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.

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Important Acquisitions 691 to 705 of 735:

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AuthorMacDiarmid, Hugh [C.M. Grieve]
TitleTo circumjack Cencrastus or The curly snake.
ImprintEdinburgh & London: William Blackwood,
Date of Publication1930
LanguageScots
NotesThe Library has a large collection of examples of fine Scottish bookbinding, from the 15th century down to the present day, and we continue to add to this collection wherever possible. We have acquired this particular copy of the first edition of Hugh MacDiarmid's epic poem because of its binding by renowned Scottish bookbinder Arthur W. Currie (b. 1922), who was overseer of bindings at the Edinburgh-based publishing firm of Oliver & Boyd before becoming a lecturer at Napier College (now Edinburgh Napier University). Currie's work is now regarded as being on a par with other major 20th-century British bookbinders such as Edgar Mansfield and Elizabeth Greenhill. He specialised in the use of coloured inks as well as gold leaf to produce his designs; this binding, dating from the 1950s?, is a blue goatskin with a serpent-like design of interlinked coils in black, blue, grey and tan morocco and with a gilt sunburst pattern. Currie's design of coils reflects the content of MacDiarmid's poem, in which the windings of a snake around the roots of the world are equalled by the tortuous windings of the poetic work. The struggle of the poet to complete a work, described in the poem, was informed by MacDiarmid's own difficulties in the 1920s in trying to produce creative work while trying to earn a living as a small town journalist in Montrose.
ShelfmarkBdg.s.942
Acquired on14/05/10
Author[Erskine, Andrew and Ross, Walter.]
TitleTo the revolution club
Imprint[Edinburgh]
Date of Publicationc. 1788
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis unrecorded pamphlet is a tory satire against the Scottish whigs enthusiasm for the Glorious Revolution. The authors (see below) leave the reader in no doubt at the their unease at proposals that a monument be erected in honour of William III. They sarcastically suggest that it should be located in the Valley of Glencoe! The signature at the end is 'Gibbie Burnet' a very unveiled reference to the historian Gilbert Burnet, one of the key supporters of the Glorious Revolution. The text was re-printed (APS.1.81.45; ESTC T108704) in 1792, at a time when it was feared that the unrest in France would spread across the Channel, as an appendix to a proclamation (ESTC T148691) by King George III warning against attempts at the 'subversion of all regular government'. The preface to this proclamation mentions that this pamphlet was first printed in 1788 with the aim of 'diverting the Northern part of this kingdom from joining in the popular enthusiasm' for the Revolution of 1688. The motives behind the re-printing of this pamphlet are difficult to unravel: the author of the preface seems to favour both the revolutions of 1688 and 1789 and implies that any attempts to suppress them were futile. The pamphlet comes from the collection of Alexander Fraser Tytler (1747-1813), Lord Woodhouselee, Professor of History at the University of Edinburgh, sold at Bonhams, Edinburgh in August 2002. Fixed to the final blank page is a sheet of manuscript possibly with annotations partly in the hand of Tytler, listing 'The King's Advocates since the institution of the Court of Session', from 1537 to 1725. The inscription on the title page, presumably in Tytler's hand, reads 'written by Walter Ross and the honble Andrew Erskine'. The latter, who committed suicide in 1793 was one the closest friends of the young James Boswell and they collaborated on 'Critical strictures on the new tragedy of Elvira' and 'Letters between the honourable Andrew Erskine and James Boswell', both published in 1763. Walter Ross was probably the Writer to the Signet of the same name (1738-1789) who wrote a number of legal works in the 1780s.
ShelfmarkRB.m.509
Acquired on01/10/02
AuthorGrant, John
TitleTo the Right Hon. Charles Townsend
ImprintGlasgow?
