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 763 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Important Acquisitions 721 to 735 of 763:
Ordered by date acquired |
Order by author
| Order by title
|Title||Foresters: a poetic account of a walking journey to the Falls of Niagara in the Autumn of 1804.|
|Imprint||Newtown, P.A.: Bird & Bull Press|
|Date of Publication||2000|
|Notes||Alexander Wilson (1766-1813) was born in Paisley in 1766 and emigrated to the American colonies in 1794 after being imprisoned for publishing a severe personal satire against a local dignatory. He had many occupations, including weaver, packman, printer, school teacher, but his obsession was with ornithology.
Wilson is best known for his magnum opus American Ornithology the first major attempt to describe and illustrate the birds of America which ran to nine volumes and was illustrated with Wilson's own drawings. Before he undertook that work, Wilson embarked on a walking tour to Niagara in 1804 that inspired the long poem giving an account of the journey, The Foresters. It first appeared in serial form in Philadelphia's leading literary magazine The Port Folio and came out in book form in 1818. The present edition is produced by the Bird & Bull Press of Newtown Pennsylvannia, the same town where The Foresters first appeared in book form. It is illustrated throughout with wood engravings in the classic British style by the Canadian artist, Wesley W. Bates. The book is composed in Dante type, printed on Arches mouldmade paper, quarter bound in morocco and enclosed in a cloth-covered slipcase.|
|Author||Billings, Robert William|
|Title||Baronial and Ecclesiastical Antiquities of Scotland|
|Imprint||Edinburgh & London: William Blackwood & Sons|
|Date of Publication||n.d.|
|Notes||This is an unusual version of the first edition of Billings' magnum opus, a wide-ranging and thoughtful alphabetical discussion of notable early churches, castles and towers in Scotland, with engravings of the author's own detailed drawings. The engravers include some notable figures including John Sad(d)ler; see Rodney K. Engen, Dictionary of Victorian Engravers, Print Publishers and their Works, Cambridge: Chadwyck-Healey, 1979. The printing seems to have been completed in 1852 (the author's'introduction is dated 29 February 1852), although the 240 plates are dated 1847-1848. The National Library already has sets of the first standard edition (shelfmark NE.18.a.34, now rather worn and in need of rebinding; Hist.S.80.B) and of the 1908 version edited by A. W. Wiston-Glynn (shelfmark X.8.b). Like the standard edition, this set is in four volumes, but it is printed in large folio. There do not appear to be any text or plates different to the standard edition, but the plates are positioned differently and are in superior condition due to being printed on fine India paper. A curious feature is that throughout the volumes, one can find the occasional standard-size page inlaid in the folio, rather than printed on the larger paper. The large paper is foxed in places. A manuscript note on the inside of the front cover of the first volume states 'Blackwoods Copy La Folio India Paper Proofs Bt from Brunton 1971'. There does not appear to be other evidence for this, and Blackwood is not mentioned in the list of subscribers to the available versions described as 'Folio proofs and etchings' and 'India proofs'. Bound in blue cloth, with gold lettering. See DNB for Billings.|
|Title||Letter from Governor Pownall to Adam Smith being an Examination of several points of doctrine, laid down in his 'Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations'.|
|Imprint||London: J. Almon|
|Date of Publication||1776|
|Notes||4to, , 48 p. Without the errata slip, sometimes pasted onto the verso of the half-title.
According to ESTC (English Short-Title Catalogue) and discussions with the main central belt libraries, there is no copy of this work in a public institution in Scotland. Reference to ABPC (American Book Prices Current) and BAR (Book Auction Records) demonstrates that no copy has come up for sale in the last twenty-five years (1975-1999). There are two imperfect copies in the British Library and a complete copy in Cambridge University Library, and there are a number of copies in the USA and one in Germany. The majority of copies are either lacking the half-title or errrata slip, or both.
