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 775 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 775:
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|Title||New game of the ascent of Mont Blanc.|
London : A.N. Myers|
|Date of Publication||ca. 1856|
|Notes||A rare Victorian board game comprising a folded lithograph mounted on cloth with 54 coloured vignettes describing a route from London to the summit of Mt Blanc. The game was devised by Albert Smith, a popular author and showman. He drew on his experiences during an ascent of Mt Blanc in 1851 to devise a flamboyant entertainment 'The Ascent of Mt Blanc' which was presented at the Egyptian Halls in Piccadilly from 1852 until his death in 1860. This acquisition complements other items of 'Albert Smithiana' in the Graham Brown and Lloyd collections.|
|Title||Ristretto dei viaggi fatti in Africa dal capitano Smith.|
|Date of Publication||[1836?]|
|Notes||This is a hitherto unrecorded pamphlet in Italian based on a report written by Scottish army medical officer and naturalist, Andrew Smith. Born in Roxburghshire, Smith (1797-1872) entered the Army Medical Service in 1815 and was sent to the Cape Colony (South Africa) in 1820. While remaining in the Army, Smith became renowned for his research into the region's zoology, ethnography, and geography. In 1834 to 1836 he superintended a fact-finding expedition into the territory north of Cape Colony, which was financed by Cape merchants and other interested parties. His 'Report of the expedition for exploring Central Africa from the Cape of Good Hope' was first published for subscribers only in Cape Town in 1836. Extracts from the report were also published in the Journal of the Royal Geographical Society in 1836. The report, with its details of the various African peoples, including a tribe of albinos, evidently attracted interest in continental Europe as well, hence this Italian translation. Smith returned to Britain in 1836, and became a personal friend of Charles Darwin, the latter consulting him on African zoology. He was eventually promoted to become director-general of the army and ordnance medical departments, which brought him into conflict with Florence Nightingale and the British press during the Crimean War.|
|Reference Sources||Oxford Dictionary of National Biography|
|Title||Remarks upon an essay on government by James Mill|
|Imprint||London: James Ridgway|
|Date of Publication||1827|
|Notes||The Scottish Utilitarian philosopher James Mill, who was father of John Stuart Mill, was an important writer on politics and economics in his own right. His article in the Encyclopaedia Britannica on government, which was strongly influenced by the ideas of Jeremy Bentham, provoked this critical response from the young writer Leveson Smith. Smith dislikes Mill's style, ideas and beliefs, and is strongly hostile to democratisation; he is also critical of David Hume. Smith's essay was published posthumously in this volume, edited by his mother. Also included are notes on the contemporary debates over Catholic emancipation (Smith was in favour) and a selection of poems. There is an attractive portrait of Smith included. The book is bound in red cloth and half-morocco, with marbled endpapers. There is a bookplate of Sidney Edward Bouverie Bouverie-Pusey. On the title-page is the manuscript note 'With Mr Vernon Smith's compliments'.|
|Reference Sources||DNB, Encyclopaedia Britannica|
|Title||Brief treatyse settynge forth divers truethes necessary both to be beleved of chrysten people, & kepte also|
|Imprint||London: Thomas Petit|
|Date of Publication||1547|
The acquisition of this item demonstrates how the different aspects of our work can join up serendipitously. Cataloguing the Fort Augustus collections led to a decision to feature Archbishop Hamilton's Catechism of 1552 on our webpages as a Highlight of the collections, and the research for that text meant that we spotted the connection with this Richard Smith item when it was not flagged at all by the vendor.
Richard Smith (1500-1563) was a theologian and divine who, disregarding a couple of tactical recantations, took a staunchly Catholic side during the Reformation. He was the first Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford, and one of the team involved in the production of Henry VIII's Institution of a Christian Man in 1537. When the Protestant party triumphed in England, he twice fled first to Scotland and then to France. While his movements on the accession of Elizabeth I seem fairly clear, there is some confusion over where exactly he was and when, between his first flight from England in 1549 and his return in 1553. He certainly went to St Andrews in Scotland and thence to Louvain.
