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 753 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 706 to 720 of 753:
Ordered by date acquired |
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|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.|
|Title||Inaugural ceremonies in honour of the opening of Fountain Gardens, Paisley ... Published under the patronage and by authority of the Provost, Magistrates and Town Council.|
|Imprint||Paisley: J & J. Cook|
|Date of Publication||1868|
|Notes||Folio, , 92
This limited, imperial edition of 40 copies was 'published by request of a few gentlemen who wished to have a special edition de luxe'. There was also an edition for the general public and a 'drawing room' edition for subscribers. The book is dedicated to Thomas Coats, a local cotton manufacturer, who purchased the grounds for £20,000 and donated them to the town of Paisley. The gardens were designed by the Glasgow landscape architect James Niven, former assistant to Joseph Paxton at Chatsworth, and the fountains were erected by George Smith & Co. of the Sun Foundry, Glasgow. The Coates Family is indelibly bound up in the industrial history of Paisley, through their domination of cotton manufacturing output with four large mills at each corner of the town. Following the Victorian spirit of charitable works, laced with a strong Baptist belief, they endowed many buildings and gardens in Paisley during their period of Economic hegemony including the construction of the largest Baptist church in Europe (Coates Memorial Church) and the Fountain Gardens.|
|Title||Elements of the art of dancing.|
|Date of Publication||1822|
|Notes||This 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.|
|Title||[Trainspotting] The glossary.|
|Date of Publication||1996|
|Notes||This 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.|
|Author||Byron, George Gordon, Baron.|
|Title||Ritter Harold's Pilgerfahrt.|
|Date of Publication||1836|
|Notes||This is the first edition of what is probably the first German translation of Childe Harold, the work which made Byron famous. He composed this work between 1812 and 1818, though nearly two decades were to elapse before it was fully translated. The translator, Joseph Christian, Freiherr von Zedlitz, (1790-1862) was one of the leading poets in Austria. The work contains a preface and copious scholarly notes by the translator and retains its original wrappers. Zedlitz composed patriotic and romantic verse and his Totenkränze (1828), a cycle of 134 poems, was in imitation of Byron's style. Another translation of Childe Harolde was apparently made by Karl Baldamus (1784-1852) in 1835, but no copy is extant. Though controversial in his own country, Byron was revered on the continent and particularly in Germany, where Heine, Goethe and their contemporaries fell under his spell.|
|Title||Foresters: a poetic account of a walking journey to the Falls of Niagara in the Autumn of 1804.|
|Imprint||Newtown, P.A.: Bird & Bull Press|
|Date of Publication||2000|
|Notes||Alexander Wilson (1766-1813) was born in Paisley in 1766 and emigrated to the American colonies in 1794 after being imprisoned for publishing a severe personal satire against a local dignatory. He had many occupations, including weaver, packman, printer, school teacher, but his obsession was with ornithology.
Wilson is best known for his magnum opus American Ornithology the first major attempt to describe and illustrate the birds of America which ran to nine volumes and was illustrated with Wilson's own drawings. Before he undertook that work, Wilson embarked on a walking tour to Niagara in 1804 that inspired the long poem giving an account of the journey, The Foresters. It first appeared in serial form in Philadelphia's leading literary magazine The Port Folio and came out in book form in 1818. The present edition is produced by the Bird & Bull Press of Newtown Pennsylvannia, the same town where The Foresters first appeared in book form. It is illustrated throughout with wood engravings in the classic British style by the Canadian artist, Wesley W. Bates. The book is composed in Dante type, printed on Arches mouldmade paper, quarter bound in morocco and enclosed in a cloth-covered slipcase.|
|Author||Billings, Robert William|
|Title||Baronial and Ecclesiastical Antiquities of Scotland|
|Imprint||Edinburgh & London: William Blackwood & Sons|
|Date of Publication||n.d.|
|Notes||This is an unusual version of the first edition of Billings' magnum opus, a wide-ranging and thoughtful alphabetical discussion of notable early churches, castles and towers in Scotland, with engravings of the author's own detailed drawings. The engravers include some notable figures including John Sad(d)ler; see Rodney K. Engen, Dictionary of Victorian Engravers, Print Publishers and their Works, Cambridge: Chadwyck-Healey, 1979. The printing seems to have been completed in 1852 (the author's'introduction is dated 29 February 1852), although the 240 plates are dated 1847-1848. The National Library already has sets of the first standard edition (shelfmark NE.18.a.34, now rather worn and in need of rebinding; Hist.S.80.B) and of the 1908 version edited by A. W. Wiston-Glynn (shelfmark X.8.b). Like the standard edition, this set is in four volumes, but it is printed in large folio. There do not appear to be any text or plates different to the standard edition, but the plates are positioned differently and are in superior condition due to being printed on fine India paper. A curious feature is that throughout the volumes, one can find the occasional standard-size page inlaid in the folio, rather than printed on the larger paper. The large paper is foxed in places. A manuscript note on the inside of the front cover of the first volume states 'Blackwoods Copy La Folio India Paper Proofs Bt from Brunton 1971'. There does not appear to be other evidence for this, and Blackwood is not mentioned in the list of subscribers to the available versions described as 'Folio proofs and etchings' and 'India proofs'. Bound in blue cloth, with gold lettering. See DNB for Billings.|
|Title||Letter from Governor Pownall to Adam Smith being an Examination of several points of doctrine, laid down in his 'Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations'.|
|Imprint||London: J. Almon|
|Date of Publication||1776|
|Notes||4to, , 48 p. Without the errata slip, sometimes pasted onto the verso of the half-title.
