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 818 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Important Acquisitions 631 to 645 of 818:
Ordered by date acquired |
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|Author||De Serres, Jean/ Buchanan, George|
|Title||Psalmorum Davidis aliquot metaphrasis Graeca Ioannis Serrani. Adiuncta eregione paraphrasi Latinia G. Buchanani.|
|Imprint||[Geneva] Henri Estienne|
|Date of Publication||1575|
|Language||Greek and Latin|
|Notes||This copy of Jean de Serres' translation of the Psalms into Greek verse, with George Buchanan's Latin verse paraphrase on facing pages, was presented by de Serres to Buchanan, that 'most excellent' man, as his inscription on the title page attests. It would be wonderful if such a gift were part of a fruitful exchange between two humanist scholars, but the reality seems a more pathetic tale.
In the printed preface to his Psalms, de Serres explains how Buchanan's psalm paraphrase inspired his own. In 1578, three years later, when he was one of the editors of Estienne's edition of Plato, he wrote to Buchanan, sending him a copy, and again mentioning how he had produced his Psalm translations and the debt he owed to Buchanan, but commenting that he had written before and had not received a reply. This letter is held by the NLS at Adv.Ms.15.1.6.f24. (There is no record that he ever received a reply to this second gift, either.) Buchanan had by most accounts a good relationship with Henri Estienne, the celebrated scholar-printer who published this book - the Estienne family were the original publishers of Buchanan's psalm paraphrases and indeed brought out an edition of that work in the same year, so why he would not reply to a fellow Estienne author, and a Calvinist and classical scholar at that, is unknown.
The obvious conclusion is that this item was sent to Buchanan by de Serres on its publication with a letter of praise and introduction similar to the one that still survives, but Buchanan never acknowledged the gift. However, since it survived and presumably remained in Scottish hands, he must have kept this copy, or at least given it to a good home. This copy is not mentioned in Durkan's Buchanan bibliography.
The whereabouts of this item for the next few hundred years are uncertain; the next recorded owner is Alexander Fraser Tytler, Lord Woodhouselee, (1747-1813) whose signature is on the flyleaf. Lord Woodhouselee was an important figure in Edinburgh legal and literary circles at the end of the 18th century, and the NLS holds a number of other items from his library. This book is considerably earlier than those works, perhaps showing an interest in earlier Scottish authors - Woodhouselee's concern with his literary contemporaries, especially Burns, is well documented.
More recently this book was owned by the modern scholar Elizabeth Armstrong, whose label is inside the front cover. Presumably she acquired this book through her interest in the Estienne family (her book on Robert Estienne first appeared in 1954).|
|Reference Sources||Durkan: Bibliography of George Buchanan 1994|
|Author||Coultershoggle, Mungo (pseud.)|
|Imprint||New York: Collins & Hannay et al|
|Date of Publication||1825|
|Notes||This is an extraordinary acquisition, a two-volume novel published in America which has most of the dialogue in Scots. The work is extremely rare and the British Library only has a microfilm. This presumably explains why it seems to have escaped critical and literary recognition.
The unknown pseudonymous writer also wrote 'Leslie Linkfield' (1826). It seems overwhelmingly likely that he was a Scottish emigrant; the descriptions of the Scottish countryside, and the dialogue, could hardly have been written by someone who had not spent many years in Scotland. The plot is rather reminiscent of Scott's 'Redgauntlet': a na´ve youth comes to discover that he is the heir of a powerful aristocratic family, which had fought for the Jacobites. The preposterously-named Goslington Shadow emerges as a hero and lover of noble blood.
In terms of literary constuction, this novel is most curious. The narrator adopts a high prose style in flowery English, full of sentimental reflections on landscape, rather like Gothic writers like Mrs. Radcliffe. The tone is frequently knowing and ironic, which can make it an irritating text to read. When the characters speak, however, the language used is serious Scots, and hard to read for a non-native speaker. The plot develops in the most meandering way, introducing numerous picaresque figures whose relevance is rarely immediately clear. I would conjecture that this novel was received in New York in 1825 with utter bafflement.
