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 781 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 616 to 630 of 781:
Ordered by date acquired |
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| Order by title
|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.|
|Title||Memoirs of Majr. Alexander Ramkins, a Highland officer|
|Imprint||Dublin: Printed for Will. Smith|
|Date of Publication||1741|
|Notes||This is a copy of the rare Dublin edition of the narrative purportedly written by a Scottish Jacobite languishing in a French prison. These memoirs have in fact been widely attributed to none other than Daniel Defoe, partly on stylistic grounds and partly on the coincidence between the hero's 'twenty eight years service' and the 'eight and twenty years' spent by Robinson Crusoe on his desert island. There is also the fact that the fictitious Ramkins at the end of the pamphlet declares his 'intire and unlimited obedience to the present constitution'.
This fictitious character was born in the north of Scotland in 1672 and was educated at Aberdeen University. He participated in most of the major Jacobite battles --Killiecrankie, the Boyne, Limerick, Aughrim before retiring to France. It is a rattling good tale --though it is not clear why it was resurrected in Ireland 20 years after it was first printed.
The first edition was printed in London in 1719 and it was re-issued a year later with a new title page beginning 'The life and surprizing adventures adventures ...' - exactly as the title of Crusoe's tale began. An edition was also printed in Cork in 1741 (copy at Hall.187.j) but only one other copy of this Dublin edition is known (held at the Royal Irish Academy).|
|Title||Lexicon Graeco Latinum Novum|
|Imprint||Basle: Sebastianum Henricpetri,|
|Date of Publication||1615|
|Notes||This is a copy of a standard classical reference work with a rich Scottish literary provenance. The inscription on the front free endpaper reads 'Ex libris Andreae Crosbie Viena ne concupiscas'. On the front pastedown is note by Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe: 'This dictionary belonged to Andrew Crosbie, the once celebrated lawyers [sic] and has his autograph'. Crosbie (1735-1785) was a prominent Edinburgh advocate and was said to be the prototype for Councillor Pleydell in Scott's novel 'Guy Mannering'. He was a good friend of James Boswell and Samuel Johnson on visit to Edinburgh just about managed to hold his own with him in conversation. Sharpe (1781-1851) was a writer, antiquary and artist and a lifelong friend of Sir Walter Scott. He also possessed an unrivalled collection of Scottish curios and antiques.
The National Library holds no fewer than fourteen 16th and 17th century editions of this text many of which were printed in Switzerland. Only three copies of the 1615 Basle edition are known, one at the British Library and two in the United States (Princeton and Yale). Scapula (c.1540-c.1600) the famous German philologist worked with Henri Estienne on the manuscript of his 'Thesaurus linguae Graecae'. In 1580, seven years after the publication of Estienne's magnum opus, Scapula published his own abridged version, using all of Estienne's innovations which he claimed were his own. This edition appears to be an exact reprint of the Basle 1600 edition (the collation is identical) also printed by Henricpetri.
The vellum binding has the spine ruled in blind with raised bands. The covers are ruled in blind to a panel design with an outer border of blind stamped thistles. The central panel has a large interlaced arebesque medallion and fluer de lys in the corners. The thistles and the fleur de lys suggest the binding may be Scottish.|
|Title||Holy Bible [with Holy Bible. London, 1772 and Psalms. Edinburgh: b. Colin Macfarquhar, 1771]|
|Imprint||Oxford: b. Thomas Baskett|
|Date of Publication||1755|
|Notes||These nice examples of mid-eighteenth century Scottish binding come with significant Scottish provenance. The first Bible, bound in one volume, was owned by the Veitch family, who achieved prominence in the eighteenth century when the learned lawyer and MP James Eliock (1712-1793) was appointed judge, with the title Lord Eliock. This volume has Lord Eliock's bookplate, and manuscript notes on the front flyleaves record births, baptisms and deaths in the Veitch family into the nineteenth century. The actual binding is of very dark blue morocco, the boards decorated with a wheel design; the gold tooling in very good condition, as are the gilt green endpapers.
A rather unexpected feature of this Bible is the note on the last free blank, which reveals that this was held up as exhibit A in a trial at the High Court of Justice in 1876. This trial related to the estate of Ann Clementina Wilson, deceased, and it seems likely that the annotations in the Bible were used as evidence. A note reads 'This is the Bible marked A referred to in the affidavit of Harry Veitch Hunter sworn in this matter before me this 15th day of March 1877'.
