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 749 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 721 to 735 of 749:

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AuthorTopham, E.
TitleAbyssinian traveller
ImprintLondon: M. Darly,
Date of Publication1775
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a rare print of an engraving of the explorer James Bruce, 1730-1794. It was drawn by the caricaturist Edward Topham (1751-1820) who worked for the engraver and printseller Matthew Darly of the Strand, London in the 1770s. Darly's printshop was known as 'The Macaroni Print shop' as he was the printer par excellence of prints of macaronies (fops) very much in vogue from 1771 to 1773. This print of Bruce was first sold as an individual print but later published as part of a series of caricatures published by Darly in 1776. The only other known copy of the print is held in the Department of Prints at the British Museum. A giant of a man for the time at 6 ft. 4, James Bruce was born in Kinnaird, Stirlingshire and educated at Harrow. After studying law, he developed an interest in archaeology and ancient languages. He served as the British consul in Algiers from 1763-1765 after which he explored the Roman ruins in North Africa (known then as Barbary). Further adventures followed during which he was shipwrecked and attacked by the Arabs. Bruce made his name as the explorer of Abyssinia and the Nile between 1769 and 1772. He is credited with the discovery of the source of the Blue Nile, though he himself thought he had discovered the White Nile ('the Nile of the ancients'). Feted on his return to Britain in 1775 - at the time this print was produced - his popularity rapidly waned. This was due to his very candid description of some of the customs of the Abyssinians including cutting meat from a live animal and eating it - which he admitted to indulging in! He retired to his ancestral home in Scotland and his account of his travels was eventually published in 5 vols in 1790 as 'Travels to discover the source of the Nile'.
ShelfmarkRB.m.505
Reference SourcesDNB Dictionary of 19th century British book illustrators British Museum, Department of Prints and Drawings: catalogue of political and personal satires vol V 1771-1783, no.5317
Acquired on20/03/03
AuthorTurner, Robert.
TitleL'Histoire et vie de Marie Stuart, Royne d'Ecosse, d'Oiriere de France, heritiere d'Angleterre & d'Ibernye ...
ImprintParis : Chez Guillaume Iulien
Date of Publication1589
LanguageFrench
NotesRobert Turner, an exiled Scottish Catholic and Professor of Divinity at Ingolstadt, produced the first edition of Mary Queen of Scots life and death in 1588, in Latin. This is the exceptionally rare first French edition of the work. Turner tried to portray Mary as a victim of Queen Elizabeth and a martyr to the Catholic faith. He also wished specifically to refute George Buchanan's attacks on the Scottish queen. Turner was educated at Oxford and Douai, where he was ordained and became Professor of Rhetoric. He also taught at the German College in Rome before being appointed rector at the University of Ingolstadt. The National Library holds two copies of the Latin edition, but no other copies of the French have been traced worldwide.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2703
Acquired on07/04/08
AuthorTytler, Alexander Fraser, Lord Woodhouselee
TitleEssay on Military Law
ImprintEdinburgh: b. Murray & Cochrane f. T. Egerton
Date of Publication1800
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis copy of the first edition of Tytler's work on military law is particularly important as it was owned and corrected by the author. It has his initials on the title-page, and extensive ink annotations throughout, sometimes on inserted pages. There is also a printed correction slip pasted to the verso of the title-page. The second edition, for which the author's corrections were apparently made, appeared in 1806. Tytler (1747-1813) was professor of history at the University of Edinburgh, then judge-advocate for Scotland, and eventually a lord of the Court of Session. This copy shows that he was a careful editor and reviser. A detailed comparison between these corrections and the printed text of the second edition would reveal how many of the author's changes were actually incorporated.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2307
Reference SourcesDNB
Acquired on26/03/03
Authorvarious
TitleA decorative box containing six miniature publications by David Bryce of Glasgow
ImprintGlasgow: David Bryce and Son
Date of Publicationca. 1890
LanguageEnglish
NotesA collection of six miniature publications by David Bryce of Glasgow housed in a metal hinged box which features images of a Chinese dragon and flying cranes. The books measure only 27 mm. tall and are bound in flexible red roan leather with pages of very fine, thin India paper. The titles comprise: 'Old English, Scotch and Irish Songs'; 'Witty, Humorous and Merry Thoughts'; 'Golden Thoughts from Great Authors; 'Poems chiefly in the Scottish dialect by Robert Burns' and 'The Smallest English Dictionary in the World'. The sixth title, 'The Tourist's Conversational Guide to English, French, German, Italian' by J. T. Loth, is regarded as perhaps the rarest of all the tiny Bryce miniature books. Tiny bookplates in the volumes indicate that they were owned by Rabbi Kalman L Levitan (d. 2002), the first president of the Miniature Book Society and also Harold Stanley Marcus (1905-2002) president of the luxury retailer Neiman Marcus and one of the most important and influential American businessmen of the 20th century.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2761
Reference SourcesBondy p. 107-8.