This novel would repay serious study. It seems to me that this is a major attempt at literary innovation, of real significance in the development of Scottish literature. The result is certainly not an unqualified success. Some passages are wonderful and horrible stylistic failures, so bad as to be rather good. Yet the overall wit and intelligence of the writer shine through (see, for example, the debate over the reading of 'Paradise Lost' towards the end of vol. 1). Certainly, compared to some of the examples of 'Scottish literature' currently in print, 'Goslington Shadow' has much to recommend it.|
|Title||Oliver Cromwell's Letters and Speeches (2 vols. and Supplement)|
|Imprint||London: Chapman and Hall|
|Date of Publication||1845|
|Notes||The NLS already has later editions of this work, but this was an opportunity to acquire a first edition with interesting provenance.
The half-title of the first volume is inscribed 'To Miss Wilson with many kind regards. T.C' in Carlyle's unmistakable hand, and a later hand notes that the volume was 'given to F.J. Conance Esq. as a Memorial from J.W. 1872'. This 'Miss Wilson' is probably Jane Wilson, 1790-1890, friend of Harriet Martineau, who with her brother Thomas began a friendship with Carlyle around 1836, when they suggested a lecture series to him. (Kaplan, pp. 239-240). Carlyle and his wife Jane wrte to the Wilsons and mention them in their letters of the period: in 1845, the year this book was published, Miss Wilson is chiefly notable for an unlucky dinner invitation which Carlyle complained about and tried to get out of.|
|Reference Sources||Collected Letters of Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle, Duke-Edinburgh Edition.
Fred Kaplan: Thomas Carlyle, A Biography. CUP 1983|
|Author||Joersson, S. A.|
|Title||Adam Smith auteur des recherches sur la richesse des nations & Thomas Payne|
|Date of Publication||1796|
|Notes||This 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.|
|Author||Tytler, Alexander Fraser, Lord Woodhouselee|
|Title||Essay on Military Law|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: b. Murray & Cochrane f. T. Egerton|
|Date of Publication||1800|
|Notes||This copy of the first edition of Tytler's work on military law is particularly important as it was owned and corrected by the author. It has his initials on the title-page, and extensive ink annotations throughout, sometimes on inserted pages. There is also a printed correction slip pasted to the verso of the title-page. The second edition, for which the author's corrections were apparently made, appeared in 1806.
Tytler (1747-1813) was professor of history at the University of Edinburgh, then judge-advocate for Scotland, and eventually a lord of the Court of Session. This copy shows that he was a careful editor and reviser. A detailed comparison between these corrections and the printed text of the second edition would reveal how many of the author's changes were actually incorporated.|
|Title||Novus cursus philosophicus Scotistarum complectens universam philosophiam, rationalem, naturalem, moralem & transnaturalem?|
|Imprint||Lugduni : Sumpt. Lavr. Arnavd, et Petri Borde|
|Date of Publication||1669|
|Notes||This is a one volume compendium of the works of John Duns Scotus (1265/66-1308). Sources variously state that Scotus was born in Duns, Berwickshire, Friar Minor at Dumfries where his uncle Elias Duns was superior, or Maxton (now Littledean).
Scotus was one of the most important and influential philosopher-theologians of the High Middle Ages. His complex and nuanced thought, which earned him the nickname "the Subtle Doctor," left a mark on discussions of such disparate topics as the semantics of religious language, the problem of universals, divine illumination, and the nature of human freedom.
