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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AuthorStewart, Dugald.
TitleAccount of the life and writings of Adam Smith, LL.D. From the Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh
Imprint[Edinburgh?] Privately Printed
Date of Publication1794?
LanguageEnglish
NotesIn his bibliography of David Hume and other Scottish philosphers, T. E. Jessop rightly states that the first printing of Dugald Stewart's famous Account of the Life and Writings of Adam Smith, LL.D was in The Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh vol 3/1, pp.55-137. Stewart read his paper to the Society in two separate sessions (21 Jan and 18 March 1793) and soon after it was printed in the Transactions. Shortly thereafter it was re-set and repaginated from the Transactions for a limited private edition, which was most probably printed in Edinburgh. It is this rarity that the Library has acquired. This copy is inscribed 'To Sir Wm Miller Bart. / From the Author'. Sir William Miller (1755-1846) was appointed a Lord of Session and took the title Lord Glenlee in 1795. According to DNB he was 'a very able man, and had a profound knowledge of jurisprudence, mathematics, and literature'. This item is not recorded in ESTC, though there is a copy in the Vanderblue Collection at Harvard.
ShelfmarkRB.m.444
Acquired on09/03/00
TitleAccount of the trial of Thomas Muir.
ImprintNew York
Date of Publication1794
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is the only known copy in Britain of the first American edition of a book describing the trial of Thomas Muir for sedition in 1793. It is one of very few eighteenth-century American publications of Australian interest. Two other editions were published by Samuel Campbell and another by W. Durrell, also in New York, which is indicative of a high level of interest in the case in the United States. The book is a detailed account of the trial, published with the approval of Muir. It also contains an appendix with copies of documents used as evidence against the accused during the trial. Thomas Muir, born in Glasgow in 1765, was a lawyer inspired by the French Revolution and by Thomas Paine's 'The rights of man'. He was one of the prime movers in the Society of the Friends of the People, which advocated moderate parliamentary reforms. For his involvement with this organization and for his associations with the authorities in France and the United Irishmen in Ireland, Muir was arrested in August 1793. Following his trial he was sentenced with four of his compatriots (who later became known as the Scottish Martyrs) to 14 years transportation to New South Wales. In effect, they were the first 'political prisoners' sent to the colony. Muir managed to escape in 1796 and made his way across the Pacific via Mexico and eventually to France, where he died in 1799.
ShelfmarkABS.3.201.017
Acquired on04/01/01
TitleAct of council, regulating the manner of carrying chairs.
Imprint[Edinburgh]
Date of Publication1749
LanguageEnglish
NotesIn modern times, local government concerns itself with seemingly banal regulations concerning parking, litter or public lighting. There is nothing new in this - perceived 'over regulation' was alive and well in Edinburgh over 250 years ago, as this broadside demonstrates. The city authorities were forced into action to ask 'chairmen' - those who carried sedan chairs and their occupants around the city - to ensure their chairs had 'a light fixed upon one of the fore-poles of the chair'. This apparently followed a number of incidents resulting in 'many hurts and inconveniences that have happened to the inhabitants & by the chairmen carrying or resting their chairs without lights under cloud of night'. Furthermore all chairs had to be numbered. If these regulations were not followed, chairmen faced being fined a shilling, imprisonment, loss of hire and the chair impounded! The first sedan chairs for public hire were introduced into Edinburgh in 1687. Horse drawn coaches were often unsuited to the narrow closes and steep hills of Edinburgh's Old Town. In 1687 there were only 6 chairs available but by 1779 there were 180 hackney-chairs and 50 private chairs in Edinburgh. The table of fairs introduced in the regulation dated 1738, referred to in this broadside, specified 6d a trip within the city, 4s for a whole day's rental, and 1s 6d for a journey of half a mile outside town. The majority of the chairmen were Highlanders and this was reflected in the use of tartan for their uniforms.
ShelfmarkRB.m.672
Acquired on14/07/08
AuthorFerguson, Adam.
TitleAdam Fergusons ausfuehrliche Darstellung der Gruende der Moral und Politik v.1 [Principles of Moral and Political Science].
