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 735 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 rarebooks@nls.uk

      

Important Acquisitions 691 to 705 of 735:

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AuthorStevenson, Robert Louis
TitlePrince Otto
ImprintLondon
Date of Publication1888
LanguageEnglish
NotesPurchased with a selection of other yellowbacks by two popular Scottish authors. Yellowbacks (less commonly called 'mustard-plaster' novels) was the name given to the form of cheap fiction developed from the late 1840s and competed with the 'penny dreadful' as an accessible source of entertaining reading. The distinctive brightly coloured covers made the books very attractive for a growing reading public encouraged by the spread of education and the expansion of the railways. Routledges in establishing their 'Railway Library' in 1849, were the first of many publishers to target a new reading public with yellowbacks. This series ran to 1,277 titles, ending in 1899. Most works of fiction in this format were stereotyped reprints of earlier cloth editions. By the end of the 19th century, sensational fiction and adventure stories in addition to more 'educational' manuals, handbooks and cheap biographies were being published in this manner. These yellowback novels of Grant and Stevenson were typical of those published at this time. Edinburgh-born, James Grant (1822-1887), a distant relation of Sir Walter Scott, was a prolific author, writing some 90 books. Many of his 56 novels deal with key characters and events in Scottish history. In 1853 he founded the National Association for the Vindication of Scottish Rights. Grant is best remembered today as an historian - his thoroughly-researched 'Old and new Edinburgh' was published in 1880.
ShelfmarkABS.2.201.011
Acquired on05/01/03
AuthorStevenson, Robert Louis (1850-1894)
TitleNot I, and Other Poems
Imprint[Davos, S. L. Osbourne]
Date of Publication1881
LanguageLanguage
NotesThe tiny pamphlet 'Not I, and Other Poems', is among the rarest of all Stevensoniana. On medical advice, Stevenson, his wife and 12-year-old stepson Lloyd Osbourne, spent the winters of 1880-81 and 1881-82 at a health resort at Davos, Switzerland. A major amusement for Stevenson during these convalescences was writing poems for his stepson to print on the boy's small hand press. A total of only fifty copies were produced of 'Not I, and Other Poems'. The final page of the pamphlet serves as a wry colophon: 'The author and the printer, / With various kinds of skill, / Concocted it in winter / At Davos on the hill. / They burned the nightly taper / But now the work is ripe / Observe the costly paper, / Remark the perfect type! / begun Feb. ended Oct. 1881'. The actual press is presently housed at the Writers' Museum at Lady Stair's House in Edinburgh. 'Not I, and Other Poems' makes a nice addition to two other Davos Press publications held by the National Library of Scotland. These are 'Moral emblems: a Second Collection of Cuts and Verses' produced in 1882 (shelfmark RB.s.148), and a broadside announcing one of Osbourne's publications: 'Black Canyon, or, Wild adventures in the far West: an Instructive and Amusing Tale'. (shelfmark RB.s.1721)
ShelfmarkRB.s.2618
Reference SourcesODNB
Acquired on14/06/06
AuthorStevenson, Robert Louis [transl. Mme B.-J. Lowe]
TitleCas etrange du Docteur Jekyll
ImprintParis: Librairie Plon
Date of Publication[1890]
LanguageFrench
NotesThe first French edition of Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is one of those books which one would automatically assume could be found in the National Library of Scotland. However, this seems to be an extremely rare book, which was not included in the extensive library of Stevenson's works collected by Edwin J. Beinecke. One copy is located in the Bibliotheque Nationale. The rarity of this work is something of a puzzle as the book is a typical yellow paperback, the format in which many popular works were published in the late nineteenth century. Perhaps the other copies were simply read to death. The copy we have just acquired is in near-mint condition.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2295
Reference SourcesBeinecke
Acquired on28/08/03
AuthorStevenson, Robert Louis,
TitleTreasure Island.
