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 848 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 1 to 15 of 848:

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Authors.n.
TitleOn Monday first will appear "The Merry Elector".
Imprint[Edinburgh?]
Date of Publication[1857?]
LanguageEnglish
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.
ShelfmarkIN PROCESS
Acquired on19/05/17
Author[Anon]
TitleThe red-breast, a tale
Imprint[Edinburgh?: s.n.]
Date of Publication1787?
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an unrecorded printing of a mock erotic poem, dated at the end 'Edinburgh, 1787'. The less than polished nature of the printing suggests that the item was printed on a private press where the amateur printer had limited typefaces to hand and did not correct the errata at proof stage. The poem is prefaced by quotes from James Thomson's "Seasons" (Winter) and his "Castle of Indolence", and is written in the overwrought style of a contemporary love poem. The main content of the poem itself concerns a 'robin' creeping into a bedroom where 'Miss Fanny' is sleeping in a chair. The robin hops up to between her legs and leaps up with "hopes of bliss" only for Fanny to wake and tear him from his 'nest' and dash him lifeless to the floor.
ShelfmarkAP.1.217.27
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on07/04/17
AuthorJulie de Gerschau
TitleQuicksands
ImprintLondon: Spottiswoode & Co.
Date of Publication1888
LanguageEnglish
NotesA fictionalised and incomplete account of the life of Mary Queen of Scots by the daughter of a Russian aristocrat of German ancestry, Julie de Gerschau (1870-1887), privately published after her death. The work contains a preface by author's father, Baron Gerschau, who also seems to have acted as editor, and presumably funded the publication as a memorial to his daughter, who died of typhoid fever while staying in Rome. Julie 'Loulou' appears to have had a particular passion for Mary Queen of Scots which led to her to begin writing this historical novel. This copy is a presentation copy to a "Miss Coles" from Baron Gerschau. It has a mounted photograph of the author as a frontispiece, with "Loulou Gershaw" written in manuscript underneath, and a copy of a drawing of "Mary Stuart after a drawing by the author", inserted after page [100].
ShelfmarkAB.1.217.105
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on17/02/17
AuthorHector MacPherson
TitleHere's to the Heather. Poems and Songs.
ImprintNew York: Scottish American press
Date of Publication1896
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis volume of verse, some of which is written in Scots, was by the Scottish journalist and political campaigner Hector Carsewell MacPherson (1851?1924), best known for his books on Thomas Carlyle and Adam Smith for the 'Famous Scots' series. MacPherson was at the time editor of the Edinburgh Evening News, known for his strong stances on the importance of free speech, the independence of small nations and his pro-Liberal Party views. No copies of this work are recorded in other major libraries in the UK and there are no other publications recorded as published by the Scottish-American Press of New York.
ShelfmarkAB.2.217.26
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on10/02/17
AuthorRushton, Edward & Burns, Robert.
TitleThe Maniac [&] The Chevalier?s Lament, After the battle of Culloden.
Imprint[Scotland?: s.n.]
Date of Publication1800?
LanguageEnglish
NotesAn unrecorded broadside, possiblty printed in Scotland, containing early appearances in print of two songs relating to failed uprisings in the British Isles. The first song in the broadside 'The Maniac' is better known under the title 'Mary le More'. It was written by the radical Liverpool poet Edward Rushton (1756-1814), and describes the brutal reprisals after the United Irishmen's unsuccessful rising in 1798. It is first recorded in print in 1800 and appears in a number of later 19th-century broadside ballads in the Library's collections. 'The Chevalier?s Lament' was written by Robert Burns in the voice of Prince Charles Edward Stuart, it contrasts the joy felt at the coming of spring with the ruin that defeat at Culloden brought to the Prince's supporters. Burns wrote the opening stanza in 1788 and added a second one probably later that same year. The song first appeared in print in 1799, three years after Burns's death. This printing has a number orthographical and textual differences compared to both the manuscript copy of the poem preserved in Burns's second commonplace book and to other early recorded printings.
ShelfmarkAP.6.217.01
Reference SourcesBurns and Broadside Publication "The Chevalier's Lament" at auction in Macon, Georgia by Patrick Scott, edited by Frank R. Shaw, FSA Scot. http://www.electricscotland.com/familytree/frank/burns_lives247.htm
Acquired on09/01/17
AuthorJames Miller
Title[Specimen of miniature lithographic printing by the lithographic printer James Miller of Glasgow]
ImprintGlasgow: James Miller
Date of Publication1828
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis small sheet of paper (9 cm square) comprises an outer ring of text containing a list of the items printed in miniature: The Lord's Prayer, the Creed, the 133rd psalm [etc. ] ... being betwixt 2000 and 3000 letters written in the compass of a sixpence by J. Miller lithographic printer Glasgow. 1828; and an inner, sixpence-sized, circular block of text containing the aforementioned texts as well as a drawing of the Glasgow city arms in the centre. The lithographic printing process, discovered in 1798, reached Scotland in the 1810s and the first recorded lithographic printer in Scotland was in business by 1819/1820. James Miller, active in Glasgow between 1825 and 1840, was regarded as one of the best exponents of the process, known for his "consummate skill in selecting and training staff ... several of the finest lithographers in Scotland first learned their art in his establishment" (Schenk).
