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 727 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.

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Important Acquisitions 91 to 105 of 727:

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AuthorHume, David.
TitleDavid Hume's vollkommne [sic] Republik [Idea of a perfect commonwealth].
ImprintLeipzig: in der Schaeferischen Buchhandlung
Date of Publication1799
LanguageGerman
NotesDavid Hume's 'Idea of a perfect commonwealth' was first published as Essay XII of his "Political Discourses" in 1752. Hume's essay discusses previous authors' ideas of political utopia and sketches what he thought was the best form of government. Hume's perfect commonwealth is a very pragmatic affair - a republic with a government subject to many check and balances; he acknowledges "the resemblance that it bears to the commonwealth of the United Provinces [i.e Netherlands], a wise and renowned government". This is the very rare first German translation by a German professor at the University of Wuerzburg, Christian August Fischer (1771-1829). The title states that this is a free translation "frey nach dem Englischen", and the translator has made Hume's scepticism about politics and utopias more pronounced. Fischer is best known for his travel writing, although he also had a profitable sideline in writing erotic literature under the pseudonyms Adam Pruzum and Christian Althing. This particular copy was originally in the large library of the Dukes of Oettingen-Wallerstein, as can be seen from the book label on the front pastedown and stamp on the title page. The library's origins can be traced back to the late 15th-century; its holdings of contemporary German literature were considerably enhanced by Fuerst Kraft Ernst von Oettingen-Wallerstein (1748-1802) and his son Ludwig. A substantial part of the library is now in the University of Augsburg, the rest having been dispersed in the 20th century.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2823
Acquired on05/08/11
AuthorByron, George Gordon Byron, Baron.
TitleMorgante maggiore.
ImprintParis: Galignani
Date of Publication1825
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is the first separate edition of Byron's translation of the first canto of the "Morgante", a poem by Italian Renaissance poet Luigi Pulci (1432-1484). Pulci's epic tale concerns the unlikely friendship between the heroic Orlando and the pagan giant, Morgante, who converts to Christianity and becomes his loyal follower. The two have many adventures before both meeting untimely ends. Byron wrote his translation when staying in Ravenna in Italy in late 1819/early 1820. Byron had moved there from Venice as a result of his affair with Countess Teresa Guiccioli, renting the upper floor of Palazzo Guiccioli with the assent of Teresa's husband. During his time in Ravenna he worked at a remarkable rate, producing this work as well as two new cantos of "Don Juan" and completing "The Prophecy of Dante". "Morgante Maggiore" was first published in the fourth number of the short-lived literary periodical "The Liberal", edited by Byron and Leigh Hunt. This edition bears the imprint of A. and W. Galignani of Paris who specialised in publishing English-language books for the Continent. It includes 12 pages of advertisements for new publications "at one-third of the London prices".
ShelfmarkAP.1.212.14
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on29/07/11
AuthorScott, Walter
TitleKenel'uort. Roman Val'tera Skota obrabotan dlia iunoshestva [Kenilworth. A novel by Walter Scott adapted for youth].
ImprintSankpeterburg, Moskva : M.O. Vol'fa
Date of Publication1873
LanguageRussian
NotesThis is a Russian adaption of Sir Walter Scott's novel "Kenilworth" for younger readers. The cover states the book was published within the series 'Sochineniia Val'ter-Skota' ('Works of Walter-Scott' [sic]), but no other works within this series have been located apart a translation of "Waverley" (Veverlei, 1876), at the Staatsbibliothek in Berlin. Translations of Scott into Russian began to appear in the 1820s; he reached probably the widest audience of any foreign author in Russia in the 19th century, and his influence could be seen not only in the development of the Russian historical novel, but also in the vogue for wearing tartan, 'Walter Scott' cloaks, and dressing up as characters from his novels. It is not clear whether this translation has been done direct from the English or from a French translation (French being the language of conversation and correspondence by the Russian nobility which had in turn encouraged widespread access to French literature in Russia). However, the tinted lithograph frontispiece is taken from an illustration by the French book illustrator Denis Auguste Marie Raffet, who illustrated Auguste Defauconpret's French translations of Scott's works.