This is one of the earliest, if not the earliest, criticisms of Adam Smith's An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations [hereafter Wealth of Nations] which was published earlier the same year. The author, Thomas Pownall (1722-1805), known as 'Governor Pownall' was Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Company between 1757 and 1759, very briefly Governor of South Carolina (late 1759 to early 1760) and, after quitting the American Colonies, sat as an MP between 1767 and 1780. In Parliament, and in his publications, Pownall was liberal in his views towards England's relationship with the American Colonists. He published on a wide range of subjects including the administration of the colonies, international trade and law.
The publication of the Wealth of Nations in 1776 provoked an immediate response from Pownall and within a few months he produced 'A letter from Governor Pownall to Adam Smith ... being an Examination of several points of doctrine, laid down in his 'Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations'' which though disagreeing with key elements in Smith's arguments remained very complimentary throughout and even prompted Smith to address him a letter of thanks for "his very great politeness" (DNB; Gent. Mag. 1795, ii, 634-5). Pownall's critique of Smith's book is one of the earliest to appear in print. His criticisms of the Wealth of Nations have been well summarised by a recent biographer of Smith:
Pownall had a clear perception of Smith's system of political economy as a form of 'moral Newtonianism', and he thought that if it were corrected on the salient points he brought up, it might become an institutional work on which could be based lectures 'in our Universities'. The chief criticisms in the Letter were at Smith's formulations concerning price, patterns of trade, restraints on importation, and the monopoly of colony trade. (Ian Simpson Ross, The Life of Adam Smith (Oxford, 1995), p.346).
Given the Library's strengths in material by and relating to Adam Smith and our international reputation as a repository for Enlightenment texts and manuscripts, this is an excellent addition.|
|Title||Dream of John Ball and a king's lesson.|
|Imprint||Hammersmith, Kelmscott Press|
|Date of Publication||1892|
|Notes||A valuable addition to the Library's large collection of Kelmscott Press publications. The Kelmscott Press, modestly described by William Morris himself, as 'a little typographical adventure' is regarded as the most influential and famous of the private presses which emerged in the latter years of the nineteenth century. Between 1891 and 1898, 52 books were produced of which the Library holds 49. Morris sought to emulate the books produced in the early years of printing and 'to produce books which it would be a pleasure to look upon as pieces of printing and arrangement of type'. Morris oversaw every aspect of the production and design of the Kelmscott books 'the paper, the form of the type, the relative spacing of the letters, the words and the lines, and lastly the position of the printed matter on the page'.
A king's lesson and A dream of John Ball were first published in the socialist journal Commonweal in 1886 and 1887. This utopian socialist work is one of the few writings of the press with clear political overtones. Most of the Kelmscott books, were works of literature, including many medieval texts. This is one of the 300 copies printed on paper; 11 were also printed on vellum. The frontispiece was engraved by W.H. Hooper based on a design by Sir Edward Burne-Jones, with the lettering and border being designed by Morris.|
|Title||Bethulia delivered. A sacred nama[sic].|
|Date of Publication||1774|
|Notes||A rare edition of this libretto, which was first performed in Vienna in 1734: only one other copy is recorded in Britain. The drama was set to music by Domenico Corri, (1746-1825) originally from Rome, who came to Scotland in on the recommendation of the musician Charles Burney in 1771. He was employed as singing master and composer to the Musical Society in Edinburgh and stayed in Scotland until about 1790. With his brother son Giovanni and later with his brother Natale, Domenico founded a successful musical publishing business before moving to London. He was also manager for a period of the Theatre Royal in Edinburgh.
