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 727 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 727:

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Author[Anon]
TitleThe child's catechism in two parts. The first, treating of God... The second, of mans recovery... By a well-wisher to the education of children.
ImprintEdinburgh: [s.n.],
Date of Publication1751
LanguageEnglish
NotesLearning the catechism was an essential part of religious education in the 18th century. Catechisms accordingly were a staple of Scottish printing houses from the 17th century onwards. In the 1690s a catechism for children by the late Robert Leighton, bishop of Dunblane, was printed in Edinburgh. Leighton's catechism was followed in the first half of the 18th century by a number of similar children's catechisms, with shorter and simplified text, were printed in Scotland. This particular version of 1751, by an anonymous 'Well-wisher to the Education of Children', was originally composed for a four-year-old girl, and was continued for her with additional sections until she was twelve. The last eight pages comprise "Some forms of prayers for children." Only three known copies of this particular printed catechism have been recorded, none of them in the UK.
ShelfmarkAP.3.210.09
Acquired on13/08/10
TitleThe complete cellar-book or butler's assistant in keeping a regular account of his liquors.
ImprintEdinburgh : Printed for Thomas Veitch
Date of Publication[1842]
LanguageEnglish
NotesOne of the many duties of butlers working in large households was to keep an account of the beverages in the cellar. This is an example of a cellar book which helped butlers to maintain an adequate stock for their masters. The preface provides instruction on how to use the book. The first line contains the number of bottles of each drink at the beginning of the week, the next line the number of bottles of each drink added. Then there are separate lines for each day of the week showing what was drunk on each day. At the end of the week the butler would simply subtract the number of bottles used from the total at the beginning of the week and with the new figures proceed to the page for the following week. Unfortunately we do not know who owned the establishment in question here. This cellar book records what was drunk from August 1842 to September 1843. Port, sherry and hock were the most popular drinks. Whisky, rum and liqueurs were rarely drunk while the columns for porter, ales and 'cyder' were not added to throughout the year. There were two weeks during the year when a lot of stock was consumed  Christmas and the week of 5 March 1843. During the latter week, 2 bottles of port were drunk, 6 of sherry, 1 of madeira, 2 of claret(1819), 7 of hock, 5 of St. Julien, 2 of sherry, 1 of claret (1815) and 1 of claret (1825).
ShelfmarkAP.4.207.10
Acquired on20/02/07
TitleThe complete pocket book or, gentleman and trademan's daily journal, for the year of our Lord 1764.
ImprintLondon: Printed for J. Johnson
Date of Publication1763
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis work, of which only one copy is recorded in the UK, contains a fascinating record of accounts and appointments of a relative or employee of James Duff, the second Earl of Fife (1729-1809). This unnamed individual seems to have been based in London sorting out the business affairs of Lord and Lady Fife. He records his correspondence with them and the payments he makes on their behalf. The Earl of Fife was MP for Banff between 1754 and 1780. He married Lady Dorothea Sinclair (Lady Fife) in 1759. In 1763, the year in which this volume was published, he succeeded his father in the title and estates, mainly in Aberdeen and Moray. The Earl devoted himself to the improvement of the property, which he greatly increased by the purchase of land in the north of Scotland. Most of the entries, however, concern the expenses of the Earl's man in London. For example, he was a frequent visitor to the Smyrna Coffee House in Pall Mall, a popular meeting place for Whigs during this period. He also went regularly to the theatre and the opera - both Drury Lane and Covent Garden are mentioned throughout. This was a man who was also concerned with his appearance: nosegays, shaving powder and toothpicks as well as payments to his hairdresser are recorded. He hired coaches and chairs, the 18th-century equivalents of black cabs. He also bought snuff, gloves, sealing-wax, fruit, woodcocks, teal and turkey and gave money to charity almost on a weekly basis.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2633
Acquired on16/10/06
AuthorAnon
TitleThe coppy of a letter sent from the Earle of Traquere in Ireland the third of October 1641
ImprintLondon: [s.n.]