ImprintBoston : Roberts
Date of Publication1884
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an attractive copy of the first American edition of Stevenson's classic adventure story. Significantly, it is also the first illustrated edition, published in February 1884 with a print run of 1,000 copies, only two months after the first British edition was published by Cassell & Co. in London. The first illustrated British edition was not published until August 1885. In addition to the famous frontispiece map based on Stevenson's own design, the American edition had four plates drawn by F.T. Merrill. Stevenson, however, himself didn't think much of them, describing them in 1887 as 'disgusting' when contemplating another American edition to be published by Charles Scribner. Consequently, for the 21 plates of the British illustrated edition only 2 of Merrill's illustrations were used. 'Treasure Island' was first published in the weekly magazine 'Young Folks' during 1881 and 1882. Unlike one of his later and less famous novels, 'The Black Arrow' it did not contribute to any rise in the paper's circulation. Stevenson was initially opposed to the illustration of the work, though the success of numerous illustrated editions particularly those published in the early decades of the 20th century, proved how wrong he was.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2631
Reference SourcesSwearingen, Roger G. The prose writings of Robert Louis Stevenson. London, 1980.
Acquired on25/09/06
AuthorStewart, Dugald
TitleCompendio di filosofia morale
ImprintPadua: Tipografia della Minerva
Date of Publication1821
LanguageItalian
NotesThis is the first Italian translation of Dugald Stewart's Outlines of Moral Philosophy, a book first published in Edinburgh in 1793, but here translated from the fourth edition of 1818. The prolific translator Pompeo Ferrario produced the Italian text and contributed a 'Preliminary Note' in which he set the book in the context of the 'Scottish Philosophical School', claiming for Stewart a key role as the school's best moral philosopher. He praises Stewart's works as 'l'Opera di Morale piu completa che sia fin qui comparsa in Inghilterra' - 'the most complete scheme of Moral Philosophy which has yet appeared in England'. This translation testifies to the Europe-wide reputation of Stewart and other 18th-century Scottish philosophers; no other copy is recorded on COPAC.
ShelfmarkAB.3.209.04
Reference SourcesBookseller's catalogue.
Acquired on12/02/09
AuthorStewart, Dugald.
TitleAccount of the life and writings of Adam Smith, LL.D. From the Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh
Imprint[Edinburgh?] Privately Printed
Date of Publication1794?
LanguageEnglish
NotesIn his bibliography of David Hume and other Scottish philosphers, T. E. Jessop rightly states that the first printing of Dugald Stewart's famous Account of the Life and Writings of Adam Smith, LL.D was in The Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh vol 3/1, pp.55-137. Stewart read his paper to the Society in two separate sessions (21 Jan and 18 March 1793) and soon after it was printed in the Transactions. Shortly thereafter it was re-set and repaginated from the Transactions for a limited private edition, which was most probably printed in Edinburgh. It is this rarity that the Library has acquired. This copy is inscribed 'To Sir Wm Miller Bart. / From the Author'. Sir William Miller (1755-1846) was appointed a Lord of Session and took the title Lord Glenlee in 1795. According to DNB he was 'a very able man, and had a profound knowledge of jurisprudence, mathematics, and literature'. This item is not recorded in ESTC, though there is a copy in the Vanderblue Collection at Harvard.
ShelfmarkRB.m.444
Acquired on09/03/00
AuthorStrathy, Alexander.
TitleElements of the art of dancing.
ImprintEdinburgh
Date of Publication1822
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is the only known copy of this book in Britain - the only other recorded copy is at the Library of Congress. It is one of the earliest and most important manuals devoted to the performance of 'la danse de la ville', better known as the quadrille, which came to Britain from the salons of Paris around 1815. In the preface Strathy, a dancing master about whom little is known, opined that 'dancing may be to the body what reading is to the mind'. The book is divided into two parts. Part one contains an extensive account of exercises for the improvement of one's deportment. Part two provides precise descriptions for more than twenty steps for the quadrille, including a number of new steps added by the author. The book concludes with directions, given in French and English for eleven quadrille figures.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2059
Acquired on27/11/00
AuthorStuart, John Knox
TitleThe chemical experimentalist; or, an attempt to allure by experiment. Third edition.
ImprintPaisley: Caldwell
Date of Publication1834-37
LanguageEnglish
NotesWith the running title of "Stuart's Useful Information for the People", this book is an excellent example of early 19th-century attempts to popularise science for the masses. The author aims to guide the reader "towards the cultivation of the simple and sublime science - chemistry", using simple language and lots of diagrams. The book appears to have been issued in individual numbers which form seven parts. Of particular interest are the rather crudely produced illustrations, including an advertisement for the author's own popular medicines, as well as a cloth sample on p. 121.
ShelfmarkAB.3.208.01
Acquired on14/01/08
AuthorSurenne, Gabriel
TitleFrench grammatology: or a course of French.
