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 761 of the most important items we have acquired since 2000. We update it regularly as new material comes in. The description gives information about why it was chosen and what makes it particularly interesting. You can order the list by date of acquisition, author or title.
Please let us know what you think of this resource, if you have information to add about an acquisition, or if you have rare Scottish books that you would like to donate or sell. Email us at email@example.com
Important Acquisitions 661 to 675 of 761:
Ordered by author |
Order by title
| Order by date
|Imprint||Pesten [Budapest] : Otto Wigand|
|Date of Publication||1829|
|Notes||The Library has in recent years acquired a number of early translations of the works of Sir Walter Scott printed in eastern Europe. This a rare Hungarian translation of Sir Walter Scott's "Ivanhoe", only two other copies are recorded in the UK. It was the only Scott novel translated into Hungarian in the first half of the 19th century. It was translated by the poet and patriot Andras Thaisz (1789-1840, described by Sir John Bowring is his "The poetry of the Magyars" (London, 1830) as 'the translator of the Scottish Romances'.|
|Author||Scott, Walter, Sir.|
|Title||Character of Lord Byron|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||Sir Walter Scott's Character of Lord Byron is bound with William Parry's Last days of Lord Byron with His Lordship's Opinions on Various Subjects Particularly on the State and Prospects of Greece. Scott's tribute to Byron first appeared in the May 19, 1824 issue of the 'Edinburgh Weekly Journal' and was later reprinted in 'The Pamphleteer', vol. 24, 1824.
This copy of the Character of Lord Byron does not incorporate the same typeface, or follow the same layout as the edition of Scott's article published in the 'The Pamphleteer.' No bibliographic record for this copy can be found in NSTC, RLIN, CURL, or the catalogues of the British Library, Library of Congress, Harvard, Yale, Oxford, Cambridge or the University of Edinburgh. Neither does it appear in William B. Todd's Sir Walter Scott : a bibliographical history, 1796-1832.
A footnote on p. 197, vol. VII, in John Gibson Lockhart's Life of Sir Walter Scott (Edinburgh: Constable, 1902) presents some relevant background information. According to a recollection in 1839 by Andrew Shortrede, an apprentice in the Edinburgh printing trade in 1824: 'Sir Walter came down from the Court of Session to the printing-office the day the intelligence of Byron's death reached Edinburgh and there dictated to James Ballantyne the article which appeared in the Weekly Journal. I think it was inserted without correction, or revisal, except by Ballantyne. From these circumstances, I with others imagined James had himself produced it in some moment of inspiration; but when I afterwards told him how I had been misled, he detailed suo more the full, true, and particular history of the article. Separate copies, I remember, were thrown off for some of Byron's friends.'
No publication details can be found anywhere on this copy of Scott's article. As Shortrede's recollection suggests, this is most probably one of the very few surviving separate copies, which James Ballantyne and Company had printed for the friends of Byron.|
|Reference Sources||Not in NSTC, RLIN or CURL|
|Title||Poema posledniago barda. [Lay of the last minstrel]|
|Imprint||Moscow: V Universitetskoi Tipografii|
|Date of Publication||1823|
|Notes||This is the rare first edition in Russian of "The Lay of the Last Minstrel", first published in English in 1805. Only one other copy has been located in western European libraries at the National Library of Finland. The publisher/translator of the prose translation was Mikhail Kachenovsky (1775-1842), professor at Moscow University and editor of the journal "Vestnik Evropy" (Herald of Europe). |
|Title||Matil'da Rokbi, poema v shesti knigakh. [Rokeby]|
|Imprint||Moscow: V tipografii Avgusta Semena|
|Date of Publication||1823|
|Notes||This is the rare first edition in Russian of Scott's English Civil War poem, "Rokeby". No copy has been traced in western European libraries. The two-volume translation, by an unidentified translator, is in prose. The first English edition of "Rokeby" appeared in 1813; it did not enjoy quite the spectacular success of the "Lady of the Lake" but was still a big seller. Like Scott's other works it was soon translated for readers on the Continent; a French translation was published in 1820 and a German translation in 1822, then this Russian translation of 1823. Scott was probably the most popular foreign author in Russia in the 19th century, the first Russian translation of his works, some extracts from "Ivanhoe", appeared as early as 1820. His influence can be seen not only in the development of the Russian historical novel, but also in the vogue for wearing tartan and dressing up as characters from his novels. Of the three great influences on the celebrated Russian author Alexander Pushkin from European literature, Byron, Shakespeare and Scott, the influence of Scott is most marked in Pushkin's prose, particularly the historical fictions. The verso of the title in volume 1 states that the book was on sale at the bookshop of Vasily Loginov; his ticket is also pasted here to the front pastedown. This copy appears to be in its original binding.|