Date of Publication1641
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a rare pamphlet (5 other copies recorded in ESTC), printed in late 1641 as political and civil unrest were increasing in England and the rest of the British Isles as a prelude to the Civil War that broke out the following year. It is an attack on two prominent Scots of the period, John Stewart, first earl of Traquair (b. 1599-1659) and "Old Father Philips", Robert Philip(s), a Scottish Catholic priest based in King Charles's court in London. The pamphlet reproduces a letter, dated 3 October, 1641, supposedly written by Traquair from Dublin to Philip, which had been intercepted and the contents subsequently disclosed. By the beginning of October 1641, plans were well underway for armed uprising led by the Irish Catholic gentry against the English administration in Ireland. Armed revolt broke out later that month in various places in Ireland, resulting in the killing and expulsion of Protestant settlers in the north. In the letter Traquair reports on the plans for the uprising to Philip, the latter being described as "a loyall and constant friend to Rome". There is no evidence that Traquair was in Ireland at that time or had any role in the uprising. The printing of the pamphlet appears to be connected to the unpopularity of Traquair and Philip in Scotland and England. The former, as King Charles's man in Scotland, had found himself in the impossible role of trying to reconcile covenanters to their monarch's autocratic rule while trying to implement his episcopalian policies. In 1641 the Scottish parliament forced the king to remove him as lord high treasurer of Scotland, subsequently denouncing him as one of five principal 'incendiaries' in the country. Traquair, although a Protestant, was also thought to have Catholic sympathies, which would later, in 1644, lead the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland to declare him an 'enemy to religion'. Robert Philip (c.15801647) was a prominent member of King Charles's royal household, acting as chaplain and confessor to the queen and as informal head of a group of Scottish Catholic nobles at the court. In 1640 he was accused by the English parliament of leading a popish conspiracy at court and influencing young Prince Charles towards popery. The House of Lords also wanted him to answer charges of inciting rebellion in Ireland. He was subsequently imprisoned in the Tower of London for a year which left him easy prey for attacks such as this pamphlet. As with Traquair, there is no evidence that Philip was involved in fomenting discord in Ireland.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2861
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on24/05/13
Author[William Douglas]
TitleThe cornutor of seventy-five. Being the genuine narrative of the lives, adventures and amours of Don Ricardo Honeywater. The second edition.
ImprintLondon: J. Cobham
Date of Publication[1748]
LanguageEnglish
NotesA very rare satirical pamphlet by William Douglas (b. 1710/11?), a Scottish doctor who had a prominent medical career in London; at one time he was employed as physician to Frederick, Prince of Wales. Douglas's main claim to fame, or rather notoriety, was not his skill as a physician but the vindictive attacks he made in print on some of the leading physicians of his day. Having already attacked his fellow Scots William Smellie and Thomas Thompson, he turned his attention to the wealthiest, most famous and respected physician in England, Richard Mead (1673-1754). Although already in his seventies, Mead had acquired a reputation for womanising, or rather nocturnal 'impotent fumblings' with young girls of much lower social status. His extra-marital activities and alleged inflated status in the medical world were targeted by Douglas in the first edition of this pamphlet, where Mead punningly became 'Don Ricardo Honeywater'. In 1748 Douglas also produced this expanded second edition, with mock-learned footnotes and enlarged preface and an attack on Mead's translator, Dr Thomas Stack, 'Dr Chimney'. Douglas's pamphlet attracted a powerful response in defence of Mead: "Don Ricardo Honeywater Vindicated", a work attributed to another Scottish doctor and man of letters, Tobias Smollett. It seems to have put an end to Douglas's career as satirist; he later gave up his medical career in London and by 1758 he had returned to Scotland and, according to William Smellie, had gone mad.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2638(1)
Reference SourcesESTC; DNB; R.A. Day, The cornutor of seventy-five and Don Ricardo Honeywater vindicated, The Augustan Reprint Society publication no. 224-225, Los Angeles, 1987
Acquired on24/11/06
AuthorHeddle, Matthew Forster
TitleThe county geognosy and mineralogy of Scotland.
