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 763 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 763:

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Title1759 : Burns' Centenary : 1859
Imprint[n.p.]
Date of Publication[n.d.]
NotesA most unusual Robert Burns item, which seems to have belonged to Burns' descendants. This volume contains an ode to the poet ('Ye beauteous stars, which ever shine above us'), which is bound up with a variety of photographic and manuscript material. At the head of the title-page is the manuscript note 'Presented to the sons of the Poet by the author, Washington Moon.' This may be the minor poet George Washington Moon (1823-1909). There are manuscript corrections to the poem which appear to be in the same hand. Many poems were produced to commemorate the centenary of Burns' birth, but there does not seem to be any record of this work as an independent publication. Perhaps it was printed privately, or extracted from a larger anthology as a presentation copy. Perhaps it was Burns' sons who had the volume made up as it currently stands: Moon's poem was bound in gilt maroon morocco, and had a number of blank leaves bound in after it which were used to attach various items relating to Burns. First is a photograph of a portrait of Burns, produced by John Ross, an Edinburgh photographer, with manuscript notes on the back and on the page indicating that it was presented by the poet's grand-daughter Mrs. Hutchinson in 1870. There is a photograph of the Burns' monument in Edinburgh, and another of a picture, possibly a scene of the 'Cottar's Saturday Night' produced by a Cheltenham photographer, G. Bartlett. Below this last photograph is a manuscript note dated 'Aug 14 / 08' [1808?]. Then follows a letter from one of the Hutchinsons to a Mrs Lamb about the 'Cottar's Saturday Night'. Next is a copy of a letter apparently given in Lockhart's Life of Burns, and a fragment of another Hutchinson letter. Finally is what purports to be an actual example of Burns' wax seal. A clue to the construction of the volume is given by a note on the recto of the flyleaf before the title-page: 'To Mrs Kershaw Lamb, as a small remembrance of her friends Col. William Nicol Burns, and Lt. Col. James Glencairn Burns.' This is dated 'April 18th 1872', from '3 Berkeley Street, Cheltenham'. These are both recorded as sons of the poet, and both are known to have lived in Cheltenham. Below this inscription, in a different hand, is the statement 'Presented by Mrs. Hutchinson Grandaughter of the Poet the same who as a child is represented in the Portrait of Mrs. Burns as her favourite grandchild.' Mrs. Hutchinson is presumably Sarah Hutchinson, (1821-1909), the daughter of James Glencairn Burns, who also lived in Cheltenham. A possible explanation, therefore, is that the poet George Washington Moon presented his verses to Burns' sons William and James; they added the photographs and letters with help from Sarah Hutchinson. The volume was presented to Mrs. Kershaw Lamb: does the final inscription on the flyleaf indicate that it was presented by Mrs. Hutchinson as well as Burns' sons, or that the volume passed from Mrs. Lamb back to Mrs. Hutchinson, who then passed it to someone else? There is plenty of material here to keep Burns researchers happy for some time.
ShelfmarkABS.8.203.01
Reference Sourceshttp://www.robertburns.org/
Acquired on20/11/02
TitleCollection of single-sheet items, mainly posters and advertisements relating to land and agriculture in Scotland, dated between 1805 and 1903
NotesThese items include descriptions and valuations of estates and commercial property up for sale or rent, lists of farming equipment to be sold at auction, and a sheet of regulations for containing an outbreak of swine fever. Most are in excellent condition, particularly considering their age and ephemeral nature. The marks where the sheet was fixed to the wall can be seen on at least one item. Further evidence that these were working documents is supplied by the numerous manuscript annotations, including calculations and additions to the lists of goods. The detailed information regarding the pricing of materials, credit arrangements and the quality of particular areas of land should interest anyone researching agriculture, trade or local history in Scotland. It is also of interest as containing examples of Scottish provincial printing, in Linlithgow, Beith and Paisley. Family historians could also make use of the collection; several of the sales or re-lettings clearly came about as a result of the tenant's death, and these advertisements provide useful inventories of the tenant's furniture, tools and livestock.
