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 834 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.

Please let us know what you think of this resource, if you have information to add about an acquisition, or if you have rare Scottish books that you would like to donate or sell. Email us at rarebooks@nls.uk

      

Important Acquisitions 1 to 15 of 834:

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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
AuthorDavid Erskine
TitleFavorites [sic], beauties, and amours, of Henry of Windsor. An historical and biographical apicula.
ImprintLondon: Sherwood, Neely and Jones,
Date of Publication1817
LanguageEnglish
NotesBy a so-called "Verderer [judicial officer] of Windsor Forest", the author was in fact Sir David Erskine (1772-1837), writer and antiquary and illegitimate son of David Steuart Erskine, eleventh earl of Buchan. After serving as an army officer, Erksine was based at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, as captain of a company of gentlemen cadets. This 'apicula' is ostensibly about the life of Henry VIII, but is in fact a ramble through the history of 16th-century England with a juvenile readership in mind, as befitting the teacher of young cadets. This copy is a presentation copy from the author to Harriet Ellis, presumably a relative of Erskine's second wife, Ann Ellis. The manuscript inscription is on the recto of the front free endpaper of all three volumes. All three volumes also have the book label of "Edward and Ruby Thalmann".
ShelfmarkAB.2.216.19
Acquired on16/09/16
AuthorJohn Moncrief
TitleThe poor man's physician, or the receipts of the famous John Moncrief of Tippermalloch, 2nd edition.
ImprintEdinburgh: George Stewart
Date of Publication1716
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is the rare second edition, "very much enlarged and corrected", of a self-help manual for men and women who were not sufficiently wealthy to afford a doctor. The contents of the work are arranged according to the various parts of the body and the particular diseases affecting them. The author, John Moncrief/Moncrieff/Moncreiff, a "worthy and ingenious gentleman", was a physician and 5th baronet of Tippermalloch in Strathearn, Perthshire. He recommends cures based on folk remedies, using herbs, spices, food, drink and other substances likely to be found in the average household, as well as toe-curlingly awful treatments involving animal parts, blood and excrement, such as washing the head in dog?s urine to make hair grow on bald heads. This particular copy has the armorial bookplate on the front pastedown "The Right Honble. Patrick Hume Earl of Marchmont Viscount of Blasonberry Lord Polworth of Polwarth &c Lord High Chancelor [sic] of Scotland 1702".
ShelfmarkAB.1.216.62
Acquired on09/09/16
Author[Samuel Smiles]
TitleHappy homes and the hearts that make them.
ImprintChicago: US Publishing House
Date of Publication1882
LanguageEnglish
NotesThe Scottish author Samuel Smiles (1812-1904) became famous throughout the world for his didactic biographies and his Self-help book. Happy homes was a selection of excerpts from Smiles's existing published works, with some of the other biographical sketches changed to American historical figures to suit the tastes of an American readership. This copy is an 1882 salesman's sample book for a 644-page edition published in Chicago by the U.S. Publishing House. The sample book contains approximately 56 sample pages including the frontispiece and six other engravings. At the back of this sample book there are printed testimonials from satisfied customers and examples of the marbled end papers and of the four kinds of bindings a customer could get his/her copy bound in, once the subscription was completed. Of particular interest are the 20 blank pages to record subscriptions, of which 11 pages have been filled in by hand with the subscribers' names and the kind of binding they wished to order. The salesman has also pasted a printed slip on the first page of subscribers? names with the blurb, "its inspiring pages, rich steel engravings, and substantial binding all combine to make this beautiful volume a gift that will speak long after the lips of the giver are sealed and the voice hushed", which might have influenced his sales pitch on the doorstep.
ShelfmarkAB.3.216.09
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on26/08/16
AuthorWalter Scott
TitleMatylda Rokeby romans poetyczny
ImprintWarsaw: Jozef Pukszty
Date of Publication1826
LanguagePolish
NotesThis is the first edition in Polish of Walter Scott's narrative poem "Rokeby", translated by Wanda Malecka (1800-1860) an author, translator, journalist and publisher, who is claimed to be the first Polish woman to publish a newspaper. Rokeby was first published in English in 1813, like all of Scott's work, it had a major influence on contemporary Polish literature and the new Romantic style which became popular in the 1820s.