ImprintTruro: Lake & Lake
Date of Publication1891?
LanguageEnglish
NotesMF Heddle was born in Orkney in 1828 and educated at Edinburgh, becoming a student of the University and later practising medicine in the city. His real love, however, was geology and in particular mineralogy; even when he was later appointed professor of chemistry at St Andrews - a post he held for over 20 years - his main passion remained collecting rock samples in the north of Scotland and the Hebrides and publishing papers on his discoveries for various scientific societies. Heddle was a powerfully built man, who in the course of collecting minerals probably climbed most of the Scottish mountains, and was a Member of the Scottish Mountaineering Club. His physical toughness and stamina were necessary for his fieldwork in inhospitable places, carrying 28 lb hammers, dynamite and wedges to obtain his rock samples. Heddle's most famous work, "The Mineralogy of Scotland ", was published posthumously in 1901, four years after his death. "The County Geognosy" appears to be a forerunner of Heddle's magnum opus, which was at the time regarded as the most comprehensive mineralogical survey of a single country. It is a composite volume consisting of various article contributions by Heddle to the "Mineralogical magazine" in the 1870s and 1880s and additional material gathered from other sources, including material dating from the 1890s. The sheets were bound to form the book which was then presumably privately distributed. The Geognosy chapters on Sutherland (the last ones under the general title) appeared in six sections in the Mineralogical Magazine in the years 1881 (2), 1883 (1), 1883 (2) and 1884(1). In 1883 the Mineralogical Society transferred their business from the printers Lake & Lake of Truro to Messrs Williams and Strahan of London. Heddle, as an ex-President, took possession of spare sheets printed by Lake and Lake. He may have used these along with work done by the new printer, and other offprints, to make up copies of the book and sent them out to acquaintances and academic colleagues. The main text ends at p. 520 and includes a number of geological maps and attractive coloured plates which endeavour to recreate the microscopic structure of rocks. It is likely that other copies, including the one held by GUL, have different 'extras' according to whom Heddle was presenting the book. Included in this copy is an "Addendum" a humorous poem presumably about Heddle written by A.G. - his fellow scientist Sir Archibald Geikie, a photograph of Heddle, appropriately holding a rock sample, taken during his time at St Andrews, and a copy of a newspaper obituary tipped in to the back of the book. The provenance of the book is also worthy of note. The MS inscription on the front flyleaf is "Edwin Traill". This is very likely Heddle's nephew, i.e. a son of Heddle's sister Henrietta, who was born in Orkney in 1854. The NLS copy also has an obituary poem "M. Foster [sic] Heddle" ('Foster' has been corrected in MS) pasted on to recto of one of the plates. This poem was written by T.P. Johnston (Rev. Thomas Peter Johnston of Carnbee), father-in-law of one of Heddle's daughters, and subsequently published in 1912 in a volume of Johnston's occasional poems.
ShelfmarkABS.2.204.030
Acquired on22/07/04
AuthorL'Heritier de Villandon, Marie-Jeanne
TitleThe discreet princess; or, the adventures of Finetta. A Novel.
ImprintEdinburgh: G. & J. Ross
Date of Publication1806
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis volume of eight chapbooks, six of which are of Scottish origin, has the bookplate of Crewe Hall Library. Of the chapbooks, the following were previously unrepresented in NLS collections in these editions: The Discreet Princess; The Valentine's Gift (Edinburgh: G. & J. Ross, 1806); The Way to be Happy: or, the History of the Family at Smiledale. To which is added, The Story of Little George (Edinburgh: G. & J. Ross, 1807); The Life and Perambulation of a Mouse. In Two Volumes (London: John Marshall, c.1805); Garden Amusements for Improving the Minds of Little Children (London, Darton and Harvey, 1806); Worlds Displayed, for the Benefit of Young People (6th edition, Edinburgh: J. Ritchie, 1804). Most of these chapbooks are illustrated with woodcuts, some with crude hand-colouring. The signature of Barbara Peddie appears on the recto of the frontispieces to The Life and Perambulation of a Mouse, vol. ii, dated January 1806, and The History of the Holy Bible Abridged, dated 1805. This may be the Barbara Peddie 'daughter of Dr. James Peddie, a family long associated with many religious movements in Edinburgh.' She married Dr. James Harper, minister of the United Presbyterian Church at North Leith and Principle of the UPC Theological College, now New College (University of Edinburgh), with whom she had fifteen children. Given the similar publication dates of most of these chapbooks, it may be that they were collected originally by Barbara Peddie.
