Here is some information on a sample of items acquired by Rare Book Collections at the National Library of Scotland. Click an image for the full picture (opens in a new window).
'Südafrikanische Skizzen' is the first German edition of Pringle's 'African Sketches', which includes his vivid and impressive narrative of his residence in South Africa. Thomas Pringle (1789-1834), born in Teviotdale in Roxburghshire, emigrated to South Africa in 1820, where he became prominent in the anti-slavery movement. On his return to London in 1826, he published an article on the South African slave trade in the 'New Monthly Magazine'. This led to his appointment in 1827 as secretary to the Anti-Slavery Society. In June 1834, a document signed by Pringle proclaimed the abolition of slavery in South Africa. This frontispiece engraving shows a group of Africans in traditional costume.
A compendium of popular medical knowledge, folklore and myth, 'Aristotle's master-piece' promises a guide to marriage, copulation and procreation. This woodcut shows 'the effigies of a maid all hairy, and an infant that was born black, by the imagination of the parents.' All kinds of remedies are proposed for infertility, difficult childbirth or 'green sickness' in virgins. This Glasgow edition of 1782 is otherwise unrecorded. A curious feature of this copy is that the endpapers are printed leaves from a sermon.
Sir James Hall (1761-1832) was a geologist and chemist and President of the Royal Society. His 'Essay on the origin, history and principles of Gothic architecture' was originally delivered as a paper to the Royal Society of Edinburgh on 6 April 1797. In it, he argued that the characteristic shapes of Gothic architecture had their roots in the forms of nature. This plate illustrates his theory: the Gothic windows are modelled on the window of a house built of willow, imitating the curling bark.