John Durkan in McRoberts' collection "Essays on the Scottish Reformation" assigns the writing of the Hamilton catechism to another Englishman, Richard Marshall, but notes that Smith was distributing copies to clergy in November, and was present at the Synod which commissioned the catechism. In his edition of Hamilton's catechism in 1882, Professor Mitchell says that Smith was one of the theology faculty at St Andrews when the catechism was drawn up, and his involvement may have led to the echoes of the Institution of a Christian Man (in some cases, direct renderings into Scots) in the catechism. It does seem likely that the production of such a text would have involved the available experts, rather than being the work of one sole individual.
Given all these factors, we can see that this Brief Treatyse is an equally significant source for the catechism to the Institution of a Christian Man. It is Smith's third original work, and its title, like that of the Institution ('A necessary doctrine and erudicion for any chrysten man') emphasizes what the ordinary lay Christian should know - exactly what the catechism offers. Certainly the layout of this book is similar to that of the catechism: it is to be hoped that a researcher will take on the task of comparing the contents.
This library is the best in the world for the study of the 1552 catechism (we hold most of the surviving copies), and here we have an opportunity to enrich the understanding of it through the purchase of a little-known item which is at least a valuable context and probably a direct source. There is no other copy in Scotland according to the ESTC.
While the Brief Treatyse is available on microfilm and also via EEBO, original copies are very rare. This copy has been described as 'not great, but better than a "working" copy'. There are a few minor imperfections, but the main problem is the title page, which is 'cut-round and crudely inlaid' without loss of text, and also 'soiled, somewhat browned and stained'.
Finally, this item has a Scottish provenance: it contains the undated bookplate of Alexander Moffat of Edinburgh, who is unlisted in our bookplates index. At least one contemporary owner has left marginalia and other markings in the text; later owners include Wm Herbert, 1760 and the Duke of Sussex, whose armorial bookplate is on the front pastedown. Finally there is the bookplate of the Bristol collector James Stevens Cox (1910-1997). This book is one of three the NLS has purchased from the sale of his library, a collection considered worthy of its own location in the Short Title Catalogue of English books before 1640.|
|Reference Sources||DNB, catalogue, David McRoberts: Essays on the Scottish Reformation; 1882 and 1884 editions of Archibishop Hamilton's Catechism|
|Title||A narrative of an unfortunate voyage to the coast of Africa.|
|Date of Publication||1813|
|Notes||This remarkable book was written by Thomas Smith, a sailor from Arbroath. It tells of his adventures on board a number of slave ships in the 1760s. At first he got a place on board the Ann Galley in London, not realizing the nature of the journey. When the ship arrived off the West African (Guinea) coast, the captain purchased 140 slaves. However, the ship was taken over by the captives and Smith made his way on another slave ship to the West Indies. Destitute and ill he eventually returned across the Atlantic to Amsterdam and later back home to Arbroath.
No other copy of this work has been traced, but it appears to be a genuine account of life on board slave ships in the mid-18th century. The Board of Trade and Lloyds of London recorded the loss of the Ann Galley as a result of a slave insurrection in November 1762. No other account of this adventure has been published and until now naval and slavery historians have been unaware of it. It may be that it was published as a form of anti-slavery propaganda. The author ends his narrative with some 'Remarks on the slave trade' and mentions how he was asked by supporters of the anti-slavery crusader, William Wilberforce, to provide them with information on the buying and selling of slaves.