ShelfmarkAB.1.209.057(1)
Reference SourcesThe Sunday At Home (1882) p.212.
Acquired on14/08/09
AuthorMacvicar, Symers Macdonald
TitleThe distribution of hepaticae in Scotland
Imprint[Edinburgh]
Date of Publication[1910]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an annotated proof copy of Macvicar's (1857-1932) work on Scottish non-vascular plants known as liverworts. The text is complete although there are no preliminaries. The inkstamp "Neill & Co. Edinburgh First Proof" appears on a number of pages and there are numerous manuscript corrections and annotations by Macvicar throughout the text. An inscription on the front pastedown indicates that the book was bound during Christmas 1945 and presented to Mr. A. D. Banwell by the bryologist P. W. Richards (b. 1908).
ShelfmarkS3.205.0691
Acquired on09/08/05
TitleThe Edinburgh Almanack and Scots Register for 1807
ImprintEdinburgh: David Ramsay & Son
Date of Publication1807
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis Edinburgh Almanack belonged to Fletcher Norton (1744-1820), second son of Fletcher Norton, first Baron Grantley, Speaker of the House of Commons. 'Fletcher Norton, Abbey Hill, Edinburgh' as he signs himself in this book, was appointed one of the Barons of the Scottish Exchequer in 1776 and set up residence in the Scottish capital. According to James Grant's book Old and New Edinburgh, Norton 'stood high in the estimation of all' as 'husband, father, friend, and master'. A founding member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Norton was a supporter of Scottish culture, playing a key role in ensuring the publication of Albyn's Anthology, an important collection of Scottish music. Norton gave his name to East and West Norton Place, Abbeyhill, the streets now located on the site of his old Edinburgh home. This almanac, whose blank pages were used by Norton to keep a record of his expenditure, provide an interesting insight into the daily life of a member of Edinburgh's social and cultural elite in the early 19th century, recording the 18 shillings spent on tooth powder, and the 2.9.0 spent on a chaise to London, among other notes. Our perception of movement between England and Scotland during this period is largely one of Scots emigrating - this book bears witness to an Englishman who successfully moved to Scotland and integrated himself with its cultural life.
ShelfmarkAB.1.209.016
Reference SourcesOxford DNB; James Grant, Old and New Edinburgh, vol.5 chapter 13 (http://www.oldandnewedinburgh.co.uk/volume5/page138/single)
Acquired on06/04/09
Author[Anon]
TitleThe Edinburgh almanack for the year MDCCLXXVII.
ImprintEdinburgh : R. Fleming
Date of Publication1777
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis 1777 printing of the Edinburgh almanack (no copies recorded in ESTC) is notable for being in a contemporary red morocco wallet binding. An examination of the tools used on the binding shows that it is the work of Edinburgh's finest bookbinder of the 18th century, James Scott, and not recorded in J.H. Loudon's bibliography of Scott's work. The edges of the boards are decorated with the rococo-style rolls used by Scott. The lion rampant tool used on the spine is listed by Loudon as having been used by Scott's son, William, in the 1780s; however, the use here would indicate that it was used first by James Scott. No other wallet bindings by either Scott are recorded by Loudon, making this a rare and handsome oddity.
ShelfmarkBdg.s.961
Reference SourcesJ.H. Loudon, "James Scott and William Scott, bookbinders" (London, 1980); bookseller's notes
Acquired on29/11/13
TitleThe Edinburgh Rose.