Acquired on14/10/09
AuthorVetch, James
Title[Manuscripts and printed works on the Suez Canal project collected by the Scottish Suez canal pioneer, James Vetch]
Date of Publication1842-55
LanguageEnglish
NotesJames Vetch (1789-1869), was born at Haddington, East Lothian. He had a notable career, serving in the Royal Engineers, and then working for the Ordnance Survey, including a period surveying the Scottish islands. He also worked on the development of mining in Mexico and on the English railways, before turning his attention to the question of a canal between the Mediterranean and Red seas. "In 1843 Vetch published an Enquiry into the means of establishing a ship navigation between the Mediterranean and Red seas, after having worked on the problem since 1839. The work ran through several editions and attracted much public attention, but the government, and especially Palmerston, opposed the plan as contrary to the political interests of the country. Twelve years later Ferdinand de Lesseps, a former French diplomat who is usually credited with being the inspiration behind the Suez Canal, which opened in 1869, published his scheme, printing Vetch's opinions as an appendix to his work" (Oxford DNB). Vetch spent much of the rest of his career working on sewers and drains. The collection contains the autograph manuscript of his pioneering article, together with a collection of the early reports and pamphlets on the scheme, collected and partly annotated by Vetch. The manuscript of the Enquiry (or Report, as it was first called) contains several emendations and deletions, and can be compared directly with the first printed edition of the work, which is present here. Also loosely inserted into the second volume is the orginal "Form of requiring entry of proprietorship" (for copyright purposes) made out by Vetch himself. There is also a marked-up proof copy of Vetch's entry in the old DNB. The bound collection appears to have been brought together roughly contemporaneously with publication of Lesseps's Isthmus of Suez, the latest dated work here. All these items are collected into two volumes bound in nineteenth-century blue half calf. Contents: I. a. VETCH, James. Report on the means of establishing a ship navigation between the Mediterranean & Red seas. [London] "1 Clifford's Inn, 20th January 1842." Manuscript, pp. 39, preceded by an engraved map. b. MACLAREN, Charles. "Account of the ancient canal from the Nile to the Red Sea" [excerpted from the Edinburgh Philosophical Journal, October, 1825.] pp. [274]-291. NOT IN NLS c. Manuscript notes: 1p. being estimates of the population of Israel at the time of the crossing of the Red Sea, from Biblical sources d. [Report from the Select Committee on Steam Navigation to India, with the minutes of evidence, 1836.] pp. 342-392. e. Manuscript notes: 2 pp. on the geography of Egypt. II. a. VETCH, James. Inquiry into the means of establishing a ship navigation between the Mediterranean & Red seas. London: Pelham Richardson, 1843. pp. 34, folding lithographed map, routes added in contemporary hand colouring. NOT IN NLS b. ANDERSON, Arthur. Communications with India, China, &c. Observations on the practicability and utility of opening a communication between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean. London: Smith, Elder, and Co., 1843. pp. 48. c. CLARKSON, Edward. The Suez navigable canal, for an accelerated communication with India. second edition. London: T. Hookham and others for the British and Foreign Agency Office, 1843. pp. 16 + 8 (British and Foreign Institute Prosepectus). NOT IN NLS d. GALLOWAY, John Alexander. Communication with India, China, &c. Observations on the proposed improvements in the overland route via Egypt. London: John Weale, 1844. pp. 24, large folding lithographed map. e. [WALKER, William.] A plan for improving the transit of passengers and goods across the isthmus of Suez [drop-head title]. [May 1847]. pp. 15, [I], [2] (Appendix). NOT IN NLS f. LESSEPS, Ferdinand Marie de. The Isthmus of Suez question. London: Longman, 1855. pp. 223, [I} (blank), 3 folding engraved mnps, one printed in colour.