ShelfmarkAP.1.217.20
Reference SourcesDavid H.J. Schenck "Directory of the lithographic printers of Scotland 1820-1870" Edinburgh, 1999
Acquired on06/01/17
AuthorBallantyne, R.M.
Title[Ballantyne's Miscellany set]
ImprintLondon: James Nisbet & Co.
Date of Publication1886
LanguageEnglish
NotesA complete set of the 18 works which made up 'Ballantyne's miscellany', a series of adventure stories written by the prolific Scottish children's author Robert Michael Ballantyne (1825-1894) and which were originally published between 1863 and 1866. The 18 volumes in this set are dated between 1882 and 1886. The stories in the Miscellany were shorter in length than Ballantyne's other children's books and were aimed at the poor and relatively uneducated. They have a strong didactic content, primarily religious, but also covering history, geography and science. This particular set is complete with the publisher's cloth-covered presentation box, with the volumes inside in almost mint condition, perhaps testimony to the fact that this series was not as successful as Ballantyne's other, less didactic, works.
Shelfmark AB.1.217.98
Acquired on06/01/17
AuthorDownman, Hugh.
TitleInfancy, or The management of children: a didactic poem in four books. 4th edition.
ImprintEdinburgh: Printed for John Bell,
Date of Publication1788
LanguageEnglish
NotesHugh Downman (1740-1809) a West Country physician and poet studied medicine as a young man in Edinburgh, staying at the house of the blind poet and orator Thomas Blacklock. He seems to have maintained a link with the city by having editions of this, his best known poem, published in Edinburgh. Downman was well known as a presenter of copies of his books to friends and wider acquaintances. This copy contains a presentation inscription in the author's hand to the leading 18th-century tragic actress Sarah Siddons (1755-1831) and a gushing manuscript poem entitled 'To Mrs Siddons' which begins with the line 'To praise those wondrous talents wch. command'.
ShelfmarkAB.1.217.85
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on16/12/16
AuthorR.M. Ballantyne
TitleFighting the flames: a tale of the London fire brigade
ImprintLondon: James Nisbet
Date of Publication1867
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is the rare first edition of Ballantyne's children's novel, in the original blue publisher's cloth binding with advertisements at the end. It was one of the earliest works Ballantyne had published by the firm James Nisbet of London. Having initially been published by Thomas Nelson and then by Routledge, he moved to Nisbet in 1863 and stayed with them until his death in 1894. The story concerns Frank Wilders a young hero of the London Fire Brigade and his various adventures. This copy was presented by Louisa Gladstone (1837-1885) of Fasque, Scotland, to her brother John Robert Gladstone (1852-1926), the nephew and niece of William Ewart Gladstone. Inscription on title page: "J. R. Gladstone from L.G. Christmas 1867.
ShelfmarkAB.1.217.91
Acquired on16/12/16
Author[Miscellaneous]
TitleNouveaux melanges de poesies grecques, auxquels on a joint deux morceaux de litterature angloise.
ImprintAmsterdam : Chez la veuve Merkus
Date of Publication1779
LanguageFrench
NotesThis French-language anthology contains translations of Greek poetry by one Scipion Allut of Montpellier (d. 1786), from works by Theocritus, Moschus, Bion, Homer, Musaeus, Coluthus and Triphiodorus. There are also "deux morceaux" of English literature which happen to be a translation of Oliver Goldsmith's ballad 'The hermit' which appears in the "Vicar of Wakefield" and David Hume's essay 'The Epicurean' which was first published in the second volume of his "Essays, Moral and Political" in 1742 and which was first translated into French in 1764.
ShelfmarkAB.2.217.19(1)
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on16/12/16
AuthorRichard Johnson
TitleThe illustrious and renowned history of the seven famous champions of Christendom.