Date of Publication1794
LanguageEnglish
NotesThese single-sheet items record the unusual paranoia afflicting a man who describes himself as a journeyman weaver. John Grant believed that he was being chased and tormented by none other than the philosopher David Hume, and wrote to these various public figures to seek their assistance. Both these letters speak of enclosing other papers, which are probably no longer extant. The last item is dated 'Glasgow, Nov. 12. 1794.' and is addressed to the aristocrat and Whig politician Charles Townsend in London. Once again Grant appeals for assistance against Hume, who has made him 'liable to a confirmed Head-ack with Vitriol'. Bitterly, Grant remonstrates that 'it is amazing that my complaints were over-looked in Scotland, where Christianity and Philosophy are protested.' Grant explains that he has printed the letter to Townsend with the intention of sending copies to the magistrates in Edinburgh and Glasgow. It would be pleasant to think that these items are a joke, but it seems more likely that they do indeed represent the work of an articulate but thoroughly disturbed man. Neither printed item is recorded in ESTC.
ShelfmarkAPS.2.201.025
Acquired on20/02/01
AuthorWelsh, Irvine
Title[Trainspotting] The glossary.
ImprintReed Books
Date of Publication1996
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis booklet has been signed by Irvine Welsh and gives a basic insight to the vernacular used in the novel. Examples range from the purely Edinburgh expressions "barry" (great) or "swedge" (fight), include the fairly self-explanatory (to most Scots ears at least) "maist", although the description of "Oor Wullie" (popular Scottish cartoon character (Our William))would boggle the minds of anyone familiar with the works of D.C. Thomson. The novel itself had been published several years previously to great acclaim, however the glossary was published as a tie-in with the recently released film.
ShelfmarkAPS.2.206.050
Acquired on17/11/00
AuthorWilliam Smellie (1697-1763)
TitleTraite de la theorie et pratique des accouchemens, et observations sur les accouchemens ...
ImprintParis : Delaguette
Date of Publication1754-1765
LanguageFrench
NotesThis is a three-volume French translation of William Smellie's classic 'Treatise of the Theory and Practice of Midwifery' published between 1754 and 1768. The man-midwife, William Smellie, was born in the parish of Lesmahagow, Lanarkshire on 5 February 1697 and died in 1763. His medical training was prolonged and peripatetic: he received some medical instruction from John Gordon, a Glasgow surgeon and also spent time serving as a naval surgeon (March 1720-November 1721) on the Sandwich before setting up as an independent apothecary in Lanark in 1722. He remained in practice in Lanark for the next fifteen years and it was during this time that Smellie gained practical experience in midwifery. On 5 May 1733 he became a member of the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow. However, it was not until 18 February 1745, at the age of 48, that he was awarded his MD degree by Glasgow University. Stimulated by his desire for further education, Smellie moved to London in 1739 and set himself up as a teacher with his lectures specializing in all aspects of pregnancy and labour. Over the next ten years he taught over 900 male students and an unknown number of female ones. Based upon records of his cases, Smellie published in 1752 'A Treatise of the Theory and Practice of Midwifery'. This was supplemented two years later by a volume of illustrations entitled 'A Set of Anatomical Tables, with Explanations'. Smellie's treatise describes the physiology of pregnancy and the mechanisms of both normal and abnormal labour with far more exactitude than any previous writer. In addition to French, the work was later translated into German and Dutch and became a classic in obstetric literature thus making Smellie the best-known name in 18th century midwifery.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2670
Reference SourcesDNB
Acquired on05/07/07
AuthorJames Clerk Maxwell
TitleTraite d'Electricite et de Magnetisme
ImprintParis: Gauthier-Villars
Date of Publication1883
LanguageFrench
NotesThis is the first French translation of James Clerk Maxwell's Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism, based on the second edition which was published in 1881, after Maxwell's death. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography records that 'the impact of the Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism was at first muted, but within a few years of his death his field theory shaped the work of Maxwellian physicists ... Maxwell's field theory and electromagnetic theory of light came to be accepted and regarded as one of the most fundamental of all physical theories.' In his preface, French engineer G. Seligmann-Lui explains that this translation includes extra material designed to help French professors and students understand concepts and theories Maxwell uses which are not yet taught in France, but also that it will be useful to practising engineers. He praises Maxwell for writing a book 'with a good number of chapters, easy to read, where [Maxwell's ideas] can be found set out with perfect clarity'.
ShelfmarkAB.4.209.01
Reference SourcesOxford DNB.
