Porter
TitleThaddaus Constantin Graf von Sobieski. : Novelle.
ImprintDresden: P.G. Hilschersche Buchhandlung
Date of Publication1825-1831
LanguageGerman
NotesThis is the first edition in German of Jane Porter's (c. 1776-1850) hugely popular novel "Thaddaeus of Warsaw" first published in English in 1803. Jane Porter was born in England but moved to Edinburgh with her family in 1780, after the death of her father. She was formally educated in Edinburgh but she would later claim she also received an informal education from listening to tales of Scottish history about the lives of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce as told by the servants in her home and by an elderly neighbour. These tales would inspire later when she came to write historical fiction. Porter's mother was acquainted with Walter Scott's mother, and he is said to have played with the girls when he was a boy (Scott, however, makes no reference to the family in his letters or journals). The family later moved to London where Jane began her literary career. "Thaddaeus of Warsaw" was inspired by the Polish patriot Tadeusz Kosciuszko (1746-1817), who had fought unsuccessfully to preserve Polish-Lithuanian independence from Russia. In the novel Porter creates the fictional character of Thaddeus Sobieski, who takes part in the unsuccessful nationalist struggle in Poland in 1794?5. Thaddeus flees to London, where he has further adventures, and falls in love and is reunited with his long-lost father. The success of the novel was immediate and Porter followed it up with an even more successful one "The Scottish chiefs". A footnote to the 1831 introduction of "Thaddeus of Warsaw" states that it was after the publication of "Thaddeus" and "The Scottish Chiefs in German" that Jane Porter was made a lady of the Chapter of St. Joachim and received the gold cross of the order of Wuerttemberg for her representation of virtuous Christian heroes.
ShelfmarkAB.1.216.46
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on29/07/16
AuthorJean Scott
TitleA trip to the land of my ancestors: I visit my Scotch cousins.
Imprint[South Dakota? : s.n.]
Date of Publication[1894?]
LanguageEnglish
NotesAn unrecorded and privately printed travel account of a visit to Scotland made by a Jean Scott a school teacher of Armour, South Dakota during 1893-94. The author explains her motivations on the first page: "In 1844 my parents emigrated from Perth, Scotland, to Kenosha, Wisconsin, where they lived the remainder of their lives, loyal citizens to the country of their adoption. I think that they never regretted the removal or desired to return, except for to visit. When I first remember them, they had become quite Americanized, having readily adopted the ways and manners of the country and people. yet their former home and friends were not forgotten by them, but were often spoken of in glowing and affectionate terms, until I had a great desire even when very young to see that wonderful and much famed country, the land of the birth of my parents and of their ancestors for generations. Yet the opportunity did not present itself till the spring 1893 ...". Scott sailed from New York to Scotland, where she saw relatives and visited a variety of tourist destinations, including Perth, Kirkcaldy, Bridge of Earn, Falkland, St Andrews, Dundee, Glenfarg, Kinross, Milnathort (her mother's birthplace), Lake Leven, Inverness, Burns Country and Glasgow and Edinburgh. After Scotland she travelled by train to London then returned to North America in 1894 via Canada.
ShelfmarkAP.2.216.01
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on11/12/15
AuthorJebb, Samuel
TitleThe life of Robert Earl of Leicester, the favourite of Queen Elizabeth: drawn from original writers and records
ImprintLondon: Woodman and Lyon
Date of Publication1727
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis book comes from the library of Gordon Castle, home of the Dukes of Gordon, and contains that library's booklabel, shelf label and armorial bookplate. However originally it belonged to one particular member of the Gordon family, as revealed by a flyleaf inscription: 'Lord Lewis Gordon his Book given to him by his Mamma Janry 17th 1733'. Lord Lewis Gordon (c.1725-54) would be one of Bonnie Prince Charlie's members of council in 1745, and end his life in exile in France. This life of a prominent Elizabethan courtier at first glance does not seem a likely present for the Jacobite Henrietta Gordon to give to her 8-year-old fatherless son, and one wonders if he in fact ever read the book, or if it made its way into the family library because it failed to hold his interest.
