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 727 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 706 to 720 of 727:

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AuthorVoltaire
Title[Volume containing 5 works by Voltaire formerly in the library of David Hume]
ImprintAmsterdam etc.: s.n.
Date of Publication1766-69
LanguageFrench
NotesThis volume contains five works by the French writer, historian and philosopher Voltaire (François-Marie Arouet) (1694-1778) printed between 1766 and 1769. The volume was formerly in the library of the eminent Scottish philosopher David Hume (1711-1776). It contains Hume's armorial bookplate (in the correct 'A' state) on the front pastedown, and a list of contents on the front free endpaper in his handwriting. The five works of Voltaire are: "La guerre civile de Geneve", "Le philosophe ignorant", "Le diner du Comte de Boulainvilliers", "Lettres a son altesse monseigneur le prince de ****" and "La defense de mon oncle". There are four minor annotations in the volume but none of these can be attributed with any certainty to Hume. The presence of works by the Frenchman in Hume's library is hardly surprising. Both men were key figures of the Enlightenment in Europe, whose works were hugely influential. Although Voltaire entertained the likes of James Boswell, Adam Smith and Edward Gibbon in his home in Ferney near the Swiss Border, he never met Hume. During Hume's stay in Paris between 1763 and 1765 plans were made by Voltaire's friends for him to visit the 'patriarch of Ferney'. Hume, however, chose not to go, explaining that his work as personal secretary to the British ambassador prevented him from leaving the French capital for any lengthy periods of time. His reluctance to travel to Ferney is probably accounted for by the fact that he did not really rate Voltaire as a philosopher and historian. Whereas Voltaire publicly expressed his admiration of Hume, the Scot was not willing to reciprocate. While in Paris Hume even tried, in vain, to suppress an article by Voltaire ridiculing fellow-Scot Lord Kames's "Elements of Criticism". No precise listing of Hume's book collection exists; however, some idea of its contents can be ascertained from a catalogue produced by the Edinburgh bookseller Thomas Stevenson in 1840. Most of the philosopher's books had ended up with his nephew, David, Baron Hume, and, after Baron Hume's death in 1838, his library was catalogued by Stevenson. There are over 200 French-language works in the Stevenson catalogue, including works by Voltaire. Number 937 on Stevenson's list refers to a collection of miscellaneous pamphlets on various subjects. Stevenson noted that "several of the pamphlets in his collection have got manuscript notes in the handwriting of David Hume, and others. For the contents, vide the flyleaves prefixed to each volume". It is very likely that this particular volume belongs to this collection of pamphlets. Stevenson went on to sell Baron Hume's books in the 1850s and the collection was thus dispersed. The acquisition of this volume is a welcome addition to our knowledge of Hume as book collector.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2874(1)
Reference SourcesE.C.Mossner, "The life of David Hume", Oxford, 1970; David Fate Norton & Mary J. Norton, "The David Hume Library" (Edinburgh, 1996)
Acquired on30/08/13
AuthorWachsmuth, Karl Heinrich.
TitleInamorulla oder Ossians Grosmuth. Ein Schauspiel in fünf Aufzügen. Nach Ossian.
ImprintDessau: Verlagskasse fuer Gelehrte und Kuenstler,
Date of Publication1783
LanguageGerman
NotesThe Ossianic poems of James MacPherson, first published in the 1760s, also had a huge impact on the Continent, particularly in the German-speaking countries. Numerous German translations appeared in the 18th and early 19th centuries, and also spin-off works such as this, a prose drama with occasional lyric passages by Karl Heinrich Wachsmuth (1760-1836), later to become a jurist and tax-collector in Saxony. It was based on the poems Croma and Oina-Morul from the Ossian cycle. A second edition was printed in Leipzig in 1787. Wachsmuth also produced "Fingal in Lochlin" (Dessau, 1782) a prose drama based on Fingal. The work was published by the Verlagskasse fuer Gelehrte und Kuenstler, an organisation set up to give financial assistance to enable scholars and academics to publish their own works. At this time it was run by Georg Joachim Goeschen, the famous publisher and printer. As Wachsmuth was only 23 at the time, and presumably short of funds, it was natural that he would seek financial support to get his works published.
ShelfmarkAP.1.211.48
Acquired on03/06/11
AuthorWalker, Mary, Lady
TitleMunster village, a novel.