|Reference Sources||"The Caledonian Phalanx: Scots in Russia", National Library of Scotland, 1987|
|Title||De Zeeroover [The Pirate]|
|Imprint||Leeuwarden : Steenbergen van Goor,|
|Date of Publication||1825|
|Notes||The fame of Walter Scott's novels spread quickly through Continental Europe. Scott's novel "The Pirate" was written in 1821 and published in Edinburgh and London by Archibald Constable in December 1822. This is the first Dutch translation, done by the publisher Jan Willem Steenbergen van Goor (1778-1856). "The Pirate" was written after Scott's publisher, Archibald Constable had suggested he write a novel about pirates. Scott took as his inspiration the tale of the 'Orkney Pirate' John Gow, who had returned home to Orkney to lie low for a period. Gow lived a respectable life for several weeks, pretending to be an honest trader, until his cover was blown, which led to his eventual arrest and execution in 1725. |
|Title||The vision of Don Roderick; a poem. |
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Ballantyne and Co., |
|Date of Publication||1811. |
|Notes||This is a copy of the first edition of Scott's poem, bound in an ornate, contemporary calf binding. The book has been acquired for the portrait in pencil pasted onto a front free endpaper. It is highly likely that this drawing is a portrait (or later copy of a portrait) of Walter Scott made in 1803, which would make it the earliest surviving image of Scott as a young man. The portrait shows the 32-year-old Scott's head in profile to the left and is initialled "E.B." Scott visited Oxford in April 1803 at a time when his literary career was just taking off; the first two volumes of 'Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border' had been published the previous year to great acclaim and the third volume was about to be published. Scott accordingly found himself lionized by the academic community in Oxford. He stayed with his friend Richard Heber (1774-1833), a former student at Oxford and famous book-collector. During his stay Scott had his portrait sketched by Edward Berens (1778-1859), a fellow of Oriel College who later became Archdeacon of Berkshire. The existence of the portrait is confirmed by Scott's letters with his friend and regular correspondent, Mary Anne Hughes, in the years 1824 and 1825. Mrs Hughes, who lived in Uffington, Berkshire and who was a neighbour of Berens, wrote on 3 October 1824 to ask Scott if he had ever received from Berens a drawing of Scott's friend and former assistant John Leyden (1775-1811). She reminded Scott that he had been introduced to Berens at Oxford and noted that the latter had "a great talent for drawing and made an outline of you as well as of Dr. Leyden: I think he says he sent you a copy of both, but I am sure he sent your friend". Scott replied on October 6 to say that Heber had told him that he had the drawing of Leyden for him, but somehow he had forgotten to send it or had mislaid it, so Scott would therefore be delighted to get a copy of it from Berens. "I remember well", Scott added, "sitting to him and Heber reading Milton all the while - since that time my block has been traced by many a brush of eminence" (Scott 'Letters', VIII, p. 392). In a letter of 12 April 1825 he told Mrs. Hughes how grateful he was for the "sketches", particularly for that of Leyden. He had evidently been sent by Berens a copy of both drawings (cf. 'Letters', IX, p. 70). As regards the provenance of the book and portrait there is only an inscription on the title of the book: Harriet Thayer, September 27, 1812. Harriet (d. 1860) was the youngest daughter of Edward Lovenden of Buscot Park, Berkshire, and a friend of Mary Ann Hughes; she later married Baron Paul-Adolphe Thiébault, a French army officer.
|Reference Sources||H. Grierson (ed.) 'The Letters of Sir Walter Scott', vols 8-9, London, 1935;
F. Russell, 'Portraits of Sir Walter Scott', London, 1987 (no. 20, p.29)
|Title||New spelling, pronouncing, and explanatory dictionary of the English language|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: C. Elliot|
|Date of Publication||1786|
|Notes||This is a pocket dictionary in oblong format published during the heyday of the Age of Augustanism in Scotland with its demand for propriety and its emphasis on southern English models of speech. It consists of an introductory essay on English pronunciation, elocution and grammar, the dictionary proper, and an appendix.
The author points out in his preface that although he is a native of Scotland, it is not presumptuous of him to represent the proper English pronunciation: as a young man, Scott lived in London for many years, instructing "the young gentlemen of the academy the proper reading and reciting of the English language".