ShelfmarkAcc.12648
Acquired on20/06/06
AuthorVoltaire
Title[Volume containing 5 works by Voltaire formerly in the library of David Hume]
ImprintAmsterdam etc.: s.n.
Date of Publication1766-69
LanguageFrench
NotesThis volume contains five works by the French writer, historian and philosopher Voltaire (François-Marie Arouet) (1694-1778) printed between 1766 and 1769. The volume was formerly in the library of the eminent Scottish philosopher David Hume (1711-1776). It contains Hume's armorial bookplate (in the correct 'A' state) on the front pastedown, and a list of contents on the front free endpaper in his handwriting. The five works of Voltaire are: "La guerre civile de Geneve", "Le philosophe ignorant", "Le diner du Comte de Boulainvilliers", "Lettres a son altesse monseigneur le prince de ****" and "La defense de mon oncle". There are four minor annotations in the volume but none of these can be attributed with any certainty to Hume. The presence of works by the Frenchman in Hume's library is hardly surprising. Both men were key figures of the Enlightenment in Europe, whose works were hugely influential. Although Voltaire entertained the likes of James Boswell, Adam Smith and Edward Gibbon in his home in Ferney near the Swiss Border, he never met Hume. During Hume's stay in Paris between 1763 and 1765 plans were made by Voltaire's friends for him to visit the 'patriarch of Ferney'. Hume, however, chose not to go, explaining that his work as personal secretary to the British ambassador prevented him from leaving the French capital for any lengthy periods of time. His reluctance to travel to Ferney is probably accounted for by the fact that he did not really rate Voltaire as a philosopher and historian. Whereas Voltaire publicly expressed his admiration of Hume, the Scot was not willing to reciprocate. While in Paris Hume even tried, in vain, to suppress an article by Voltaire ridiculing fellow-Scot Lord Kames's "Elements of Criticism". No precise listing of Hume's book collection exists; however, some idea of its contents can be ascertained from a catalogue produced by the Edinburgh bookseller Thomas Stevenson in 1840. Most of the philosopher's books had ended up with his nephew, David, Baron Hume, and, after Baron Hume's death in 1838, his library was catalogued by Stevenson. There are over 200 French-language works in the Stevenson catalogue, including works by Voltaire. Number 937 on Stevenson's list refers to a collection of miscellaneous pamphlets on various subjects. Stevenson noted that "several of the pamphlets in his collection have got manuscript notes in the handwriting of David Hume, and others. For the contents, vide the flyleaves prefixed to each volume". It is very likely that this particular volume belongs to this collection of pamphlets. Stevenson went on to sell Baron Hume's books in the 1850s and the collection was thus dispersed. The acquisition of this volume is a welcome addition to our knowledge of Hume as book collector.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2874(1)
Reference SourcesE.C.Mossner, "The life of David Hume", Oxford, 1970; David Fate Norton & Mary J. Norton, "The David Hume Library" (Edinburgh, 1996)
Acquired on30/08/13
AuthorWachsmuth, Karl Heinrich.
TitleInamorulla oder Ossians Grosmuth. Ein Schauspiel in fünf Aufzügen. Nach Ossian.
ImprintDessau: Verlagskasse fuer Gelehrte und Kuenstler,
Date of Publication1783
LanguageGerman
NotesThe Ossianic poems of James MacPherson, first published in the 1760s, also had a huge impact on the Continent, particularly in the German-speaking countries. Numerous German translations appeared in the 18th and early 19th centuries, and also spin-off works such as this, a prose drama with occasional lyric passages by Karl Heinrich Wachsmuth (1760-1836), later to become a jurist and tax-collector in Saxony. It was based on the poems Croma and Oina-Morul from the Ossian cycle. A second edition was printed in Leipzig in 1787. Wachsmuth also produced "Fingal in Lochlin" (Dessau, 1782) a prose drama based on Fingal. The work was published by the Verlagskasse fuer Gelehrte und Kuenstler, an organisation set up to give financial assistance to enable scholars and academics to publish their own works. At this time it was run by Georg Joachim Goeschen, the famous publisher and printer. As Wachsmuth was only 23 at the time, and presumably short of funds, it was natural that he would seek financial support to get his works published.