ImprintLondon: Joseph Myers
Date of Publicationc.1860
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a remarkable piece of paper engineering from the mid-nineteenth century. At first glance it looks like a cleverly sculpted paper rose coloured in pink and green. However, once opened the viewer sees 28 vignette engravings of Edinburgh and its surroundings including Calton Hill, the Castle, Holyrood Palace, Roslin Chapel and Tantallon Castle. It is contained within an envelope, entitled 'The Edinburgh Rose' with an engraving of the Scott Monument. On one side the imprint reads, 'Joseph Myers & Co., London', and on the other 'C. Adler, Hamburg'. Myers and Adler produced a series of over 100 roses depicting views of places throughout Britain and Europe.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2697
Acquired on29/10/07
AuthorBible. N.T. Ephesians
TitleThe epistle of Paul to the Ephesians.
ImprintEdinburgh: James Gall
Date of Publicationc. 1837
LanguageEnglish
NotesThe Library, thanks to the donation of a collection of the Royal Blind Asylum and School in Edinburgh in 1989, has a good collection of early printing done for the blind in Scotland. One of the key figures in this field was the Edinburgh printer and publisher James Gall (c. 1784-1874). While visiting Paris in 1825, Gall saw examples of embossed type books for the blind and decided to design a script which could be used by blind and sighted people alike. He introduced his Gall Type in 1827; its triangular forms were regarded as being more easily discernible by touch than existing rounded types. Capital letters were excluded, meaning that there were only 26 characters to be learnt. The Gospel by St. John for the blind (Edinburgh, 1834) was the first major work to be printed in Gall's type. In 1835 he founded the School for Blind Children at Craigmillar Park, which adopted his tactile alphabet. This particular book, of which only one other copy, in the British Library, is recorded, is a fine example of printing from Gall's press on Niddry Street. It is in its original binding and the label reveals that the book was printed "on the largest type" and cost one shilling and sixpence.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2822
Acquired on20/05/11
AuthorGray, John.
TitleThe essential principles of the wealth of nations.
ImprintLondon: T. Cadell
Date of Publication1797
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is one of the earliest critiques of Adam Smith's seminal economic text 'An inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations' (1776). Gray criticises Smith's work on a number of counts: he accuses Smith of misinterpreting the French economists' viewpoint on labour and productivity. Gray maintained that the French had in fact recognised that not all the so-called unproductive classes were barren to the same degree. Gray also argued that Smith was wrong to state that the manufacturing industry alone was responsible for contributing to Britain's real national wealth, saying that agriculture was the only true source of wealth. There is some Scottish content in the form of the appendix, which consists of a general plan of a lease by Henry Home, Lord Kaimes, "with remarks upon it by Dr. Anderson in his agricultural report for the county of Aberdeen". Coincidentally, Kaimes was Smith's literary patron. Very little is known about John Gray to whom this work, published anonymously in 1797, is attributed. He may have lived from 1724-1811 - obituary notices in contemporary periodicals merely state that he died in May 1811 in his 88th year and that he had been one of the Commissioners of the Lottery. John Gray may have been assistant private secretary to the Duke of Northumberland in Ireland in 1763 and 1764 and 'An essay concerning the establishment of a national bank in Ireland' (1774) may have been written by him. The Library of Congress catalogue attributes to Gray 'The right of the British legislature to tax the American colonies' (1775). However, Palgrave's 'Dictionary of economics' attributes 'The essential principles' to Simon Gray (fl.1795-1840).
ShelfmarkRB.s.2578
Reference SourcesThe New Palgrave: a dictionary of economics, vol.II, 1987. Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, vol.46, 1952, p.275-6.
Acquired on04/07/05
AuthorGray, Andrew
TitleThe experienced millwright; or, A treatise on the construction of some of the most useful machines, with the latest improvements. [2nd edition]
ImprintEdinburgh : Printed by D. Willison for Archibald Constable & Co.