The dictionary is particularly interesting because it goes beyond the usual explanation of the meaning of the words. It shows the accented vowels and consonants, thus indicating where the wordstress falls. The pronunciation of every vowel sound in a word is indicated by a number, which refers to one of the 15 vowel sounds Scott distinguishes. Other dictionaries are "extremely deficient" with regard to the indication of the proper pronunciation. Scott's work is therefore important for "provincials and foreigners", in other words anybody outside the Home counties.
The Dictionary was first published in 1777, but no copy of this edition is known. This 1786 copy is the only one held in the UK.|
|Reference Sources||ESTC; bookseller's catalogue|
|Title||Das Leben Gottes in der Seele des Menchen oder die Natur und Vortreflichkeit der Christlichen Religion [Life of God in the soul of man]. |
|Imprint||Philadelphia: Benjamin Franklin|
|Date of Publication||1756|
|Notes||This work by the Church of Scotland minister Henry Scougal (1650-1678) was first published in London in 1667. Widely regarded as an 'enduring religious classic' (ODNB), Scougal's manual of personal devotion was reprinted several times in the 18th century, the first North American edition appearing in 1741, printed by Rogers and Fowle of Boston. A German translation was commissioned by the Trustees of the Charitable Scheme [to promote Christian Knowledge among German immigrants into Pennsylvania] and printed by Benjamin Franklin's press in Philadelphia. German migration to Pennsylvania had started in the 1720s and Franklin, along with other Anglo-American leaders of the colony in the 1750s, regarded the large German presence as a potential threat to its future; the German settlers were in their eyes not only racially and physically different to the Anglo-Americans, but also ignorant of the kind of political liberties enjoyed by English and thus likely to subvert English values and rights. Franklin stated at this time, 'Why should Pennsylvania, founded by the English, become a colony of aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us instead of us Anglifying them, and will never adopt our language and customs, any more than they can acquire our complexion.' The printing of Scougal's text in German was part of the process of 'anglifying' the so-called Pennsylvania Dutch settlers, along with the offer of free education in English-orientated schools. Although the overall aims of the Charitable Scheme foundered, due to the Germans' understandable mistrust of its motives, in his papers Franklin recorded that the work 'proved most acceptable at this time.' |
|Reference Sources||Oxford Dictionary of National Biography; Liam Riordan, "The Complexion of my Country" pp. 97-120 in 'Germans and Indians: Fantasies, Encounters, Projections' by Colin Gordon Calloway, Gerd Gmünden, Susanne Zantop (U of Nebraska Press, 2002)|
|Title||[Mountain photographs : 23 gelatin-silver prints]|
|Date of Publication||[ca. 1880-1905]|
|Notes||Photographic views of the Alps and the Himalaya, taken by Vittorio Sella during the last decades of the 19th and the first decade of the 20th centuries. Sella (1859-1943) was regarded by contemporaries as the finest mountain photographer of his day and his reputation has scarcely diminished since. As well as being a photographer he was an accomplished climber - he made the first winter traverses of both Mt. Blanc and the Matterhorn and he accompanied the Duke of the Abruzzi on several of the latter's pioneering climbing expeditions. He climbed in Africa, Alaska and the Caucasus as well as in the Alps and the Himalaya.|
|Author||Seymour, Mina S.|
|Title||Pen pictures: transmitted clairaudiently and telepathically by Robert Burns|
|Imprint||Lily Dale, N.Y. : [s.n.]|
|Date of Publication||1900|
|Notes||This is a privately-printed oddity relating to Robert Burns. It is a volume of over 150 poems in English and Scots allegedly by Burns, as received by an American medium, Mina Seymour, at the end of nineteenth century. It was published in Lily Dale, a spiritualist community in south-western New York State. Carol McGuirk, writing on Burns in America in the nineteenth century comments on the frequency with which nineteenth-century Americans imagined, wished, or even roundly asserted that Robert Burns was not dead. "As with Elvis Presley sightings in our time, this is most likely a sign that mere celebrity has been transcended and cult status achieved. The cult of Burns included prominent Scottish-Americans such as Andrew Carnegie but also marginal persons as Mina S. Seymour, a psychic who in 1900 published a book said to be 'transmitted' or channelled directly from the mind of Burns" (McGuirk, 'Haunted by authority', 1997). McGuirk describes the book as "Seymour's deranged little volume", and the quality of the poems in it is truly awful. In the opening poem, dedicated to the Psychical Research Society, the voice of Burns reveals that "I've beat auld Death, I write as weel, As mony in Earth life." The book is illustrated with portraits with various members of the American spiritualist community, many of whom were apparently recipients of poems by Burns.
