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 772 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 691 to 705 of 772:
Ordered by date acquired |
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|Title||Tales of Ossian for use and entertainment. Ein Lesebuch für Anfänger im Englischen|
|Imprint||Nurnberg: Gabriel Nicolaus Raspe|
|Date of Publication||1784|
|Notes||This is a rare first edition of the English version of Macpherson's landmark work. It is probably based on the 1783 pirated reprint of Ossian prepared by Goethe and his friend Johann Heinrich Merck, (first ed. Darmstadt and Leipzig 1773-7). It contains an extensive German glossary, index of names, historical preface, and footnotes, all by Johann Balbach. The tales are taken exclusively from the epics of Fingal and Temora and have been made quite accessible and readable - obviously intended for quite young students of English. A second edition appeared in 1794 and a third in 1822. Only 3 other copies of this text have been recorded - none in Britain (copies at Harvard and Rice University in the United States and at Biblioteka Narodowa, Warsaw). This is also an unusual text as it is arguably the earliest adaptation published for children. It is an important addition to the National Library's corpus of Ossianic works.|
|Reference Sources||Gaskill, Howard. 'German Ossianism: a reappraisal', German life and letters, vol. 42, no.4, July 1989. HJ3.455
Stafford, Fiona and Gaskill, Howard (eds.). From Gaelic to Romantic: Ossianic translations (Amsterdam, 1998) HP2.99.8029
Tombo, Rudolf. Ossian in Germany. (New York, 1901). Oss.295 (p.25)|
|Title||Photographs of the streets and closes of Leith] 8 Albumen prints mounted on card, with the streetnames written in pencil by a later hand, bound in a contemporary [?] album|
|Date of Publication||1860s|
|Notes||These eight albumen prints probably date from the 1860s. They are of the backstreets and closes of Leith, according to internal evidence especially on print 8 showing 'Leith Funeral Establishment', and later annotations in pencil at the foot of the cardboard mounts. They are similar in subject matter to the photographs of Archibald Burns, who famously photographed the slum clearances in Edinburgh, but even more like the photographs in Thomas Annan's The Old Closes & Streets of Glasgow 1868-1877 (1900 edition). Research by historians of photography may reveal more about these important photographs, but it may be that they represent a bridge between the work of Hill and Adamson and the later work of Archibald Burns and Thomas Annan.|
|Author||Stevenson, Robert Louis|
|Title||Strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde|
|Imprint||Paris: Ateliers Leblanc|
|Date of Publication||1994|
|Notes||With 10 copper engravings preceding the text, executed by Didier Mutel.
Oblong folio, loose as issued in original printed white wrappers, in matching slipcase.
Like most art books this effort provokes a reaction from the viewer/reader. The conceit is simple enough, the central duality between the eponymous characters in Stevenson's story is transferred to the suite of 10 copper engravings that map the change from Jekyll into Hyde. The engravings are particularly well-executed. In the text the duality is explored through the use of type of different sizes, and with the increase in point size of the pronoun 'I' to illustrate the gradual domination of Hyde in the relationship. Finally, the typography is employed to show the fatal predominance of Hyde's personality. It is a hackneyed enough phrase, but this is a book that has to be seen to be 'appreciated'.
One of a limited edition of 61, this copy is number 37 signed by the artist.|
|Title||Collection of etchings after the most eminent masters of the Dutch and Flemish schools|
|Date of Publication||1803|
|Notes||These two volumes contain 361 fine etchings in the style of the old masters of the Low Countries as well as contemporary character studies, fashion plates, scenes of rustic life and genre scenes of Edinburgh life. The plates were drawn on thin India paper and mounted on thick cream paper and bound in contemporary straight grain morocco with decorative borders in gilt and blind. Though published in 1803, the etchings are dated between 1783 and 1802. Deuchar's etchings were published in a number of formats. The National Library has a single small volume with 168 etchings (M.99.b). Other versions with 369 India paper etchings in 4 quarto volumes and 381 etchings printed directly onto wove paper in 3 folio volumes (both in private hands) have also been traced.