The second Bible is bound in two volumes; although it lacks a title-page, the colophon gives the imprint as London, 1772, and the Psalms which follow the Bible has a title-page with the imprint Edinburgh, 1771. Both volumes are inscribed by 'G. Dundas Sept. 22nd. 1778.' This is a member of the famous Dundas family of Arniston. Further manuscript notes explain that the Bible was presented to Grace Dundas by Robert Colt at their wedding, and other notes record the fortunes of the Colt family into the twentieth century. Both volumes have the bookplate of Grace Colt. Various sentimental greetings cards are tipped in. The binding is of red morocco, with a design in the 'herring-bone' tradition, with some interesting stipple tooling and a fine border roll; our collections do not seem to have anything similar from this period.|
|Reference Sources||DNB, Bindings rubbings|
|Title||Physiologia Guillelmi Duncani philosophiae professoris veterani|
|Imprint||Toulouse: Arnaldum Colomerium|
|Date of Publication||1651|
|Notes||This is a rare copy of this work on physiology by the Scot William Duncan and an important addition to the library's collection of books by Scots working abroad. Copies have been traced in the Bibliotheque Nationale, Bibliotheque Municipale (Toulouse), Yale and the National Library of Medicine, but there are no copies in British libraries. Some of the copies appear to have an added engraved title page which is lacking in this copy. Little is known about William Duncan except that he was a teacher in Montauban in the south of France before 1606 when he became a Professor of Philosophy there. He died in 1636. His brother Mark who was born in Roxburghshire c.1570, also worked as an academic in France. He was Professor of Philosophy in Saumur and died in France in 1640.
Lynn Thorndike in The history of magic and experimental science (vol.7) describes it as 'a very backward book' which propounded a 'distinctly Aristotelian' view of the universe. For example Duncan regarded comets as portents of drought, failure of crops, pestilence and the death of leading men. He also believed that most of the water on earth came from the sea via hidden underground channels.|
|Reference Sources||Thorndike, Lynn. The history of magic and experimental science. v.7 (New York, Columbia University Press, 1958) X.81.c
Baxter, J.H. and Fordyce, C.J. 'Books published abroad by Scotmen before 1700' in Records of the Glasgow Bibliographical Society, XI, 1933.|
|Author||Rinuccini, Giovanni Battista|
|Imprint||Aix: Jean Roize|
|Date of Publication||1667 |
|Notes||An extremely rare copy of what may be the first French edition of Rinuccini's work on George Leslie, (Father Archangel) a convert to Catholicism who became a Capuchin friar. Leslie had a colourful career being in the Scots College in Rome in 1608, posting Catholic manifestos on church doors in Aberdeen in 1624 before fleeing to France around 1629. He managed to incur the wrath of Rome and had to appear before the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith in 1631. Thanks to the testimony of Scottish Catholics he was cleared of all charges and returned to Scotland where he died in 1637. While in Rome he met Rinuccini then the Archbishop of Fermo who wrote a somewhat fantastic account of Leslie's adventures for the edification of the faithful, which was first published in Macerata, Italy in 1644. Rinuccini had employed the Scot in preaching and other pastoral work in his diocese.
Editions were published in French, Latin and other European languages - the NLS holds editions printed in French in 1650, 1660, 1662 and 1664 - though no English editions were published until the 19th century. This may have been because of the fictitious nature of the work particularly in relation to Leslie's alleged aristocratic origins in Aberdeenshire.
Although the date on the title page is 1667, the true date is probably 1647, which would make it the first French edition. This is the date of the Aix edition in Repertoire bibliographique des livres imprimés en France au XVIIe siècle (1996), number 540. There is also an ownership inscription on the title page from 'Convent d'Annessy', dated 'Juin 1649'. No locations are recorded but the book is known from two sources: Lexicon capuccinum 118 and a Paris bookseller's catalogue Presses provinciales.|
|Title||1759 : Burns' Centenary : 1859|
|Date of Publication||[n.d.]|
|Notes||A most unusual Robert Burns item, which seems to have belonged to Burns' descendants. This volume contains an ode to the poet ('Ye beauteous stars, which ever shine above us'), which is bound up with a variety of photographic and manuscript material. At the head of the title-page is the manuscript note 'Presented to the sons of the Poet by the author, Washington Moon.' This may be the minor poet George Washington Moon (1823-1909). There are manuscript corrections to the poem which appear to be in the same hand. Many poems were produced to commemorate the centenary of Burns' birth, but there does not seem to be any record of this work as an independent publication. Perhaps it was printed privately, or extracted from a larger anthology as a presentation copy.
