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 781 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 781:
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|Title||The true interest of Great Britain considered.|
|Imprint||[London?: J. Anderson]|
|Date of Publication||1783|
|Notes||In 1783 the agriculturist and political economist James Anderson (1739-1808), having already written a number of important pamphlets and articles on a wide range of subjects, turned his attention in this treatise to the regeneration of the economy in northern Scotland and the Hebrides. The printed "advertisement" at the beginning indicates that the work was written in 1782 and that plans to publish it in London the following year were initially shelved due to the British government being preoccupied with the drafting of the peace treaty to end the American War of Independence. Anderson therefore had printed a small number of copies for private circulation amongst his friends in the hope that they might provide him with some constructive comments. No place of printing is given; it is likely to have been either London, where Anderson made frequent visits and where the intended readership among the political classes for his work was based, or Edinburgh, where Anderson had moved to in 1783 after farming in Aberdeenshire for several years. In the work Anderson describes the limited possibilities for economic growth in the Highlands and urges the government to protect and subsidise the local fishing industry. He hoped that the creation of "large and populous marts" would lead to an increase in towns and villages on the Scottish coastline, which would in turn stimulate economic growth. Anderson's protectionist stance led to a temporary falling-out with his friend Jeremy Bentham, who had attempted to stop Anderson publishing the treatise. This particular copy has been bought for its copy specific features. It is printed on special thick paper and includes an extra printed dedication leaf to Henry Dundas, first Viscount Melville (1742-1811), then lord advocate and unofficial minister for Scotland, who was endeavouring to restore the fortunes of the Highlands after the damage done to the economy and social order after the Jacobite uprising of 1745/46. The leaf is not present in at least two of the two of the four recorded copies in ESTC(the British Library copy and copy held in a collection on deposit in NLS). Moreover, the work has probably been bound by one of the most celebrated Scottish bookbinders of the eighteenth century, James Scott of Edinburgh. It may have been specially commissioned by Anderson for presentation to Dundas and may have been one of Scott's last bindings, as the latest binding that has been assigned to him dates from 1784. The binding is not recorded in J.H. Loudon's work "James Scott and William Scott, Bookbinders", however the tools employed are visible on various bindings illustrated in Loudon's book: the Greek key roll on the boards, the floral roll on the boards and the urn cornerpieces.|
|Reference Sources||Oxford Dictionary of National Biography; J. H. Loudon "James Scott and William Scott Bookbinders" (London, 1980)|
|Author||Isham, Charles, Sir|
|Title||The tyrant of the Cuchullin hills|
|Imprint||[Lamport, Northamptonshire?: s.n.]|
|Date of Publication||[1878?]|
|Notes||This is lithographed book, privately printed by the rural improver and gardener Sir Charles Isham (1819-1903), probably at his family estate of Lamport, Northanptonshire. Inspired by a trip to the Isle of Skye, the text is a poem about an eagle terrorising the sheep population of Skye. The verse is, as noted elsewhere on this database, of a decidely poor quality; Isham enjoyed producing entertaining doggerel verse to accompany his display of garden gnomes and this poem falls into the category of doggerel. Copies of a pamphlet version, dating from the 1860s?, exist in various states with different ornamental borders and illustrations (e.g. RB.m.515, purchased a few years ago). This is a 'deluxe' edition, bound in morocco, with the text on thick card with gilt edges. Unlike the pamphlet version this copy has no preliminary leaves of explanatory text and consists only of the text of the poem. The text is presented within elaborate ornamental borders and includes illustrations based on water colours by Isham; it is also illustrated with albumen prints of Skye landscapes and sheep. Isham appears to have been an enthusiastic producer of booklets on his estate, using lithography to create brightly coloured books.|
|Reference Sources||Oxford Dictionary National Biography|
|Title||The vision of Don Roderick; a poem. |
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Ballantyne and Co., |
|Date of Publication||1811. |