At the beginning of the work the editor apologises for the 'rude and rustic state of the copy'. It seems that the author was in poor health and couldn't assist the editor - 'a poor scholar' - to produce a better work. The book also carries an inscription (dated April 1904) on the front pastedown from Caroline Frazer of Dublin, granddaughter of John Findlay, Arbroath's first printer and publisher'.
|Author||SMT Magazine and Scottish Country Life|
|Title||Calendar for 1940.|
|Date of Publication||1940|
|Notes||An unusual survival, this calendar was found in an attic in reasonably good condition, with its original metal hanger. The different months are illustrated by good-quality prints of paintings of various Scottish landscapes. The artists include W. M. Cuthill, Healey Hislop, Alastair Dallas and George Melvin Rennie. The front cover is a martial scene of armed highlanders gathering around Bonnie Prince Charlie, which was presumably chosen in view of the recent outbreak of war with Germany. The calendar has not been covered with scribble as is the usual fate of such ephemeral items, and would still look good on the wall. One of the few pencil notes is curious: by 'September', someone has written 'Septembre'. Was the calendar sent as a present to someone in France, or was it owned by a French resident in Scotland? SMT [Scottish Motor Traction] magazine was despite its title a wide-ranging and colourful magazine with stories, letters, descriptions of Scottish towns and landscapes; very much the kind of thing one could find in dentists' waiting rooms. The 1940 volume of the magazine, which NLS holds, is full of a breezy optimism with regard to the war, and a strong current of Scottish nationalism. The magazine is quite happy to discuss the question of Scotland's future status within the union, and includes a letter asking whether federalism should actually be a war aim. This sits well with the cover of the calendar, which recalls Scotland's separate military traditions. Together, the magazine and calendar present a much more colourful image of 1940 than the conventional stereotype.|
|Title||Catalogue of Scottish rocks, Collected and Sold by John Sommerville, 18 West Register Street, Edinburgh.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: R. Wallace & Co.|
|Date of Publication||[1837?]|
|Notes||A very rare brochure listing 100 specimens of Scottish rocks which were for sale in cabinets. The samples came in three sizes, the largest at three inches costing £5. In the advertisement on the verso of the title page, the author states that the collection has been available for eight years, constantly undergoing improvements. The advertisement goes on to say that the collection represents nearly all the deposits to be found in Scotland, and that it will be of particular use to geologists in England as it 'stops at the point where the English strata begin to be more illustrative' than Scottish strata. The blank leaves bound into the volume suggest that it was intended for use as a field book. It is bound with the 1837 edition of John Phillip's 'Treatise on Geology'.|
|Author||Sotheby and Son|
|Title||A catalogue of a most extensive and valuable collection of Greek and Roman coins and medals, in gold, silver, and copper ... formed by the Right Hon. James Earl of Morton,|
|Imprint||[London: Sotheby & Son]|
|Date of Publication||1830|
|Notes||This is the Sotheby's sale catalogue of the remarkable collection of Greek and Roman coins and medals assembled by the Scottish aristocrat James Douglas, fourteenth earl of Morton (1702-1768), natural philosopher and astronomer. Douglas served on a number of august British scientific bodies; he was President of the Philosophical Society of Edinburgh from its foundation in 1737 until his death. He also became President of the Royal Society (24 March 1764), and was a distinguished patron of science, and particularly of astronomy. A trustee of the British Museum and member of the longitude commission, he was also one of the commissioners of annexed estates between 1755 and 1760, but never attended a meeting. This copy is inter-leaved throughout with details of buyers and prices fetched throughout the six days of the sale and is bound in contemporary red morocco.
|Reference Sources||Oxford Dictionary of National Biography|
|Author||Spence, Elizabeth Isabella|
|Title||Wedding Day, a Novel.