Perhaps it was Burns' sons who had the volume made up as it currently stands: Moon's poem was bound in gilt maroon morocco, and had a number of blank leaves bound in after it which were used to attach various items relating to Burns. First is a photograph of a portrait of Burns, produced by John Ross, an Edinburgh photographer, with manuscript notes on the back and on the page indicating that it was presented by the poet's grand-daughter Mrs. Hutchinson in 1870. There is a photograph of the Burns' monument in Edinburgh, and another of a picture, possibly a scene of the 'Cottar's Saturday Night' produced by a Cheltenham photographer, G. Bartlett. Below this last photograph is a manuscript note dated 'Aug 14 / 08' [1808?]. Then follows a letter from one of the Hutchinsons to a Mrs Lamb about the 'Cottar's Saturday Night'. Next is a copy of a letter apparently given in Lockhart's Life of Burns, and a fragment of another Hutchinson letter. Finally is what purports to be an actual example of Burns' wax seal.
A clue to the construction of the volume is given by a note on the recto of the flyleaf before the title-page: 'To Mrs Kershaw Lamb, as a small remembrance of her friends Col. William Nicol Burns, and Lt. Col. James Glencairn Burns.' This is dated 'April 18th 1872', from '3 Berkeley Street, Cheltenham'. These are both recorded as sons of the poet, and both are known to have lived in Cheltenham. Below this inscription, in a different hand, is the statement 'Presented by Mrs. Hutchinson Grandaughter of the Poet the same who as a child is represented in the Portrait of Mrs. Burns as her favourite grandchild.' Mrs. Hutchinson is presumably Sarah Hutchinson, (1821-1909), the daughter of James Glencairn Burns, who also lived in Cheltenham.
A possible explanation, therefore, is that the poet George Washington Moon presented his verses to Burns' sons William and James; they added the photographs and letters with help from Sarah Hutchinson. The volume was presented to Mrs. Kershaw Lamb: does the final inscription on the flyleaf indicate that it was presented by Mrs. Hutchinson as well as Burns' sons, or that the volume passed from Mrs. Lamb back to Mrs. Hutchinson, who then passed it to someone else? There is plenty of material here to keep Burns researchers happy for some time.|
|Author||Gilmour, J. P. (ed.)|
|Title||Chemists & Druggists' Directory and Year Book for Scotland.|
|Date of Publication||1914|
|Notes||There is an enormous quantity of information about medicine and business practice in Scotland on the eve of the First World War in this volume. The most striking feature of the book is certainly the adverts for miracle cures, weed killers, bandages and cosmetics which fill the opening and closing pages. The delights of 'flexible gelatine capsules' and 'Burgess' Lion Ointment' are celebrated in terms that might well have the modern Advertising Standards Agency raising an eyebrow.|
|Title||Life and character of Robert Watt, who was executed for high treason at Edinburgh, the 15th October, 1794|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: A. Shirrefs|
|Date of Publication||1795|
|Notes||A rare edition (only 3 copies on ESTC, all in U.S.) of this unsympathetic life of Robert Watt, a government spy amongst the political reform societies who underwent an extraordinary conversion to the cause of revolution. Described as the 'natural son of a respectable gentleman in Scotland', he spent his formative years in Perth before working as a 'much respected' clerk in Edinburgh. However it was all downhill from there - Watt got involved in smuggling and when his offer to provide information on the revolutionary Society of the Friends of the People, for the princely sum of £1000, was spurned, he joined that Society with some enthusiasm. He was arrested in possession of a large amount weaponry, some of which is illustrated in the frontispiece, and executed for high treason in October 1794.
This issue includes the name of William Lane, the London publisher and distributor, in the imprint. The other issue (copy at 3.855(3)) does not have Lane's name in the imprint. Both issues contain 'Verses written on seeing the execution of Robert Watt' which are frequently lacking in editions of this text.|
|Title||History and Travels|
|Date of Publication||1769|
|Notes||This is one of the most significant and interesting (not to mention expensive) chapbooks that the National Library of Scotland has purchased in recent years. Hector Maclean's autobiographical account of his sea-faring life is packed with extraordinary information about how one eighteenth-century Scot saw the world. Hector was born in Argyleshire in 1728, but the story really begins when he stowed away on his brother's ship at the age of eight. He ended up in Greenock, which struck him as such an amazing place that he wandered the town until it was dark, and got lost. Not speaking any English (presumably because his native tongue was Gaelic), Hector ended up being taken in by various families, who put him to work as a farm servant. After some years he managed to return to his family, and was taught to read and write: the urge to travel, however, was still strong, and he took ship for Virginia.