ImprintEdinburgh: Oliver & Boyd
Date of Publication1828
LanguageEnglish and French
NotesGabriel Surenne was French master at the Scottish Military and Naval Academy, according to the title-page of this volume, an Edinburgh institution 'for training young men chiefly for the service of the royal and East India Company's services, and to all the ordinary branches of education were added fortification, military drawing, gun-drill, and military exercises' (James Grant, Old and New Edinburgh, vol. 3, p. 138). It was closed in the late 19th century, when at around the same time a new system of army entrance examinations was introduced, and the site was required for the Caledonian Railway Station (now the Caledonian Hilton). His French textbooks were reprinted throughout the nineteenth century, but this copy used in a class taught by Surenne himself, as the inscription on all volumes testifies: 'Alexander Graham at Mr Surenne's Class, Military Academy, May 18th 1831'.
ShelfmarkAB.1.208.003
Reference SourcesJames Grant, Old and New Edinburgh (Cassell) vol. 3; Bookseller's catalogue.
Acquired on04/12/07
AuthorSwinburne, Algernon Charles
TitleAtalanta in Calydon
ImprintKelmscott: Kelmscot Press-
Date of Publication1894
LanguageEnglish
NotesThe Library has an almost complete set of publications of the Kelmscott Press, the acquisition of this fine copy leaves only 2 more to acquire (1 of which was privately printed and not available for public sale). The publication of "Atalanta in Calydon" in 1865 brought the budding poet Swinburne both fame and notoriety in equal measure. The work is based on the ancient Greek myth of the huntress Atalanta, who takes part in the hunt of the ferocious Calydonian boar and becomes inadvertently embroiled in a family conflict which leads to the death of the hero Meleager, caused by his own mother. Swinburne wrote a verse drama, using the structure of an Classical Greek tragedy, complete with Chorus and semi-Chorus, and formal dialogue. Although Classical Greek in content and form Swinburne uses the drama to challenge not just the religious acquiescence to the will of the gods portrayed in the Classical Greek tragedies but also by implication Victorian attitudes to God and Christianity. As a keen admirer of the Kelmscott Press, Swinburne wrote to Morris after the publication of "Atalanta" in July 1894 that it was "certainly one of the loveliest examples of even your incomparable press". Morris too was pleased with the book, of which 250 copies were produced on paper and 6 on vellum, and which sold out within a few weeks. The publication is also unusual as it is the only KP book in which Morris used a type not designed by himself. To reproduce the Greek text which appears at the start of work, Morris used electrotypes of a Greek type designed by the artist and designer Selwyn Image. This particular copy, as well as being in fine, almost mint, condition, is bound in early twentieth century blue morocco with gilt ornamentation by the famous bookdbing firm of Birdsall & Sons of Northampton.
ShelfmarkKP.6
Reference SourcesPeterson A25
Acquired on21/07/04
AuthorTacitus
Title[Works ed. Franciscus Puteolanus]
Imprint[Milan: Antonius Zarotus]
Date of Publication1487
LanguageLatin
NotesThis is the second collected edition of the works of the Roman historian Tacitus (AD 56-AD117) containing the 'Annals', and 'Histories', the 'Germania', and the first printing of the 'Agricola'. The text was edited by the famous Italian Renaissance scholar Francesco Dal Pozzo (Franciscus Puteolanus) (d. 1490), who was professor of rhetoric and poetry at the University of Bologna. Dal Pozzo edited the texts of several classical authors for publication and his edition of Tacitus was praised by later editors for its textual emendations. This copy of the book has a notable provenance: it is from the library of the Scottish patriot Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun (1655-1716), with his distinctive "Fletcher" signature on the final blank leaf and on the rear paste-down. The 'Agricola' is Tacitus' biography of his father-in-law, the Roman general and governor of Britain who extended Roman occupation northwards into Scotland. The introductory chapters of the 'Agricola' include an account of Britain and its tribes, its geography (Tacitus is rather vague, but for the first time it was possible to state with confidence that Britain was indeed an island); there is even a mention of the "objectionable climate with its frequent rains and mists". It contains the first substantial historical account of events in what is now Scotland, in particular the first printing of the first published account of a battle on Scottish soil (Mons Graupius). After conquering what is now Wales in AD 77, Agricola advanced northwards and overran the lowlands of what is now Scotland. In his seventh campaign, in AD 83, Agricola faced a pitched battle against the Highlanders at "mons Graupius" (the precise location is uncertain, antiquaries, historians and archaeologists have been searching for the battlefield for centuries). The