Important acquisitions

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Rare Book Collections works to build up the national collections through purchases (through dealers or at auction) and donations. This directory gives details of 899 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 16 to 30 of 899:

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AuthorRobert Simson.
TitleDe trenne foersta boeckerne om coniske sectionerne.
ImprintNorrkoeping : Tryckte hos Johan Edman,
Date of Publication1764
NotesSwedish translation of Scottish mathematician Robert Robert Simson (1687-1768) was a Scottish mathematician. His work on conic sections was first published in Latin in Edinburgh, "Sectionum conicarum libri V", nearly 30 years earlier. The Swedish translation pre-dates the first English-language version of 1775. It was done by Baron Fredric Palmquist (1720-1771), who as a young man had become paralysed from the waist down and spent the rest of his life working as a fortification engineer and writing textbooks in mathematics and mechanics, as well as translating works such as these. He appears to have written his own work on the subject in 1752 "Coniske sectionerne".
Acquired on18/08/17
TitleKoenigliche Schauspiele. Freitag, den 8. October 1824. Im Schauspielhause: Kenilworth.
Imprint[Berlin: s.n.]
Date of Publication[1824]
NotesAn advertisement for a German theatrical adaptation of Walter Scott's novel "Kenilworth" in the Koenigliches Schauspielhaus in Berlin. The novel was adapted into a five-act drama by Johann Wenzel Lembert (real name Wenzel Treml) (1779-1851), an Austrian actor and dramatist. The play had its premiere in Berlin in 1822 but was not published until 1845 in "Almanach dramatischer Spiele fuer das Jahr 1845" (Vienna, 1845).
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on18/08/17
AuthorWilliam McGonagall
TitleThe execution of James Graham, Marquis of Montrose.
ImprintEdinburgh : [W. McGonagall]
Date of Publication[1894-1902]
NotesA rare, unrecorded broadside poem printed for the 'world's worst poet', William McGonagall (1825-1902), who spent the last 25 years of his life churning out bad poetry at a prolific rate. The subject of this poem was the 17th-century Scottish nobleman, the Marquess of Montrose, who signed the National Covenant but later became a staunch supporter of the Royalist cause during the Civil War. Montrose was hanged in Edinburgh in 1650, his head being cut off and displayed on a spike on the Old Tolbooth, outside St. Giles' Cathedral, until 1661.
Acquired on18/08/17
AuthorJames Frazer
TitleThe golden bough
ImprintLondon: Macmillan
Date of Publication1890
NotesThe Scottish scholar Sir James Frazer's (1854-1941) seminal work on anthropology and comparative religion has never been out of print. This copy of the two-volume first edition belonged to another Scottish anthropologist, Major-General James Forlong, who through his study of local religions when serving in the Indian army developed his own radical theories on comparative religion. Forlong has annotated his copy with some pithy comments, but of particular interest is the very rare inserted 16-page leaflet, "Questions on the manners, customs, religion, superstitions, &c." Frazer had the leaflet printed a year or two before publication of his book and circulated it to fellow anthropologists, such as Forlong, in order to gather information from them.
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on18/08/17
AuthorJames Hutchinson
TitleThe Sunyassee, an eastern tale; and other poems.
ImprintCalcutta: Baptist Mission Press
Date of Publication1838
NotesAuthor was Scottish-born James Hutchinson (1796-1870), Surgeon and Secretary to the Medical Board of the Bengal Establishment, private secretary to the President of the Council of India, who moved to the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, where the preface was composed. The other works contained within, including a "Lament for Lord Byron" were, "principally written, at prior periods ... two or three of them have appeared, in the annuals, published in Calcutta." A second edition of the work appeared in Calcutta in 1840 and a third in Cape Town in 1864.
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes.
Acquired on18/08/17
Author[Gregor MacGregor]
TitlePoyaisian land grant. 500 acres : Class G. No. ... grant of 100 acres.
Imprint[Edinburgh: s.n.]
Date of Publication1834
NotesA purported land grant of 100 acres in the "Republic of Poyais," a fictional territory on the Mosquito Coast of Central America that General Gregor MacGregor claimed to rule as "Cazique" or Prince. The Scottish con man MacGregor (1786-1845) had a long and colourful career as soldier of fortune in Central America, taking part in the Simon Bolivar-inspired wars of liberation against the Spanish, then re-locating to London, then France, and back to Scotland where he sold land grants in Poyais to gullible investors.
Reference SourcesD. Sinclair, The land that never was: Sir Gregor MacGregor and the most audacious fraud in history, London, 2003.
Acquired on28/07/17
AuthorJohn Clark
TitleDirections for using Clark's pocket microscope.
Imprint[Edinburgh : s.n.]
Date of Publication[1773]
NotesSingle sheet item giving directions for a portable microscope sold by John Clark of Edinburgh. Clark (c. 1725-c.1790) was an optical instrument maker, jeweller and goldsmith who was based in the city from 1749 until the 1790s in at least three different locations. He was the second earliest microscope maker in Scotland and became renowned for the high quality of his instruments, first offering silver ones in 1749, then a modified version in 1754 and then this brass instrument in 1773. Along with the "Directions" the Library also purchased "John Clark to the public" a single sheet advertisement item in which Clark announces that he has given up the jewellery business and will concentrate on optical instruments. Neither of these items is recorded in ESTC.
Reference SourcesCatalogue of the The Golub Collection, University of California, Berkeley.
Acquired on14/07/17
AuthorJohn Macray (ed.)