ShelfmarkAP.1.211.48
Acquired on03/06/11
AuthorWalker, Mary, Lady
TitleMunster village, a novel.
ImprintLondon: Robson & Co.,
Date of Publication1778
LanguageEnglish
Notes"Munster Village" is the best known work of one of Scotland's earliest female novelists. This is a copy of the very rare first edition; only one other copy is recorded in the UK. The author, Lady Mary Walker (1736-1822), was born in Fife, the youngest child of the fifth Earl of Leven. She married an Edinburgh-based physician, Dr James Walker, in 1762, but the marriage seems to have broken down after a few years; in later life she said she was forced to turn to writing to clothe, feed and educate her children. Between 1775 and 1782 she wrote four works in English, three of which were published. "Munster Village" was her best-received novel. In it, the idealistic young heroine, Lady Frances, the daughter of Lord Munster, refuses offers of marriage until she has founded a utopian village. Her village contains libraries, a botanical garden and an academy for scholars, with places reserved for young women as well as men. The didactic and mildly feminist tone of the novel - Mary Walker was a firm believer in a woman's right to an education and in intellectual equality in marriage - was in keeping with her other surviving works. In the 1780s Mary Walker moved to France with a new partner, George Hamilton, a landowner with an estate in Jamaica. It is not clear whether she actually married him, but she did have two children by him. While living in France Mary arranged for a French translation of "Munster Village" to be made, and she also published a novel in French, "La famille du duc de Popoli". Walker's works now seem very dated to the modern reader, but she does appear to have influenced two rather more successful female novelists of this era. Jane Austen borrowed from "Munster Village" the names of 'Eliza', 'Bennett', and 'Bingley' for "Pride and Prejudice". Similarly, Ann Radcliffe seems to have borrowed the name of the 'Marquis de Villeroi' for "The Mysteries of Udolpho" (1794) as well as certain character types, plot devices, and thematic concerns.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2780-2781
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on07/05/10
AuthorWalter MacFarlane & Co.
TitleIllustrated examples of MacFarlane's Architectural ironwork
ImprintGlasgow: [s.n.],
Date of Publication[c. 1920]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a superb folio-size brochure aimed at members of the building trade highlighting the ironwork produced by Walter MacFarlane & Co.'s foundry at Possilpark, Glasgow. It includes black and white photographic illustrations of examples of the company's ironwork on recent buildings with a facing page of text. The location of each building is given along with the name(s) of the architect(s) of the buildings. A wide range of buildings and building features are covered: shops, hospitals, stairs, conservatories, railings etc.; work on overseas projects in the British Empire such as a bank in Madras and shop in Johannesburg is also included. This copy was a presentation copy to Messrs Wrathwell & Blackshaw of Stockport. Walter MacFarlane & Co. was one of number of Scottish architectural ironfounders who dominated British architectural ironwork production in the 19th century. Founded c. 1850 by Walter MacFarlane (1817-85) the firm quickly went from strength to strength to become the most prolific architectural ironfounders the world has seen. The foundry at Possilpark was opened in 1872 and expanded to cover 24 acres; it continued to operate successfully in the early 20th century, around the time this brochure was produced. After the 2nd World War, however, there was a sharp decline in demand for ornamental cast ironwork. The company became part of Allied Ironfounders in 1965, and was absorbed into Glynwed in 1966. The foundry at Possilpark eventually closed in 1967 and was subsequently demolished. The company name was bought by Glasgow firm Heritage Engineering in 1993.
ShelfmarkFB.l.391
Reference Sourceshttp://www.scottishironwork.org/waltermac.htm
Acquired on24/04/09
AuthorWatt, James and John Robison
TitleArticles Steam and Steam-Engines
Imprint[Edinburgh]
Date of Publication[1817-1818?]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is one of the most important books dealing with the ground-breaking inventions of the Scottish engineer James Watt. Watt's steam engine made the railway revolution possible, and it is remarkable that this publication seems to be very rare. The book is a separate edition of John Robison's articles on Watt's discoveries written for the Encyclopedia Britannica, printed here with extensive and critical footnotes by James Watt himself. This appears to be the only time Watt ventured into print to discuss his inventions. Eight folding plates in good condition illustrate the processes described (designed by William Creighton and engraved by Lizars of Edinburgh). This is a nice presentation copy, with an inscription to a Dr. Hope in Watt's hand: the book later passed to the Hope Trust, an Edinburgh-based society for the promotion of temperance. The trust's bookplate is inside the front board.