According to ESTC (English Short-Title Catalogue) and discussions with the main central belt libraries, there is no copy of this work in a public institution in Scotland. Reference to ABPC (American Book Prices Current) and BAR (Book Auction Records) demonstrates that no copy has come up for sale in the last twenty-five years (1975-1999). There are two imperfect copies in the British Library and a complete copy in Cambridge University Library, and there are a number of copies in the USA and one in Germany. The majority of copies are either lacking the half-title or errrata slip, or both.
This is one of the earliest, if not the earliest, criticisms of Adam Smith's An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations [hereafter Wealth of Nations] which was published earlier the same year. The author, Thomas Pownall (1722-1805), known as 'Governor Pownall' was Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Company between 1757 and 1759, very briefly Governor of South Carolina (late 1759 to early 1760) and, after quitting the American Colonies, sat as an MP between 1767 and 1780. In Parliament, and in his publications, Pownall was liberal in his views towards England's relationship with the American Colonists. He published on a wide range of subjects including the administration of the colonies, international trade and law.
The publication of the Wealth of Nations in 1776 provoked an immediate response from Pownall and within a few months he produced 'A letter from Governor Pownall to Adam Smith ... being an Examination of several points of doctrine, laid down in his 'Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations'' which though disagreeing with key elements in Smith's arguments remained very complimentary throughout and even prompted Smith to address him a letter of thanks for "his very great politeness" (DNB; Gent. Mag. 1795, ii, 634-5). Pownall's critique of Smith's book is one of the earliest to appear in print. His criticisms of the Wealth of Nations have been well summarised by a recent biographer of Smith:
Pownall had a clear perception of Smith's system of political economy as a form of 'moral Newtonianism', and he thought that if it were corrected on the salient points he brought up, it might become an institutional work on which could be based lectures 'in our Universities'. The chief criticisms in the Letter were at Smith's formulations concerning price, patterns of trade, restraints on importation, and the monopoly of colony trade. (Ian Simpson Ross, The Life of Adam Smith (Oxford, 1995), p.346).
Given the Library's strengths in material by and relating to Adam Smith and our international reputation as a repository for Enlightenment texts and manuscripts, this is an excellent addition.|
|Title||Dream of John Ball and a king's lesson.|
|Imprint||Hammersmith, Kelmscott Press|
|Date of Publication||1892|
|Notes||A valuable addition to the Library's large collection of Kelmscott Press publications. The Kelmscott Press, modestly described by William Morris himself, as 'a little typographical adventure' is regarded as the most influential and famous of the private presses which emerged in the latter years of the nineteenth century. Between 1891 and 1898, 52 books were produced of which the Library holds 49. Morris sought to emulate the books produced in the early years of printing and 'to produce books which it would be a pleasure to look upon as pieces of printing and arrangement of type'. Morris oversaw every aspect of the production and design of the Kelmscott books 'the paper, the form of the type, the relative spacing of the letters, the words and the lines, and lastly the position of the printed matter on the page'.
A king's lesson and A dream of John Ball were first published in the socialist journal Commonweal in 1886 and 1887. This utopian socialist work is one of the few writings of the press with clear political overtones. Most of the Kelmscott books, were works of literature, including many medieval texts. This is one of the 300 copies printed on paper; 11 were also printed on vellum. The frontispiece was engraved by W.H. Hooper based on a design by Sir Edward Burne-Jones, with the lettering and border being designed by Morris.|
|Title||Bethulia delivered. A sacred nama[sic].|
|Date of Publication||1774|
|Notes||A rare edition of this libretto, which was first performed in Vienna in 1734: only one other copy is recorded in Britain. The drama was set to music by Domenico Corri, (1746-1825) originally from Rome, who came to Scotland in on the recommendation of the musician Charles Burney in 1771. He was employed as singing master and composer to the Musical Society in Edinburgh and stayed in Scotland until about 1790. With his brother son Giovanni and later with his brother Natale, Domenico founded a successful musical publishing business before moving to London. He was also manager for a period of the Theatre Royal in Edinburgh.