ShelfmarkAB.2.209.09
Reference SourcesOxford DNB
Acquired on21/05/09
AuthorJerome, Saint
TitleVitas patrum.
ImprintLyons
Date of Publication1502
LanguageLatin
NotesThis volume, an account of the lives of the church fathers by St. Jerome, was acquired primarily because of its intriguing Scottish provenance, which spans either side of the religious tumult in 16th century Scotland. The works of St. Jerome were not unknown in Scotland at the time - Durkan and Ross record nine titles, although not this particular one. The ownership of such a text by two Presbyterian ministers in the late 16th and early 17th century is indicative of a widening of interest in patristic scholarship among ministers following the religious polarisation of previous decades. There are two pre-Reformation inscriptions one of John Guthrie, dated 1529, - on the final leaf - and David Fothringham on the title page. The surname Guthrie is very prevalent in Forfarshire and a number of John Guthries from Angus attended St. Andrews during the late 1520s and 1530s. Fothringham was possibly a contemporary of Guthrie's; the inscription on the title page reads: 'Ex dono magis. David Fotheringham Rector[-] de Kirk[den] quod nemo aufert sub pena excommunicationis est'. In the same hand, also on the title page 'Ave Maria' has been written, from which can be inferred that the writer was probably a Catholic. On the final leaf is inscribed, 'Braktolo' possibly in Fothringham's and there is a Bractullo in the parish of Kirkden, Forfarshire. The other people whose names are recorded on the title page, both Presbyterian ministers, are a little easier to trace and identify. The clearest and latest inscription reads: 'Carloi Lumisden ex dono Mri Jacobi Balfour 160[-] 12.IX (29 September). James Balfour, (1540-1613) was a minister in a number of parishes Guthrie, Dunnichen, Kirkden of old Idvie in Forfarshire between 1563 and 1589 before moving to Edinburgh, where he was minister of St. Giles until his death in 1613. There he had a chequered career escaping to Fife in 1596 after refusing to offer thanksgiving for the failure of the Gowrie conspiracy, taking up his duties again the following year, being summoned to London in 1606 and confined to Cockburnspath and Alford in 1607. Charles Lumsden who received the book from Balfour was minister of Duddingston from 1588 to 1630. There is a long gap of over two hundred years in picking up the threads of the ownership of this volume. The bookplate of David Maitland Titterton dates from the late 19th century and then it became part of the famous library of William Foyle. [Adams J144]
ShelfmarkRB.s.2082
Acquired on01/08/00
AuthorJoersson, S. A.
TitleAdam Smith auteur des recherches sur la richesse des nations & Thomas Payne
ImprintGermanie
Date of Publication1796
LanguageFrench
NotesThis book sets Smith against Paine, arguing that Paine's teaching in 'The decline and fall of the English system of finance' threatens disastrous war and political disorder. This work, presented to the French government, offers Smith's philosophy as the sensible alternative. The author quotes from the 1781 Yverdon edition of Smith's 'Wealth of Nations'. The work seems to have been published simultaneously in English, French and German. NLS currently has only a copy of the English version, at shelfmark NG.1300.b.16. Despite being published in multiple languages, it seems to be an uncommon book, and it clearly did not have the effect its author was seeking. The appeal to France to seek peace rather than further destructive conflict evidently did not prevent the Napoleonic wars. This is a very nice copy in gilt red morocco, with marbled endpapers.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2308
Acquired on08/04/03
AuthorJohann N.C. Buchenroeder
TitleElliots Leben: nebst practischen Bemerkungen aus dessen Leben gezogen zur Bildung junger Krieger und anderer Personen vom Stande.