ImprintLondon: Robson & Co.,
Date of Publication1778
LanguageEnglish
Notes"Munster Village" is the best known work of one of Scotland's earliest female novelists. This is a copy of the very rare first edition; only one other copy is recorded in the UK. The author, Lady Mary Walker (1736-1822), was born in Fife, the youngest child of the fifth Earl of Leven. She married an Edinburgh-based physician, Dr James Walker, in 1762, but the marriage seems to have broken down after a few years; in later life she said she was forced to turn to writing to clothe, feed and educate her children. Between 1775 and 1782 she wrote four works in English, three of which were published. "Munster Village" was her best-received novel. In it, the idealistic young heroine, Lady Frances, the daughter of Lord Munster, refuses offers of marriage until she has founded a utopian village. Her village contains libraries, a botanical garden and an academy for scholars, with places reserved for young women as well as men. The didactic and mildly feminist tone of the novel - Mary Walker was a firm believer in a woman's right to an education and in intellectual equality in marriage - was in keeping with her other surviving works. In the 1780s Mary Walker moved to France with a new partner, George Hamilton, a landowner with an estate in Jamaica. It is not clear whether she actually married him, but she did have two children by him. While living in France Mary arranged for a French translation of "Munster Village" to be made, and she also published a novel in French, "La famille du duc de Popoli". Walker's works now seem very dated to the modern reader, but she does appear to have influenced two rather more successful female novelists of this era. Jane Austen borrowed from "Munster Village" the names of 'Eliza', 'Bennett', and 'Bingley' for "Pride and Prejudice". Similarly, Ann Radcliffe seems to have borrowed the name of the 'Marquis de Villeroi' for "The Mysteries of Udolpho" (1794) as well as certain character types, plot devices, and thematic concerns.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2780-2781
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on07/05/10
AuthorWalter MacFarlane & Co.
TitleIllustrated examples of MacFarlane's Architectural ironwork
ImprintGlasgow: [s.n.],
Date of Publication[c. 1920]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a superb folio-size brochure aimed at members of the building trade highlighting the ironwork produced by Walter MacFarlane & Co.'s foundry at Possilpark, Glasgow. It includes black and white photographic illustrations of examples of the company's ironwork on recent buildings with a facing page of text. The location of each building is given along with the name(s) of the architect(s) of the buildings. A wide range of buildings and building features are covered: shops, hospitals, stairs, conservatories, railings etc.; work on overseas projects in the British Empire such as a bank in Madras and shop in Johannesburg is also included. This copy was a presentation copy to Messrs Wrathwell & Blackshaw of Stockport. Walter MacFarlane & Co. was one of number of Scottish architectural ironfounders who dominated British architectural ironwork production in the 19th century. Founded c. 1850 by Walter MacFarlane (1817-85) the firm quickly went from strength to strength to become the most prolific architectural ironfounders the world has seen. The foundry at Possilpark was opened in 1872 and expanded to cover 24 acres; it continued to operate successfully in the early 20th century, around the time this brochure was produced. After the 2nd World War, however, there was a sharp decline in demand for ornamental cast ironwork. The company became part of Allied Ironfounders in 1965, and was absorbed into Glynwed in 1966. The foundry at Possilpark eventually closed in 1967 and was subsequently demolished. The company name was bought by Glasgow firm Heritage Engineering in 1993.
ShelfmarkFB.l.391
Reference Sourceshttp://www.scottishironwork.org/waltermac.htm
Acquired on24/04/09
AuthorWatt, James and John Robison
TitleArticles Steam and Steam-Engines
Imprint[Edinburgh]
Date of Publication[1817-1818?]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is one of the most important books dealing with the ground-breaking inventions of the Scottish engineer James Watt. Watt's steam engine made the railway revolution possible, and it is remarkable that this publication seems to be very rare. The book is a separate edition of John Robison's articles on Watt's discoveries written for the Encyclopedia Britannica, printed here with extensive and critical footnotes by James Watt himself. This appears to be the only time Watt ventured into print to discuss his inventions. Eight folding plates in good condition illustrate the processes described (designed by William Creighton and engraved by Lizars of Edinburgh). This is a nice presentation copy, with an inscription to a Dr. Hope in Watt's hand: the book later passed to the Hope Trust, an Edinburgh-based society for the promotion of temperance. The trust's bookplate is inside the front board.
ShelfmarkRB.m.492
Acquired on03/03/03
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
AuthorWestminster Assembly
TitleFoirceadul aith-ghearr cheasnuighe [The shorter catechism]
ImprintGlas-gho: Anna Orr
Date of Publication1776
LanguageScottish Gaelic
NotesBooks in Scottish Gaelic are a key part of the National Library's collections, and we acquire such items wherever possible. This is a good copy of an eighteenth-century catechism, which also includes the alphabet, the Ten Commandments, various prayers, and a guide to numbers in arabic and roman. It was clearly designed for educational purposes. The book is particularly interesting as it was printed for a woman publisher, Anna Orr.