ShelfmarkAPS.el.203.01(1-48)
Acquired on26/04/01
TitleOde to hope
ImprintEdinburgh: Printed and sold by T. and J. Ruddiman
Date of Publication1789
NotesThis is an anonymous and unrecorded poem printed in Edinburgh the early days of 1789. No copies have been traced anywhere nor is it mentioned in Jackson's 'Annals of English verse 1770-1835' or the 'English poetry full text database'. The only clue to the authorship is the dedication to Mr. Henry Erskine of Newhall possibly the one time Lord Advocate and Dean of the Faculty of Advocates who lived from 1746 to 1817. He also penned a few poems. This rather gushing poem deals with the inspiring effects of hope amid scenes of poverty, starvation, death and despair. There seems also to be a political connotation with references to General Wolfe, 'Bourbon's legions', 'the plains of Cressy' and Britons being roused to arms. It was printed by the brothers Thomas and John Ruddiman, part of the Edinburgh family involved in the book trade during the 18th century. Thomas (1755-1825) who became a partner in his father's printing business in 1772, was a biographer of the poet Robert Fergusson, who died in 1774. The Ruddimans published many of Fergusson's poems in 'The Weekly Magazine'. Incidentally one of Fergusson's poems published in 1773 was entitled 'Ode to hope' but it is shorter and differs in content to the 1789 item. John Ker Ruddiman became a partner with his brother Thomas in 1789, and died in Fisherrow, near Musselburgh in 1816. The brother seem to have neglected their business, which was wound up in 1798.
ShelfmarkRB.m.506
Reference SourcesSBTI
Acquired on13/12/02
TitleComplete Glossary for Sir W. Scott's Novels and Romances.
ImprintParis: Baudry's European Library
Date of Publication1833
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis volume contains three works which were published in Paris, in English, in the nineteenth century. All have been annotated, most likely by a French owner, whose notes provide a fascinating insight into how much, or how little, the Scots dialect was understood abroad in the period. The third item is Thomas Moore's poem The Loves of the Angels (1823), and the second is a collection called Tales for the Fireside or the Road, by Popular Living Authors (1854). These tales include Mrs Norton's 'The Ruined Laird', and James Hogg's 'Extraordinary History of a Border Beauty', in both of which the Scots dialect is glossed by the annotator. But the most interesting item is the Glossary to Scott, where the annotator has written in many additional entries, presumably representing words encountered in his reading of the Waverley novels. These include 'Plaid, a worsted mantle' ; 'Claymore, epee avec garde en osier'; 'Quhom, whom'; 'Sonsy, merry'; 'Yoursell, yourself'. Scott was hugely popular in Europe: this book shows how one contintental reader coped with the language in which he wrote.
ShelfmarkABS.1.203.020(1)
Acquired on16/04/03
TitleMarie der Koenigin auss Schotlandt eigentliche Bildtnuss.
Imprint[Cologne: Johann Bussemacher]
Date of Publication[1587]
LanguageGerman
NotesThis is a fascinating broadside commemorating the execution of Mary Queen of Scots from a German Catholic perspective. The German text gives an account of her parentage and life, mentioning the role of Darnley, George Buchanan and Mary's son King James VI. There is an emphasis on Mary's European connections, and above all on her martyrdom for the Catholic faith. At the head of the text is a large and striking engraving by Johann Bussemacher; the central image is of Mary, wearing her crucifix and depicted with the arms of France and Scotland. Outside the border, which contains Latin phrases, are smaller images of her decapitation, and at the head of the engraving are (presumably cherubic) hands presenting a quill and the victor's laurels. This is in better condition than the only other known copy, in the British Library, which was David Laing's copy and has been cut up into four pieces. However, the British Library copy preserves some Latin verses which have been lost from the foot of our copy. These verses, by William Crichton or George Crichton, are as follows: 'Illo ego, quae Fata sum regali stirpe parentum, / Hoc tumulo parva contumulata tegor. / Hucque meo constans generoso in pectore virtus, / Prissacque me torfit, nec temeranda fides / Stemmata nil faciunt, nil prosunt sceptra, sed una, / Dum vixit, pietas, gloria nostra fuit. / Vtque Petri cathedram revereri discas, ob illam, / En mea martyris colla refecta vides' Despite this loss, this is a very desirable addition to our strong holdings of MQS material.