The recto of the front free endpaper has a manuscript entry in the hand of Professor Geoffrey W.S. Barrow, M.A., B.Litt., D.Litt., Hon.D.Litt. Barrow was formerly a professor in the Scottish History Department of the University of Edinburgh and the inscription indicates that the book was once in his ownership. The inscription begins: "This is a remarkable compendium of the philosophy of John Duns Scotus ... NB. There is no copy of this work listed in the catalogues of the British Library not that of the Bibl. Nat. at Paris."|
|Imprint||London: M. Darly,|
|Date of Publication||1775|
|Notes||This is a rare print of an engraving of the explorer James Bruce, 1730-1794. It was drawn by the caricaturist Edward Topham (1751-1820) who worked for the engraver and printseller Matthew Darly of the Strand, London in the 1770s. Darly's printshop was known as 'The Macaroni Print shop' as he was the printer par excellence of prints of macaronies (fops) very much in vogue from 1771 to 1773. This print of Bruce was first sold as an individual print but later published as part of a series of caricatures published by Darly in 1776. The only other known copy of the print is held in the Department of Prints at the British Museum.
A giant of a man for the time at 6 ft. 4, James Bruce was born in Kinnaird, Stirlingshire and educated at Harrow. After studying law, he developed an interest in archaeology and ancient languages. He served as the British consul in Algiers from 1763-1765 after which he explored the Roman ruins in North Africa (known then as Barbary). Further adventures followed during which he was shipwrecked and attacked by the Arabs.
Bruce made his name as the explorer of Abyssinia and the Nile between 1769 and 1772. He is credited with the discovery of the source of the Blue Nile, though he himself thought he had discovered the White Nile ('the Nile of the ancients'). Feted on his return to Britain in 1775 - at the time this print was produced - his popularity rapidly waned. This was due to his very candid description of some of the customs of the Abyssinians including cutting meat from a live animal and eating it - which he admitted to indulging in!
He retired to his ancestral home in Scotland and his account of his travels was eventually published in 5 vols in 1790 as 'Travels to discover the source of the Nile'.|
Dictionary of 19th century British book illustrators
British Museum, Department of Prints and Drawings: catalogue of political and personal satires vol V 1771-1783, no.5317|
|Imprint||London: b. T. Maiden f. Ann Lemoine|
|Date of Publication||[1806-9]|
|Notes||Here are two finely-bound volumes of novellas and poems, most with a strong Gothic flavour. The titles give the game away ('The Tomb of Aurora', 'The Midnight Hour', 'The Mysterious Spaniard'). 'Gothic' literature in English includes some of the most important early novels, such as Matthew Lewis' 'The Monk' and Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein'. Gothic writing is characterised by a fascination with the medieval period from which it takes its name, an obsessive interest in the supernatural, an exploration of the emotions tending towards the sensual, and an appreciation of wild and romantic landscapes. There were many who had concerns about the influence of Gothic writing, such as Jane Austen who parodied the conventional Gothic narrative in 'Northanger Abbey'. 'Wild Roses' feels the need to open with a declaration that the editors have sought 'to prune from them every Luxuriance which might justly offend the Breast of Morality.' The blood-soaked pages which follow explain why such a disclaimer was felt necessary.
Although many of the main 'Gothic writers' were English, the genre had a major impact on Scotland (part of 'Frankenstein' is actually set in Scotland), and on Scottish writers such as Burns, Hogg and Scott. Many of Walter Scott's 'historical' novels show traces of Gothic influence, and one of the most important features of 'Wild Roses' is the fact that it includes a poem by Scott. 'The Maid of Toro', which appears at the end of 'The Captive Prince' in vol. 2, presents the despair of a medieval maiden hiding in a wood, who learns of the slaughter of her champion in battle, despite her prayers to the Virgin. It is a highly appropriate inclusion. Intriguingly, this printing of the poem was not recorded by Todd and Bowden in their Scott bibliography, which notes the first printing of the poem in 1806 (Todd 21Aa).