ImprintZurich: Orell, Gessner, Fuessli,
Date of Publication1796
LanguageGerman
NotesThis is the rare first German edition of Adam Ferguson's 'Principles of Moral and Political Science', first published as a two-volume work in Edinburgh in 1792, which encompassed Ferguson's lectures on moral and political philosophy at Edinburgh University. Ferguson had effectively retired from teaching in 1785 and this was to be his last major work to be published, although he remained very active in academic circles for the last three decades of his life, right up to his death in 1816. The translation and notes for this German edition were done by Karl Gottfried Schreiter (d. 1809), professor of philosophy at Leipzig. As with the first French edition, only volume one was translated, perhaps indicating that despite the great respect Ferguson commanded on the Continent, this particular work was regarded as being less important than his other works. This particular copy has the 20th-century bookplate of "Paul Ad. Leemann", presumably the book historian Paul Leemann-Van Elck.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2762
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on07/09/09
AuthorJoersson, S. A.
TitleAdam Smith auteur des recherches sur la richesse des nations & Thomas Payne
ImprintGermanie
Date of Publication1796
LanguageFrench
NotesThis book sets Smith against Paine, arguing that Paine's teaching in 'The decline and fall of the English system of finance' threatens disastrous war and political disorder. This work, presented to the French government, offers Smith's philosophy as the sensible alternative. The author quotes from the 1781 Yverdon edition of Smith's 'Wealth of Nations'. The work seems to have been published simultaneously in English, French and German. NLS currently has only a copy of the English version, at shelfmark NG.1300.b.16. Despite being published in multiple languages, it seems to be an uncommon book, and it clearly did not have the effect its author was seeking. The appeal to France to seek peace rather than further destructive conflict evidently did not prevent the Napoleonic wars. This is a very nice copy in gilt red morocco, with marbled endpapers.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2308
Acquired on08/04/03
AuthorShelley, Percy Bysshe
TitleAdonais
ImprintPisa: printed with the types of Didot
Date of Publication1821
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is the rare first printing of Percy Bysshe Shelley's elegy on the death of fellow-poet John Keats. In 1818 Shelley (1792-1822) had moved to Italy due to his growing financial and health problems; he was never to return to England. During these final four years of his life he wrote some of finest poetry, despite enduring a series of personal tragedies. In February 1821 Keats had died in Rome of tuberculosis; Shelley subscribed to the view that the final stage of Keats's fatal illness had been brought on by a bad review of 'Endymion' in the "Quarterly Review" in 1818. He resolved to a write an elegy on Keats which would defend the dead man's reputation and emphasise the significance of poets and poetry in society. On June 8 1821 Shelley wrote to his London publisher, Charles Ollier, asking him to announce for publication a new poem, which was "a lament on the death of poor Keats, with some interposed stabs on the assassins of his peace and his fame". The poet decided in the end to have the poem printed locally in Pisa, rather than send a manuscript copy to London. Printing the work in Pisa meant that he could personally supervise the printing to ensure that there were no errors in the text, and also prevent any of the "interposed stabs" from being censored. A slim quarto of the 55-stanza poem was produced, Shelley sending a copy to the poet John Gisborne on 13 July. Other copies were sent to Charles Ollier to be distributed. Ollier offered them for sale at the modest price of 3s 6d but decided not to republish the work, making the Pisa printing one of the scarcest and most highly sought after original editions of Shelley's works. Ollier's reluctance to have the poem printed is no doubt due to his strained relations with Shelley. Between 1820 and his death in July 1822 Shelley frequently complained in his correspondence that Ollier was ignoring his many requests and commissions, including his request for a reprint of 'Adonais', which he himself regarded as "the least imperfect of my compositions". In this case Ollier probably had no wish to become embroiled in Shelley's attack on the "Quarterly Review", which he knew would be met with derision by most of the London critics. In the preface to 'Adonais', Shelley stresses his credentials as an impartial judge of Keats's work, noting that his "repugnance" for some of the latter's earlier compositions was well known. However, he pulls no punches in his attack on John Wilson Croker, the reviewer of 'Endymion'; whilst Croker is not named in the preface, he is referred to as "Miserable man! you, one of the meanest, have wantonly defaced one of the noblest specimens of the workmanship of God". The text of 'Adonais' was reprinted in "The Literary Chronicle and Weekly Review" of December 1 1821 but a separate edition was not reprinted in England until 1829 in Cambridge. A further separate edition was printed for private circulation in London in 1876. This particular copy of the first Pisa printing is from the library of Sir John Skelton (1831-1897), a Scottish author, literary critic and advocate. It was bequeathed to the Library (along with first editions of Shelley's 'Rosalind and Helen' and 'Epipsychidion') by his descendant Miss Margaret Penelope Skelton (1924-2011). It is bound in a 19th-century calf binding for the booksellers Edmonston & Douglas of Edinburgh. Of particular interest is a letter to Sir John Skelton pinned to the front free endpaper; it is from the poet and fellow literary reviewer Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909). The letter, dated March 10 1894, is not concerned with 'Adonais' but primarily with the 16th-century French poet and admirer of Mary Queen of Scots, Pierre de Bocosel de Chastelard. Swinburne had written plays about both Mary and Chastelard, while Skelton had published the year before "Mary Stuart", a biography defending the queen's conduct. As a postscript Swinburne notes that he has forgotten to reply to a question of Skelton's about Shelley and provides references to two articles by him on Shelley.