ShelfmarkRB.l.129
Reference SourcesAllison & Rogers, Contemporary Literature of the English Counter-Reformation, I, no. 805 BMSTC (German), p. 599
Acquired on28/10/02
TitleTryal of Sr. Godfrey McCulloch, Vindicated, Edinburgh: 1697 (+10 other pamphlets bound in one volume)
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis volume of pamphlets was purchased primarily for the work whose title is given above. This title was entered in Aldis (3677) but no holdings information was provided: this work has not been traced in Wing, ESTC or in any library catalogue. It is therefore most pleasing that a copy of this elusive seventeenth-century Scottish work has finally been located. This work concerns the trial and execution of McCulloch, a hereditary baronet of Nova Scotia, for the murder of William Gordon in 1690. McCulloch had tried to claim the estate of the family of Cardiness as his own after a long feud. For an excellent account of the whole sordid affair, including the rumour that McCulloch was rescued by fairies, see http://www.chebucto.ns.ca/Heritage/FSCNS/Scots_NS/Clans/MacCulloch/Clansfolk_MacCulloch/EC_Sir_Godfrey.html This purchase complements the library's existing holding of The last speech of Sir Godfrey M'Culloch at L.C.Fol.76(23). There are some indications of provenance: on the title-page are practice notes apparently by one Thomas Heriot. On the final blank verso are other practice notes, including a passage which begins 'George Grant Cordiner'. The whole volume comes from the sale of the Birmingham Law Library, and the binding has the society's stamp and bookplate. The other pamphlets in the volume are also of much interest: as several of them relate to the radical writer and political leader John Lilburne, the Mary Robson Lilburn fund has been used to contribute £1200 towards this purchase. List as follows: (1) The Triall, of Lieut. Collonell John Lilburne, [imprint cropped, 1649], pp. 168 (not NLS) (2) The Triall of Mr. John Lilburn, London: Printed, 1653, pp. 44 (NLS) (3) The Exceptions of John Lilburne, London: f. Richard Moon, 1653, pp. 8 (NLS) (4) The Tryal of Lieutenant Colonel John Lilburn, London: f. & s.b. H[enry]. Hills, [colop: 1710], pp. 132 (NLS) (5) Vox Plebis, London: 1646, pp. 68 (not NLS) (6) The Cry of the Innocent for Justice, Printed, 1662, pp. 45 (not NLS) (7) A True and Exact Relation, London, Printed, 1662, pp. 22 (not NLS) (8) A Hellish Murder committed by a French Midwife, London: f. R. Sare, pub. b. Randal Taylor, 1688, pp. 39 (not NLS) (9) The Peoples Ancient and Just Liberties Asserted, in the Tryal of William Penn, and William Mead, Printed, 1670, pp. 62 (NLS) (10) The Tryal of Sr. Godfrey McCulloch, Vindicated, Edinburgh: Printed, 1697, pp. 22 (not NLS) (11) A True Relation of the Unjust Accusation of Certain French Gentlemen, London: b. J. Darby f. Richard Chiswel, 1671, pp. 44 (NLS) Conservation: this volume will need to be rebound and boxed. Some items discoloured as a consequence of being bound with others much larger or smaller.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2098(10)
Acquired on25/10/01
TitleSett of the City of Edinburgh
ImprintEdinburgh: b. Heir of Andrew Anderson
Date of Publication1683
LanguageEngllish
NotesAlthough the library has a copy of this edition at shelfmark H.Br.6, this copy is an interesting addition to the collections for several reasons. Firstly, the gold-tooled binding seems likely to be contemporary and is quite possibly Scottish. Secondly, the physical composition of the book is unusual. The marbled pastedowns have been left with their coloured stubs protruding, so one stub is found after the first two blank leaves, the second between pages 10 and 11. The stitching can be clearly seen, revealing the curious arrangement of the last six leaves (leaves are signed D, D2, [unsigned], E, E2, [unsigned] - conjugate leaves are D1 & [E3], D2 & [D3], E1 & E2). Most importantly, a comparison between this copy and our existing holding shows that our copy at shelfmark