Britons had, according to Tacitus, rallied more than 30,000 men from all their states in an determined attempt to defeat the powerful invaders. Despite their superior numbers the Britons were soon put to flight, breaking formation "into small groups to reach their far and trackless retreats. Only night and exhaustion ended the pursuit". The Roman victory was total but the campaigning season was almost over so Agricola moved his army to their winter quarters. The next year he was recalled to Rome, thus ending Roman military campaigns in northern Scotland. It is not surprising that a well-educated member of the Scottish aristocracy, who quotes widely from ancient historians in his own political writings, would have owned a text of Tacitus. However, Tactitus' works appear to have been particularly important for Fletcher - he also owned fifteen later editions, presumably because of the 'Agricola' and its coverage of Scotland. From the early 1670s onwards, Fletcher built up a huge library of c. 5,500-6000 books, thanks to his regular travels on the continent, where he hunted for bargains and rarities in bookshops. His collection included some 20 incunables, including this edition of Tacitus. The books were kept in the family home of Saltoun Hall in East Lothian and the library appears to have survived intact until the 1940s when a few of the more valuable items in the library appeared on the London market. The rest of the library was sold off in the 1960s. The family archive was deposited in NLS (now MSS.16501-17900) in 1957 and it includes Fletcher's MS catalogues of the collection, MS 17863-17864), where this particular copy is listed.
ShelfmarkInc.221
Reference SourcesP. J. Willems, "Bibliotheca Fletcheriana, or the extraordinary Library of Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun, reconstructed and systematically arranged" (Wassenaar, 1999)
Acquired on30/04/12
AuthorTawse, John
TitleReport on the present state of the Society in Scotland for propagating Christian knowledge
ImprintEdinburgh
Date of Publication1833
LanguageEnglish
NotesAlthough the Library has a number of bindings by Alexander Banks jnr (for example, NC.314.a.10; Hall.1.f ; ABS.2.80.64) there is nothing to compare with this one. His entry in SBTI reads: BANKS, Alexander junior bookbinder 5 North Bridge 1833-45 and stationer 29 North Bridge 1850. Whereas the bindings by Banks in NLS are half or full leather, mostly in blind but with some gilt work, this one is in full crimson morocco with elaborate decorations in both blind and gilt. The main design is a rectangular panel in blind with a central image of the royal crown in gilt surrounding by a gilt wreath. Enclosing all is an elaborate arabesque design in gilt at each corner with each connected by single and triple fillet lines in gilt. The spine is decorated in gilt. The stunning inner boards have eight panel segments in gilt surrounding a green satin circle. The free endpapers are fully covered in the same green satin. The binding is signed in the lower margin of the upper inner board.
ShelfmarkBdg,s.864
Acquired on17/03/00
AuthorTaylor, Elizabeth
TitleThe lady's, housewife's, and cookmaid's assistant: or, the art of cookery, explained and adapted to the meanest capacity
ImprintBerwick: Printed and sold by R. Taylor
Date of Publication1778
LanguageEnglish
NotesElizabeth, née Nealson, was a Berwick resident who married the printer and bookbinder Robert Taylor. She drew extensively on Hannah Glasse's Art of Cookery made plain and simple (London, 1747), adapting it for the tastes of Northumberland and southern Scotland. There are many more recipes for fish than in Glasse, reflecting Berwick's status as a fishing port. Taylor also tells her readers how to boil an egg, which Glasse did not, perhaps assuming that her metropolitan audience would already be familiar with this technique. (Taylor, p. 185) There are a number of recipes for using birds of the upland moors and wetlands, such as dotterels and ruffs. As is common with early cookery books, there are a number of interesting stains suggesting that it was put to practical use. For example, on p. 241 the section on how 'To preserve Apricots' has some colourful smears that may come from the fruit. This second edition is very rare and not recorded in the English Short Title Catalogue. There is a copy at the Brotherton Library in Leeds University. Although there are few changes from the first edition, it is a useful acquisition showing how the work was a commercial success. There was also a 1795 edition. With this copy we have purchased a facsimile of the 1769 edition of the Art of Cookery published by the Berwick History Society in 2002, with a useful introduction by David Brenchley about Elizabeth Taylor.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2665
Reference SourcesMaclean, Virginia. A short-title catalogue of household and cookery books published in the English tongue 1701-1800, London: 1981, p. 140.
Acquired on14/06/07
AuthorThomas a Kempis
TitleDe imitatione Christi libri quatuor. Editio novissima.