ImprintHamburg: Moellerische Buchhandlung
Date of Publication1783
LanguageGerman
NotesThis is a second edition of a German biography by Johann Nicolaus Carl Buchenroeder of the celebrated Scottish army officer, George Augustus Eliott, later to become first Baron Heathfield of Gibraltar (1717-1790). Eliott was born in Stobs, Roxburghshire, the seventh son of the baronet, Sir Gilbert Eliott. He studied on the continent before beginning a long and illustrious military career, seeing active service as a volunteer in the Prussian army. Eliott also served in the British army on the Continent during the War of the Austrian Succession and Seven Years War, but is now best remembered for his leadership of the British garrison of Gibraltar. He arrived as governor in 1779 and supervised the improvement of fortifications before the impending attack by French and Spanish forces. The garrison had in 1775 also been reinforced by three battalions from Hanover in Germany (King George III being king of Hanover as well). For two and a half years the 6,000 British and German troops were subject to heavy bombardment and a blockade by the French and Spanish floating batteries. The garrison managed to hold firm, despite existing on starvation rations, until the lifting of the siege in 1783. This German biography appeared in the wake of Eliott's triumph and is illustrated with six plates, four of which are folding plates which show plans/battle scenes of Gibraltar, the other two being portraits of George III and Eliott himself. (In this copy the plates have all been hand-coloured). The foreword to this second enlarged edition states that the first edition of 1,500 copies had not been deemed sufficient to meet the demands of the wider German readership, hence the publication of the second edition of 2,000 copies, which includes a poem written on behalf of 'German patriots' in praise of the 'defender of Gibraltar'. The publication of a German biography is a testament to the role the Hanoverian soldiers played in the epic defence of this strategic outpost. It also plays on the close links between the German states and the British Hanoverian monarchy, united against the common foe, France, as well as Eliott's own connection with Germany throughout his career, which is presented as a model one for young German soldiers to follow. The link between Hanover and Gibraltar was maintained by the Hanoverian army; to honour the survivors of the siege, the three battalions that served there were authorised to wear a blue cloth cuff-title embroidered with the name of Gibraltar. Even after Hanover, and its army, was assimilated by Prussia in 1866, the soldiers of the Hanoverian fusilier regiment no. 73 wore the Gibraltar cuff-title right up to the end of the 1st World War. The Gibraltar regiment served on the Western Front throughout the war, ironically fighting against British forces most of the time, with its most famous member being the author Ernst Juenger, author of war memoir "Storm of steel".
ShelfmarkAB.1.212.43
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on23/12/11
AuthorJohannes de Colonia
TitleQuestiones magistrales in divina subtilissimi Scoti volumina
ImprintBasel : Adam Petrus de Langendorff
Date of Publication1510
LanguageLatin
NotesThree early Duns Scotus-related volumes (others at RB.s.2066, RB.s.2067), bought at the most recent sale of books from the Donaueschingen Court Library in Germany. All three volumes are in contemporary blind-stamped pigskin bindings and in fine condition. All of them bear the ink stamp of the Fuerstliche Hofbibliothek Donaueschingen on the verso of the title page, but also show earlier marks of ownership. Note: Adams J230, which records one copy in Cambridge UL. A very rare compendium of Scotist theses, the second and last edition after one incunable edition. The title page shows an attractive woodcut border created by the Swiss engraver Urs Graf (1485-1529) with his initials, including the Basel coat of arms at the top. The volume is bound in contemporary pigskin over wooden boards, decorated with blind fillets and rolls arranged in a panel design. Remains of two clasps. The spine with five raised bands and a paper label in the top compartment. The initials LCV of the Franciscan Convent at Villingen added later in the top half of the upper board. Ownership inscription (18th-century?) of the Villingen convent on title page. An earlier inscription on the back free endpaper, dated [15]12, records the donation of the volume to a minorite friar Henricus Seratoris.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2065
Acquired on14/06/00
AuthorJohn Catnach
TitleAbove 1200 volumes of books to be sold by auction, in the town-hall, Alnwick, on Tuesday the 2d, March
ImprintAlnwick: J. Catnach
Date of Publication1802
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a very rare hand-bill, dated 12 February 1802, advertising the sale of the remainder of the stock of the printer and bookseller John Catnach from 2 March onwards. Would-be purchasers were also directed to purchase any of the books by private contract until 27 February by contacting the two agents for the sale, who had catalogues available. John Catnach was born in Burntisland, Fife, in 1769. Having served an apprenticeship as a printer in Edinburgh, he started in business in Berwick-upon-Tweed in the late 1780s, moving to Alnwick in 1790. The work of the Catnach press was of high quality but Catnach himself was not a successful businessman. He was declared bankrupt in 1801, hence the sale advertised in this hand-bill. He managed to start in business again, before moving to Newcastle in 1808, where he eventually ended up in the debtors prison. He moved again, this time to London, in 1812, where he and his family lived in poverty until his death the following year. His son James later became famous for the street literature publications produced on his press at Seven Dials. This hand-bill has survived among the recently dispersed personal papers of Thomas Adams, solicitor, Alnwick agent for the Duke of Northumberland and owner of Eshott Hall, south of Alnwick; a Joseph Moor has used the verso to record the receipt of the final five shillings and six pence due to him from Adams for building work on the property.