The works collected in these volumes seem to have been printed in 1806-1809, judging by the dates on the numerous engraved plates. The title-pages are undated. The items seem to have been printed as chapbooks in blue wrappers, a fragment of which adheres to the verso of the plate illustrating 'Livonia of Venice' in vol. 2. However, they were clearly intended to be bound up as a collection, as the signatures are continuous, and the final page in each volume gives the correct number of pages in each. The whole set is in excellent condition, bound in half red roan and red grained paper, with gilt-tooled spines bearing green leather labels. Both volumes have the bookplate of the Bibliotek Tido.|
|Reference Sources||Todd & Bowden. Todd 21Aa
|Title||Queensland Scottish Advocate|
|Date of Publication||1908-1911|
|Notes||'The official organ of the Queensland Scottish Union', this journal does not appear in COPAC, OCLC, or the catalogues of the National Library of Australia or of Queensland State Library. It provides a fascinating insight into the Scottish community in Brisbane at the start of the twentieth century, with photographs of 'our Queensland Scottish' in full Scottish costume, articles about local and Scottish current affairs (including at least one by Lord Rosebery), Scottish history, Scots poetry and songs (again by locals as well as traditional ballads).
There are also reports of the activities of Caledonian Societies and Burns Nights throughout the region, articles on Scottish history and culture, 'household hints' and recipes, and advertisements with a Scottish theme (many for Scotch whiskey).
Bought from an Australian bookseller, this copy is probably the only one in Scotland, and almost certainly the only one in public hands in the UK. Nothing is known to us about the Queensland Scottish Union other than what appears in this bound volume, containing Vol. 1.1 to 3.12, and we do not know if any further issues were produced.|
|Imprint||London: John Field|
|Date of Publication||1653|
|Notes||This is a beautifully bound Bible in two volumes with the second volume also containing The Psalms of David in Meeter ... Allowed by the Authority of the General Assembly of the Kirk of Scotland. According to the British Library Catalogue 'a spurious edition, not printed by Field.' Field is designated Printer to the Parliament on the general title page and 'one of His Highness's Printers' on the New Testament title. An inscription on the flyleaf of the 2nd vol. Reads: Janet Mitchel/ hir Booke/ 1730 aged 13 the 30th/ of January.
The binding is early 18th century Scottish red morocco elegantly gilt in 'herring-bone' style featuring a variety of floral emblems. The spines are tooled in gilt between raised bands with green patterned pastedowns and free flyleaves. The library has a similar, though not identical, binding. This is excellent example of an early 18th century Scottish binding.|
|Reference Sources||Wing B2240|
|Title||Euripidis poetae tragici Alcestis ... Tum ... Jepthes, Tragoedia|
|Imprint||Argentorati Excudebat Josias Rihelius|
|Date of Publication||1567|
|Notes||This item is a significant addition to the Library's holdings of Buchanan's writings. It seems to be the only copy of this edition in Scotland, although we and other libraries have various separate editions of Jephthes and Alcestis.
Buchanan was a leading figure in the divine poetry movement, and this rare publication of his own biblical tragedy Jephthes side by side with his translation of a classical drama indicates the complex relationship between sacred and secular literature for Buchanan and his wider Protestant humanist circle. The editor, Joannes Sturm, talks in his preface of Buchanan's talent and his own pleasure in reading him, and hopes that his publication will spread Buchanan's fame through France and Germany.
The sacred and secular theme is continued in the other two items bound with this work - the neo-classical comedy Acolastus, and the 'sacred comedy' Joseph, by the Renaissance scholars Cornelius Gnapheus and Cornelius Crocus.
The three items may first have been put together by the 'M. Boereau' whose signature appears on the Buchanan and Crocus works, on which the name 'Geo. King' also appears. But in their current state they were bound together for the 18th-century English scholar-collector Michael Wodhull, whose arms are on the binding. Wodhull translated Euripides into English himself, and he may have used Buchanan's work for reference, two hundred years after it was first published.|
|Reference Sources||Durkan: Bibliography of George Buchanan 1994 no.61|
|Author||Watt, James and John Robison|
|Title||Articles Steam and Steam-Engines|
|Date of Publication||[1817-1818?]|
|Notes||This is one of the most important books dealing with the ground-breaking inventions of the Scottish engineer James Watt. Watt's steam engine made the railway revolution possible, and it is remarkable that this publication seems to be very rare.