According to the cast list, Corri and his wife took the principal roles. The manuscript annotation on the title page appears to indicate that a benefit performance took place for Corri on 8th March 1774. The item also has a noteworthy provenance being owned by members of the Grant family of Monymusk, Aberdeenshire, the Signet Library and latterly Christina Foyle, of the Foyles London bookselling dynasty.|
|Title||De principis Augustissimi Francisci Ducis Guisiani obitu. Paris, 1563
Blackwood, Adam. In Novae Religionis Asseclas Carmen Invenctium Ad virum illustrissimum
& 9 Others|
|Date of Publication||1563|
|Notes||It is unusual to acquire eleven mid-16th Century poems printed in Paris most of which have survived in one or two copies only. Bound together in late 17th-century sheepskin, this collection of separately printed short poetical pieces covers a range of subjects including the deaths of Henri II, the Duke of Guise and Nicholas Boileau. The principal interest to the National Library is the inclusion of two neo-Latin poems by Adam Blackwood (1539-1613). Educated at Paris University, Blackwood acquired considerable prowess in the composition of Latin poetry and enjoyed the patronage of Robert Reid, Bishop of Orkney (his great-uncle) and, most famously, Mary Queen of Scots. He is best remembered for his Apologia pro Regibus of 1581 which confronted George Buchanan's justification for Regicide, in certain circumstances, and his Martyre de la Reyne d'Ecosse of 1587 which described the harsh treatment accorded Mary Stewart during her long imprisonment in England. Blackwood was a frequent visitor to Mary during her imprisonment and his name will always be linked to her. The first of the poems in this volume is on the death of Mary's maternal Uncle, Francois, Duke of Guise at the hands of a Hugenot assassin in 1563 and the second criticises the Protestant religion and ends with a series of short verses, including four epigrams, to Mary, James Beaton, Catholic Archbishop of Glasgow, Walter Reid, Abbot of Kinloss, John Reid, John Sinclair, Dean of Restalrig and his own brother Henry Blackwood.
Provenance: 1. Contemp ink signature on title of no. 1 'P. Jamisier'; Charles Spencer, 3rd Earl of Sunderland (1674-1722); by descent to Dukes of Marlborough, with Blenheim Palace shelfmarks in ink 'D.8.112' and pencil '91 F.13' thence through the sale rooms Sunderland Library Sale, Sotheby's 1881-1883, lot 10,046. 2. Theological Institute of Connnecticut, with oval blindstamp at the beginning and end. 3. Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, with bookplates of The Woodruff Collection and Pitts Theology Library.|
|Title||History of the kingdoms of Scotland & Ireland.|
|Date of Publication||1685|
|Notes||Nathaniel Crouch who wrote under the pseudonym of R.B. – Richard or Robert Burton, was a prolific author of books for both adults and children. He is credited with writing, editing or rewriting over 40 books during his long life (c.1632-c.1725). These included emblem books, fables, riddle books, travel narratives and histories. The simplicity of his prose style was praised by Samuel Johnson and he is regarded as one of the first authors to attempt to provide children with entertaining as opposed to purely moralistic reading matter.
Crouch had already written about the recent history of the three kingdoms as well as a more exhaustive history of England. In his preface he stated he aimed at 'plainness and brevity' in describing the history of Scotland and Ireland, with particular emphasis on the late medieval period. The book is illustrated with crude woodcuts, some of which are repeated in the text.|
|Author||[Le Wright, John]|
|Title||Two Proposals Becoming England at this Juncture to Undertake. One, for securing a Collony [sic] in the West-Indies... And the other, for advancing Merchandize|
|Date of Publication||1706|
|Notes||This proposal for a new English colony near Darien has some curious features. Nationalistic and somewhat naive, the writer explains that his project will be much more successful than the ruinous Spanish colonies or the feeble Scottish enterprise. On the Scots efforts he writes 'the Scots Company made nothing of it, true; but what could a single ship do in so great an affair? And we now are addressing to the English, between who and the Scots, we allow no comparison in point of trade.' Wright (not in DNB) sees his proposed colony as a part of the struggle for international political supremacy. He concludes with a promise to reveal a new method for preserving ships against worms.
Details: ESTC T167866, 4o, pp. , ii, 1-8; sig. ?2, A4, in folding case. Imprint partly cropped. Author's name appears at foot of introductory epistle to the Merchant Adventurers of England, p. ii. Like all the other copies, the final page has the catchword 'By', although the page also has the word 'Finis' and the work appears to be self-contained. There does not appear to be a connection with the other work Wright published in 1706, Captain le Wright's Warrant (ESTC T34125). Possibly, the text as we have it was only intended to be the first proposal, and 'Finis' indicates the end of the proposal rather than the end of the work as a whole. Was the printing interrupted for some reason before Wright could get down to a detailed description of his plans for 'advancing Merchandize'?|
|Author||[Lothian, Marchioness of]|
|Title||Catalogue of household furniture, &c, which belonged to the late Marchioness of Lothian ... which will be sold by Roup, at Lothian House ... Monday the 3d March 1788 ... Mrs Bowie, Auctioneer.|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||An extremely rare printed sales catalogue of the household belongings of Jean, Marchioness of Lothian, sold by auction after her death in December 1787.