|Notes||This is a copy of the first edition of Scott's poem, bound in an ornate, contemporary calf binding. The book has been acquired for the portrait in pencil pasted onto a front free endpaper. It is highly likely that this drawing is a portrait (or later copy of a portrait) of Walter Scott made in 1803, which would make it the earliest surviving image of Scott as a young man. The portrait shows the 32-year-old Scott's head in profile to the left and is initialled "E.B." Scott visited Oxford in April 1803 at a time when his literary career was just taking off; the first two volumes of 'Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border' had been published the previous year to great acclaim and the third volume was about to be published. Scott accordingly found himself lionized by the academic community in Oxford. He stayed with his friend Richard Heber (1774-1833), a former student at Oxford and famous book-collector. During his stay Scott had his portrait sketched by Edward Berens (1778-1859), a fellow of Oriel College who later became Archdeacon of Berkshire. The existence of the portrait is confirmed by Scott's letters with his friend and regular correspondent, Mary Anne Hughes, in the years 1824 and 1825. Mrs Hughes, who lived in Uffington, Berkshire and who was a neighbour of Berens, wrote on 3 October 1824 to ask Scott if he had ever received from Berens a drawing of Scott's friend and former assistant John Leyden (1775-1811). She reminded Scott that he had been introduced to Berens at Oxford and noted that the latter had "a great talent for drawing and made an outline of you as well as of Dr. Leyden: I think he says he sent you a copy of both, but I am sure he sent your friend". Scott replied on October 6 to say that Heber had told him that he had the drawing of Leyden for him, but somehow he had forgotten to send it or had mislaid it, so Scott would therefore be delighted to get a copy of it from Berens. "I remember well", Scott added, "sitting to him and Heber reading Milton all the while - since that time my block has been traced by many a brush of eminence" (Scott 'Letters', VIII, p. 392). In a letter of 12 April 1825 he told Mrs. Hughes how grateful he was for the "sketches", particularly for that of Leyden. He had evidently been sent by Berens a copy of both drawings (cf. 'Letters', IX, p. 70). As regards the provenance of the book and portrait there is only an inscription on the title of the book: Harriet Thayer, September 27, 1812. Harriet (d. 1860) was the youngest daughter of Edward Lovenden of Buscot Park, Berkshire, and a friend of Mary Ann Hughes; she later married Baron Paul-Adolphe Thiébault, a French army officer.
|Reference Sources||H. Grierson (ed.) 'The Letters of Sir Walter Scott', vols 8-9, London, 1935;
F. Russell, 'Portraits of Sir Walter Scott', London, 1987 (no. 20, p.29)
|Title||The Visitor : comprising a detail of cholera lists, accidents, occurrences &c. &c.|
|Imprint||Glasgow: J. Farms|
|Date of Publication||1832|
|Notes||This is a very rare periodical published in Glasgow in 1832 to document the cholera epidemic sweeping through Scotland at the time. 'The Visitor' was published weekly from February 4th to April 25th 1832 and detailed the number of new cases, deaths and recoveries in Greenock, Paisley, Kirkintilloch and Glasgow. The worst of the outbreaks appeared to be in the west of Scotland but there was also news of the disease affecting Haddington, Musselburgh and Tranent and Edinburgh as well as Belfast, London and Newcastle.
In all over 3,000 people died in Glasgow alone. The disease arrived for the first time in Britain in 1831, probably on ships bringing imports from China. It spread rapidly in the growing industrial towns, where houses had been built quickly without any thought for sanitation or sewage disposal. There were further outbreaks in 1848, 1853 and 1866 and again the death toll was considerable.
The periodical contained practical information, including recipes for possible cures and symptoms to look out for. The publisher regarded cholera as an opportunity for people to repent of their sins and also noted the relatively large numbers suffering from intemperance who succumbed to the disease. Cholera had a huge impact on daily life - hawkers were unable to travel to the Highlands and weavers lost their jobs as there was no demand for their wares. There were also reports of 'cholera riots' in Glasgow, Paisley and Edinburgh. Surgeons were the particular target as they were suspected of 'burking' or murdering those who were ill. Three years after the Edinburgh murders by Burke and Hare, these events were still in the public mind. Apart from the news about cholera, 'The Visitor' also had a 'miscellaneous' section with details of fires, murders, drownings and robberies. In the issue for 14 March there was even mention of an earthquake in Crieff! In addition to the 20 issues of 'The Visitor' there are also a number of supplementary and related periodicals published from April to July 1832.