The book is a separate edition of John Robison's articles on Watt's discoveries written for the Encyclopedia Britannica, printed here with extensive and critical footnotes by James Watt himself. This appears to be the only time Watt ventured into print to discuss his inventions. Eight folding plates in good condition illustrate the processes described (designed by William Creighton and engraved by Lizars of Edinburgh).
This is a nice presentation copy, with an inscription to a Dr. Hope in Watt's hand: the book later passed to the Hope Trust, an Edinburgh-based society for the promotion of temperance. The trust's bookplate is inside the front board.|
|Title||Queen's Arctic Theatre. H.M.S. Assistance ... Commander. G.H. Richards, of the Royal Arctic Navy ... has the honour to acquaint, the nobility, and gentry, of North Cornwall that he has ... engaged a highly select, and talented, corps dramatique, and has entirely rebuilt, and re-embellished, the Queens, Arctic Theatre, and that ... will be performed ... the inimitable comedy, of The Irish tutor ?|
|Imprint||Northumberland Sound, 1852.|
|Date of Publication||1852|
|Notes||A rare and very attractive example of on-board silk printing from the Arctic. In an attempt to maintain crew morale during the long winter freeze, many of the naval expeditions searching for Rear Admiral Sir John Franklin, staged impromptu plays and music-hall type entertainments. Printed records of these amusements are extremely scarce particularly so when printed on the more demanding silk medium.|
|Title||Catalogue of books in quires, which will be offered to a select company of booksellers, at Hunter's Tavern, Edinburgh on Tuesday, October 21. 1794.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh, [William Creech],|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||An unrecorded catalogue of a book sale conducted by William Creech (1745-1815). The sale consisted of 348 lots arranged alphabetically by author or title, with each lot containing anything from a single copy for multi-volume works (e.g. Baronage of Scotland) to 50 copies (Ruddiman's Rudiments of the Latin tongue). All the books were offered unbound ('in quires'), a practice not unknown in the 18th century. The NLS also holds other catalogues of sales conducted by Creech 6.740(1) (1791) at Bdgs.89 (1793). The very large format of this catalogue is unusual and may account for its rarity.
Creech was known throughout his career for his disorganized finances; and this sale was perhaps intended as a method of reducing an overlarge inventory or improving cash flow. Successful bidders were offered extended payment terms, depending on the size of purchase. He was also known as being a sociable character - the sale was preceded by 'dinner on the table at three o'clock' with the sale beginning immediately afterwards.
William Creech was apprenticed to the Edinburgh booksellers Kincaid and Bell before learning more of the trade in London and on the continent. He established his own premises in the Luckenbooths in 1773 and remained in business there until his death in 1815. Creech was a member of the Town Council and served as Lord Provost from 1811-13.|
|Title||Catalogue of books belonging to the library of St. Andrew's Chapel, Aberdeen.|
|Imprint||Aberdeen: printed by George Cornwall|
|Date of Publication||1839|
|Notes||This pamphlet adds significantly to the Library's holdings of works providing information about the history of libraries and collecting in Scotland. St. Andrew's Chapel in Aberdeen was built in 1816 and opened in 1817 as a meeting-place for the Episcopalian congregation. It was raised to the dignity of a Cathedral church in 1914. The chapel library was apparently formed in 1831, and according to the preface in this work, several catalogues had already been issued before 1839. It would seem that the library was well-organised (at least on paper!): the preface discusses the collection development policy and notes that the holdings of serials are particularly strong. Detailed rules and regulations are given before the catalogue itself.
Naturally, the books are mainly theological, and particularly relate to the cause of the Episcopal Church. What is particularly notable is the number of early works, including several seventeenth-century Scottish books (Aldis items). There are also novels, biographies and collections of pamphlets. It would be interesting to know more about the ways in which this collection was formed (and, indeed, its eventual fate).|