Acquired on19/02/09
AuthorDrummond de Melfort, Louis-Hector
TitleTraite sur la Cavalerie
ImprintParis: Guillaume Desprez
Date of Publication1776
LanguageFrench
NotesFirst edition of a rare and extemely handsome book which is in exceptionally fine condition. There are two volumes: one of text with 11 plates, the other an atlas volume with 32 folio-size folding plates. The author, Louis-Hector Drummond de Melfort (1721-1788) was the grandson of John Drummond, 1st Earl of Melfort, James VII/II's right hand man in Scotland, who escaped to France in 1688. The Drummonds became one of the leading Jacobite families at the French court. Drummond spent most of his life involved with cavalry and for his last eight years was Lieutenant-General of Louis XVI's army. He did not take part in the 1745 Jacobite uprising, but served the French king on several military campaigns on the Continent and later commanded the Royal Ecossais regiment in the French army. This book became a important textbook in Europe on cavalry tactics as Drummond de Melfort had some radical opinions on the use of cavalry in battles. His work lays out, with illustrations, the simplified procedures for cavalrymen that he advocated as early as 1748, which had often met with incomprehension and disbelief. The dedication expresses Drummond's hope that this work will assist in making the French cavalry the best in the world and his wish to help the country that his family fled to on their forced emigration from Scotland nearly a century before. The two volumes are bound in contemporary red morocco. The original owner was Armand-Thomas Hue de Miromesnil (1723-1796), Keeper of the Seals from 1774-1787, after having held several other official positions. On his death, at his request, the contents of his library were sold and the profits distributed amongst the poor. According to a bookseller's note the book was also owned by the Vicomtesse de Fontenay and it also contains the bookplate of Richard Penard y Fernandez. The text volume also includes a bound-in letter by the Duchesse de Melfort, dated July 1773.
ShelfmarkRB.el.8
Reference SourcesBrunet II: 842; Cohen-de Ricci pp.326-327
Acquired on23/06/08
AuthorAllen, Peter
TitleTravels in the Cevennes
ImprintWhittington Press
Date of Publication1998
LanguageEnglish
NotesNote: This is no.27 of a limited edition of 50 special copies of this beautifully produced and tastefully illustrated private press book. Printed using 14-point Cochin on Arches mould-made paper it differs from the 'standard' edition of 150 copies with the inclusion of two additional pochoir-coloured illustrations. This hand coloured illustration process was first used in 15th century and revived in France in the late 19th century. A monochrome outline of the design is printed by letterpress or lithography. As many as 20 to 30 celluloid stencils are cut out for the various parts of the design and special brushes with gouache and watercolours are used for the colouring. The book is an account by author and illustrator Peter Allen of his life as a farmhand on a goat farm in the Cevennes and his subsequent travels in the footsteps of Robert Louis Stevenson. There are frequent echoes throughout the text of Stevenson's Travels with a donkey in the Cevennes, but unlike the Scots scribe Allen travelled by car and not by donkey.
ShelfmarkFB.m.614
Acquired on04/07/01
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
AuthorMacpherson, Alistair
TitleTreubhantas na'n Gaidheal Albanach. The valour of the Scottish Gael
Imprint[Scotland?]
Date of Publicationc.1918
LanguageGaelic
NotesThis seems to be the only known copy of this book of Gaelic poems. Macpherson, a former soldier himself, wrote these poems 'in praise of the bravery of the Scottish Gael from time immemorial', in the language which he calls 'the most expressive in recording the actions of the bold, the valorous, and the true of any living language'. His preface criticizes those 'Highlanders into whose hands this volume may fall, and whose mother tongue is the Gaelic', who 'know less of the Gaelic than they do of the English language'. The volume is dedicated to Lady Macdonald of the Isles: Macpherson's only other known work is Welcome to Alexander Somerled Angus, the son of the Heir of MacDonald, Prince of the Western Isles, published in Gaelic with an English translation in 1918 (shelfmark NG.1526.a.11).