It seems likely that this scarce work was produced for private circulation among friends, including the artists David Allan, John Brown and Alexander Runciman. In many of the plates Deuchar showed 'appreciation of the quality of the etched line' and 'had an influence on the later etchings of Wilkie and Geddes' (Cursiter)
Deuchar (1743-1808) from farming stock, worked as a Edinburgh seal-engraver in Edinburgh. A gifted amateur, he played an important role in encouraging Henry Raeburn to become an artist. Deuchar frequented the shop of James Gilliland, the jeweller and goldsmith, where the young Raeburn was an apprentice. After giving Raeburn some drawing lessons, Deuchar urged him to become a portrait painter.|
|Reference Sources||Caw, James L. Scottish painting past and present. Edinburgh, 1908 (Art.S.45.2)
Cursiter, Stanley. Scottish art to the close of the nineteenth century. London, 1949 (Art.S.45.C2|
|Title||Picturesque sketches in Spain taken during ye years 1832 & 1833|
|Date of Publication||1837|
|Notes||This volume of tinted lithographs was David Roberts's first published set of views. After working as a house painter in Edinburgh he became a scene painter at theatres in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Carlisle and London. He began travelling on the continent in the 1820s and visited Spain and Tangier on the recommendation of his fellow Scottish artist David Wilkie. Roberts's skill as a draughtsman and his love of architecture are clearly to be seen in this work. Though not as well-known as his later sketches of the Holy Land and Egypt, these lithographs helped to establish Roberts as a topographical artist and aided his election as a Royal Academician in 1841.
Roberts being dissatisfied with the quality of many of the lithographs, worked on many of the lithographic stones himself, erasing some of the original engravings. Instead of taking two months, this work took seven months. It is perhaps significant that Roberts's later work was lithographed by Louis Haghe and printed by Day and Haghe, rather than Charles Hullmandel, who printed 'Picturesque sketches'. Although Roberts received £350 for the drawings, he felt he had been cheated by Hodgson and Graves, the publishers. They sold the drawings to Colnaghi for £300 and sold the book of the prints for four guineas. According to James Ballantine, Roberts's first biographer, 'the views ? when they were published had an enormous sale, and since then the work has gone through more printings than any work in lithography ever published'. Within 2 months they had sold 1,200 copies and reprints were still selling twenty years later.
Only copies in UK at BL and V&A (imperfect).|
|Title||Full, true, and particular account of the trial and condemnation of Wilson Potts, late Captain of the Dreadnought Privateer, belonging to Newcastle, who was sentenced to be hanged at the Stood Mark, near Leith, on Wednesday the 13th of February next|
|Date of Publication||s.n., 1712 or 1723?|
|Notes||A broadside, printed recto only in two columns with a woodcut of a ship at head of title. It concerns Potts' trial for rape, theft, robbery and piracy. The first three charges were not proven but he was found guilty of the latter and sentenced to be hanged at the Stood Mark "a rock about two miles in the sea". No year is given but it appears to be early 18th century with February 13th falling on a Wednesday in 1712 and 1723.|
|Title||Volume of Edinburgh newspapers, 1759-1770|
|Date of Publication||1759-1770|
|Notes||This volume of newspapers comes from the library of the Writers to the Signet, and also displays the bookplate of Steuart of Allanton. The papers are in generally good condition, with tax-stamps and occasional manuscript notes; there are a few tears and worm-holes. The run of the Edinburgh Weekly Journal is darkened and damaged at the edges, probably because it is notably larger than the other newspapers. It is this run which gives the volume its particular interest, as these editions (from 7 August 1765 to 11 October 1769, with many gaps), do not seem to be represented elsewhere in the National Library, or indeed in any other collections. Published on Wednesdays, the Edinburgh Weekly Journal was sold at the printing-house of William Auld & Co., later Auld, Smellie & Co., in the Lawnmarket at 2½d. Later editions give details of the price of subscription (10s10d a year for collection from the shop, 11s10d a year for delivery within Edinburgh, 14s a year for post to any town in Scotland). Typically for a journal of this period, it contains extensive foreign news, news from London, Edinburgh and America, and miscellaneous advertisements: for miracle cures, the sale of land and buildings, and for dramatic performances and new books. Storms, explosions, murders and 'remarkable occurrences' are described with gusto. There are also a number of poems and letters. See W.J.Couper, Edinburgh Periodical Press (1908), II. 93-6; M.E.Craig, Scottish Periodical Press (1931), 26.|
|Author||Steuart, James, Sir|
|Title||Inquiry into the principles of political oeconomy: being an essay on the science of domestic policy in free nations|
|Date of Publication||1767|
|Notes||This fine set of Sir James Steuart's magnum opus, is a very important addition to the Library's holdings of Scottish Enlightenment texts. In it, Steuart, according to the 'Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences', was 'the first to set out with some pretence at system the principles of economic policy and to analyze their theoretical basis'. It was completely overshadowed after 1776 by Adam Smith's Wealth of nations, and Smith did not even refer to his work. Indeed he was somewhat critical of the turgid nature of the argument, saying that 'he understood Sir James's system better from his conversation than his volumes'. Other contemporaries, particularly the philsopher Thomas Reid (1710-1796), acknowledged their indebtedness to him. Steuart's work however was rediscovered in the 19th Century by German scholars who hailed him as the real founder of economic science.