|Reference Sources||Carol McGuirk, "Haunted by authority: nineteenth-century American constructions of Robert Burns and Scotland", in 'Robert Burns and Cultural Authority' edited by Robert Crawford (Edinburgh, 1997), pp. 136-158.|
|Title||Complete works of Shakespeare in 20 miniature volumes.|
|Imprint||Glasgow : David Bryce and Son|
|Date of Publication||1904|
|Notes||This is a miniature set of Shakespeare's complete works in 20 volumes published by David Bryce of Glasgow. Bryce was Scotland's most prolific and successful producer of miniature books. The individual volumes measure only 50 mm. in height and they are bound in brown suede featuring gilt spine lettering and gilt textblock edges. The set is housed in a tiny wooden replica of Shakespeare's desk apparently modelled upon the original in a Stratford museum. A publisher's sticker on the back states that it is made of oak (presumably from an artefact or pew) taken out of Holy Trinity Church, Stratford, where Shakespeare was baptised and buried. The standard reference sources on miniature books make no mention of this set and no record for another set can be found. |
|Title||The tragedy of Macbeth. By William Shakespear [sic]. As it is acted at the Theatre-Royal in Drury-Lane, by His Majesty's servants. To which are added all the original songs. |
|Imprint||Glasgow: William Duncan, Junior|
|Date of Publication||1755|
|Notes||18th-century London editions of individual Shakespeare plays are relatively common, but Scottish editions are rare, usually surviving in one or two known copies. Of the eight editions of Shakespeare's Scottish play printed in Scotland in the 18th century, this Glasgow edition is the third, the previous two having been printed in Edinburgh in 1731 and 1753. It was listed in William Jaggard's Shakespeare bibliography of 1911 as the first edition printed in Glasgow, but without pagination or location. Jaggard may have copied a reference from a bibliography or auction catalogue without seeing a copy. It is not recorded in recent Shakespeare bibliographies or ESTC. The printer, William Duncan junior, was active between 1750 and 1768, but printed very little for most of that time. In 1755-1756 however, he appears to have decided to issue an assortment of plays including two by Shakespeare: King Lear and Macbeth. This particular copy is bound with a [1770?] London edition of "Timon of Athens" and leaves from volume 8 of a 1757 London edition of Shakespeare's works.|
|Imprint||Hill of Tarvit|
|Date of Publication||1930-1938|
|Notes||This is a rather remarkable donation which brings back to Scotland some printed items with close personal connections to Hugh Sharp and his family. Hugh Sharp (1897-1937) was the Dundee jute manufacturer and bibliophile whose private library was presented to the nation in 1938 by his mother and sister, Elizabeth. The Hugh Sharp collection is now one of our finest special collections, with many first editions of literary classics in fine condition.
One of Hugh Sharp's friends was G. J. Scaramanga of Arundel, Sussex, who kept up the connection with the Sharps after Hugh's untimely death. He kept cards sent from Hugh and the Sharps in a special gilt-tooled folder.
This folder of Christmas cards, which has now been donated to the Library, includes cards from 1930 to 1935, a calendar for 1937 and a later newspaper cutting. Movingly, there is a letter from Elizabeth Sharp dated 27 August 1938, which includes an example of the bookplate specially designed for the Hugh Sharp collection at the National Library after Hugh's death that year.