ShelfmarkAB.1.211.056
Acquired on08/07/11
AuthorBoutcher, William.
TitleA treatise on forest-trees.
ImprintEdinburgh: Printed by R. Fleming, and sold by the author,
Date of Publication1775
LanguageEnglish
NotesWilliam Boutcher was a Scottish nurseryman, who had premises at Comely Bank, Edinburgh (his father, William Boutcher, senior, had also been a nurseryman and leading garden designer). "A treatise on forest trees" was his first printed work, dedicated to the Duke of Buccleuch, and was financed by subscription. Boutcher notes in his preface, concerning the subscribers, "the quality, if not the number of those, does me honour, as I can boast of many of the greatest and most respectable names in the kingdom". These names included most of the Scottish land-owning aristocracy. A number of copies for the subscribers were bound by the leading Scottish bookbinder of his day, James Scott of Edinburgh. The Library already four copies, all with different designs, of Scott bindings for this book; this is another example. The boards have a roll-pattern used by Scott from 1775 onwards (Loudon Ro16 (1775)) and the botanical ornaments on the spine recall a tool used by Scott used in other bindings (Loudon Bo.46a). This copy has an early 19th-century heraldic bookplate of Sir James Montgomery Bart. of Stanhope (1721-1803), lord chief baron of the Scottish exchequer who became a baronet in 1801, two years before his death. Montgomery took a keen interest in the science of agriculture and subscribed for two copies of the book.
ShelfmarkBdg.m.172
Reference SourcesJ.H. Loudon, "James and William Scott, bookbinders" (NY, 1980)
Acquired on03/06/11
AuthorDavis, D.
TitleLadies and gentlemen, the contents of this bill are worthy your attention. Comfortable walking. D. Davis, (to be consulted at Mrs. Young's, No.5, College-street, Edinburgh,) the well known extractor of hard and soft corns, bunnions [sic] on the great toes, root and branch, without the least pain or drawing blood ....
Imprint[Edinburgh] : Schaw, printer, Lawnmarket,
Date of Publicationc. 1810
LanguageEnglish
NotesPrinted ephemera from the hand-press era of printing are particularly scarce, so this Edinburgh-printed handbill from the early 19th century is a welcome addition to the Library's collections. It advertises the medical services of one D. Davis, "well-known extractor of hard and soft corns, bunnions on the great toes". For potential clients in Edinburgh he provides information on his success in rectifying all manner of foot complaints, rendering the patients "able to walk immediately, although they may have been afflicted many years & he has arrived from Hull, with great testimonials from several highly honourable ladies and gentleman, from the year 1796 to the present period, and is highly recommended in the town of Sunderland; also in the city of Lincoln, Louth, Boston, Gainsbro', Doncaster, Swansey, Carmarthen&"
ShelfmarkAP.3.211.20
Acquired on03/06/11
Author[Binding - Scott, James of Edinburgh]
TitleThe book of common prayer + A companion to the altar + A new version of the Psalms of David
ImprintEdinburgh: Adrian Watkins,
Date of Publication1756-57
LanguageEnglish
NotesThe Library has the largest institutional collection of bindings by James Scott and his son William, the renowned Scottish bookbinders of the second half of the 18th century, and is always looking to add to its collections. This particular volume contains three works bound together in a red morocco binding which is representative of James Scott's earlier work. It combines the characteristics of the rococo style with elements of chinoiserie, a style that preceded his shift into a more neo-classical decorative influence. Both boards are bordered by a Greek-key roll, panels with an elaborate rococo decoration framing a radiating pyramid, with use of swan and nesting bird tools; the spine is gilt in compartments, repeating a tool with two birds. The binding appears datable to c.1777 from a comparison with the recorded uses of Scott's tools detailed in J.H. Loudon's James Scott and William Scott, bookinders (Edinburgh, 1980). On this binding can be found the nesting bird tool (Zo.9) the swan tool (Zo.7) and the radiating pyramid tool (Ge.2). Also present are the detached flower head tool (Bo.7) and rococo scrolls (Sc. 1). The endpapers have been patterned with a painted spatter decoration that was used on some of Scott's earlier bindings. The title page of prayer book contains the signature of the owner "Louisa Graeme" and a note regarding her identity, namely Louisa Graham (d. 1782) wife of David Graham of Orchil, Perthshire.