ImprintGlasgow
Date of Publication1772
LanguageEnglish
NotesThe only known copy of this anonymously published romance. The Seven Champions of Christendom are the patron saints of Scotland, England, Wales, Ireland, France, Italy and Spain. Their deeds had been popular in Europe for over a thousand years before being set down in this form by Richard Johnson (active 1592-1622) in 1596. Johnson's entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography describes the work as containing "a heady mix of romance, adventure, Christian crusading high-mindedness, and misogynist, vindictive, and racially directed violence.". The saints are depicted in simple woodcuts of the type commonly found in broadside ballads and chapbooks. The book bears the armorial crest bookplate of Peter Forbes and shows Glasgow provenance in the form of the ownership inscription of David Murray and the bookseller's label of Kerr & Richardson.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2931
Acquired on12/12/16
AuthorWilliam Brown
TitleHonour on crutches
ImprintGlasgow: William Lang
Date of Publication1822
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an unrecorded pamphlet which resembles something of a modern-day Twitter spat. The text reveals, in full, a brief exchange of letters between William Brown of Greenockmains, Muirkirk, and Alexander Aird of Crossflatt, Muirkirk, in which Aird accuses Brown in a letter, dated 26 November 1821, of uttering defamatory words at the last meeting of the Muirkirk Debating Society. The alleged words were that "clergymen were better adepted [sic] for Justice of the Peace then sheep smearer, or in otherwords, then one whose fingers were dipt in tarr." And Aird assumed that he was "the person intitled the sheep smearer" referred to by Brown. The latter confirms that it was he who spoke the words at the Society meeting and Aird immediately proposes a duel as the only solution. Brown responds with a witty putdown to which Aird does not reply. Aird's letters are printed with a number of spelling mistakes, intended to highlight his lack of education and low social standing. The final two letters of Brown, dated 17 December, 1821 and 17 April, 1822, remain unanswered by Aird, the final letter announcing Brown's intention to publish the correspondence in view of Aird's failure to apologise to Brown. The final three pages of the pamphlet are devoted to "Notes" by Brown explaining the history of the Muirkirk Debating Society (instituted in 1820 with fortnightly meetings to discuss "questions unconnected with religion and politics"), sheep smearing and duelling. Quite why Brown really felt the need to go to the lengths of revealing his dispute with Aird is a mystery, perhaps because Aird felt sufficiently provoked to challenge him to a duel (four years later, in 1826, the last recorded duel in Scotland was fought in Fife).
ShelfmarkAP.2.217.01
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on11/11/16
AuthorScott, Walter & Douglas, David, ed.
TitleThe journal of Sir Walter Scott from the original manuscript at Abbotsford, + Familiar letters of Sir Walter Scott.
ImprintEdinburgh: David Douglas
Date of Publication1891 & 1894
LanguageEnglish
NotesDavid Douglas (1823-1916), described in his newspaper obituary as one of Edinburgh's "oldest literary patriarchs", was a publisher who worked for Blackwood's before forming the firm of Edmonston & Douglas. As a keen admirer of Walter Scott's works, and someone who personally had known some of Scott's friends and acquaintances, he was the first to edit and publish a collection of Scott's correspondence and his journal to meet the demand of scholars and fellow Scott devotees around the world. These are Douglas's own proof copies of these works with extensive annotations by him, showing the care and attention he devoted to his work.
ShelfmarkAB.3.217.10-11 & AB.3.217.14-15
Acquired on04/11/16
AuthorDu Val, Michael.
TitleRosa Hispani-Anglica seu Malum Punicum Angl' Hispanicum.
Imprint[London: s.n.]
Date of Publication1622
LanguageEnglish
NotesThe first edition in English of an elaborate and curious pro-Spanish tract concerning the long-running negotiations from 1614 to 1623 for the proposed marriage between the heir to the British throne, Prince Charles, and the Infanta Maria Anna, daughter of Philip III, King of Spain. The preliminaries are signed by a 'Michael du Val', a pseudonym for an unidentified author, who was clearly a supporter of Count Gondomar, the Spanish ambassador to England between 1614 and 1618 and 1620 and 1622. Gondomar's mission was to promote the Spanish marriage as a means of keeping King James VI/I from allying with other European Protestant states against Spain in the Thirty Years' War. The negotiations for the 'Spanish Match' eventually resulted in an ill-fated embassy of Charles and the 1st Duke of Buckingham to Madrid in 1623. The wedding never took place despite the signing of a marriage contract by James. Maria Anna was strongly against marrying a non-Catholic, and the Spanish would never have agreed to the marriage unless James and Charles pledged to repeal the anti-Catholic penal laws in England. The widespread opposition to the match in England led instead to the dissolution of Parliament. Charles went on to marry Princess Henrietta Maria of France and Maria Anna married Ferdinand III, then king of Hungary, who went on to become Holy Roman Emperor.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2929
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on28/10/16
Author[John Adair]
TitleAdvertisement, anent the surveying of all the Shires of Scotland, and making new mapps of it.
ImprintEdinburgh: John Swintoun
Date of Publication1681
LanguageEnglish
NotesOnly two other copies of this Scottish broadside are recorded. It advertises the fact that John Adair (1660-1718) had been granted on 4 May 1681 a licence by the Scottish Privy Council "to take a Survey of the whole Shires in the Kingdom [ Scotland ], and to make up Mapps thereof, describing each Shire, Royal Burgh, and other Towns considerable." In the broadside Adair asks for assistance from the "Nobility, and Gentry, the Magistrates of Royal Burghs ... to give me all the best information they can ... and in so doing, they shall not only do that good service to their Countrey ? they shall have honourable mention made of them in the proper places of Work." Adair's mapping work was important because it represented the first survey-based mapping of Scotland since Timothy Pont's work of the late sixteenth century. His first known work, a map of Clackmannanshire, dates from 1681, the same year as this advertisement. In 1686, by act of parliament, Adair's mapping was funded from an annual tonnage levy on native ships and foreign ships, to be paid annually for five years.
ShelfmarkRB.m.766
Acquired on30/09/16
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