H.Br.6 has an additional title-page which has been removed from the newly acquired copy. This title-page, which was placed before sig.A2, was clearly an error as it speaks of 'the two acts of town council', when the text actually contains four acts. None of the other copies recorded by ESTC seem to have this title-page, but in the new copy, the stub where it was cut out can just be seen - presumably it was removed from the other copies too (so ESTC needs to be updated). The work is interesting in its own right, as a centenary printing of the 1583 agreement regarding the running of the burgh, and the place of the craftsmen, merchants, bailies and provost, with the addition of acts from the later seventeenth century. However, it is particularly useful to have these two copies, as they show how two copies of the 'same edition' can have important differences. Collation: 6 unsigned leaves, A8 (A1 cut out), B-C8, D3, E3. Octavo. Contents: 2 blank leaves, half-title, title-page, 'index', stub of cancelled title-page, 'Copy of the Decreet Arbitral' (pp. 1-34), 'Acts of the Town Council of Edinburgh' (title-page, pp. 1-16), 'Act anent the Town Clerks' (pp.[1]-4).
ShelfmarkABS.1.202.035
Reference SourcesWing S2647, Aldis 2426, ESTC R217074
Acquired on09/08/01
TitleLife and character of Robert Watt, who was executed for high treason at Edinburgh, the 15th October, 1794
ImprintEdinburgh: A. Shirrefs
Date of Publication1795
LanguageEnglish
NotesA rare edition (only 3 copies on ESTC, all in U.S.) of this unsympathetic life of Robert Watt, a government spy amongst the political reform societies who underwent an extraordinary conversion to the cause of revolution. Described as the 'natural son of a respectable gentleman in Scotland', he spent his formative years in Perth before working as a 'much respected' clerk in Edinburgh. However it was all downhill from there - Watt got involved in smuggling and when his offer to provide information on the revolutionary Society of the Friends of the People, for the princely sum of £1000, was spurned, he joined that Society with some enthusiasm. He was arrested in possession of a large amount weaponry, some of which is illustrated in the frontispiece, and executed for high treason in October 1794. This issue includes the name of William Lane, the London publisher and distributor, in the imprint. The other issue (copy at 3.855(3)) does not have Lane's name in the imprint. Both issues contain 'Verses written on seeing the execution of Robert Watt' which are frequently lacking in editions of this text.
ShelfmarkABS.2.204.004
Acquired on07/11/02
Title[Album of photographs and newspaper cuttings belonging to John Winning]
Date of Publicationc.1930-1944
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an album of photographs and newpaper cuttings relating to the activities of Dr. John Winning during the 1930s and early 1940s. Included are group photographs of visits undertaken by members of the Scottish Socialist Party to Germany in 1930, Austria in 1931 and Denmark in 1936. Winning was a member of Glasgow Town Council between 1926 and 1932 and he led a number of visits to the continent. A cutting from 1936 notes that 'the number of countries which Socialists can visit with enthusiasm seems to be diminishing -- Germany is no longer on the visiting list'. Winning from Larkhall in Lanarkshire began his working life as an apprentice plumber. He became involved in local politics in the 1920s and unsuccessfully stood for election for Westminster. In 1932 he resigned his Council seat to take up medicine and he worked as a GP for a number of years before his appointment as Assistant Medical Officer of Health for Glasgow in 1940. Other cuttings and ephemera document Dr. Winning's involvement in the Scottish Vegetarian Society . There are also four copies of The two worlds: the weekly journal of spiritualism, religion and reform dating from 1938 to 1942. It appears that John Winning was also an active member of the Spiritualist Church.