Lothian House, at the foot of the Canongate, was the family's Edinburgh town house and was leased after her death to the philosopher Dugald Stewart, eventually becoming the headquarters for Youngers brewery. The site is now to be occupied by the Scottish Parliament building and the sales catalogue gives a direct source of evidence to the Parliament's eighteenth century precursor.|
|Title||[Volume containing 25 items, mainly chapbooks, relating to William Wallace and Robert the Bruce]|
|Date of Publication||c.1800-1865|
|Notes||This volume, which formerly belonged to the poet Sydney Goodsir Smith, includes 21 chapbooks telling the tales of the exploits of Sir William Wallace and King Robert the Bruce in prose, verse and song. These items date from 1801 to 1861 and include imprints from Glasgow, Edinburgh, Montrose, Dumfries, Kelso, Newcastle, London and Belfast. The publication and distribution of chapbooks in Scotland reached its height between 1775 and 1825. Subsequently the market for this kind of material was absorbed by commercial publishers, examples of whose output is contained in this volume.
With their simple wood-engravings and straightforward narratives, they would have been avidly read by children, at whom they were primarily aimed. It is interesting to note the similarities, and in some instances the exact copying of the text of the stories from one publisher to another.|
|Title||Third Part of the Bible ... Containing Five Excellent Books, Edinburgh: by Robert Young, 1637|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: by Robert Young, 1637|
|Date of Publication||1637|
|Notes||Bound with: The New Testament, London: Robert Barker & Assigns of John Bill, 1638; and: The whole booke of Psalmes, London: I. L[egat]. F. the Company of Stationers, 1640.
The first work in this volume is not found in STC, apparently an Edinburgh edition of STC 2334.5. Details: 24o, [288 pp.], sig. A-M12, slightly stained. Sig. H4 missigned G2. The two following works are STC 2954.3 and STC 2698. The main interest of this volume is, however, the elaborate embroidered binding. The design on front and rear boards is a silver wirework crown above a lily executed in green, pink and gold silks, enclosed within an oval surrounded by foliage. The spine is heavily decorated with formal designs of foliage within six panels. The binding has been restored by a V&A conservator and remounted; the new pink silk ties are dyed to match the originals. The page edges are gilt; the endpapers are Old Dutch marbled. See Cyril Davenport, English Embroidered Bookbindings, London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & co., 1899, p. 2. for the claim that embroidered binding is a particularly English art. Davenport provides several useful photographs of seventeenth-century embroidered Bibles and Psalms in chapter IV, 'Books bound in Satin', pp. -110. This acquisition complements the library's existing holdings of embroidered Bibles printed in Scotland, such as the 1626 Aberdeen Psalms at PDP.10/18, the 1638 Edinburgh Bible at Cwn.483 and the fine 1646 Edinburgh Bible at Bdg.m.73.|
|Title||Enquiry into the nature of the Corn-Laws; With a View to the New Corn-Bill Proposed for Scotland|
|Imprint||Edinburgh, Mrs Mundell|
|Date of Publication||1777|
|Notes||8vo pp. 60  author's apology,  blank with an inscription 'To Barond de Podmaniesky, From the Author' on the verso of the flyleaf facing the title.