According to the cast list, Corri and his wife took the principal roles. The manuscript annotation on the title page appears to indicate that a benefit performance took place for Corri on 8th March 1774. The item also has a noteworthy provenance being owned by members of the Grant family of Monymusk, Aberdeenshire, the Signet Library and latterly Christina Foyle, of the Foyles London bookselling dynasty.|
|Title||De principis Augustissimi Francisci Ducis Guisiani obitu. Paris, 1563
Blackwood, Adam. In Novae Religionis Asseclas Carmen Invenctium Ad virum illustrissimum
& 9 Others|
|Date of Publication||1563|
|Notes||It is unusual to acquire eleven mid-16th Century poems printed in Paris most of which have survived in one or two copies only. Bound together in late 17th-century sheepskin, this collection of separately printed short poetical pieces covers a range of subjects including the deaths of Henri II, the Duke of Guise and Nicholas Boileau. The principal interest to the National Library is the inclusion of two neo-Latin poems by Adam Blackwood (1539-1613). Educated at Paris University, Blackwood acquired considerable prowess in the composition of Latin poetry and enjoyed the patronage of Robert Reid, Bishop of Orkney (his great-uncle) and, most famously, Mary Queen of Scots. He is best remembered for his Apologia pro Regibus of 1581 which confronted George Buchanan's justification for Regicide, in certain circumstances, and his Martyre de la Reyne d'Ecosse of 1587 which described the harsh treatment accorded Mary Stewart during her long imprisonment in England. Blackwood was a frequent visitor to Mary during her imprisonment and his name will always be linked to her. The first of the poems in this volume is on the death of Mary's maternal Uncle, Francois, Duke of Guise at the hands of a Hugenot assassin in 1563 and the second criticises the Protestant religion and ends with a series of short verses, including four epigrams, to Mary, James Beaton, Catholic Archbishop of Glasgow, Walter Reid, Abbot of Kinloss, John Reid, John Sinclair, Dean of Restalrig and his own brother Henry Blackwood.
Provenance: 1. Contemp ink signature on title of no. 1 'P. Jamisier'; Charles Spencer, 3rd Earl of Sunderland (1674-1722); by descent to Dukes of Marlborough, with Blenheim Palace shelfmarks in ink 'D.8.112' and pencil '91 F.13' thence through the sale rooms Sunderland Library Sale, Sotheby's 1881-1883, lot 10,046. 2. Theological Institute of Connnecticut, with oval blindstamp at the beginning and end. 3. Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, with bookplates of The Woodruff Collection and Pitts Theology Library.|
|Author||[Le Wright, John]|
|Title||Two Proposals Becoming England at this Juncture to Undertake. One, for securing a Collony [sic] in the West-Indies... And the other, for advancing Merchandize|
|Date of Publication||1706|
|Notes||This 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. , 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'?|
|Title||History of the kingdoms of Scotland & Ireland.|
|Date of Publication||1685|
|Notes||Nathaniel Crouch who wrote under the pseudonym of R.B. – Richard or Robert Burton, was a prolific author of books for both adults and children. He is credited with writing, editing or rewriting over 40 books during his long life (c.1632-c.1725). These included emblem books, fables, riddle books, travel narratives and histories. The simplicity of his prose style was praised by Samuel Johnson and he is regarded as one of the first authors to attempt to provide children with entertaining as opposed to purely moralistic reading matter.
Crouch had already written about the recent history of the three kingdoms as well as a more exhaustive history of England. In his preface he stated he aimed at 'plainness and brevity' in describing the history of Scotland and Ireland, with particular emphasis on the late medieval period. The book is illustrated with crude woodcuts, some of which are repeated in the text.|
|Author||[Lothian, Marchioness of]|
|Title||Catalogue of household furniture, &c, which belonged to the late Marchioness of Lothian ... which will be sold by Roup, at Lothian House ... Monday the 3d March 1788 ... Mrs Bowie, Auctioneer.|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||An extremely rare printed sales catalogue of the household belongings of Jean, Marchioness of Lothian, sold by auction after her death in December 1787.
Lothian House, at the foot of the Canongate, was the family's Edinburgh town house and was leased after her death to the philosopher Dugald Stewart, eventually becoming the headquarters for Youngers brewery. The site is now to be occupied by the Scottish Parliament building and the sales catalogue gives a direct source of evidence to the Parliament's eighteenth century precursor.|
|Title||[Volume containing 25 items, mainly chapbooks, relating to William Wallace and Robert the Bruce]|
|Date of Publication||c.1800-1865|
|Notes||This volume, which formerly belonged to the poet Sydney Goodsir Smith, includes 21 chapbooks telling the tales of the exploits of Sir William Wallace and King Robert the Bruce in prose, verse and song. These items date from 1801 to 1861 and include imprints from Glasgow, Edinburgh, Montrose, Dumfries, Kelso, Newcastle, London and Belfast. The publication and distribution of chapbooks in Scotland reached its height between 1775 and 1825. Subsequently the market for this kind of material was absorbed by commercial publishers, examples of whose output is contained in this volume.
With their simple wood-engravings and straightforward narratives, they would have been avidly read by children, at whom they were primarily aimed. It is interesting to note the similarities, and in some instances the exact copying of the text of the stories from one publisher to another.|