ShelfmarkPhot.la.22
Acquired on22/02/02
Title25 miscellaneous Scottish legal petitions, 1724-1794
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis volume of eighteenth-century petitions and memorials connected with legal disputes over land and inheritance contains many items otherwise unknown. A significant proportion of the items relate to estates in south-west Scotland, particularly Ayrshire. Manuscript notes record the outcome of many cases. The final item, Bill of Suspension and Interdict, Hugh Crawford... against John Patrick, is rather different, giving details of a dispute over who should be responsible for quartering soldiers in Beith in 1794, the innkeepers alone or private citizens generally. The description of the illegal distilling and endemic smuggling which had made it necessary to have a military presence in the town is quite fascinating. Physical condition: bound in a late nineteenth-century (?) red clothing binding in poor condition, with boards warped and spine lettering mostly erased; many of the petitions are too large for the binding and have been folded; some creases, darkening and tears.
ShelfmarkABS.8.201.06(1-25)
Acquired on06/07/01
TitleTo all householders [4 Edinburgh broadsides]
ImprintEdinburgh
Date of Publication[1808-1816]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThese four broadsides published at the behest of the city fathers of Edinburgh between 1808 and 1816 encapsulate the very essence of life in the northern metropolis at the time. Two deal with the Sabbath -- 'the improper practice of keeping open Ale or Tippling Houses, and also Shops, at all hours of Sunday' and 'measures...for keeping the Public Streets clean during the Lord's day'. In the latter case, the inhabitants were encouraged to get their servants to bring out their ashes on Saturday afternoon at the sound of a bell. The other two broadsides deal with the perennial bugbear of public disorder. A reward of 100 guineas was offered to those providing information on the 'knocking down...maltreating and robbing' of 'gentlemen and police officers. The main suspects were deemed to be 'apprentices and youth' and the offences took place on 31st December 1811. Plus ça change... In 1812 the Lord Provost and city magistrates were also berated concerning 'riots and outrages unexampled in any other City in the Kingdom' which occurred on the anniversary of King George III's birthday and another broadside strictly prohibited the citizenry from 'breaking down, cutting, carrying away ... any trees, branches of trees, planting, flowers, shrubbery; or of throwing squibs, serpents, fireballs ...'. Shopkeepers were cautioned against selling fireworks to children and masters urged to caution their apprentices and journeymen from 'intermixing with any tumultuous or disorderly assemblage of persons on the streets'. These items enhance the National Library's holdings of early 19th century ephemera and complements material being used in the RLS project 'Popular Print in Scotland'.
ShelfmarkAPS.4.202.40
Acquired on07/10/02
TitlePlan for Raising a Militia in that part of Great Britain called Scotland
NotesOnly three copies of this draft bill for regulating the militia in Scotland, by means of adapting the English Militia Acts, are recorded by ESTC (T42402). Interesting details include the fact that on page 9 the blanks relating to the number of privates to be raised for each county have been filled in manuscript (the city of Edinburgh was to raise 333 men). On the verso of the title-page is a full page of manuscript notes signed 'Richd Hewit. Clerk', which explains how the plan was drawn up by a committee of notables following a meeting in Edinburgh on 30 November 1759. The bill was rejected at its second reading in Westminster on 15 April 1760: although there was much sympathy for Scotland's vulnerability to French invasion, many still had doubts about giving arms to the Jacobites among the Highlanders. (John Robertson, Scottish Enlightenment and the Militia Issue, Edinburgh: John Donald, 1985).