Date of Publication1806
LanguageEnglish
NotesAndrew Gray's 'The experienced millwright' presents the most accurate first-hand account of the state of traditional British millwrighting in the second half of the 18th century. The first three chapters consist of a general treatise on mechanics. The following chapters cover practical directions for the construction of machinery, the mathematics necessary for calculating the strength of machines, and detailed plans for the construction of various kinds of water mills. The text is supplemented by a series of forty-four fine engravings showing the layouts of various types of water-, wind- and animal-powered machinery. The designs and descriptions are mostly of mills and machines which Gray either designed or supervised in actual construction in central-eastern Scotland. As stated in the preface: "the machines of which he has been careful to give accurate drawings and concise explanations are to be considered, not as plans founded on the speculative principles of mechanics ... but as cases of practical knowledge, the effects of which have been fairly tried and long approved". Little is known of Gray, described in his book's preface as "a practical mechanic" who 'has been for at least forty years employed in erecting different kinds of machinery". The text indicates that he is very familiar with the work of the leading civil engineer of the age, John Smeaton (1724-92), and especially Smeaton's seminal paper on the natural powers of water and wind to turn mills and other machines. The second edition of Gray's book corrects 14 textual errors found in the original edition of 1804. The front pastedown of this copy also includes a large printed advertisement for the prospective publication of Gray's 'The plough-wright's assistant' which was eventually published in 1808.
ShelfmarkRB.l.266
Acquired on02/04/10
AuthorMiller, Philip (1691-1771)
TitleThe gardeners dictionary: containing the methods of cultivating and improving the kitchen, fruit and flower garden, as also, the physick garden, wilderness, conservatory, and vineyard; according to the practice of the most experienced gardeners of the present age. The third edition, corrected.
ImprintLondon: Printed for the author, and sold by C. Rivington, at the Bible and Crown in St. Paul's Church-yard., M.DCC.XXXVII [1737]
Date of Publication1737
LanguageEnglish
NotesMiller, Philip (1691-1771), horticulturist and writer, was the most distinguished and influential British gardener of the eighteenth century. His father, a Scot, was a market gardener at Deptford, near London, and gave young Philip both a good education and training Miller established a nursery of ornamental trees and shrubs in St George's Fields, Southwark. When the Society of Apothecaries needed a new gardener for their Physic Garden at Chelsea, Patrick Blair, a Scottish doctor and author of Botanik Essays (1720), wrote to Sir Hans Sloane, the garden's benefactor, recommending Philip Miller for the post as one 'to go forward with a curiosity and genious superior to most of his profession'. Miller's writing on the theory of gardening matched his expertise in its practice. He helped to produce a quarto Dictionary of Gardening in 1724, and an illustrated Catalogus Plantarum of trees and shrubs flourishing in the London area in 1730. In that year he drew up a list of medicinal plants grown in the garden, and forty years later he made a much longer one. Miller's outstanding work was The Gardeners Dictionary, produced in eight editions during his lifetime. Besides horticulture, it covered agriculture, arboriculture, and wine making. He also produced an Abridgement in eight editions (1735-71) and a practical, cheaper, Gardeners Kalendar in fifteen editions (1731-69). The work was dedicated to Sir Hans Sloane, one of a number of Miller's contemporaries who encouraged his career. Miller was eventually admitted a member of the Botanical Academy of Florence and the Royal Society of London. In spite of his achievements, his contemporaries apparently looked upon Miller with some reservation. This was due partly to his Scottish birth, and also his habit of employing only Scotsmen. Stephen Switzer is believed to refer to Miller in his Ichnographia Rustica as one of the 'northern lads who have invaded the southern provinces'. The National library's copy of the third edition to the Gardeners Dictionary is bound with the only edition of the Appendix (1735), and accompanied by the Second Volume of the Gardeners Dictionary, which was published in 1739.
ShelfmarkRB.m.619
Reference SourcesESTC T059422
Acquired on22/02/05
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