June 2008 acquisitions

Here is some information on a sample of items recently acquired by Rare Book Collections at the National Library of Scotland.

Travels in Africa

African tribesman

An inhabitant of Timbuktu and a travelling Bornu represent two of the African tribes which European explorers saw in the 1820s. The engraving appears in the first German edition of a classic travel book. Its long title is 'Narrative of the travels and discoveries in Northern and Central Africa in the years 1822, 1823 and 1824'.

In 1822 the Englishman Dixon Denham set out for Africa with two Scots, Hugh Clapperton and Walter Oudney. They hoped to trace the course of the river Niger, something no European had ever achieved. Unlike others before them, the three explorers started from the north and travelled southwards. They did not accomplish their mission either, but managed to explore areas of central Africa completely unknown to Europeans.



A trip through Scotland

Illustration of a bridge
Detail from book
of verse, 1924.

A sketch of a typical Scottish scenery adorns the title page of a book of verse, 'A pilgrimage from Edinburgh to Inverness'. The author, Robert Wright, had it printed privately. He gave the book as Christmas presents to his friends. Altogether, he wrote four books of topographical verse of his tours, which took him across the whole of Britain.

Wright's 'pilgrimage' through Britain took seven years to complete. The reason for this was that he did not use any ferries across the estuaries of rivers. The resulting detours cost a lot of extra miles and time. Wright comments on the scenery, the architecture and the weather, and is generally positive about his experiences.



'Dancing without a master'

Title page detail
Detail from

A pink paper cover protects a rather flimsy pocket dancing manual of the late 19th century. It has desciptions for over 18 of the most commonly performed dances at balls or assemblies. 'Dancing without a master' served as a reminder for people who had taken dancing lessons. It was not meant for than for people new to dancing.

The previous owner of the copy we have acquired must have been sure of his steps: no pages in this copy have been opened!


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