ImprintMechliniae [Mechelen] : H. Dessain,
Date of Publication1885.
LanguageLatin
NotesThis edition of medieval monk Thomas a Kempis's famous devotional work, "The imitation of Christ" has been acquired for its modelled goatskin binding. It has been done in the style of Annie MacDonald, the Scottish bookbinder. Annie MacDonald herself invented the technique for modelling leather for bookbindings used for this binding, and other bindings produced by her and her pupils. She and a few other women in Edinburgh had only begun binding books a few years previously. Walter Biggar Blaikie (whose collection of Jacobite-related books and manuscripts is now in NLS) of the publishers A. & J. Constable let them use his workshops after hours. From 1895 two of Constable's workmen, a finisher and a forwarder, taught the group of women, who soon became known as the Edinburgh Arts and Crafts Club. MacDonald tried various types of leather for modelled bindings but found that natural goatskin, before any curing processes, could be moulded as she wanted. The modelling was done after the book itself was covered in the goatskin. It involved neither cutting nor raising the leather to relief. The design was traced onto the dampened leather and worked with one small tool called a 'Dresden', which was used to carefully press the background and mould the relief design. Using glue rather than paste to cover the books, the leather was a pale ivory when completed which developed into a richer brown once aged. Silk endpapers were used because the goatskin tended to stain both paper and vellum. The work of MacDonald and the other Edinburgh-based women inspired London bookseller Frank Karslake to found of the Guild of Women Binders in 1898 as an outlet for the sale of work by women binders who lived outside London. This particular binding is listed as no. 93 in the 1898 "Catalogue of the first exhibition of bookbinding by women", organised by Karslake. The binding is attributed to one "Miss MacLagan". The identity of the binder is further confirmed by an inscription on one of the front endpapers: Kathleen from M.D.M. 'M.D.M.' is almost certainly Mary Dalrymple Maclagan (1878-1815), one of the Edinburgh women binders. Mary Maclagan's mother was a founder member, along with Patrick Geddes, of the Edinburgh Social Union (ESU), a philanthropic organisation established to improve living conditions in slum areas of the city through housing provision, education and training, and the decoration of public spaces. Both Maclagans were active members of the ESU's guild of women bookbinders, which met regularly at the Dean Studio under the guidance of Phoebe Traquair. 'Kathleen' appears to be one Kathleen R. Pearson who has also inscribed the endpapers with: Bound Dec. 1896 K.R. Pearson - 4th Novr. 1907. This binding has an additional significance as a photographic illustration of it was used in a promotional leaflet printed in 1898 for Karslake, which described the work of the Guild of Women Binders. The binding was chosen as an example of 'the new "Edinburgh binding"; a revival of the monastic bindings of the Middle Ages & (specially suited for early printed books and Church Services)'. The design for the front board is taken from a painting of 1878 by Sir Edward Burne-Jones of an angel playing a flageolet, now held in Sudley House, Liverpool. The date of the binding, 1896, has been included in the design. On the back board there is a crucifix with hearts. The endpapers are green and gilt patterned silk. There are also two quotations concerning the text taken from Matthew Arnold and George Eliot written on the front endpapers, as well as pencil annotations at the start of the book. A further mark of provenance is a ticket on the back pastedown of the bookseller T.B. Mills, Buckingham Gate, London.
ShelfmarkBdg.s.950
Reference SourcesM. Tidcombe, Women bookbinders 1880-1920, London, 1996. http://womenofscotland.org.uk/women/mary-dalrymple-maclagan
Acquired on23/12/11
AuthorThomas Somerville
TitleMy own life and times 1741-1814.
ImprintEdinburgh: Edmonston & Douglas
Date of Publication1861
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an extra-illustrated copy of the memoir of Thomas Somerville, minister of Jedburgh and uncle of the famous scientic writer Mary Somerville. This copy bears the bookplate of William John Lee, presumably the son of the editor of Thomas Somerville's text, William Lee, a professor of Glasgow University. There are almost 200 prints and 19th-century photographs added to the volume. Of particular interest is the carte-de-visite photograph of Mary Somerville, bound in after p. 390 and a photograph of a marble bust of her. Thomas Somerville had first been Mary's uncle by marriage and subsequently her father-in-law, he gave her early encouragement and tuition.
ShelfmarkAB.2.208.20
Reference SourcesDNB
Acquired on20/05/08
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