ShelfmarkAP.3.207.08
Reference SourcesC. Hindley "History of the Catnach Press" London, 1886.
Acquired on15/05/07
AuthorJohn Clark
TitleDirections for using Clark's pocket microscope.
Imprint[Edinburgh : s.n.]
Date of Publication[1773]
LanguageEnglish
NotesSingle sheet item giving directions for a portable microscope sold by John Clark of Edinburgh. Clark (c. 1725-c.1790) was an optical instrument maker, jeweller and goldsmith who was based in the city from 1749 until the 1790s in at least three different locations. He was the second earliest microscope maker in Scotland and became renowned for the high quality of his instruments, first offering silver ones in 1749, then a modified version in 1754 and then this brass instrument in 1773. Along with the "Directions" the Library also purchased "John Clark to the public" a single sheet advertisement item in which Clark announces that he has given up the jewellery business and will concentrate on optical instruments. Neither of these items is recorded in ESTC.
ShelfmarkAP.3.217.09
Reference SourcesCatalogue of the The Golub Collection, University of California, Berkeley.
Acquired on14/07/17
AuthorJohn Ferdinand
TitleThe sword's-man: containing a series of observations on the use of the sword
ImprintEdinburgh: A. Robertson
Date of Publication1788
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an unrecorded pamphlet on fencing. It is aimed at the gentleman amateur and aims to impart lessons which are "easy, safe, and void of those flourishes, only intended to divert the curious and ignorant." The author, John Ferdinand, is recorded in a contemporary post office directory as a "Fencing master" residing in Gavinlock's land, a close off what is now known as the Lawnmarket, nothing more has been discovered about him. The pamphlet was originally part of a volume in the library at Fettercairn house, home of the family of Forbes of Pitsligo, which was sold off at auction in 2016.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2933
Acquired on22/04/17
AuthorJohn Forbes-Robertson
TitleVerses on the centenary of the birth of Robert Burns.
Imprint[Glasgow?]: Maclure, Macdonald, & MacGregor
Date of Publication1859
LanguageEdinburgh
NotesForbes-Robertson (1822-1903) was an art critic and journalist, who wrote this poem for The Caledonian Society of London, a society formed in 1837 and dedicated to the advancement of Scottish cultural and philanthropic interests. The poem was privately printed in Glasgow by Maclure, MacDonald, & MacGregor, and presumably distributed to members of the society. No copies are recorded elsewhere.