James Steuart was born in Edinburgh in 1712, entered Edinburgh University at the age of 13 and became a member of the Faculty of Advocates in 1735. He adhered to the Jacobite cause and was in Paris on behalf of the Young Pretender at the time of Culloden. Although Steuart escaped being named in the Act of Oblivion, he was in exile until 1763, during which time he lived in Tübingen, Frankfurt and Venice, studying the political and military economies of Europe. He was not formally pardoned until 1771. After the publication of his Inquiry, Steuart interested himself in the recoinage question and wrote a number of treatises on politics, economics and religion. In 1773 on the death of his relative Sir Archibald Denham, he obtained the estate of Westshields and took the name of Denham.|
|Reference Sources||DNB, http://cepa.newschool.edu/het/profiles/steuart.htm|
|Author||Leighton, John M.|
|Title||Select views of the lakes of Scotland : from original paintings by John Fleming / engraved by Joseph Swan ; with historical and descriptive illustrations by John M. Leighton.|
|Date of Publication||1830-1833|
|Notes||This is the full set of the 16 part issues of the book published in 1834 (A.116.a.12-13) as 'The lakes of Scotland'. That it was a work of some popularity is evidenced by the lengthy subscription list in part 16, the enthusiastic reviews reprinted inside the lower cover of each part and the publication of further editions in 1836 and 1839. The 48 engraved plates contained in this set were printed on what the publisher and engraver, Joseph Swan described as 'very superior India paper, which for purity, clearness and colour, will be found equal to any which has yet met the public eye' The India proofs cost 7s. 6d. per part with Royal folio copies at 12 shillings per part and the cheapest fine impressions at 5s. 6d.
The work was aimed at 'all lovers of the fine arts' as well as 'admirers of Scotland's picturesque and romantic scenery'. According to the preface, which was written for and included in the final part in 1833, this was the first work 'entirely devoted to this branch of Scottish scenery'. Not only the well-known lakes were described but also but also those 'seldom visited and little heard of, and others which were quite terra incognita to tourists'.