|Imprint||London, printed by C. Stower for Longman etc., .|
|Date of Publication||1807|
|Notes||This work by the Scottish-born writer Elizabeth Spence is extremely rare. Spence (1768-1832) was born at Dunkeld, and produced several sentimental novels and travel books from 1799 onwards. Niece of the Aberdeen-born preacher James Fordyce, Spence ended up orphaned and poor in London, and seems to have written to support herself. The Wedding Day enjoyed little critical success, but does not seem wholly devoid of merit. It is deeply Scottish, full of descriptions of landscapes and buildings from Roslin Chapel to Calton Hill, although most of the action takes place in England. Literary quotations abound; suffering aristocrats write wordy letters; the heroine endures everything from shipwrecks to romantic catastrophe with the same moral resolution.|
|Author||Spenser, Edmund. |
|Title||Poetical Works. |
|Imprint||London: [by S. and R. Bentley for] William Pickering, Nattali and Combe, and Talboys and Wheeler in Oxford|
|Date of Publication||1825|
|Notes||This edition of the works of the great English poet Spenser was not, for some reason, acquired by the Advocates Library through the copyright privilege, but the main reason for purchasing these five volumes now is the binding. The books were from the library of one James Hamilton, whose red ink stamp appears on the title pages. Mr. Hamilton had a number of his books bound in the unusual material of chenille - using a different colour or pattern for each set. This set is bound in red chenille with yellow dots. Inside the rear board of the first volume is the printed label of R. Grant & Son, an Edinburgh firm listed in the Scottish Book Trade Index under this name from 1840 onwards. The Library has another binding identified as the work of the same firm (William Aytoun, Lays of the Scottish cavaliers, 1863, Bdg.m.115). It is possible that both bindings date from the 1860s.
It is difficult to know why Mr. Hamilton chose to have his books bound in this way; the effect of a whole library bound in brightly coloured chenille would be quite overpowering. It is not a durable material and these books would not withstand heavy handling. Other curious features of this binding are the fact that the boards are so much larger than the text block, the elaborately gauffered gilt edges, the brass and velvet catches and clasps, and the brass frames nailed on the front covers with a vellum slip to write the title or volume number. This is a curiosity of Scottish binding creativity.
|Author||St Peters Church, Edinburgh.|
|Title||Report by the Committee of Management of St. Peter's Episcopal Church new building: with first list of subscribers.|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||This is a report on the building of and fund-raising for a new Church in the southside of Edinburgh, by the building committee for the congregation of St. Peter's Roxburgh Place. This congregation had begun in 1791 as an 'overflow' from Old St. Paul's in Carrubber's Close. It continued in Roxburgh Place until the 1850s when it was decided to move further south to Lutton Place. The new building was of a neo-gothic style and designed by William Slater of London.
The church was opened for worship on Whitsunday 1860, though the debt was not cleared until 1889.
The report is accompanied by two fine lithographs by Friedrich Schenck of George St. Edinburgh. Neither lithograph is recorded in the entry for Schenck in the Directory of lithographic printers of Scotland 1820-1870. No copy of this work with plates has been traced in any library (BL, CURL, OCLC, RLIN).
The library already has a copy of this work at Dowd.465(15) which differs from this copy in a number of respects:
1. Dowd is a proof copy; this copy is a corrected proof
2. Dowd lacks the plates
3. The five lists of subscribers in Dowd are dated 25 June; the six in this copy are dated 15 July.|
|Title||Saturday Feb. 18th. For the St. James's Chronicle. Sketch of a comparison between the two late writers of travels in Scotland.|
|Date of Publication||[1775?]|
|Notes||Bound at the end of a copy of the first edition of Samuel Johnson's 'Journey to the Western Islands' of 1775 is this 3-page comparison between the traveller writers Thomas Pennant and Samuel Johnson. The author, who simply signs himself 'Staffa', seems to be a Scot who feels that Johnson has insulted his country. With plenty of satirical humour, he compares the way they approach Scotland, much to Johnson's disadvantage. Pennant looked for interesting landscapes and places, whereas Johnson looked for things to grumble about. Prejudice is the problem:
'Whence can proceed this wide difference between these two travellers, as to their objects, pursuits, reception, and accounts of the same country in the same year? Is it because Mr. Pennant is a gentleman and a scholar, and Dr. Johnson only a scholar? Or is it because Mr. Pennant is a Welchman, and Dr. Johnson an Englishman, and the subject of discourse, Scotland?'