Morris, R.J. Cholera 1832: the social response to an epidemic. (London, 1976)|
|Author||Daniel Ritchie ed.|
|Title||The voice of our exiles or Stray leaves from a convict ship.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: John Menzies ; London W. S. Orr & Co.|
|Date of Publication||1864|
|Notes||This work is based on a journal set up on board a convict ship the 'Peston Bomanjee' on a journey to Van Diemen's land (Tasmania) in 1852. The journal ran for 14 weekly issues between 25 April to 28 July and was edited by the Scottish naval surgeon Daniel Ritchie (1816-1865), who had been appointed surgeon superintendent to the 'Peston Bomajee' in that year. Ritchie was a strong believer in the rehabilitation of convicts through discipline and tutoring so that they could eventually become useful members of society, pointing out the financial and social benefits of educating convicts in the introduction to "Voice of our exiles". The long voyage to Van Diemen's Land gave him an opportunity to put his principles into practice by getting the convicts to contribute essays, poems and articles for his ad hoc journal. The articles covered a wide range of topic, including moral ones 'On sin', 'On Swearing' and 'Our gratitude to our Creator' as well as practical tips for surviving life 'down under' with some accounts of travel in Tasmania itself. Each issue was concluded with a weekly record by Ritchie which summarised the events of the previous week on board the ship. The journal no doubt helped to alleviate the tedium of the journey for the officers and 291 convicts on the ship and Ritchie felt its content was of sufficient interest to turn into a publication two years later, presumably to send to friends and fellow advocates of rehabilitation of convicts. This particular copy is a presentation copy from Ritchie to Sir Baldwin Wake Walker (1802-1876), a distinguished naval commander, who in 1854 was serving as Surveyor of the Navy. Ritchie would go on to serve in another convict ship before settling in Australia in 1857. He died in Edinburgh, while on a visit back to his native Scotland.|
|Reference Sources||Bookseller's notes|
|Title||The wanderer or surprizing escape|
|Imprint||Dublin: J. Kinnier|
|Date of Publication||1747|
|Notes||This is an unrecorded edition of this work on the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745. Another Dublin edition was printed by William Brien and Richard James also in 1747. Editions were also published in London (two by Jacob Robinson in 1747) and Glasgow (1752). It demonstrates the interest there was throughout Britain and Ireland in the rebellion and its aftermath and the continuing war of words between the different sides after decisive result at Culloden.This work is essentially a criticism of the Young Pretender?s actions as described in Ralph Griffith?s ?Ascanius, or the Young Adventurer? (London, 1746). In Griffith?s work, the Pretender is compared to the son of Priam wandering after the fall of Troy. It is interesting to note that the frontispiece of the Pretender is based very closely on that which appeared in Griffith?s work. Here the anonymous author gives a factual and much less dewy-eyed account of what had happened.The printer Joshua Kinnier was also a papermaker and publisher who was in business in Dublin from about 1743 until at least 1767. He died in 1777. Although there is an extensive entry under his name in the ?Dictionary of members of the Dublin Book Trade 1550-1800?, this work is not mentioned.|
|Reference Sources||M. Pollard. Dictionary of members of the Dublin Book Trade 1550-1800|
|Title||The War in China. 3rd edition.|
|Imprint||London: Saunders and Otley|
|Date of Publication||1843|
|Notes||Duncan McPherson (1812-1867) trained in medicine at Edinburgh University, and was appointed surgeon to the Madras Native Infantry in 1836. When the first Opium War between Britain and China broke out in 1840, he served with the 37th grenadier regiment in China, and was severely wounded at Chuenpe (Chuanbi). He told of his experiences in his book "Two Years in China" (1842). The book gives an account of the military campaign against the Chinese and also includes a chapter on opium and opium smoking. McPherson admits to having tried the drug. He regards it as potentially useful cure-all, and believes that moderate habitual use of it is more acceptable than over-indulging in alcohol. A