ShelfmarkBdg.m.171(1-3)
Reference SourcesJ.H. Loudon, "James Scott and William Scott, bookbinders" (NY, 1980)
Acquired on03/06/11
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
Author[Fergusson, Thomas.]
TitleThe weeping christian; or The six vices of man.
ImprintGlasgow: James Duncan
Date of Publication1729
LanguageEnglish
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.
ShelfmarkAP.1.212.15
Reference SourcesESTC
Acquired on03/06/11
AuthorGreat Britain. Record Commission
TitleRecord Commission. Scotland. Correspondence of C.P. Cooper, Esq. Secretary to the Board, with Thomas Thomson, Esq. deputy clerk register [etc] + 2 other items
ImprintLondon : [Record Commission],
Date of Publication1835
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis particular volume contains three works relating to Thomas Thomson (1768-1852), record scholar and advocate, who, as the first deputy clerk register of Scotland, played an important role in making available early Scottish legal and parliamentary records to scholars in the early 19th century. They appear to have been specially printed for the Record Commission based in London (the Record Commission is the collective name given to a series of six Royal Commissions on the Public Records appointed between 1800 and 1831, the last one lapsing in 1837) and can be regarded as marking the start of an investigation into Thomson's financial mismanagement of Commission money with regard to the various publications he was supervising and his payment of staff working under him. Thomson had been appointed to his post at General Register House in 1806 and his achievements there were overall very impressive, but by the 1830s his rather dubious accounting procedures and tendency to get bogged down in an increasing number of editorial projects had begun to have repercussions. The first part of the first item in this volume, "Correspondence of C.P. Cooper [etc]", reproduces letters written by Thomson and Charles Purton Cooper (1793-1873), the secretary of the Record Commission, concerning the long-delayed publication of vol. 1 of "Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland". A version of volume one had been printed as early as 1800, edited by the antiquary William Robertson; but in 1804 Thomson had argued successfully that this version should not be published as it was flawed and in need of updating and expanding. As deputy clerk register of Scotland Thomson presided over the publications of vols 2-11 of the "Acts" between 1814 and 1824, but continually delayed publication of the revised version of vol. 1, covering the earliest Scottish parliaments, due his tendency to procrastinate and his obsessive desire to produce a superior version to the suppressed 1800 edition. The printed correspondence here records Cooper's exasperation at the delays and his "mortification and vexation" caused by Thomson's "long and unaccountable silence". As well as documenting Cooper's annoyance with Thomson, the second part of this first item also puts Thomson's lax financial arrangements in the spotlight by printing letters and a memorial by the Scottish antiquary Robert Pitcairn (1793-1855). In addition to claiming public money for the financial losses he had incurred publishing his 1833 work "Criminal trials in Scotland & 1488 to 1624" - a work that he had undertaken at the suggestion of Thomson - Pitcairn was also complaining that Thomson had asked him to prepare an abridgement of the register of the great seal of Scotland, while leading Pitcairn to understand that the Record Commission would pay his salary. When, after many years of research, the salary was not forthcoming, Pitcairn stated his grievances in his "Memorial" to the Commission, reproduced here; he also went to London in person in 1835 to complain about Thomson's mismanagement of the project and state his case. As an appendix to the Cooper correspondence and the Pitcairn memorial, Thomson's quarterly reports to the Record Commission for the years 1822 to 1831 are printed here. The other two items in the volume are further reports from Pitcairn to Cooper, dated February 1835 and April 1835 respectively, concerning his unpaid work on the abridgement of the register of the great seal of Scotland. Pitcairn's revelations of irregular payments to staff eventually led to a Treasury inquiry in 1839 into the financial maladministration of the Register House. In 1840 the inquiry concluded that Ł8570 was owing to the crown, but Thomson avoided prosecution by convincing the government that the money had been applied to record work and not for his private use. He was dismissed from his post of deputy clerk register in 1841, but was allowed to continue to work as clerk of session to the Scottish courts. Thomson, like his predecessor as president of the Bannatyne Club, Sir Walter Scott, was determined to pay off all his debts. Most of his salary as clerk of session subsequently went to pay off his creditors and the sale of his library in 1841 met nearly half of his Ł7,000 debt to the crown.