The account of the North American coast which follows is full of keen observations, particularly of the wildlife. The curious behaviour of opossums, sharks, alligators and insects is presented to the Scottish reader. Maclean is also informative about the native Americans; he describes a group presenting a British Governor with the scalp of an enemy. The Portuguese, however, come in for the most scathing criticism, being described as violent thieves.
This is apparently the second edition of the first installment of Maclean's account (there is a 1768 edition in the British Library). We already have a copy of the second installment, (L.C.2811(2)), published in 1771. Any other installments have not been traced. It sounds as though Maclean paid for the printing of these chapbooks himself, so the rarity of the surviving copies may be a result of their being printed in very small numbers. When placed together, the first and second installments of Maclean's History and Travels constitute a truly fascinating account of a Scottish traveller, with some genuine literary merit.
The two pamphlets combined would be excellent candidates for a short publication.|
|Reference Sources||Lauriston Castle chapbook catalogue|
|Author||Burrard, S.G., Heron, A.M.|
|Title||Sketch of the geography and geology of the Himalaya Mountains and Tibet.|
|Imprint||Delhi : Manager of Publications|
|Date of Publication||1933|
|Notes||Revised and updated edition of the 1907 work by Burrard and Hayden which had been produced to mark the centenary of geographical and
geological exploring expeditions of the Himalaya Mountains. This had become an invaluable reference work for surveyors and explorers. The present work, which revises and updates it, is equipped with a large number of plates, maps and illustrations.|
|Reference Sources||Yakushi : Catalogue of the Himalayan literature|
|Title||Marie der Koenigin auss Schotlandt eigentliche Bildtnuss.|
|Imprint||[Cologne: Johann Bussemacher]|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||This is a fascinating broadside commemorating the execution of Mary Queen of Scots from a German Catholic perspective. The German text gives an account of her parentage and life, mentioning the role of Darnley, George Buchanan and Mary's son King James VI. There is an emphasis on Mary's European connections, and above all on her martyrdom for the Catholic faith. At the head of the text is a large and striking engraving by Johann Bussemacher; the central image is of Mary, wearing her crucifix and depicted with the arms of France and Scotland. Outside the border, which contains Latin phrases, are smaller images of her decapitation, and at the head of the engraving are (presumably cherubic) hands presenting a quill and the victor's laurels. This is in better condition than the only other known copy, in the British Library, which was David Laing's copy and has been cut up into four pieces. However, the British Library copy preserves some Latin verses which have been lost from the foot of our copy. These verses, by William Crichton or George Crichton, are as follows: 'Illo ego, quae Fata sum regali stirpe parentum, / Hoc tumulo parva contumulata tegor. / Hucque meo constans generoso in pectore virtus, / Prissacque me torfit, nec temeranda fides / Stemmata nil faciunt, nil prosunt sceptra, sed una, / Dum vixit, pietas, gloria nostra fuit. / Vtque Petri cathedram revereri discas, ob illam, / En mea martyris colla refecta vides' Despite this loss, this is a very desirable addition to our strong holdings of MQS material.|
|Reference Sources||Allison & Rogers, Contemporary Literature of the English Counter-Reformation, I, no. 805
BMSTC (German), p. 599|
|Author||Headrick, Rev. James|
|Title||Essay on the various modes of bringing waste lands into a state fit for cultivation and improving their natural productions.|
|Imprint||Dublin: Printed by H. Fitzpatrick|
|Date of Publication||1801|
|Notes||This is a survey of various techniques of land improvements and reclamation, with details of experiments carried out by the author in Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, Ayrshire, Dumfries, Galloway and other parts of Scotland. James Headrick later became a clergyman, and published a study of the geology and agriculture of the island of Arran. Headrick states that the majority of his findings were from his own observations and experiments rather than from secondary sources.