ShelfmarkAB.1.216.51
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on26/08/16
AuthorM.G.
TitleScotland.
ImprintLondon: Castell brothers
Date of Publication1892?
LanguageEnglish
NotesA rare survival of a shape-book for children, with colour-printed lithograph covers and illustrations printed in Germany (Munich) for the London publisher. The interior features charming illustrations and rhyming verse describing Scottish traditions and characters including the bagpipes, golf, fishwives, hunters, and the sword dance. The back cover lists the counties, major rivers and mountains of the country. The book is one of a series of five shape-books (England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, South Africa) published by Castell Brothers.
ShelfmarkIN PROCESS
Acquired on26/08/16
Author[John Patrick]
TitlePhotograph of Scotland v England rugby match at Raeburn Park Edinburgh. March 5th 1892.
ImprintEdinburgh: John Patrick
Date of Publication1892
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a large cabinet print, taken from a high vantage point near the half-way line, of a Calcutta Cup game between Scotland and England and Raeburn Park (Place), in Stockbridge, Edinburgh. Raeburn Place hosted Scotland rugby internationals until the mid-1920s when the Scottish Rugby Union acquired the Murrayfield site in Edinburgh. Both Scotland and England had won their first two games in the 1892 Home Nations Championship when the two nations met for the match which would decide the outcome of the Championship. In front of a crowd of 15,000 England won the game 5 - 0, with one try and one conversion. The photograph comes from the studio of John Patrick (1831-1923), who set up his first studio in Fife in the 1860s, having previously worked as a baker and bookseller. He moved to Edinburgh, opening a studio in 1884, specialising in portrait and landscape photography, as well as sporting scenes such as this one. A similar print for the 1894 Calcutta Cup game in Edinburgh is held in the collections of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.
ShelfmarkIN PROCESS
Acquired on12/08/16
AuthorJane Porter
TitleThaddaus Constantin Graf von Sobieski. : Novelle.
ImprintDresden: P.G. Hilschersche Buchhandlung
Date of Publication1825-1831
LanguageGerman
NotesThis is the first edition in German of Jane Porter's (c. 1776-1850) hugely popular novel "Thaddaeus of Warsaw" first published in English in 1803. Jane Porter was born in England but moved to Edinburgh with her family in 1780, after the death of her father. She was formally educated in Edinburgh but she would later claim she also received an informal education from listening to tales of Scottish history about the lives of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce as told by the servants in her home and by an elderly neighbour. These tales would inspire later when she came to write historical fiction. Porter's mother was acquainted with Walter Scott's mother, and he is said to have played with the girls when he was a boy (Scott, however, makes no reference to the family in his letters or journals). The family later moved to London where Jane began her literary career. "Thaddaeus of Warsaw" was inspired by the Polish patriot Tadeusz Kosciuszko (1746-1817), who had fought unsuccessfully to preserve Polish-Lithuanian independence from Russia. In the novel Porter creates the fictional character of Thaddeus Sobieski, who takes part in the unsuccessful nationalist struggle in Poland in 1794?5. Thaddeus flees to London, where he has further adventures, and falls in love and is reunited with his long-lost father. The success of the novel was immediate and Porter followed it up with an even more successful one "The Scottish chiefs". A footnote to the 1831 introduction of "Thaddeus of Warsaw" states that it was after the publication of "Thaddeus" and "The Scottish Chiefs in German" that Jane Porter was made a lady of the Chapter of St. Joachim and received the gold cross of the order of Wuerttemberg for her representation of virtuous Christian heroes.
ShelfmarkAB.1.216.46
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on29/07/16
Author[William Hugh Logan & Robert Henry Wyndham]
TitleLittle Bo-Peep; or, Harlequin and The Little Girl that Lost her Sheep. A Pastoral Pantomime + St. George & ye Dragon; or, Harlequin and Ye Seven Champions of Christendom. A Grand Comic Christmas Pantomime, 1857-58
Imprint[Edinburgh]: Theatre Royal
Date of Publication1857-58
LanguageEnglish
NotesThese are two unrecorded printed scripts of Christmas pantomimes, each produced for one of Wyndham's two Edinburgh theatres and written by Logan. Both works contain early lithographed illustrations by Keeley Haswelle (1832-1891), an English artist and book illustrator whose work for the Illustrated Shakespeare of Robert Chambers took him to Edinburgh. Henry Irving (1838-1905), later to become the most famous actor in Victorian Britain, appeared in both plays. He was then a 19-year-old and only a year into his long, 15-year theatrical apprenticeship, having first appeared on the Edinburgh stage earlier that year. ,Although not given credit in the dramatis personae, Irving played "Captain Scruncher, of the Wolves" in the production of Little Bo-Peep. What role he played in St. George & ye Dragon is unclear. He remained with the Wyndhams as "juvenile lead" until September 1859.