ShelfmarkABS.1.205.031
Reference SourcesSBTI Scottish Gaelic Union Catalogue 2769
Acquired on13/09/05
AuthorWilliam Blackwood (firm)
Title[Printing blocks]
Date of Publication[1840-1890?]
Notes64 blocks from the Edinburgh printing and publishing firm of William Blackwood, with 43 proofs recently printed at the Tragara Press, in excellent condition. Some blocks have a base of wood, some of metal, but all have a good-quality metal (mainly copper) surface. The images include scenes from a printer's workshop, steam trains and steam agricultural vehicles, landscapes, birds and animals, towns and harbours. Many are signed or initialled by the designer. They probably date from the mid-to-late 19th century.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2729
Acquired on19/06/07
AuthorWilliam Bruce
TitleEpistola Gulielmi Brussii Scoti. Ad illustrem D. Johannen Gostomium.
ImprintGoerlitz, s.n.
Date of Publication1596
LanguageLatin
NotesBy the end of the 16th-century there was a large number of Scottish emigrants living in Poland and lands adjoining the Baltic Sea. One of the most prominent was the Scottish Catholic William Bruce. Born in Stanstill in Caithness around 1560 and educated in France, William Bruce worked in universities there before moving to Rome and then on to German city of Wuerzburg to take up the Chair of Law. Bruce's academic career was interrupted by a spell serving as a mercenary soldier when he joined the military campaign against the Ottoman Empire on the Slovak-Hungarian front. In 1595 he arrived in Poland and shortly afterwards he accepted the Polish Chancellor Zamoyski's offer of teaching Roman law at his recently inaugurated Humanist academy in Zamosc. During this time he had printed at least three pamphlets, including this one dated Torun, 12 February, attacking the Turks and stressing their threat to the Christian kingdoms of eastern and central Europe - the other two works are: "Ad principes populorum Christianum, de bello adversus Turcos gerendo" (Leipzig 1595) and "De Tartaris diarium" (Frankfurt, 1598). After the Union of the Crowns in 1603, Bruce would became James VI/I's royal agent to Poland, securing trade links between Britain and Poland and protecting the rights of Scottish and English settler in Poland and Prussia.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2843
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes. J.K. Fedorowicz, England's Baltic trade in the early seventeenth century, (Cambridge, 1980).
Acquired on25/05/12
AuthorWilliam Carrick
TitleLes types Russes
Imprint[St. Petersburg: s.n.]
Date of Publicationc. 1860-1870]
Languagen/a
NotesAn album of 24 carte-de-visite photographs pasted onto folding boards, making up a portfolio. William Carrick (1827-78) was born in Edinburgh but moved to Russia the following year when his father set up a timber business in Kronstadt, the port of St. Petersburg. William visited Scotland in 1857 where he met a young professional photographer, John MacGregor, who encouraged him in his plans to set up a photographic studio in St Petersburg. Carrick's studio opened in 1859 and MacGregor joined him to work together in the business. When they were not taking commissioned portraits, Carrick would invite people from the street in to have their photographs taken. He called these portraits his 'Russian types' and he and MacGregor photographed a broad cross-section of Russian society, from nuns, to street hawkers, coachmen and soldiers. These photographs found approval with the Russian court, Carrick getting a diamond ring from Tsar Alexander II. It is unusual to find Carrick 'Russian types' photographs in this album format. The title in French on the front cover suggests that the album may have been produced for the Russian court as French was the main language of the court.
