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 818 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 736 to 750 of 818:

Ordered by title
Order by author | Order by date acquired
AuthorAdam Smith
TitleThe theory of moral sentiments. 2nd edition.
ImprintLondon : A. Millar
Date of Publication1761
NotesThis is one of the 750 copies printed of the second edition of the "The theory of moral sentiments". The second edition is notable for the inclusion of replies to criticisms of the first edition by David Hume. Commonly regarded as the work that established Smith's international reputation, he himself always considered it his finest work. First published in 1759, it was an immediate success and eventually ran to six editions, the last of which Smith extensively revised just before he died in 1790. It is often said that we cannot properly understand the "Wealth of Nations" without a knowledge of "The Theory of Moral Sentiments". The other two copies of the second edition in NLS's collections are held in deposited collections, so the purchase of this copy ensures that NLS has its own copies of all the English-language editions of the work printed in the 18th century.
Acquired on25/01/13
AuthorShakespeare, William.
TitleThe tragedy of Macbeth. By William Shakespear [sic]. As it is acted at the Theatre-Royal in Drury-Lane, by His Majesty's servants. To which are added all the original songs.
ImprintGlasgow: William Duncan, Junior
Date of Publication1755
Notes18th-century London editions of individual Shakespeare plays are relatively common, but Scottish editions are rare, usually surviving in one or two known copies. Of the eight editions of Shakespeare's Scottish play printed in Scotland in the 18th century, this Glasgow edition is the third, the previous two having been printed in Edinburgh in 1731 and 1753. It was listed in William Jaggard's Shakespeare bibliography of 1911 as the first edition printed in Glasgow, but without pagination or location. Jaggard may have copied a reference from a bibliography or auction catalogue without seeing a copy. It is not recorded in recent Shakespeare bibliographies or ESTC. The printer, William Duncan junior, was active between 1750 and 1768, but printed very little for most of that time. In 1755-1756 however, he appears to have decided to issue an assortment of plays including two by Shakespeare: King Lear and Macbeth. This particular copy is bound with a [1770?] London edition of "Timon of Athens" and leaves from volume 8 of a 1757 London edition of Shakespeare's works.
Acquired on20/08/10
AuthorWilliam Brodie, Aeneas Morison
TitleThe trial of William Brodie wright and cabinet maker in Edinburgh
ImprintEdinburgh: Charles Elliot
Date of Publication1788
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]).
Reference SourcesW. Roughead, 'The trial of William Brodie', Glasgow, 1906.
Acquired on30/05/14
AuthorNathaniel Crouch
TitleThe Triumphs of Love
ImprintGlasgow : Printed by William Duncan,
Date of Publication1753
NotesA work adapted by Crouch, writing under his Robert Burton pseudonym, from an unidentified work by a P. Camus. The book is a collection of short stories "Containing the surprizing adventures, and accidents and misfortunes, that many persons have encountred [sic] in the eager pursuit of their amorous inclinations. In fifteen pleasant relations, or histories. For the recreation of gentlemen, ladies and others, who are pleased with such innocent diversions and amusements". The front pastedown bears the die-sinker bookplate of Frederic Perkins, Chipstead Place, Kent. This edition is unrecorded in ESTC.
Acquired on11/05/12
AuthorAnderson, James.
TitleThe true interest of Great Britain considered.
Imprint[London?: J. Anderson]
Date of Publication1783
NotesIn 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 SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography; J. H. Loudon "James Scott and William Scott Bookbinders" (London, 1980)
Acquired on12/11/10
AuthorIsham, Charles, Sir
TitleThe tyrant of the Cuchullin hills
Imprint[Lamport, Northamptonshire?: s.n.]
Date of Publication[1878?]
NotesThis 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 SourcesOxford Dictionary National Biography
Acquired on01/02/13
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
AuthorDaniel Ritchie ed.
TitleThe voice of our exiles or Stray leaves from a convict ship.
ImprintEdinburgh: John Menzies ; London W. S. Orr & Co.
Date of Publication1864
NotesThis 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 SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on15/05/15
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
TitleThe wandering piper.
ImprintNewcastle: Douglas and Kent
Date of Publication1833
NotesThis is an unrecorded, illustrated broadside, printed in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1833, which gives details of the 'Wandering Piper', who roamed throughout Britain and Ireland in the 1820 and 1830s. There are several contemporary accounts of the piper in provincial newspapers, one of which, from the Bury & Norwich Post, for November 21, 1832, describes him as follows: "He is a tall figure, and his air and carriage evidently indicate a rank superior to his occupation, in spite of the disguise of a carroty wig, a pair of green spectacles, and a shabby Highland costume. He has now piped in every market-town in the three kingdoms, except a few in Suffolk, Lincoln, York, Durham and Northumberland, all of which he must visit before next February. During his ramble he has given upwards of 700 l. [£] to different charities." Some newspaper accounts speak of him as a former Scottish army officer who served in the Napoleonic Wars, who in 1825 accepted a bet with a Frenchman with whom he had been to school with in Scotland, to see how much money he could raise through busking in every town in Britain and Ireland. Other newspapers dismiss the story of the wager as bogus. Whatever his motivation, there seems to have been no attempt by the piper to profit personally from his playing. As the Newcastle broadside states, "when playing in the streets he endeavours to observe the strictest disguise; he never stands nor solicits money, but receives any sum that is given him." All the money he received was distributed to local charities once he covered his own board and lodgings. The piper's travels only began in earnest in 1828, with the intention being that he would travel for three years and total up how much money he had raised. However, a stage coach accident in Ireland left him incapacitated for over 15 months, which meant that by early 1833 he still had not finished his epic journey. The broadside reports his arrival in Newcastle on January 21, 1833 and notes that he only has six more towns to play in, with Glasgow being his final destination. Along with the broadside this copy also contains a handwritten note from the piper himself, dated January 3, 1833. Addressed to the mayor of Durham, the piper requests permission to play his pipes through the streets of Durham, and stresses that he does not solicit money and that any money he receives goes to charity. The note is signed 'The Wandering Piper/Address Captain Stuart'. The identity of 'Captain Stuart' and why he went to the lengths of wearing a forerunner of a wig and tinted spectacles to disguise himself, remain a mystery to this day. He may have worn Highland costume but in the portrait of the piper on the broadside he appears to be playing Lowland, bellows-blown, pipes rather than the Highland pipes traditionally played by pipe bands in Scotland and throughout the world today. Although the broadside states that the piper was "heartily tired of his frolic", no sooner had he finished his British and Irish travels than he was off to the USA and Canada, where he continued to travel and raise money. He returned to Britain in 1837 and continued to play. A Dublin newspaper records a 'Graham Stuart' dying in Dublin on February 17, 1839, worn out by his travels.
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on20/11/15
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
Important Acquisitions - page no. 1     2     3     4     5     6     7     8     9     10     11     12     13     14     15     16     17     18     19     20     21     22     23     24     25     26     27     28     29     30     31     32     33     34     35     36     37     38     39     40     41     42     43     44     45     46     47     48     49     50     51     52     53     54     55