ShelfmarkHB1.208.8.74
Acquired on02/06/06
TitleTryal of Sr. Godfrey McCulloch, Vindicated, Edinburgh: 1697 (+10 other pamphlets bound in one volume)
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis volume of pamphlets was purchased primarily for the work whose title is given above. This title was entered in Aldis (3677) but no holdings information was provided: this work has not been traced in Wing, ESTC or in any library catalogue. It is therefore most pleasing that a copy of this elusive seventeenth-century Scottish work has finally been located. This work concerns the trial and execution of McCulloch, a hereditary baronet of Nova Scotia, for the murder of William Gordon in 1690. McCulloch had tried to claim the estate of the family of Cardiness as his own after a long feud. For an excellent account of the whole sordid affair, including the rumour that McCulloch was rescued by fairies, see http://www.chebucto.ns.ca/Heritage/FSCNS/Scots_NS/Clans/MacCulloch/Clansfolk_MacCulloch/EC_Sir_Godfrey.html This purchase complements the library's existing holding of The last speech of Sir Godfrey M'Culloch at L.C.Fol.76(23). There are some indications of provenance: on the title-page are practice notes apparently by one Thomas Heriot. On the final blank verso are other practice notes, including a passage which begins 'George Grant Cordiner'. The whole volume comes from the sale of the Birmingham Law Library, and the binding has the society's stamp and bookplate. The other pamphlets in the volume are also of much interest: as several of them relate to the radical writer and political leader John Lilburne, the Mary Robson Lilburn fund has been used to contribute 1200 towards this purchase. List as follows: (1) The Triall, of Lieut. Collonell John Lilburne, [imprint cropped, 1649], pp. 168 (not NLS) (2) The Triall of Mr. John Lilburn, London: Printed, 1653, pp. 44 (NLS) (3) The Exceptions of John Lilburne, London: f. Richard Moon, 1653, pp. 8 (NLS) (4) The Tryal of Lieutenant Colonel John Lilburn, London: f. & s.b. H[enry]. Hills, [colop: 1710], pp. 132 (NLS) (5) Vox Plebis, London: 1646, pp. 68 (not NLS) (6) The Cry of the Innocent for Justice, Printed, 1662, pp. 45 (not NLS) (7) A True and Exact Relation, London, Printed, 1662, pp. 22 (not NLS) (8) A Hellish Murder committed by a French Midwife, London: f. R. Sare, pub. b. Randal Taylor, 1688, pp. 39 (not NLS) (9) The Peoples Ancient and Just Liberties Asserted, in the Tryal of William Penn, and William Mead, Printed, 1670, pp. 62 (NLS) (10) The Tryal of Sr. Godfrey McCulloch, Vindicated, Edinburgh: Printed, 1697, pp. 22 (not NLS) (11) A True Relation of the Unjust Accusation of Certain French Gentlemen, London: b. J. Darby f. Richard Chiswel, 1671, pp. 44 (NLS) Conservation: this volume will need to be rebound and boxed. Some items discoloured as a consequence of being bound with others much larger or smaller.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2098(10)
Acquired on25/10/01
AuthorJames VI & I
TitleTwo Meditations of the Kings Maiestie
ImprintLondon: b. Robert Barker & Iohn Bill
Date of Publication1620
LanguageEnglish
NotesDespite the rare title page, this work consists of one meditation only, A Paterne for a Kings inauguration. Addressed to Prince Charles as a handbook for kingship, the Paterne is a kind of second Basilicon Doron (written for Prince Henry). James describes the burdens of kingship, comparing them to the sufferings of Christ in his Passion, and using the gospel of St. Matthew as illustration. It seems very likely that King Charles's own conception of martyrdom was influenced by this work. First published 1620, STC 14381.5. The library has a copy of another 1620 issue, STC 14382, shelfmark 2.325(20). Details: STC 14412, octavo, pp. [30], 84 (p. 84 misnumbered 88), [2], sig. A8 (-A1), B-G8, H3. Final leaf is colophon. Initials J.R. on title page, probably in James's own hand. Numerous contemporary annotations throughout. This book is bound, as is its companion volume RB.s.2081(1), in calf with a gilt panel design enclosing a central medallion with the armorial design of Robert Day, a previous owner, on front and rear board. Both volumes contain bookplates of Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex (1773-1843), 6th son of George III, William Wrixon Leycester and Robert Day. The folding case which contains both books includes a plaintive manuscript letter to King Charles I from James's wayward doctor George Eglisham, who notoriously accused the Duke of Buckingham of having murdered King James and the Duke of Hamilton.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2081(2)