TitleThe golden lyre. Specimens of the poets of England, France, Germany and Italy.
ImprintLondon: J. D. Haas
Date of Publication1829-30
NotesIntended to be an annual volume only two appear to have been published. Volume two also contains selections from Spanish poetry. Both volumes are printed in gold ink on 'porcelain' or white-enamelled paper, on one side only, with a gold border to each leaf, making it one of the earlier examples of gold-printing in Britain, pre-dating De la Rue's gold-printed New Testament of 1831. Nothing is known of the editor, John Macray, except that he appears to have been involved in the publications of other anthologies of foreign-language poetry around this period.
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on14/07/17
TitleThe state of Kelso Dispensary; from October 1, 1816, to October 1, 1823; the last being the 46th year of the institution.
ImprintKelso : Printed by A. Ballantyne and Co.
Date of Publication1823
NotesKelso Dispensary was the first hospital in the town and only the second in Scotland (after the Edinburgh Royal Public Dispensary). The Kelso establishment was founded by the Earl of Haddington in 1777 and funded by benefactors and subscribers. Each subscriber could recommend two people who couldn't afford to see a doctor and they would receive free healthcare. This pamphlet provides a report on its activities in the 46th year of its existence.
Acquired on14/07/17
TitleThe life and work of David Livingstone missionary and explorer.
ImprintLondon: W. Butcher & Sons, Ltd.
Date of Publication1913?
NotesThis is a set of 40 glass lantern slides and an accompanying booklet to be used during the showing of the slides, presumably for younger audiences. The slides depict various scenes from Livingstone's life and travels and depict him in the usual heroic light. W. Butcher & Son was a London-based supplier of magic lanterns and lantern slides who in 1913 changed their name to W. Butcher & Sons, Ltd. An enlarged set of 49 slides was also produced for the London Missionary Society at around the same time.
Acquired on07/07/17
AuthorCharles Shirreff.
TitleThoughts on emigration, and on the Canadas.
NotesAn author's presentation copy of a work by Scottish settler, Charles Shirreff (1768-1847), who emigrated to Canada in 1817. He founded the settlement of Fitzroy Harbour on the Ottawa River in 1831. He was an early advocate of linking the river to either Lake Huron or Lake Simcoe by canal, and he published his ideas in this pamphlet, which proposed bringing labourers in to build public works, such as the Huron route, and then offering them agricultural land to settle. His plans largely came to nothing, and he became a timber merchant instead.
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes.
Acquired on16/06/17
TitleA defence of the Scots settlement at Darien.
ImprintEdinburgh: [s.n.]
Date of Publication1699
NotesOne of least 5 printings of this tract, which is commonly attributed to Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun 'The Patriot' (1655-1716), but also to George Ridpath. The author 'Philo-Caledon' rejects Spain's claim that the Scottish settlement at Darien was an intrusion of Spanish territory and appeals (in vain) to England to help make the colony to make a success. This printing has 'Edenburgh' in the imprint.
Reference SourcesESTC R215084
Acquired on02/06/17
TitleOn Monday first will appear "The Merry Elector".
Date of Publication[1857?]
NotesA satirical cartoon poster (37 x 58 cm.) on the 1857 political campaign of James Merry (1805-1877). Born in North Lanarkshire, Merry made his fortune in the iron industry. By 1871 he owned twenty-three collieries and three iron-works employing over 4500 men in five counties: Lanarkshire, Ayrshire, Fife, Dumbarton and Stirling. However, he is remembered as an autocrat who treated his workers badly. Merry ran unsuccessfully for parliament as a Liberal at Glasgow in February 1857. He was elected MP for Falkirk Burghs in April 1857 but was unseated on petition the following July. At the 1859 general election Merry was elected MP for Falkirk Burghs and held the seat until 1874.
Acquired on19/05/17
AuthorJames Busby
TitleJournal of a recent visit to the principal vineyards of Spain and France
ImprintLondon: Smith Elder, and Co.
Date of Publication1834
NotesThe father of Australia's now very lucrative wine industry was a Scot, James Busby (1801-1871), who emigrated to New South Wales in 1824. He began experimenting with vine growing on the land he received in the Hunter Valley, publishing several papers on viticulture. In 1831 he returned temporarily to Britain and the following year he made a four-month tour of Spanish and French vineyards, investigating the local vines and production methods. This book is an account of his tour, originally published in Sydney the previous year.
Acquired on05/05/17
Author[William Bailey]
Title[Collection of printed and manuscript material relating to a dinner held in honour Provost William Bailey]
ImprintEdinburgh? : s.n.
Date of Publication1848
NotesA "rich and elegant bound album" consisting of printed and manuscript material relating to a dinner held on 24 August 1848 in honour of William Bailey (d. 1859), first Provost of Portobello, a town on the outskirts of Edinburgh, now part of the city. Having worked in the flint glass trade in Newcastle, William Bailey came to Portobello about 1826 and in 1829 bought the chemical works there as a site for the manufacture of cut glass crystal and flint glassware. He built up a successful business manufacturing tumblers, decanters and other household articles, but, faced with increasing competition from glass factories in Leith and Edinburgh, Bailey decided in 1848 to convert the works to the more profitable manufacture of green bottles. In 1833 he was made the first Provost of Portobello and the old Leith-Dalkeith road was renamed Baileyfield Road after his house, Baileyfield, built about 1836. This album was presented to Bailey at the dinner and is in a handsome calf binding by Robert Seton of Edinburgh.
Reference Sources
Acquired on29/04/17
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