ShelfmarkAB.3.212.03(1)
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography; Cosmo Innes, "Memoir of Thomas Thomson, advocate" (Edinburgh: Bannatyne Club, 1854).
Acquired on03/06/11
AuthorKing, Kennedy [i.e. George Douglas Brown]
TitleLove and a sword: a tale of the Afridi War.
ImprintLondon: John Macqueen
Date of Publication1899
LanguageEnglish
NotesThe Scottish author George Douglas Brown (1869-1902) is best known for his work "The House with the Green Shutters", which was published in autumn 1901 in both Britain and the United States under the pseudonym 'George Douglas'. That work has long been regarded as a milestone in Scottish literature; a decisive move away from the sentimental, 'kailyard', Scottish novels of the 19th century. Before his ground-breaking novel appeared, Brown had moved, after leaving Oxford University in 1895, to London, with the intention of forging a literary career. However, in order to make ends meet he had to work as a hack author, writing poetry, reviews, and short stories for a number of periodicals, as well adventure books for boys. "Love and a sword" published under the pseudonym 'Kennedy King', was his first published book, an adventure story set in India and the North-West Frontier, with a Scottish hero, Roderick Gordon, as the protagonist.
ShelfmarkAB.2.211.006
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on20/05/11
AuthorBible. N.T. Ephesians
TitleThe epistle of Paul to the Ephesians.
ImprintEdinburgh: James Gall
Date of Publicationc. 1837
LanguageEnglish
NotesThe Library, thanks to the donation of a collection of the Royal Blind Asylum and School in Edinburgh in 1989, has a good collection of early printing done for the blind in Scotland. One of the key figures in this field was the Edinburgh printer and publisher James Gall (c. 1784-1874). While visiting Paris in 1825, Gall saw examples of embossed type books for the blind and decided to design a script which could be used by blind and sighted people alike. He introduced his Gall Type in 1827; its triangular forms were regarded as being more easily discernible by touch than existing rounded types. Capital letters were excluded, meaning that there were only 26 characters to be learnt. The Gospel by St. John for the blind (Edinburgh, 1834) was the first major work to be printed in Gall's type. In 1835 he founded the School for Blind Children at Craigmillar Park, which adopted his tactile alphabet. This particular book, of which only one other copy, in the British Library, is recorded, is a fine example of printing from Gall's press on Niddry Street. It is in its original binding and the label reveals that the book was printed "on the largest type" and cost one shilling and sixpence.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2822
Acquired on20/05/11
AuthorSmith, Adam, 1723-1790.
TitleVizsgalodas a nemzeti vagyonossag termeszeterol es okairol [Wealth of Nations]
ImprintBudapest : Pallas Irodalmi es Nyomdai Reszvenytarsasag
Date of Publication1891-1894
LanguageHungarian
NotesThe Library has one of the most extensive collections in the world of printed material relating to the 18th-century Scottish economist Adam Smith and his seminal work, "Inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations". This is the rare first Hungarian translation of of the work, translated by the Budapest lawyer Jakab Polya (1844-1897), with a lengthy introduction by the noted economist, politician and banker Gyula Kautz (1829-1909), under whose editorial control the book was published. Polya, although a lawyer, had a particular interest in economics and a sufficient grasp of English through his work with an international insurance firm to be able to cope with Smith's English text. For the present translation, he collaborated with the Hungarian civil servant Lukács Enyedi (1845-1906), who played a significant role in the promotion of economics as an independent discipline in Hungarian universities. The introduction by Kautz, which appears to have also been published separately (NLS copy: ABS.3.206.005) describes Smith's life and work, and his position as the "founder of economic science", putting his work into its historical context and offering a critical appraisal of his significance and his influence on 19th century economics and political theorists. Kautz was governor-general of the central bank of Hungary (the Osztrák-Magyar Bank) from 1893-1900, and the economics department of Budapest University is today named after him. The only other known copy of this translation is located at the Hungarian National Library.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2816-2819
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on20/05/11
AuthorByron, George Gordon Byron, Baron, 1788-1824.