ShelfmarkAB.3.216.04(1-2)
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on22/07/16
AuthorAnon.
TitleThe balance of public favor [sic].
ImprintLondon: Thomas McLean
Date of Publication1827
LanguageEnglish
NotesA lithographic satirical print depicting Sir Walter Scott and Thomas Moore, two friends but also literary rivals, sitting on opposite ends of a giant set of scales. The scales are not balanced: Scott is seated on the higher scale, looking gloomy, clutching the nine volumes of his biography of Napoleon, while Moore, the Irish poet, is on the lower scale, looking pleased, and confidently holding up a single small volume for Scott to look at. The print refers to the fact that Scott's "The life of Napoleon Buonaparte" was due to be published on the same day in 1827 as Thomas Moore's prose romance, "The epicurean, a tale", based on his unfinished poem "Alciphron". However, Moore managed to beat Scott to the punch by getting his book published a day earlier. Scott's biography was subsequently a commercial success but met with a very mixed critical reception, whereas Moore's first novel was an immediate commercial and critical success, hence "the balance of public favo[u]r" falling in Moore's favour.
ShelfmarkAP.5.216.11
Acquired on22/07/16
Author[Peter Williamson]
TitleList of all the streets, wynds, squares and closes, of the city of Edinburgh and Canongate.
ImprintEdinburgh: Peter Williamson
Date of Publication1779
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an unrecorded broadside printed by Peter Williamson, one of Scotland?s most colourful characters of the 18th century. 'Indian Peter' (1730-1799), was abducted from Aberdeenshire as a ten-year-old, and indentured/enslaved for seven years in colonial Virginia. He was later captured by Cherokees, but escaped to narrate his adventures in travelling performances and in print. Returning to Britain he trained to be a printer, becoming a celebrated bookseller and coffee-house keeper in Edinburgh. Williamson published the first Edinburgh street directory in 1773. The present example is a large broadside printing of Williamson's directory, with a more straightforward layout, that gives the names of over 400 places in the city. It was presumably intended to be pasted-up on the walls of offices, workshops and other public areas. In addition to the list of places, Williamson also includes a number of advertisements for his own services, these include his famous "Portable Printing Presses" which he explains, is so constructed, "that it will throw off one Folio Page, or four Quarto Pages, at a time, with great ease and exactness". The broadside also advertises Williamson's edition of the Psalms of David "printed upon a new type, and superfine paper, so calculated that it may be carried in a watch-pocket or in a snuff-box". In the imprint Williamson announces that he runs a penny postal service in Edinburgh; the first postal service in Edinburgh recorded in print.
ShelfmarkAP.7.216.09
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on22/07/16
AuthorAnon
TitleNotes sur la lettre de Monsieur de Voltaire a Monsieur Hume + Reflexions posthumes sur le grand procees de Jean-Jacques, avec David.
ImprintParis?: s.n.
Date of Publication1766
LanguageFrench
NotesTwo anonymous, rare pieces on the Hume Rousseau dispute that gripped Enlightenment Europe. In the first pamphlet comes the assertion that Voltaire did not write the "La letter au Docteur Pansophe", which helped inflame the dispute. In 1766 David Hume helped the philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau, who no longer felt safe in his place of exile, his native Switzerland, to find refuge in England. Once there Rousseau soon fell out with Hume. Rousseau began to question Hume's motives in offering him shelter in England. When anonymous poems poking fun at Rousseau were published, he immediately and wrongly assumed they had been written by Hume. Rousseau retaliated by writing letters to his French associates denouncing Hume for his treacherous behaviour. When Hume eventually learnt of Rousseau's accusations he was shocked, and then angered that the fine reputation he had acquired when living in Paris was now being dragged through the mud. The two men became estranged from each other and Rousseau returned to France in 1767. In less than a year, the relationship between Hume and Rousseau had gone from love to mockery by way of fear and loathing, and much of the dispute was played out in letters and in print to the scandal and delight of literary salons in England and France.