ShelfmarkRB.m.751
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography; "Adonais by Percy Bysshe Shelly, edited with a bibliographical introduction by Thomas J. Wise" 2nd ed. (London: Shelley Society, 1886)
Acquired on13/09/13
AuthorAesop
TitleAesop's fables
ImprintGlasgow: James Knox
Date of Publication1764
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis edition of Aesop's fables appears to be completely unrecorded. This is surprising as it is a rather attractive publication with numerous woodcuts. It is designed as an educational book: the words of the fables are broken up by hyphens, so that the beginner could read them a piece at a time. This does make the text look rather odd (for example, 'A Wea-sel run-ning in-to a bra-si-ers shop...'). Aesop's fables play an important part in Scottish culture. The fifteenth-century poet Robert Henryson did an excellent translation into Scots, and there are many other editions. This edition is particularly notable for the naive illustrations, which are more akin to those normally found in a chapbook.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2606
Acquired on27/06/05
TitleAesop's fables.
ImprintEdinburgh
Date of Publicationc. 1837
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a rare and unrecorded edition of the ever-popular Aesop's fables. It was published in Edinburgh by William Darling who is recorded in Gray's annual directory as having an address on South Bridge in 1837. Darling published a number of children's books in a similar format of which the NLS holds four titles. A bookseller and printer of the same name was working at various addresses in Edinburgh between 1765 and 1796 but the illustrative style and typographic layout suggest a later date. The cover is printed on yellow paper with a very fine copper engraving of a family looking out of a window at an old man (presumably Aesop) writing surrounded by a group of animals. The book is composed of 12 fables, each one superbly illustrated with a half page wood-engraving with the text beneath.
ShelfmarkAPS.1.202.074
Reference SourcesSBTI
Acquired on06/04/02
AuthorDyer, William.
TitleAinmeanna cliuteach Chriosd. [Christ's famous titles].
ImprintCharlottetown, Prince Edward Island
Date of Publication1832
LanguageScots Gaelic
NotesThis is an important addition to the National Library's collection of books in Scots Gaelic printed in Canada. Only one other copy is recorded of this Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island imprint. The National Library holds eight imprints by the printer S. Haszard, all dating from the period 1890-1902. This work is a translation of William Dyer's work 'Christ's famous titles' first published in 1663 which ran through seveal editions through into the nineteenth century. Dyer, who died in 1696, was a Non-Conformist minister with Quaker sympathies, who was minister at Chesham and Cholesbury, Buckinghamshire. The text was first translated by C. Maclauruinn for a Glasgow 1817 edition. It was clearly a popular work - five Gaelic editions were also published in Edinburgh between 1845 and 1894. Maclauruinn in his English preface opines that 'it is neither a popular nor an elegant publication … but an evangelical one'. Ownership inscriptions on the free endpapers indicate that this book belonged to one Fergus Ferguson of New Gairloch, Pictou County, Nova Scotia. The last leaf contains an advertisement for the bookseller James Dawson of Pictou, Nova Scotia, which lists 39 Gaelic titles. This is evidence of the market for books in Gaelic among the emigrant population in Nova Scotia in the mid-nineteenth century. Scots first settled in Prince Edward Island in 1768, but the majority of the migrations, primarily from the the Western Isles, Argyll and Invernesshire, took place between 1771 and 1803. One of the largest migrations was that of 1803. It was organized by Thomas Douglas the fifh Earl of Selkirk and resulted in the arrival of 800 people from the Isle of Skye, Raasay, North Uist and Mull, most of whom were Gaelic speakers.