TitleLord Byron's Poesien.
ImprintZwickau: Gebrueder Schumann
Date of Publication1821-1828
LanguageGerman
NotesThis is the rare first collected German edition of Byron's complete works and is a welcome addition to the Library's extensive holdings of early translations of the poet's work. The edition was translated by a team of writers, among them August Schumann and Elise von Hohenhausen, and began to appear in print when the author was still alive. The firm Brothers Schumann had been founded by Alexander Schumann (1773-1826), the father of the romantic composers Clara and Robert Schumann, and began publishing a huge series of translations of foreign literature. Byron's works are part of their Pocket Library of Foreign Classics in New German Translations (Taschenbibliothek der auslaendischen Klassiker, in neuen Verdeutschungen) which apeared between 1819 and 1831. There are in total 31 volumes/parts to this edition, which in this set have been bound into seven volumes.
ShelfmarkAB.1.211.023-029
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on20/05/11
Author[Anon]
TitleOverland route to India and China.
ImprintLondon: T. Nelson and Sons,
Date of Publication1858
LanguageEnglish
NotesIn the 19th century the firm of Thomas Nelson became of the most successful publishing houses in the world. From its bookselling origins in Edinburgh at the end of the 18th century the firm expanded into publishing and printing. This particular book is an example of their success in printing good quality, affordable, small format books. Despite the title, this anonymous work describes a sea journey to China, stopping in Gibraltar, Malta, Egypt and India, Ceylon, Hong Kong and Singapore, before ending up in Shanghai. The only real overland part of the journey was travelling from Alexandria to Suez (the Suez canal was yet to be built), which involved, according to the author, "incessant galloping and jolting over the parched desert" as the railway line through the desert was still in construction. The book has particularly attractive colour plates, produced using an early chromolithograph technique based on G. J. Cox's invention of transferring steel and copperplate engraving onto lithographic stone but using a combination of light blue, chocolate brown, and beige. This technique proved to be a cost effective way to print colour illustrations. "Overland route" appears to be a particularly rare Nelson publication, with only two other UK library locations in WorldCat.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2815
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on20/05/11
Author[Miscellaneous]
Title[Collection of 6 pre-1701 items printed in Scotland]
Imprint[Edinburgh, s.n.]
Date of Publicationbetween 1630 and 1693
LanguageEnglish
NotesA collection of 6 Scottish single-sheet items printed before 1700, these were formerly part of a bound volume of mainly 17th century broadsides and pamphlets belonging at one time to an Alexander Warrand of Muir of Ord, who died in 1899. The volume was sold at auction in 2011 and the NLS subsequently acquired these six items: (1) a proclamation of Charles I, printed in 1630, relating to tax collection in Scotland; (2) a 1660 proclamation of the Committee of Estates against "unlawfull meetings and seditious papers"; (3) answers for Henry Nevil Payne, an agitator for the Roman Catholic cause in Scotland, to the indictment raised by the lord advocate (c. 1693); (4) "Act and ratification in favours of the glass manufactory in Morisons Haven" (1698) (Morrison's Haven was a harbour at Prestongrange, East Lothian, which was then a busy port); (5) "Reasons for passing an act for communication of trade to the town of Leith" (c. 1693), a printed document concerning the Acts of the Scottish Parliament in 1672 and 1693 which removed trade restrictions in Edinburgh and extended the trading rights of baronies such as Leith; (6) a proclamation, from the Commonwealth era, of the commissioners at Leith, dated 1651, requiring merchants to make a full declaration of all their merchandise to the customs officials at the chief ports in Scotland. Items 4, 5 and 6 are of particular interest as they are not recorded in ESTC or Aldis's bibliography of books printed in Scotland before 1701.
ShelfmarkRB.l.277(1-6)
Reference SourcesESTC, Aldis
Acquired on03/02/11
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