Joseph Swan had previously published 'Select views of Glasgow and its environs' (1828) and 'Select views on the Clyde' (1830), both of which were collaborations with the author of this work, John M. Leighton and the artist, John Fleming. Greenock-born Fleming (1792-1845) specialized in painting mountain scenery in oils and watercolours, was a member of the West of Scotland Academy and exhibited in Glasgow.|
|Title||Collection of single-sheet items, mainly posters and advertisements relating to land and agriculture in Scotland, dated between 1805 and 1903|
|Notes||These items include descriptions and valuations of estates and commercial property up for sale or rent, lists of farming equipment to be sold at auction, and a sheet of regulations for containing an outbreak of swine fever. Most are in excellent condition, particularly considering their age and ephemeral nature. The marks where the sheet was fixed to the wall can be seen on at least one item. Further evidence that these were working documents is supplied by the numerous manuscript annotations, including calculations and additions to the lists of goods. The detailed information regarding the pricing of materials, credit arrangements and the quality of particular areas of land should interest anyone researching agriculture, trade or local history in Scotland. It is also of interest as containing examples of Scottish provincial printing, in Linlithgow, Beith and Paisley. Family historians could also make use of the collection; several of the sales or re-lettings clearly came about as a result of the tenant's death, and these advertisements provide useful inventories of the tenant's furniture, tools and livestock.|
|Title||New South Wales calendar and General Post Office Directory, 1836|
|Date of Publication||1835|
|Notes||This copy of the short-lived New South Wales calendar, published from 1832 to 1837 has an notweworthy Scottish provenance. The upper flyleaf has the signature of one Alexander Imlay (1801-1847), surgeon, landowner and speculator. He was one of a trio of Aberdeenshire brothers, all surgeons, who arrived in Sydney in the early 1830s, a time when the colonies were expanding beyond the south-east corner of the continent. In 1832 Alexander toured the southern coast with Governor Bourke and six years later made a pioneering journey in South Australia across the Mount Lofty Ranges to the Murray river. At the peak of their land speculation the Imlays owned some 1500 sq. miles of southern territory. They remained in the area and in 1839 Alexander, described by 'The South Australian' as an 'eminent and enterprising colonist' arrived in Adelaide with a cargo of cattle and sheep.
The volume contains some useful information about the development of the burgeoning colony in the 1830s. Included are 'regulations for the assignment of male convict servants' and a 'Report on the epidemic catarrh, or influenza, prevailing among the sheep in this colony' which resulted in the loss of 2,500 animals. There are also lists of ministers of the Church of Scotland, (p.325) and arrivals (some from Leith) and departures of ships in Sydney harbour (p. 378-p.397) The Post Office Directory at the back of the volume reveals many Scottish surnames, as well as a number of finely engraved advertisements.
During the period in which this calendar was published, the number of 'unassisted' immigrants from Scotland, mainly from the Lowlands, increased noticeably. Of the 110,000 assisted immigrants who arrived in Australia between 1832 and 1850, about 16,000 (14.5%) were Scots. Although Scots settled throughout the colonies, they tended to favour New South Wales (which then included Queensland and Victoria) as opposed to South Australia, Van Diemen's Land or Western Australia.|
|Date of Publication||1647|
|Notes||Bound with New Testament, London, 1647 and Psalms of David in meeter, Edinburgh, 1647.
An unspoilt example of a simple binding which is likely to have been produced in Scotland in the second quarter of the seventeenth century. The tool in the centrepiece, though it resembles a thistle, is more likely to be a carnation. The crudeness of this tool and the fact the volume includes Psalms printed in Edinburgh strengthens the plausability of it being a Scottish binding. The centrepiece is typical of the kinds of tools that developed towards the end of the centrepiece period, c.1640, which is quite late by London standards.