The Christmas cards include facsimile reproductions from books in Hugh Sharp's collection, and they were finely printed by Pillans and Wilson of Edinburgh in only 50 copies each. Each card is interesting and tasteful, in decorated card covers and with coloured ties.|
|Author||Shelley, Percy Bysshe|
|Imprint||Pisa: printed with the types of Didot|
|Date of Publication||1821|
|Notes||This is the rare first printing of Percy Bysshe Shelley's elegy on the death of fellow-poet John Keats. In 1818 Shelley (1792-1822) had moved to Italy due to his growing financial and health problems; he was never to return to England. During these final four years of his life he wrote some of finest poetry, despite enduring a series of personal tragedies. In February 1821 Keats had died in Rome of tuberculosis; Shelley subscribed to the view that the final stage of Keats's fatal illness had been brought on by a bad review of 'Endymion' in the "Quarterly Review" in 1818. He resolved to a write an elegy on Keats which would defend the dead man's reputation and emphasise the significance of poets and poetry in society. On June 8 1821 Shelley wrote to his London publisher, Charles Ollier, asking him to announce for publication a new poem, which was "a lament on the death of poor Keats, with some interposed stabs on the assassins of his peace and his fame". The poet decided in the end to have the poem printed locally in Pisa, rather than send a manuscript copy to London. Printing the work in Pisa meant that he could personally supervise the printing to ensure that there were no errors in the text, and also prevent any of the "interposed stabs" from being censored. A slim quarto of the 55-stanza poem was produced, Shelley sending a copy to the poet John Gisborne on 13 July. Other copies were sent to Charles Ollier to be distributed. Ollier offered them for sale at the modest price of 3s 6d but decided not to republish the work, making the Pisa printing one of the scarcest and most highly sought after original editions of Shelley's works. Ollier's reluctance to have the poem printed is no doubt due to his strained relations with Shelley. Between 1820 and his death in July 1822 Shelley frequently complained in his correspondence that Ollier was ignoring his many requests and commissions, including his request for a reprint of 'Adonais', which he himself regarded as "the least imperfect of my compositions". In this case Ollier probably had no wish to become embroiled in Shelley's attack on the "Quarterly Review", which he knew would be met with derision by most of the London critics. In the preface to 'Adonais', Shelley stresses his credentials as an impartial judge of Keats's work, noting that his "repugnance" for some of the latter's earlier compositions was well known. However, he pulls no punches in his attack on John Wilson Croker, the reviewer of 'Endymion'; whilst Croker is not named in the preface, he is referred to as "Miserable man! you, one of the meanest, have wantonly defaced one of the noblest specimens of the workmanship of God". The text of 'Adonais' was reprinted in "The Literary Chronicle and Weekly Review" of December 1 1821 but a separate edition was not reprinted in England until 1829 in Cambridge. A further separate edition was printed for private circulation in London in 1876. This particular copy of the first Pisa printing is from the library of Sir John Skelton (1831-1897), a Scottish author, literary critic and advocate. It was bequeathed to the Library (along with first editions of Shelley's 'Rosalind and Helen' and 'Epipsychidion') by his descendant Miss Margaret Penelope Skelton (1924-2011). It is bound in a 19th-century calf binding for the booksellers Edmonston & Douglas of Edinburgh. Of particular interest is a letter to Sir John Skelton pinned to the front free endpaper; it is from the poet and fellow literary reviewer Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909). The letter, dated March 10 1894, is not concerned with 'Adonais' but primarily with the 16th-century French poet and admirer of Mary Queen of Scots, Pierre de Bocosel de Chastelard. Swinburne had written plays about both Mary and Chastelard, while Skelton had published the year before "Mary Stuart", a biography defending the queen's conduct. As a postscript Swinburne notes that he has forgotten to reply to a question of Skelton's about Shelley and provides references to two articles by him on Shelley.|
|Reference Sources||Oxford Dictionary of National Biography; "Adonais by Percy Bysshe Shelly, edited with a bibliographical introduction by Thomas J. Wise" 2nd ed. (London: Shelley Society, 1886)|
|Author||Sinclair, Sir John|
|Title||Sketch of the improvements now carrying on in the county of Caithness, north Britain.|
|Date of Publication||1803|
|Notes||A brief description, beautifully illustrated with four fine engraved plans, of proposed improvements to 'a remote and neglected district of a country', most of which was the property of the author, Sir John Sinclair of Ulbster. The work was later included as an appendix to Captain John Henderson's 'General view of the agriculture of the county of Caithness', published in 1812. On the title page is a presentation inscription from the author to a 'General Melville', dated 30 May, 1803.
Described by a contemporary as 'the most indefatigable man in Britain', Sinclair was a man of many parts. He served as M.P. for Caithness in the early 1780s, inaugurated the British Wool Society in 1791, founded the Board of Agriculture in 1793 and was almost single-handedly responsible for the preparation of the mammoth 'Statistical account of Scotland', which was published in 1799.
This book is a microcosm of Sinclair's interests as an economic improver. The promotion of sheep farming, the cultivation of 'fenland', the establishment of new villages both inland and on the coast, the promotion of fisheries and the construction of a new town in Thurso are all described. Ultimately, Sinclair's 'improvements' changed the face of the county. Sinclair also had great hopes for Thurso and envisaged that it would trade with the West Indies. At the time of writing, work had already begun and Sinclair described his involvement in financing the enterprise, advancing a sum for every house built and promoting the work of the Building Society. His geometric town plan is similar to that for Edinburgh's New Town and apart from some public buildings - the academy, infirmary and public wash house - most of the plan was realised.|