Yet another key text composed by a Scot that explained for the first time one of the main components of economic theory. According to Schumpeter, Anderson 'invented the 'Ricardian' theory of rent' and 'had to an unusual degree what so many economists lack, Vision'. Further praise came when in 1845, J. R. McCulloch wrote 'Though published nearly at the same time as the 'Wealth of Nations', Dr Smith, to whom they might have been of essential service, did not profit by them in revising any subsequent edition of his great work; and so completely were they forgotten, that when, in 1815, Mr Malthus and Sir Edward West published their tracts exhibiting the nature and progress of rent, they were universally believed to have, for the first time, discovered the laws by which it is governed [however] the true theory of rent had been quite as well and as satisfactorily explained by Dr Anderson in 1777 as it was by them in 1815.'
Anderson was born in 1739 in Hermiston At age 15 he began working on a farm in Aberdeenshire where he invented the Scotch plough. In 1780 he took an LL.D degree at Aberdeen. In 1783 he had privately printed observations on fisheries in the West of Scotland; between 1790-1793 he edited the journal 'The Bee' which contained many informative papers on economic development. He lived in London from 1797 and died 1808.|
|Title||Genuine copy of a letter from a merchant in Stockholm to his correspondent in London. Containing an impartial account of Doctor Alexander Blackwell, his plot, trial, character, and behaviour, both under examination, and at the place of execution|
|Date of Publication||1747|
|Notes||This rare and probably spurious pamphlet, describes the involvement of 'Doctor' Blackwell in the machinations of Swedish politics in the 1740s. It also contains a scaffold speech, which seems also to be a fabrication.
Sweden was divided between a dominant French and a smaller English faction. The pamphlet, written ostensibly by a supporter of Blackwell's, describes the sequence of events leading to his execution. Blackwell 'a petty doctor of physick' was accused of plotting to poison the heir in an effort to alter the succession to the Swedish crown. If the alleged plot had succeeded the Duke of Cumberland would have ascended the throne. The unfortunate doctor 'endured for several days the torture of the pill with great resolution and constancy of mind, but upon the rack he confessed some intercourse with foreign courts'. He managed to put his head on the wrong side of the executioner's block, remarking that 'it was the first experiment he had made in that way'.
Blackwell was born in Aberdeen, and studied medicine at the University of Leyden, though it is doubtful if he ever completed his degree. He spent some time in the Hague and Sweden before working as a printer in Aberdeen and London. On becoming bankrupt in 1730 he spent two years in a debtors prison. Blackwell also worked for the Duke of Chandos as director of his agricultural improvements at Canons, Middlesex and published a pamphlet on 'A new method of improving cold, wet and barren lands' in 1741. He collaborated with his wife Elizabeth in producing 'A curious herbal' in two volumes in 1737. Clearly, a man of many parts, Blackwell was employed as a physician by the Swedish king and involved himself in further agricultural projects in Sweden prior to his demise.|
|Author||James VI & I|
|Title||Proclamation ... March.24 ... 1602 |
|Imprint||London: b. Robert Barker|
|Date of Publication||1602/3|
|Notes||This is a fine uncut copy of the second edition of the proclamation in which the English privy council announced that James VI of Scotland succeeded Queen Elizabeth. James's hereditary right to the English throne is described and explained, and the text stresses that in addition to his legitimacy, James comes with 'all the rarest gifts of mind and bodie'. Details: STC 8298, black letter, 2 sheets, horizontal chain lines. Modern portfolio includes a misleading note identifying this work as STC 8297. Setting 2a, with first line of second sheet having reading 'Kingdomes, all'.|
|Author||James VI & I|
|Title||Meditation vpon the Lords Prayer|
|Imprint||London: b. Bonham Norton & Iohn Bill|
|Date of Publication||1619|
|Notes||Attractive copy of the first edition, STC 14384. King James's straightforward exposition of the Lord's Prayer is dedicated to the Duke of Buckingham, as one who has no time to spend on complex and lengthy prayer. Details: octavo, pp. , 146, sig. A-K8, L1. With notably pedantic explanatory annotations in contemporary hand with pointing fingers and underlining. Title page slightly stained; lacks sig. L2 (colophon). For more information, see on the companion volume RB.s.2081(2), Two Meditations of the Kings Maiestie (A Paterne for a Kings inauguration), which is in the same binding and has notes in the same hand; both were apparently in the Royal Library.|