ShelfmarkRB.s.29281-(2)
Acquired on01/07/16
Author[Anon]
TitleA scene at Glasgow, or - Sir Donald Dictate in the dumps.
Imprint[London] : W. Wells
Date of Publication1783
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis satirical broadside relates to banking in Scotland in the 1780s. From the British Museum catalogue description: "A procession of men moving slowly from left to right led by a stout, plainly dressed man holding a thread which is attached to the noses of some of those who follow him, the others being onlookers, except for a man immediately behind the leader. The labels from the mouths of the characters are a prominent part of the design." In the speech labels there are references to an Edinburgh and a Paisley bank and also a reference to the United States. The Edinburgh bank may be the Royal Bank of Scotland which opened a branch in Glasgow in 1783, and the Paisley bank is probably the Paisley Banking Company, founded in the same year with financial support from the Royal Bank. The reference to the USA may refer to the heavy buying of goverment bonds in 1783 by speculators in anticipation of the ending of the American war of independence and the releasing of government funds previously intended for the military campaign. The identity of 'Sir Donald Dictate' is possibly David Dale, the cotton and linen manufacturer, who became the first Glasgow agent of the Royal Bank thanks to his father-in-law being a director of the bank. He is possibly the stout man on the far right of the broadside. The identity of the other 10 men depicted in the broadside is not known.
ShelfmarkAP.6.216.09
Reference SourcesBM Satires 6332
Acquired on24/06/16
AuthorDavid Urquhart
TitleL'Angleterre, la France, la Russie et la Turquie.
ImprintParis: Truchy
Date of Publication1835
LanguageFrench
NotesThis is the rare first French edition of a pamphlet first published in England in December 1834 as "England, France, Russia and Turkey". The work has been attributed to the English politician Richard Cobden, but also, more plausibly, to the Scottish diplomatist and writer David Urquhart (1805-1877). Urquhart spent the years 1827-34 travelling in Greece and the Balkans, having participated in the Greek war of independence, and acted as an advisor to the British government in matters relating to the Ottoman Empire and British policy in the Balkans and Middle East. Urquhart spent the summer of 1834 sailing around the Black Sea, visiting Circassian tribes who were fighting the Russians to prevent becoming part of their empire. Returning to Britain later that year Urquhart tried to drum up support for Turkey as a bulwark against Russian territorial ambitions in the Middle East and Caucasus. "England, France, Russia and Turkey" was co-written with British ambassador to Turkey, Viscount Ponsonby, as part of Urquhart's campaign to encourage British military intervention in the area. Neither author's name was revealed, perhaps in view of the political and diplomatic sensitivities involved, as the then Tory government was very much against military intervention. For this French edition additional material was included. Tensions between Britain and Russia, over the latter's territorial ambitions in the Balkans and Middle East, would culminate 20 years later in the Crimean War.
ShelfmarkAB.3.216.07
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on24/06/16
AuthorSamuel Clark
TitleThe Christian's inheritance; or, a collection of the promises and gracious declarations of scripture.
ImprintDundee: Edward Lesslie
Date of Publication1789
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an unrecorded example of early Dundee printing, being a collection of biblical references, assembled and printed here without the biblical passages, from the index of English nonconformist clergyman Samuel Clark's (1684-1750) "A collection of the promises of scripture" (London, 1720). The bookseller who had this work printed, Edward Lesslie (1765-1828), appears to have been active in the book trade in Dundee until 1820 when, as a consequence of his involvement with radical politics he was nearly prosecuted for sedition and subsequently emigrated to the USA. The work is bound in with a copy of John Butterworth's "A concordance and dictionary to the holy scriptures of the Old and New Testament", printed and sold for another Dundee bookseller, George Milln. The ownership inscriptions in the volume include probably one of the original owner, David Messan, a Dundee merchant listed as a subscriber to the Butterworth concordance.
ShelfmarkAB.2.216.15(2)
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on10/06/16
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