ShelfmarkPhot.sm.130
Reference SourcesF. Ashbee & J. Lawson, "William Carrick 1827-1878" [Edinburgh, 1987] (Scottish Masters series no. 3)
Acquired on20/05/08
AuthorWilliam Gilpin (& John Heaviside Clark)
TitleA practical illustration of Gilpin's day: representing the various effects on landscape scenery from morning till night
ImprintLondon: Edward Orme
Date of Publication1811
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a rare first edition of a book illustrating the effects of light and the weather on the landscape. It reproduces landscape sketches by William Gilpin (1724-1804), an English writer on art, school teacher and clergyman, who is now best known for being one of the first people to put forward the idea of the picturesque in art. In his 1768 "Essay on Prints" he outlined 'the principles of picturesque beauty, the different kinds of prints, and the characters of the most noted masters'. For Gilpin 'picturesque' was 'a term expressive of that peculiar kind of beauty, which is agreeable in a picture'; moreover, beauty could have an improving moral influence which meant that viewing a landscape was a religious as well as an aesthetic experience. Gilpin travelled the length and breadth of Britain, with his notebook and sketching materials, searching out picturesque locations in order to demonstrate his theories. From 1782 a series of works by Gilpin were published with the title "Observations on & relative chiefly to picturesque beauty". In these books, which covered specific areas of Britain, Gilpin's pen and wash sketches of landscapes were reproduced in aquatint plates. His picturesque books proved to be very popular, however his didactic and pedantic tone grated with some authors, and with professional artists such as John Landseer, who dismissed his 'aquatinted smearings & tarnished with false principles of art'. Gilpin was also mercilessly satirised in William Combe's Doctor Syntax books, first published in the 1810s. Despite his critics, there was still a devoted readership for Gilpin's works among amateur artists and they continued to be published after his death in 1804. In 1810, the London print seller and publisher Edward Orme published a work entitled "The last work published of W. Gilpin ... representing the effect of a morning, a noon tide, and an evening sun" (better known as "Gilpin's day"), which reproduced 30 of Gilpin's landscape drawings as monochromatic aquatints, ordered according to the times of day. The success of the work prompted Orme to republish it a year later as "A practical illustration of Gilpin's day", rearranging the order of the plates and with an introduction and descriptive text for each plate by the Scottish artist John Heaviside Clark. In addition, Clark hand-coloured the plates, adding spectacular dashes of colour and dramatic effects, such as rainbows and flashes of lightning, to the rather muted aquatints of the earlier edition. Clark's jazzing up of Gilpin's soft colours reflected a change in popular taste; people no longer favoured standardised depictions of landscapes with universal appeal but rather wanted to see particular landscapes and individual features highlighted. The Clark edition was reprinted in 1824, indicating that it too was a commercial success. This particular copy is in a half-morocco binding by the renowned London bookbinding company, Sangorski and Sutcliffe, which has retained the original upper printed wrapper.
ShelfmarkAB.10.213.02
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography; A. Bermingham, "Learning to draw: studies in the cultural history of polite and useful art" (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2000)
Acquired on21/06/13
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
AuthorWilliamson, Susan
TitleDirge or a voice in the night, originally addressed to a clergyman at Edinburgh 1845.
ImprintEdinburgh: Anderson and Bryce
Date of Publication1848
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis work is attributed to one Susan Williamson on the strength of a telling inscription on the verso of the dedication to Queen Victoria which reads: 'The writer of this book was Miss Susan Williamson who resided in Edinburgh with her brother Mr. David Williamson, in some of her ways she was odd, but not considered to be insane'. The 600 or so pages which follow can certainly be considered to be odd if not downright unintelligble to readers in the 21st century. An extract from the introduction sets the tone for what follows: 'And all vitellent spirits revolt or resault over whom was ratified reflection as a whispered word imputave before the perfectability of planatory imparature in the temporal attribute, whose nullity remained in premonitory complex' The book consists of short texts of a religious nature dealing with sin, creation, eternity and so on. The only other copy traced is at the British Library and no other works by Susan Williamson are known.
ShelfmarkABS.1.204.051
Acquired on03/03/04
AuthorWilson, Alexander
TitleForesters: a poetic account of a walking journey to the Falls of Niagara in the Autumn of 1804.
ImprintNewtown, P.A.: Bird & Bull Press
Date of Publication2000
LanguageEnglish
NotesAlexander 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.
ShelfmarkFB.s.758
Acquired on14/11/00
AuthorWitherspoon, John
TitleWorks
ImprintPhiladelphia: Printed and published by William W. Woodward
Date of Publication1800-1801
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is the first collected edition of the works of John Witherspoon (1723-1794), a Scot who emigrated to America and became a leading figure in the Revolution - even signing the Declaration of Independence. Born at Gifford in Haddingtonshire, Witherspoon studied at Edinburgh University and became a minister in the established Church of Scotland. He fought on the Hanoverian side in the 1745-6 Jacobite rising, and was briefly captured at the Battle of Falkirk in January 1746. Witherspoon became famous as the author of books and pamphlets defending orthodox presbyterian teaching, and in 1766 he was offered the presidency of the Presbyterian College of New Jersey at Princeton. In deciding to accept this post, he and his wife left Scotland for ever. Witherspoon proved a successful college president. His convictions led him to support the American Revolution and he was the only clergyman to sign the Declaration of Independence. He encouraged emigration from Scotland to North America, for which he was heavily criticised by some in his home country. This is the first edition of Witherspoon's collected works. It is a good set, including the scarce Volume Four which was printed later. There is a loose note in Volume Three advertising the fourth volume and urging subscribers to sign up for it. All four volumes are bound in early calf and have contemporary ownership inscriptions. The works include his sermons, lectures, selections from his letters and speeches to Congress. Volume Four is particularly interesting as it includes several works relating to Scotland, including Witherspoon's defence of encouraging emigration to North America. It is extremely surprising that there are no other copies of this important edition recorded in a public library outside North America.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2689
Reference SourcesESTC W2749
Acquired on26/10/07
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