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 rarebooks@nls.uk


Important Acquisitions 706 to 720 of 775:

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AuthorScott, Walter.
TitleThe vision of Don Roderick; a poem.
ImprintEdinburgh: Ballantyne and Co.,
Date of Publication1811.
NotesThis 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 SourcesH. 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)
Acquired on25/09/09
TitleThe Visitor : comprising a detail of cholera lists, accidents, occurrences &c. &c.
ImprintGlasgow: J. Farms
Date of Publication1832
NotesThis 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.
Reference Sourceshttp://www.learningcurve.gov.uk/victorianbritain/healthy/default.htm Morris, R.J. Cholera 1832: the social response to an epidemic. (London, 1976)
Acquired on07/06/06
TitleThe wanderer or surprizing escape
ImprintDublin: J. Kinnier
Date of Publication1747
NotesThis 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 SourcesM. Pollard. Dictionary of members of the Dublin Book Trade 1550-1800
Acquired on04/04/05
AuthorMcPherson, Duncan
TitleThe War in China. 3rd edition.
ImprintLondon: Saunders and Otley
Date of Publication1843
NotesDuncan 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.
Reference SourcesDNB
Acquired on04/10/07
AuthorCurties, T. J. Horsley
TitleThe Watch Tower; or, sons of Ulthona
ImprintBrentford: Printed by and for P. Norbury
Date of Publication1803
NotesAn 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 SourcesNot in NSTC Garside and Schoewerling "The English Novel 1770-1829) v.2
Acquired on15/07/04
Author[Barbour, Margaret Frazer].
TitleThe Way Home.
ImprintEdinburgh: Printed by John Greig & Son
Date of Publication1855
NotesThis 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.
Acquired on21/06/07
AuthorWotherspoon, John and Stevenson, William
TitleThe weaver's pocket companion
ImprintGlasgow: David Niven,
Date of Publication1796
NotesThis 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.
Acquired on02/02/09
Author[Fergusson, Thomas.]
TitleThe weeping christian; or The six vices of man.
ImprintGlasgow: James Duncan
Date of Publication1729
NotesThis 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.
Reference SourcesESTC
Acquired on03/06/11
AuthorSmith, Adam
TitleThe whole works of ... in five volumes ... A new edition.
ImprintLondon: Printed for J. Richardson & Co. [et al.]
Date of Publication1822
NotesA 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".
Acquired on28/07/06
AuthorAlfred, King of England
TitleThe will of King Alfred
ImprintOxford : Clarendon Press
Date of Publication1788
NotesA 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.
Acquired on14/11/08
AuthorAdam Smith
TitleThe works of Adam Smith
ImprintLondon: T. & J. Allman
Date of Publication1825
NotesThis 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'.
Acquired on02/07/07
AuthorRobert Burns
TitleThe works of Robert Burns
ImprintPhiladelphia: Rudd and Bartram
Date of Publication1801
NotesThe 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 SourcesEgerer no. 64
Acquired on20/02/15
AuthorRobertson, Hannah
TitleThe Young Ladies [sic] School of Arts. Containing, a great variety of practical receipts. ...
ImprintEdinburgh: printed for Robert Jameson
Date of Publication1777
NotesHannah Robertson's practical handbook of 'the nice arts for young ladies' advocates that instead of concentrating on needlework, girls engage in a range of handicrafts like shellwork and painting, and provides recipes for everything from invisible ink to gin. She aims the book equally at impoverished young ladies, who may be able to make a living through their handiwork, and at cookmaids who need to know how to clean a spit with sand and water. This book was first printed in Edinburgh in 1766 by Walter Ruddiman, and sold by the author herself at Perth, as well as by other booksellers. Second and third editions followed, also by Ruddiman for Robertson, the second with an additional engraved title page. This rare edition (this copy is the only one recorded in Scotland) proclaims itself as a 'new edition, corrected', but is really a corrected edition of the second edition of 1767, with the engraved title page altered to include the new date. Both title pages now state that this edition was printed for the Edinburgh bookseller Robert Jameson; it may well have been printed by the Ruddiman firm. This copy contains three plates, and an early owner has used the blank space for their own pencil artwork. The front pastedown bears the inscription 'Cathrine Stewart hir Book Doune July 23 1813', testifying like NLS copies of other editions, which also carry inscriptions by female owners, to the use of Robertson's work by contemporary Scottish 'young ladies'.
Reference SourcesESTC; bookseller's catalogue; other NLS copies.
Acquired on11/04/07
TitleTheatre Royal, Adelphi. Unparalleled attraction!
ImprintGlasgow: Robert Donaldson, printer and lithographer
Date of Publication1844
NotesA mid 19th-century theatre poster (50cm x 25cm) for the Theatre Royal, Adelphi in Glasgow. The poster advertises a July 2, 1844 production of 'Aladdin, or The Wonderful Lamp' with the word 'Aladdin' formed from the bodies of 12 Chinese figures in traditional oriental dress. The poster is in excellent condition in spite of its fragility. Near the bottom of the broadside the proprietor is listed as Mr. David Prince Miller. Miller (1809?-1873) was a travelling entertainer who came to Glasgow with his family in the late 1830s. He was well known in Glasgow for his productions of popular entertainment on Glasgow Green. He was briefly jailed for performing without a licence. In 1842 Miller built and became manager of the Adelphi Theatre, a wooden building on the Green, opposite the Jail, at the foot of Saltmarket. It was also known as the Theatre Royal Adelphi, or the Sans Pareil Pavilion and was one of two licensed theatres in Glasgow during the first half of the 19th century. The Adelphi was extremely popular. However, the uninsured theatre burned down in 1848 and Miller ran into other business difficulties. He went back on the road as a travelling showman, returning to Glasgow only near the end of his life.
Acquired on18/09/08
AuthorSmith, Adam
TitleTheory of moral sentiments.
Date of Publication1777
NotesThis is a surprisingly rare edition of Adam Smith's main philosophical work, which was first published in London in 1759. It was the first edition to be published in Ireland and the first to be be published outside of London. Only eight copies have been traced - none in the United Kingdom. (ESTC N45628). Although on the title page the publisher claims it to be the sixth edition, it is in fact the fifth edition published in English. A fourth edition was published in London in 1774 and a fifth (also in London) in 1781. The theory of moral sentiments was Smith's first major work and after The wealth of nations, his most important. It was immediately popular when first published and the number of subsequent editions - six in English, two in French and one in German - indicates its popularity during the author's lifetime. It was warmly praised by Hume and Burke and established Smith's reputation as one of the foremost authors and thinkers of the day. It contains the sum of the philosophy Smith had learned under Francis Hutcheson at Glasgow University, emphasizing the part played by feelings in determining man's moral behaviour.
Reference SourcesRoss, Ian Simpson, The life of Adam Smith. (Oxford, 1995) (H3.96.845)
Acquired on18/07/01
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