second edition was published in 1843, followed by this third edition in the same year which had a new title, 'The War in China'. The third edition includes two colour lithograph plates and a map, which were not present in "Two Years in China". It also omits the transcripts of official reports and despatches, which were included in a lengthy appendix in the first two editions. Of particular interest is the additional material in the third edition on the ending of the war, which had yet to be resolved when "Two years in China" was first published. The author now adopts a more positive tone when discussing the Chinese. Gone are the disparaging comments in the first two editions on the Chinese emperor and his "deceitful and lying mandarins"; he even ends the book with the hope that "seeds of Christianity" can be sown "amongst a skilful and intelligent people". This particular copy is a presentation copy from the author to another family member.|
|Author||Curties, T. J. Horsley|
|Title||The Watch Tower; or, sons of Ulthona|
|Imprint||Brentford: Printed by and for P. Norbury|
|Date of Publication||1803|
|Notes||An extremely rare historical Gothic novel set in 14th-century Scotland during the wars of Robert the Bruce and Edward II. It features the fictional villain Morcar, who commits the horrid crimes of rape, murder and torture in his castle-fortress Stroma, but even worse supports the king of England. Morcar has a crane which provides the only access to the Fortress and which he uses to lower his victims into his clutches. By the end of The Watch-Tower Morcar has tortured Earl Ulthona to death, raped the sweet Imogen, shown a visitor through his hall of torture (which is full of Morcar's mutilated victims), and finally been thrown off one of his battlements by the son of another of his victims.
Of Curties's life almost nothing is known, beside the publication of his six deep-dyed Gothic novels over an eight-year period, 1799-1807, including another Scottish-influenced one, "The Scottish Legend, or, the Isle of Saint Clothair". He was a Londoner of some means, an unabashed admirer of Ann Radcliffe, and according to Montague Summers 'there is no author more Gothic, more romantic than he' (The Gothic Quest, p. 333).|
|Reference Sources||Not in NSTC
Garside and Schoewerling "The English Novel 1770-1829) v.2|
|Author||[Barbour, Margaret Frazer]. |
|Title||The Way Home. |
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Printed by John Greig & Son|
|Date of Publication||1855|
|Notes||This appears to be the first, privately-printed edition of Barbour's account of a family tragedy. In late 1852 or early 1853, her family was travelling from Edinburgh to Manchester, when the train met with an accident; her son Georgy was killed instantly and her son Freddy died a few days later. This book gives an account of their lives and grapples with the significance of their loss from the point of view of her evangelical Christianity.
The text begins with a dramatic account of the accident. Barbour then meditates on the tragedy through prose and poetry, and finally recounts episodes in her children's lives which she feels reveal the workings of divine grace. Barbour's motives for writing were no doubt partly therapeutic - to try to make sense of the disaster, and to create for herself an imaginative portrait of her children in heaven. However, she was also determined to use her story to promote missionary work in China. The missionary William Chalmers Burns had seen Freddy as a baby in Edinburgh, and thereafter the family always had an interest in the missions. The children gave another missionary, Mr. Johnston, some money to buy Bibles, and this led Johnston to found the Children's Chinese Bible Fund of the English Presbyterian Church. An appendix appeals for funds for this cause.
A book like this does not conform to modern tastes. The author's sentimental piety can strike a jarring note to the modern reader. The book is also fiercely anti-Catholic, particularly in its description of the family's tours in Italy. However, it is still moving in its descriptions of the children's upbringing, seen from the perspective of their early deaths.
This copy includes 9 tipped-in albumen photographs, mainly, it would seem, of Scottish missionaries in China. This is thus an important addition to our collections relating to foreign missions by the Scottish churches.