Headrick's work has been bound with the 3rd edition of William Curtis's Practical observations on the British grasses, especially such as are best adapted to the laying down or improving of meadows and pastures. Curtis's treatise began as a four-page folio contribution to the sixth fascicle of his Flora Londiniensis, which was printed in 1787. An expanded second edition was published as a pamphlet in 1790. The verso of the final leaf ends with an advertisement for 'the packet of seeds, recommended in this pamphlet, [which] may be had where the pamphlet is published, and at the Botanic Nursery, Bromton, price ten shillings and sixpence.'|
|Title||To all householders [4 Edinburgh broadsides]|
|Date of Publication||[1808-1816]|
|Notes||These four broadsides published at the behest of the city fathers of Edinburgh between 1808 and 1816 encapsulate the very essence of life in the northern metropolis at the time. Two deal with the Sabbath -- 'the improper practice of keeping open Ale or Tippling Houses, and also Shops, at all hours of Sunday' and 'measures...for keeping the Public Streets clean during the Lord's day'. In the latter case, the inhabitants were encouraged to get their servants to bring out their ashes on Saturday afternoon at the sound of a bell.
The other two broadsides deal with the perennial bugbear of public disorder. A reward of 100 guineas was offered to those providing information on the 'knocking down...maltreating and robbing' of 'gentlemen and police officers. The main suspects were deemed to be 'apprentices and youth' and the offences took place on 31st December 1811. Plus ça change... In 1812 the Lord Provost and city magistrates were also berated concerning 'riots and outrages unexampled in any other City in the Kingdom' which occurred on the anniversary of King George III's birthday and another broadside strictly prohibited the citizenry from 'breaking down, cutting, carrying away ... any trees, branches of trees, planting, flowers, shrubbery; or of throwing squibs, serpents, fireballs ...'. Shopkeepers were cautioned against selling fireworks to children and masters urged to caution their apprentices and journeymen from 'intermixing with any tumultuous or disorderly assemblage of persons on the streets'.
These items enhance the National Library's holdings of early 19th century ephemera and complements material being used in the RLS project 'Popular Print in Scotland'.|
|Author||Alexander, Sir William, Earl of Stirling|
|Title||Recreations with the Muses|
|Imprint||London: b. Tho. Harper|
|Date of Publication||1637|
|Notes||This collection of the works of William Alexander is of central importance to the development of Scottish literature. Alexander was a member of the 'Castalian band' (named after the mythical spring on Mount Parnassus, a symbol of the inspiration of the muses) of poets at the court of King James VI, along with writers such as Alexander Montgomerie, William Fowler, Robert and Thomas Hudson, and the king himself. When the court moved to London in 1603 with the accession of James to the English throne, the 'Castalian band' was dispersed. Alexander, like other writers who moved to London with the king, began to modify his verse, expunging Scotticisms and adopting the southern English language, so that this publication of 1637 is substantially a book of poetry in English, not Scots. Alexander was highly regarded by James VI and I and by Charles I, and was chosen by James to help him produce a new translation of the Psalms; the translation was published under James's name although it was almost all the work of Alexander. Alexander, who died in 1640, was by 1637 Secretary of State for Scotland; more notable, perhaps, is the fact that he had been granted the colonial territories of Nova Scotia (and, indeed, much of what is now Canada and the USA!). This book is thus a collection of a major Scottish author's writings, and one of the last editions published during his lifetime.
Of enormous symbolic importance is the fact that this copy contains a fine impression of the extremely rare portrait of Alexander. On the portrait is the manuscript inscription 'Liber Fra: Kinaston ex dono Nobilissimi Authoris'. Sir Francis Kynaston (1587-1642) was an influential English poet of the court of Charles I, and an appropriate recipient for this collection of Anglicised works by a Scottish-born writer. The bookseller describes the portait as one of the 'black tulips' of early English print-making, and there does not seem to be another copy with the portrait in any UK public library. This copy is of some bibliographical importance, as the inscription indicates clearly that the portrait was issued with the book (it had been argued that the rarity of the portrait was a consequence of its having been issued separately). An eighteenth-century facsimile is also bound in this copy. Another interesting bibliographical feature of this and at least two other copies is that two leaves (X1 and X6) were missing due to an error in printing early copies of that sheet; here they have been supplied from another copy.
The book is attractively bound in early nineteenth-century green morocco with gold-tooled decoration and lettering on the spine; the edges of the leaves are gilt. A note on a front flyleaf signed 'H.C.' probably indicates the ownership of the nineteenth-century collector Henry Cunliffe.
The National Library of Scotland had two copies of this text already (H.29.a.3, H.29.a.4), but the additional features of this copy enable us to claim that our holdings of this important book now approach bibliographical completeness. This will enhance further our standing as a centre for studies of early Scottish literature.|