ShelfmarkABS.2.202.015
Reference SourcesHornby, Susan. Celts and ceilidhs: a history of Scottish societies on Prince Edward Island. (Charlottetown, 1981). HP2.201.04699 Craig, David. On the crofters' trail. (London, 1990) H4.90.1632
Acquired on19/03/02
Title[Album of photographs and newspaper cuttings belonging to John Winning]
Date of Publicationc.1930-1944
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an album of photographs and newpaper cuttings relating to the activities of Dr. John Winning during the 1930s and early 1940s. Included are group photographs of visits undertaken by members of the Scottish Socialist Party to Germany in 1930, Austria in 1931 and Denmark in 1936. Winning was a member of Glasgow Town Council between 1926 and 1932 and he led a number of visits to the continent. A cutting from 1936 notes that 'the number of countries which Socialists can visit with enthusiasm seems to be diminishing -- Germany is no longer on the visiting list'. Winning from Larkhall in Lanarkshire began his working life as an apprentice plumber. He became involved in local politics in the 1920s and unsuccessfully stood for election for Westminster. In 1932 he resigned his Council seat to take up medicine and he worked as a GP for a number of years before his appointment as Assistant Medical Officer of Health for Glasgow in 1940. Other cuttings and ephemera document Dr. Winning's involvement in the Scottish Vegetarian Society . There are also four copies of The two worlds: the weekly journal of spiritualism, religion and reform dating from 1938 to 1942. It appears that John Winning was also an active member of the Spiritualist Church.
ShelfmarkPhot.la.22
Acquired on22/02/02
AuthorBourne, Samuel (1834-1912) and other photographers
TitleAlbum of Photographs of India, Burma, and the Andaman Islands
Date of Publication1863-1899
LanguageEnglish
NotesAn important group of early photographs assembled between 1850 and 1867 by James Bruce, 8th Earl of Elgin, and his son Victor Alexander Bruce, the 9th Earl, providing a visual record of the distinguished careers of the two earls as diplomats, military strategists, and politicians in India and the Far East. The four Elgin albums form a valuable source for the study of colonial and imperialist expansion, global commercial travel, and, not least, the rapid growth of commercial photography. The purchase was made possible by generous contributions from the Heritage Lottery Fund (National Heritage Memorial Fund) and the National Art Collections Fund.
ShelfmarkPhot.la.13
Acquired on08/02/00
AuthorMetastasio, Pietro.
TitleAlessandro nell'Indie. Artaserse. Didone abbandonata. Demetrio.
ImprintRome: Zempel
Date of Publication[1730-1732]
LanguageItalian
NotesThis is a very rare set of four librettos by Pietro Metastasio. The first two are dedicated to the Old Pretender (James VIII of Scotland, James III of England and Scotland) and his queen Maria Clementina. Both had been prominent patrons of the opera scene since their marriage in 1719. All four operas were performed during carnival at Teatro del Dame, the most prestigious of the Roman opera houses. Between 1721 and 1724, each opera season opened with a pair of operas, one dedicated to James and one to Maria Clementina. The Old Pretender (1688-1766) eventually arrived in Rome in 1717 following the collapse of the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715-1716. There he married Maria Clementina Sobieski, grand-daughter of the Polish king. Pietro Metastasio (1698-1782) is regarded as possibly the greatest Italian poet and playwright of the 18th century. He composed no less than 1,800 pieces, including 28 grand operas, music for numerous ballets and celebrations of festivals. He borrowed his subjects almost indiscriminately from mythology or history. The music to 'Alessandro nell'Indie' and 'Artaserse' was composed by Leonardo Vinci (1696-1730), a Neapolitan composer closely associated with Metastasio.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2667(1-4)
Acquired on12/06/07
TitleAllies Bible in khaki.
ImprintGlasgow: David Bryce and Son ; London: Henry Frowde, Oxford University Press Warehouse
Date of Publication[Between 1901 and 1914?]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is one of the most rare miniature Bibles produced by David Bryce and Son of Glasgow. Known as the 'Allies Bible', it is bound in brown khaki and is preceded by 15 pages of text which includes four national anthems (God Save the King, The Marseillaise Hymn, La Brabanconne, and Russian national anthem -- all in English without music) and also 'Recessional' by Rudyard Kipling and 'Evening Prayer of a People' by Neil Munro. It measures only 45 mm. in height and is accompanied by its original dust-jacket which features pictures of the Belgian, British, French and Russian flags in colour.