This edition of the 'Psalms of David in meeter' printed by Robert Bryson is not recorded in Aldis or Wing. He was primarily a bookseller and he began printing in 1640. He was also a bookbinder, though definitive examples of his bindings have not been traced. Bryson died in 1645, so this imprint is somewhat erroneous. The business was taken over by his heirs in 1646.|
|Title||Wounds o' the Kirk o' Scotland|
|Imprint||Dublin: b. James Carson|
|Date of Publication||1730|
|Notes||This is a rare edition of a popular and remarkable sermon (ESTC T14610 records only one other copy). In 1638, James Row preached in St. Giles's to persuade the congregation to sign the National Covenant. Row's use of broad Scots and homely expressions seem to have made the sermon famous; in particular, his adaptation of the tale of Balaam's ass includes a colourful description of Balaam's 'Pock-mantle' (travelling bag) which was full of detestable books like the Book of Common Prayer. Several of the editions in the National Library use the term 'Pockmanty preaching' as a generic term on the title-page. It is interesting that the first printed edition, which appeared in 1642 (NLS copy at Ry.1.7.109), was a considerably more English text: it has been argued that the colourful Scots vernacular of the later editions is really an exaggerated adaptation for satirical purposes. See Memorials of the Family of Row (Edinburgh, 1828). Certainly, it seems likely that the popularity of the work in the eighteenth century had more to do with the remarkable language than the reforming doctrinal content. The theory that the sermon was adapted for humourous purposes is supported by the fact that it includes the 'Elegy on the Reverend Mess Sawney Sinkler', a pseudo-Scots satirical poem. Both this sermon and the 'elegy' are included in primarily comic publications such as An appeal to the publick; or, the humble remonstrance of the five-foot-highians (1733, copy of one edition in NLS at Ry.1.5.171). Collation: 8o, unsigned, pp. 16.|
|Title||Dreadful fray, which took place at Culrain near Gladsfield in Ross-shire|
|Date of Publication||1820|
|Notes||A rare broadside consisting of letters printed in the 'Scotsman' and the 'Glasgow Courier', which gives a graphic, if one-sided, account of one of the flashpoints of the Clearances. In early 1820 Hugh Munro, the laird of Novar in Easter Ross, decided to clear his estates at Culrain, effectively evicting nearly 600 people, and place the land under sheep. No provision had been made for their resettlement. One of the letter writers describes Munro's actions as 'improvements' and the actions of the law-agents as 'warning' the people from their farms.
A few weeks prior to the incident described in this document, the law-agent on arriving to serve the Writs of Removal, was driven from the area. Subsequently, Sheriff Donald Macleod backed up by a small force of constables and militiamen was attacked by a 1000-strong 'mob', of whom women, labelled 'amazons', were to the fore. Once again the authorities were forced to retreat, but not before one local woman was mortally wounded, something not mentioned in these accounts. However faced with the power of the civil and military authorities and the stern disapproval of the local minister, the Rev. Alexander Macbean, the tenants submitted shortly afterwards.
But for the ultimately unsuccessful resistance of the people, it is unlikely that this incident would have reached the newspapers. There was considerable nervousness among the authorities, a fear that local unrest was symptomatic of wider radicalism given the recent occurences at Peterloo and Cato Street.
The broadside was printed, probably in Edinburgh by William Cameron, known as 'Hawkie', a speech-crier and a well-known printer of street literature, who mainly worked in Glasgow.|
|Title||Saints recreation, third part, upon the estate of grace|
|Date of Publication||1683|
|Notes||This copy of Geddes's volume of pious verse can perhaps be described as a bibliographical conundrum. It was published in at least two variant forms. The first (of which the NLS holds two copies Cwn.699, H.29.b) contains dedications to Anna, Duchess of Hamilton, Dame Lilias Drummond wife of Lord James Drummond, Earl of Perth and Dame Anna Sinclair, Lady Tarbat. These dedications are dated September and November 1683. This second variant does not include any of the above dedications, but only a dedication to Margaret Lesley, Countess-Dowager of Weems (Wemyss) (d.1688), dated June 1683. This along with 'A summary view of the substance and method of the book' have been clearly inserted as cancellans in this copy and at least one other (Henry E. Huntington Library) which have been identified. It is unclear as to why the book was published with separate dedications and also why the Weems dedication is dated earlier than the publication with the cancellanda.
Geddes (1600?-1694) was a Presbyterian minister at Wick and also at Urquhart, Elginshire. Prior to becoming a minister he was a schoolmaster at Keith and a governor to Hugh Rose of Kilravock. At the time the book was published he had resigned from the ministry on refusing to take the test of 1682. In the imprimatur at the beginning of the volume he mentions a number of books - on history, Hebrew and Latin -for which he had received some financial support towards their publication. However 'The saints recreation' appears to be his only published work. According to the dedication, the Countess-Dowager of Weems clearly assisted Geddes financially in the printing of this book. He praises fulsomely her 'Christian moderation, prudence and sobrietie' 'in this cold, Laodicean-like and backslyding age'.
The volume is bound unusually in pink/red stained deerskin, decorated with gilt tooling on the borders. This material had been used primarily by medieval monastic binders, but was rarely used as late as the 17th century.|
|Reference Sources||Aldis 2381/ESTC R37394|