ShelfmarkAP.3.216.03
Acquired on08/01/16
AuthorJohn Gibson Lockhart
TitleLe Ministre Ecossais, ou le Veuvage d' Adam Blair
ImprintParis: Charles Gosselin
Date of Publication1822
LanguageFrench
NotesThis is an unrecorded French translation of Lockhart's controversial work "Some Passages in the Life of Mr. Adam Blair, Minister of the Gospel at Cross-Meikle". The first English edition was published in Edinburgh in the same year. The identity of the translator is unknown; he/she is referred to on the title page as the translator of "Edouard en Ecosse". This work is presumably the translation of David Carey's "Lochiel; or, the Field of Culloden" by 'baron Vel', which also appeared in 1822. "Le Ministre ecossais", published by Gosselin who also published translations of Walter Scott, was clearly aimed at enthusiastic French readers of Scott and all things Scottish. "Some Passages in the Life ..." was Lockhart's second novel and is generally regarded as his best. It was based on a true story that Lockhart heard from his father about a widowed minister who had an affair with a married woman. Lockhart was criticised for his immorality in recounting the tale; some of the disapproval may also have stemmed from the lack of a happy ending in the novel - the real 'Adam Blair' minister was deposed in 1746, but went on to marry his mistress and was eventually accepted back into the church. This three-volume set is from the library of a French noblewoman Diane-Adelaide Damas d' Antigny, madame de Simiane (1761-1835), former mistress of the marquis de Lafayette, which was housed in the Chateau de Cirey in Champagne.
ShelfmarkAB.1.213.153-154
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on31/05/13
AuthorJohn Gregory
TitleA comparative view of the state and faculties of man with those of the animal world.
ImprintLondon:
Date of PublicationPrinted for J. Dodsley
LanguageEnglish
NotesThe Scottish physician John Gregory (1724-1773), was a member of the Aberdeen Philosophical Society. He considered human nature to be a uniform non-variant, whose principles and function can be discovered through experiment. In this, the first edition of his work, the anonymous author brings together the contents of his lectures to the Society. Gregory wrote that "The task of improving our nature, of improving man's estate, involves the proper development and exercise of the social principle and the other principle of instinct, with reason subordinate to instinct and serving as a corrective on it". The study of nature is then, according to Gregory, the best means of cultivating taste and religious understanding, the aim being to produce morally well-formed individuals.
ShelfmarkAB.1.217.121
Acquired on22/04/17
AuthorJohn Hanning Speke
TitleWhat led to the discovery of the source of the Nile.
ImprintEdinburgh & London: William Blackwood
Date of Publication1864
LanguageEnglish
NotesOne of twelve specially-printed copies for John Hanning Speke (1827-1864), it contains an eight-page supplement, describing Speke's announcement of his discovery of the source of the River Nile to the Royal Geographical Society, and also details of his feud with Sir Richard Burton over the source of the Nile. These pages were suppressed from the trade edition at the behest of Speke's family and his publisher, Blackwood, anxious not to fan the flames of the dispute with Burton. As a compromise twelve copies with the controversial text, what Speke referred to as the 'sting in the tail', were printed for him to give to family and friends. Speke died only a few weeks after receiving his copies, probably as a result of being careless with a shotgun - although Burton's supporters claimed suicide - and did not get the chance to distribute them all. This copy contains an inscription by the author's brother, the Rev. Benjamin Speke, who appears to have become custodian of the undistributed copies after Speke's untimely death, presenting this one to one William Beaumont.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2941
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on01/09/17
AuthorJohn James Audubon
TitleOrnithological biography vol. 1
ImprintPhiladelphia: Carey and Hart
Date of Publication1832
LanguageEnglish
NotesIn 1830 John James Audubon began working in Edinburgh with the Scottish ornithologist William Macgillivray on a five-volume work "Ornithological Biography". The work was designed to accompany the double elephant folio plates of "Birds of America", which were being engraved in London at the time. Volume one was first published in Edinburgh in 1831, and in order to safeguard his copyright in the USA, Audubon also arranged for an edition to be printed and published in his adopted homeland in the same year by Dobson and Porter. This 1832 Philadelphia edition appears to be a reprint of the Dobson and Porter version, identical apart from the title page; it presumably had a larger print-run. An American edition of volume 2 was published in Boston in 1835, but no further volumes of "Ornithological Biography" were printed in America during Audubon's lifetime.
ShelfmarkAB.4.207.05
Reference SourcesWilliam Braislin, "An American edition of Audubon's 'Ornithological biography'" The Auk, v. 35 (1918)pp. 360-362.
Acquired on30/03/07
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