Acquired on04/10/00
Author[Le Wright, John]
TitleTwo Proposals Becoming England at this Juncture to Undertake. One, for securing a Collony [sic] in the West-Indies... And the other, for advancing Merchandize
Imprint[London]: Printed
Date of Publication1706
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis proposal for a new English colony near Darien has some curious features. Nationalistic and somewhat naive, the writer explains that his project will be much more successful than the ruinous Spanish colonies or the feeble Scottish enterprise. On the Scots efforts he writes 'the Scots Company made nothing of it, true; but what could a single ship do in so great an affair? And we now are addressing to the English, between who and the Scots, we allow no comparison in point of trade.' Wright (not in DNB) sees his proposed colony as a part of the struggle for international political supremacy. He concludes with a promise to reveal a new method for preserving ships against worms. Details: ESTC T167866, 4o, pp. [2], ii, 1-8; sig. ?2, A4, in folding case. Imprint partly cropped. Author's name appears at foot of introductory epistle to the Merchant Adventurers of England, p. ii. Like all the other copies, the final page has the catchword 'By', although the page also has the word 'Finis' and the work appears to be self-contained. There does not appear to be a connection with the other work Wright published in 1706, Captain le Wright's Warrant (ESTC T34125). Possibly, the text as we have it was only intended to be the first proposal, and 'Finis' indicates the end of the proposal rather than the end of the work as a whole. Was the printing interrupted for some reason before Wright could get down to a detailed description of his plans for 'advancing Merchandize'?
ShelfmarkRB.s.2078
Acquired on19/10/00
AuthorIsham, Charles Edmund, Sir
TitleTyrant of the Cuchullin Hills
Date of Publicationc. 1860?
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis poem about a ferocious golden eagle terrorising the Cuillin mountains of Skye appears here in what seems to be a brightly-coloured, even garish lithograph. The borders of the text are attractive, and the elaborate initial letters are executed with some success. The Library has a photocopy of what is probably an earlier version of the work, which has different ornamentation (XP.461). As an artist's book, this is a work of some quality. Its poetic merits are another matter. As a sample, here is the eagle's dream of lamb-killing: 'He dream't he first tore out their eyes, Enjoying much the feeble cries. And when he'd finished all the flock, He watched from some convenient rock, Exhibiting intense delight When heartrent mothers came in sight. He then returned and tortured more The lambs which still remained in store At dawn of day we will suppose The tyrant from his bed arose Quite vexed at finding but a dream All that reality would seem.' It is one thing to project human emotions onto a bird, but to describe it getting out of bed after a pleasant dream opens up new possibilities for (unintentionally) comic verse.
ShelfmarkRB.m.515
Acquired on04/03/02
AuthorCassina, Ubaldo
TitleUbaldi Cassina in Parmensi Lyceo Moralis Philosophiae Regii Profressoris De Morali Disciplina Humanae Societatis.
ImprintParmae : Ex Typographia Regia
Date of Publication1778
LanguageLatin
NotesThis is a rare first edition of Ubaldo Cassina's comprehensive survey of ethics. Cassina (1736-1824) was a professor or moral philosophy at Parma. This work is intended primarily as a guide for students, and is divided into two sections, each of which deals with one of the main concerns of moral philoso[hy of the period. The first part discusses man in the "state of nature". Cassina cites Locke, Grotius, Gerdil, Malebranche and also the Scottish philosophers Francis Hutcheson (1694-1746) and David Hume (1711-1776). The second part examines the development of society, and discusses the reasons for the formation of human societies, the nature of the fundamental laws which govern them, the importance of justice, temperance, work and the love of glory. Again, Cassina draws heavily on the work of other philosophers, in particular Plato and Aristotle, but also citing Hume's Essays Moral and Political (1741). Cassina's work clearly documents the transmission of Scottish philosophical thought throughout continental Europe in the 18th century.
ShelfmarkAB.2.204.06
Acquired on23/10/03
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