ShelfmarkRB.m.492
Acquired on03/03/03
AuthorWelsh, Irvine
Title[Trainspotting] The glossary.
ImprintReed Books
Date of Publication1996
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis booklet has been signed by Irvine Welsh and gives a basic insight to the vernacular used in the novel. Examples range from the purely Edinburgh expressions "barry" (great) or "swedge" (fight), include the fairly self-explanatory (to most Scots ears at least) "maist", although the description of "Oor Wullie" (popular Scottish cartoon character (Our William))would boggle the minds of anyone familiar with the works of D.C. Thomson. The novel itself had been published several years previously to great acclaim, however the glossary was published as a tie-in with the recently released film.
ShelfmarkAPS.2.206.050
Acquired on17/11/00
AuthorWestminster Assembly
TitleFoirceadul aith-ghearr cheasnuighe [The shorter catechism]
ImprintGlas-gho: Anna Orr
Date of Publication1776
LanguageScottish Gaelic
NotesBooks in Scottish Gaelic are a key part of the National Library's collections, and we acquire such items wherever possible. This is a good copy of an eighteenth-century catechism, which also includes the alphabet, the Ten Commandments, various prayers, and a guide to numbers in arabic and roman. It was clearly designed for educational purposes. The book is particularly interesting as it was printed for a woman publisher, Anna Orr.
ShelfmarkABS.1.205.031
Reference SourcesSBTI Scottish Gaelic Union Catalogue 2769
Acquired on13/09/05
AuthorWilliam Blacker
TitleW. Blacker's art of angling, and complete system of fly making and dying [sic] of colours
Imprint[London: W. Blacker]
Date of Publication1842
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis the first edition first issue of William Blacker's famous book on angling, printed in Edinburgh by Anderson and Bryce, with 38 pages. The author (1814-1857) was born in Wicklow in Ireland. He moved to London in the 1840s where he became a prominent fishing tackle dealer in Dean Street, Soho. Being an accomplished angler himself, his revolutionary methods made this book a key work in the history of fly fishing. A 48-page edition with 6 leaves of plates was also printed in London in the same year, followed by an expanded edition of 130 pages in 1843. The book was deliberately printed in a small pocket-size format so that it could be carried by anglers to the river bank. Surviving copies of the early editions are rarely identical, this particular copy for instance only has 2 plates. Blacker went on to publish in 1855 an expanded edition of the work, with the title "Blacker's art of flymaking".
ShelfmarkIN PROCESS
Acquired on23/05/14
AuthorWilliam Blackwood (firm)
Title[Printing blocks]
Date of Publication[1840-1890?]
Notes64 blocks from the Edinburgh printing and publishing firm of William Blackwood, with 43 proofs recently printed at the Tragara Press, in excellent condition. Some blocks have a base of wood, some of metal, but all have a good-quality metal (mainly copper) surface. The images include scenes from a printer's workshop, steam trains and steam agricultural vehicles, landscapes, birds and animals, towns and harbours. Many are signed or initialled by the designer. They probably date from the mid-to-late 19th century.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2729
Acquired on19/06/07
AuthorWilliam Brodie, Aeneas Morison
TitleThe trial of William Brodie wright and cabinet maker in Edinburgh
ImprintEdinburgh: Charles Elliot
Date of Publication1788
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is the first issue, in original wrappers, of Elliot's publication of Aeneas Morison's account of the trial, published on 6 September 1788, which does not have the appendix (pp. [261]-279 of subsequent issues) and the frontispiece portrait of Brodie. As indicated in William Roughead's "Trial of William Brodie" (Glasgow, 1906 - p. 233), in the introductory paragraph to the appendix it states that the inclusion of the extra material, relating to but not actually covered in the trial itself, was the result of a misunderstanding with William Creech. Creech had included this material in his published account of the trial and Aeneas Morison felt that readers of his version of the trial should not be disadvantaged: he is of the opinion, that he intitled to put the purchasers of his account of the trial on a footing with those who have purchased Mr Creeche's [sic], by furnishing them gratis with the following Appendix (p. [261]).
ShelfmarkIN PROCESS
Reference SourcesW. Roughead, "The trial of William Brodie", Glasgow, 1906.
Acquired on30/05/14
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