A substantially revised public edition was published in 1856; we have a copy at shelfmark VV.6/2.
|Author||Wotherspoon, John and Stevenson, William|
|Title||The weaver's pocket companion|
|Imprint||Glasgow: David Niven,|
|Date of Publication||1796|
|Notes||This is an unrecorded second printing of a work which was first published in Glasgow in 1779. The first edition is also very rare, only two copies recorded in ESTC at NLS and the Mitchell Library, Glasgow. The book is one of several such 'companions' produced by and for members of the weaving community in the west of Scotland, who were noted for their high level of education. It gives practical advice and a series of tables to help weavers produce the right quantity and quality of cloth. The fact that so few copies of either edition of Wotherspoon and Stevenson's companion survive is probably testament to their heavy use by individual handloom weavers. After the mechanisation of cloth production in factories in the early 19th century, the handloom weavers, and by extension these printed weaving companions, became largely redundant. |
|Title||The weeping christian; or The six vices of man.|
|Imprint||Glasgow: James Duncan|
|Date of Publication||1729|
|Notes||This is an unrecorded, earliest known printing of a collection of six moral and devotional poems relating to the vices of mankind, namely: malicious envy, pride and insolence; excess of drinking; notorious, and vain swearing; lewd and wanton living; disobedience to parents. The work is anonymous and there is no clue in the text as to who the author is, but the imprint of a later (London? 1760?) printing of the work states that it was printed for one Thomas Fergusson "late a soldier in the Thirty-Third Regiment of Foot". Fergusson has been assumed to be the author but the existence of this Glasgow printing, possibly 30 years earlier than other known printings, calls this attribution into question.|
|Title||The whole works of ... in five volumes ... A new edition.
|Imprint||London: Printed for J. Richardson & Co. [et al.]|
|Date of Publication||1822|
|Notes||A copy of the very rare second collected edition of Smith's works, which includes a new, anonymous biography of Smith. The first collected edition had included a famous biography by Dugald Stewart; this is a much shorter biography which appears to be a crib of the Stewart biography. The format of this second collected edition is also different to the first, which was an octavo. The publishers hoped that the "condensed and accessible form" of the smaller duodecisimo format "will render it more generally acceptable".|
|Author||Alfred, King of England|
|Title||The will of King Alfred|
|Imprint||Oxford : Clarendon Press|
|Date of Publication||1788|
|Notes||A remboîtage in a Scottish red morocco herringbone binding. The front and back boards have been elaborately tooled in gilt. The spine features 7 compartments with the title in gilt in compartments two to four. The textblock is gilt-edged. The front and back openings feature Dutch floral endpapers.|
|Title||The works of Adam Smith|
|Imprint||London: T. & J. Allman|
|Date of Publication||1825|
|Notes||This is the third collected edition of Smith's works, following on from editions published in 1811/12 and 1822. It is published in a smaller, pocket-size, format and unlike the previous two collected editions, it contains a translation of Germain Garnier's 'Short view of the doctrine of Smith compared with that of the French economists', which appeared in the 1802 French edition of the 'Wealth of Nations'.|
|Title||The works of Robert Burns|
|Imprint||Philadelphia: Rudd and Bartram|
|Date of Publication||1801|
|Notes||The first collected American edition of Burns's poems, published in Philadelphia the place where Burns poems first appeared in print in the USA in the "Pennsylvania Packet" newspaper between 1787 and 1788. Two editions of "Poems, chiefly in the Scottish dialect" had also been printed in the city in 1788 and 1798, evidence of the interest in Burns among the American public and the influence of ex-pat Scots in what was then the USA's printing and cultural centre. The Philadelphia 1801 edition is almost a page for page reprint of the Liverpool edition of 1800, the first collected edition of Burns's works, edited by the Liverpool physician, Dr James Currie. The Liverpool edition was conceived by the friends of the dead poet as 'memorial to his genius' and primarily as a means of raising funds for his widow and children. Currie's work as an editor has long been criticised for its omissions and inaccuracies and also for his lengthy biography of Burns in which he mentioned Burns's heavy drinking. The American edition contains an engraved frontispiece portrait of Burns in vol. 1 by the Philadelphia engraver Alexander Lawson, which is based on the famous portrait done by Alexander Nasmyth in 1787.|
|Reference Sources||Egerer no. 64|