ShelfmarkFB.s.959
Reference SourcesBondy: page 110
Acquired on29/06/09
AuthorReinbeck, Johann Gustav.
TitleAls der Hoch-Edle, Großachtbare und Hochgelahrte Herr, Hr. Robert Scott, Medicinae Doctor, Sr. ChurFuerstl. Durchl. von Hannover wohlbestalter Leib-Medicus, am Sonntage Septuagesima 1714 durch eine gewaltsahme Kranckheit aus dem Weinberge dieser Welt von seiner Arbeit auffgefordert wurde ...
ImprintBerlin : Johan Wessel,
Date of Publication[1714]
LanguageGerman
NotesIn 1714 Dr Robert Scott, a Scottish physician working in Germany, died after a long and successful career. Scott had worked in the castle of Celle near Hanover as the personal physician to Georg Wilhelm, Duke of Brunswick-Lueneburg and then to his successor, Georg Ludwig (who in 1714 became King George I of Great Britain). Little is known about Scott except that his exceptionally pious nature meant that he was often ridiculed behind his back at the Duke's court. This poem, dedicated to his memory, was written by Johann Gustav Reinbeck (1683-1741), who had married Scotts daughter Margarethe in 1710. Reinbeck, originally from Celle, was a Lutheran theologian who, by the time this poem was published, had become a preacher in the parishes of Friedrichswerder and Dorotheenstadt in Berlin. However ridiculous Scott may have seemed to the courtiers at Celle, the equally pious Reinbeck thought fit to publish this poem, with its suitably flowery language and religious imagery, in praise of his late father-in-law.
ShelfmarkAP.4.210.34
Reference Sourceshttp://hugenotten.de/gesellschaft/_pdf/03-2008.pdf Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie v. 28, pp. 2-4 (Leipzig, 1889)
Acquired on30/04/10
AuthorSir Edmund du Cane
TitleAn account of the manner in which sentences of penal servitude are carried out in England
ImprintLondon: H.M.P. Millbank
Date of Publication1882
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a presentation copy of a work on the penal system in England. It was given by the author, Sir Edmund Du Cane (18301903), to the 5th Earl of Rosebery, who was then, as a member of Gladstone's Liberal government, under-secretary at the Home Office, with particular responsibility for Scottish matters. The book also includes a brief letter, dated 7 March 1883, from Du Cane to Rosebery. Du Cane was one of the most important prison administrators of Victorian Britain. After serving in the army, where he organised convict labour in Australia, he became in 1863 a director of convict prisons and an inspector of military prisons. A few years later he took on the posts of chairman of the convict prison directors, surveyor-general of prisons, and inspector-general of military prisons. Du Cane "exercised a profound influence on the direction of penal policy between 1870 and 1895" (ODNB). This work printed at the press at Millbank prison, London, is an update of a paper originally prepared for the First International Prison Congress which met in London in 1872. It outlines the increasingly centralised prison system in operation in England, a system which conformed to Du Cane's belief that adult criminals required short, severe prison sentences. The term 'penal servitude' was coined in 1853 with the first Penal Servitude Act, which substituted sentences of imprisonment in lieu of transportation. Under Du Cane's regime prisoners could expect solitary confinement, severe conditions such as a plank bed, a very coarse diet, no visits, no library books or writing materials, and gruelling hard labour, often including oakum picking or the treadmill. The final stage was conditional release under police supervision. It was this Du Cane-influenced system that Oscar Wilde experienced as prisoner C.3.3. in Reading gaol in 1895 to 1897, and which he bitterly criticised in "The ballad of Reading gaol". Since 1877 Scotland's prisons had also been brought under Home Office control and a Prisons Commission for Scotland had been created. Du Cane was no doubt anxious that Scotland moved to a centralised system in line with England, and in the letter accompanying this book he notes that he is "highly flattered" by Rosebery's request for this additional copy of his work, which is in a "prettier" red, half-morocco binding. Du Cane eventually retired in 1895, amid growing disapproval by liberal politicians and civil servants of his methods and imperious manner. Penal servitude, however, was not abolished in England until 1948, Scotland followed suit two years later.
ShelfmarkAB.2.213.57
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of national Biography
Acquired on03/05/13
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