ShelfmarkAPS.4.201.17
Acquired on26/06/01
TitleFull Report of the Proceedings at the Meetings of Messrs. Thompson and Borthwick, at Dalkeith
ImprintGlasgow: George Gallie & W. R. M'Phun
Date of Publication1833
LanguageEnglish
NotesGeorge Thompson and Peter Borthwick both gave lectures in Dalkeith on 22 March 1833, on the subject of the future of slavery. The anti-slavery movement was close to victory at this point, with the Emancipation Act which abolished slavery throughout the British colonies to be passed in August 1833. This small pamphlet recounts with unconcealed glee the hostile reception given to Borthwick's defence of the system and the applause for Thompson's appeal for emancipation. Borthwick's talk was given shortly after noon, and hissed by about 300 people. Thompson spoke at 7pm before about 1500 people, who seem to have cheered every other word. These antagonists seem to have confronted each other several times in the 1830s, and other publications containing their speeches and related discussions can be found. Thompson's speeches in 1833 led to the formation of the Edinburgh Society for the Abolition of Slavery; in 1834 he travelled to American to campaign against slavery, thereby placing his life in some danger. (DNB)
ShelfmarkAPS.1.201.027
Acquired on26/06/01
TitleHoly Bible [with Holy Bible. London, 1772 and Psalms. Edinburgh: b. Colin Macfarquhar, 1771]
ImprintOxford: b. Thomas Baskett
Date of Publication1755
LanguageEnglish
NotesThese nice examples of mid-eighteenth century Scottish binding come with significant Scottish provenance. The first Bible, bound in one volume, was owned by the Veitch family, who achieved prominence in the eighteenth century when the learned lawyer and MP James Eliock (1712-1793) was appointed judge, with the title Lord Eliock. This volume has Lord Eliock's bookplate, and manuscript notes on the front flyleaves record births, baptisms and deaths in the Veitch family into the nineteenth century. The actual binding is of very dark blue morocco, the boards decorated with a wheel design; the gold tooling in very good condition, as are the gilt green endpapers. A rather unexpected feature of this Bible is the note on the last free blank, which reveals that this was held up as exhibit A in a trial at the High Court of Justice in 1876. This trial related to the estate of Ann Clementina Wilson, deceased, and it seems likely that the annotations in the Bible were used as evidence. A note reads 'This is the Bible marked A referred to in the affidavit of Harry Veitch Hunter sworn in this matter before me this 15th day of March 1877'. The second Bible is bound in two volumes; although it lacks a title-page, the colophon gives the imprint as London, 1772, and the Psalms which follow the Bible has a title-page with the imprint Edinburgh, 1771. Both volumes are inscribed by 'G. Dundas Sept. 22nd. 1778.' This is a member of the famous Dundas family of Arniston. Further manuscript notes explain that the Bible was presented to Grace Dundas by Robert Colt at their wedding, and other notes record the fortunes of the Colt family into the twentieth century. Both volumes have the bookplate of Grace Colt. Various sentimental greetings cards are tipped in. The binding is of red morocco, with a design in the 'herring-bone' tradition, with some interesting stipple tooling and a fine border roll; our collections do not seem to have anything similar from this period.
ShelfmarkBdg.s.896(1)
Reference SourcesDNB, Bindings rubbings
Acquired on26/11/02
TitlePhotographs of the streets and closes of Leith] 8 Albumen prints mounted on card, with the streetnames written in pencil by a later hand, bound in a contemporary [?] album
Date of Publication1860s
NotesThese eight albumen prints probably date from the 1860s. They are of the backstreets and closes of Leith, according to internal evidence especially on print 8 showing 'Leith Funeral Establishment', and later annotations in pencil at the foot of the cardboard mounts. They are similar in subject matter to the photographs of Archibald Burns, who famously photographed the slum clearances in Edinburgh, but even more like the photographs in Thomas Annan's The Old Closes & Streets of Glasgow 1868-1877 (1900 edition). Research by historians of photography may reveal more about these important photographs, but it may be that they represent a bridge between the work of Hill and Adamson and the later work of Archibald Burns and Thomas Annan.
ShelfmarkPhot.la.20
Acquired on04/06/01
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