This is a good addition to the Library's holdings of Johnsoniana and books about travellers in Scotland.|
|Reference Sources||ESTC N46421|
|Author||Steuart, James, Sir|
|Title||Untersuchung der Grund-Satze von der Staats-Wirtschaft als ein Versuch uber die Wissenschaft von der innerlichen Politik bey freyen Nationen|
|Imprint||Tubingen: Johann Georg Cotta|
|Date of Publication||1769-1772|
|Notes||This is the very rare first German edition of Steuart's 'An inquiry into the principles of political oeconomy' first published in English in 1767(RB.m.451). Another German edition was published in Hamburg in 1769 (A.109.d). It seems that two editions were published almost simultaneously in Germany, as the publishers in question were in a race to translate this work and so gain de facto copyright. Steuart was a friend of both the translator Christoph Friedrich Schott and the publisher Johann Georg Cotta. He had also lived for three years in Tubingen in the 1760s - as a Jacobite he was exiled after Culloden until 1763.
It would appear that the Hamburg edition took precedence over the Tubingen one. However the Tubingen edition is more faithful to Steuart's writing - chapter 28 in this work appears in its entirety, while it was abridged in the Hamburg edition.
Steuart's work was popular for a few years, but was completely overshadowed by Adam Smith's 'Wealth of Nations' (1776). Smith was himself somewhat disparaging about Steuart stating that he understood 'Sir James's system better from his conversation that from his volumes'. Neverthelesss, German scholars of the 19th century hailed Steuart - not Smith - as the true founder of economic science. It is regarded now as the first fully-fledged economic treatise.
Only three other copies of this edition have been located - one in Germany and two in the U.S.|
|Author||Steuart, James, Sir|
|Title||Inquiry into the principles of political oeconomy: being an essay on the science of domestic policy in free nations|
|Date of Publication||1767|
|Notes||This fine set of Sir James Steuart's magnum opus, is a very important addition to the Library's holdings of Scottish Enlightenment texts. In it, Steuart, according to the 'Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences', was 'the first to set out with some pretence at system the principles of economic policy and to analyze their theoretical basis'. It was completely overshadowed after 1776 by Adam Smith's Wealth of nations, and Smith did not even refer to his work. Indeed he was somewhat critical of the turgid nature of the argument, saying that 'he understood Sir James's system better from his conversation than his volumes'. Other contemporaries, particularly the philsopher Thomas Reid (1710-1796), acknowledged their indebtedness to him. Steuart's work however was rediscovered in the 19th Century by German scholars who hailed him as the real founder of economic science.
James Steuart was born in Edinburgh in 1712, entered Edinburgh University at the age of 13 and became a member of the Faculty of Advocates in 1735. He adhered to the Jacobite cause and was in Paris on behalf of the Young Pretender at the time of Culloden. Although Steuart escaped being named in the Act of Oblivion, he was in exile until 1763, during which time he lived in Tübingen, Frankfurt and Venice, studying the political and military economies of Europe. He was not formally pardoned until 1771. After the publication of his Inquiry, Steuart interested himself in the recoinage question and wrote a number of treatises on politics, economics and religion. In 1773 on the death of his relative Sir Archibald Denham, he obtained the estate of Westshields and took the name of Denham.|
|Reference Sources||DNB, http://cepa.newschool.edu/het/profiles/steuart.htm|
|Title||Child's garden of verses|
|Date of Publication||1919|
|Notes||See entry for New York 1905 edition.
These two illustrated American editions of Robert Louis Stevenson's popular collection of 64 poems for children, add to the library's collection of Stevenson's works. A child's garden of verses has been described as 'the most notable collection of serious poems written for children since Original poems for infant minds (1804-1805) by Anne and Jane Taylor' (Oxford companion to children's literature). The poems were composed by Stevenson in the early 1880's, inspired in part by Kate Greenaway's Birthday book for children (1880) and was published, without illustrations, in 1885. The first illustrated edition (by Charles Robinson) appeared in 1896.
Both editions have been illustrated by American women American illustrators; Bessie Collins Pease Gutmann and Maria Louisa Kirk. Stevenson's work was the first book illustrated by Gutmann (1876-1960). She was a popular illustrator during the first quarter of the twentieth century, best known for her drawings of 'innocent' children during the so-called golden age of illustration. Maria Kirk (1860-193-?) illustrated over fifty children's classics also during the early decades of the century. This edition is not listed in Beinecke.|