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 697 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Important Acquisitions 1 to 15 of 697:
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|Date of Publication||1647|
|Notes||Bound with New Testament, London, 1647 and Psalms of David in meeter, Edinburgh, 1647.
An unspoilt example of a simple binding which is likely to have been produced in Scotland in the second quarter of the seventeenth century. The tool in the centrepiece, though it resembles a thistle, is more likely to be a carnation. The crudeness of this tool and the fact the volume includes Psalms printed in Edinburgh strengthens the plausability of it being a Scottish binding. The centrepiece is typical of the kinds of tools that developed towards the end of the centrepiece period, c.1640, which is quite late by London standards.
This edition of the 'Psalms of David in meeter' printed by Robert Bryson is not recorded in Aldis or Wing. He was primarily a bookseller and he began printing in 1640. He was also a bookbinder, though definitive examples of his bindings have not been traced. Bryson died in 1645, so this imprint is somewhat erroneous. The business was taken over by his heirs in 1646.|
|Date of Publication||1764|
|Notes||An unusual contemporary binding for a 1764 Edinburgh-printed edition of the Bible. It is the first of two (or possibly three) volumes. A small number of similar floral bindings were produced in the 1760s and 1770s usually in crimson or red morocco (F.4.e.17) but occasionally in green, as in this example. The library holds two similar, though not identical, bindings with this motif.
It is noteworthy for a number of reasons: the spine does not have any raised bands or compartments; it has bold block-printed Dutch gilt endpapers and most strikingly the foredge is tooled in blind, with the petals decorated in red (now faded) in a complementary floral design. On the upper pastedown is the bookplate of James Drummond, possibly dating from the 1880s. (Bookplate also in RSM.23, acquired 1887).|
|Title||Photographs 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 Publication||1860s|
|Notes||These 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.|
|Imprint||London: John Field|
|Date of Publication||1653|
|Notes||This is a beautifully bound Bible in two volumes with the second volume also containing The Psalms of David in Meeter ... Allowed by the Authority of the General Assembly of the Kirk of Scotland. According to the British Library Catalogue 'a spurious edition, not printed by Field.' Field is designated Printer to the Parliament on the general title page and 'one of His Highness's Printers' on the New Testament title. An inscription on the flyleaf of the 2nd vol. Reads: Janet Mitchel/ hir Booke/ 1730 aged 13 the 30th/ of January.
The binding is early 18th century Scottish red morocco elegantly gilt in 'herring-bone' style featuring a variety of floral emblems. The spines are tooled in gilt between raised bands with green patterned pastedowns and free flyleaves. The library has a similar, though not identical, binding. This is excellent example of an early 18th century Scottish binding.|
|Reference Sources||Wing B2240|
|Title||Queensland Scottish Advocate|
|Date of Publication||1908-1911|
|Notes||'The official organ of the Queensland Scottish Union', this journal does not appear in COPAC, OCLC, or the catalogues of the National Library of Australia or of Queensland State Library. It provides a fascinating insight into the Scottish community in Brisbane at the start of the twentieth century, with photographs of 'our Queensland Scottish' in full Scottish costume, articles about local and Scottish current affairs (including at least one by Lord Rosebery), Scottish history, Scots poetry and songs (again by locals as well as traditional ballads).
There are also reports of the activities of Caledonian Societies and Burns Nights throughout the region, articles on Scottish history and culture, 'household hints' and recipes, and advertisements with a Scottish theme (many for Scotch whiskey).
Bought from an Australian bookseller, this copy is probably the only one in Scotland, and almost certainly the only one in public hands in the UK. Nothing is known to us about the Queensland Scottish Union other than what appears in this bound volume, containing Vol. 1.1 to 3.12, and we do not know if any further issues were produced.|
|Imprint||London: b. T. Maiden f. Ann Lemoine|
|Date of Publication||[1806-9]|
|Notes||Here are two finely-bound volumes of novellas and poems, most with a strong Gothic flavour. The titles give the game away ('The Tomb of Aurora', 'The Midnight Hour', 'The Mysterious Spaniard'). 'Gothic' literature in English includes some of the most important early novels, such as Matthew Lewis' 'The Monk' and Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein'. Gothic writing is characterised by a fascination with the medieval period from which it takes its name, an obsessive interest in the supernatural, an exploration of the emotions tending towards the sensual, and an appreciation of wild and romantic landscapes. There were many who had concerns about the influence of Gothic writing, such as Jane Austen who parodied the conventional Gothic narrative in 'Northanger Abbey'. 'Wild Roses' feels the need to open with a declaration that the editors have sought 'to prune from them every Luxuriance which might justly offend the Breast of Morality.' The blood-soaked pages which follow explain why such a disclaimer was felt necessary.
Although many of the main 'Gothic writers' were English, the genre had a major impact on Scotland (part of 'Frankenstein' is actually set in Scotland), and on Scottish writers such as Burns, Hogg and Scott. Many of Walter Scott's 'historical' novels show traces of Gothic influence, and one of the most important features of 'Wild Roses' is the fact that it includes a poem by Scott. 'The Maid of Toro', which appears at the end of 'The Captive Prince' in vol. 2, presents the despair of a medieval maiden hiding in a wood, who learns of the slaughter of her champion in battle, despite her prayers to the Virgin. It is a highly appropriate inclusion. Intriguingly, this printing of the poem was not recorded by Todd and Bowden in their Scott bibliography, which notes the first printing of the poem in 1806 (Todd 21Aa).
The works collected in these volumes seem to have been printed in 1806-1809, judging by the dates on the numerous engraved plates. The title-pages are undated. The items seem to have been printed as chapbooks in blue wrappers, a fragment of which adheres to the verso of the plate illustrating 'Livonia of Venice' in vol. 2. However, they were clearly intended to be bound up as a collection, as the signatures are continuous, and the final page in each volume gives the correct number of pages in each. The whole set is in excellent condition, bound in half red roan and red grained paper, with gilt-tooled spines bearing green leather labels. Both volumes have the bookplate of the Bibliotek Tido.|
|Reference Sources||Todd & Bowden. Todd 21Aa
|Title||Full, true, and particular account of the trial and condemnation of Wilson Potts, late Captain of the Dreadnought Privateer, belonging to Newcastle, who was sentenced to be hanged at the Stood Mark, near Leith, on Wednesday the 13th of February next|
|Date of Publication||s.n., 1712 or 1723?|
|Notes||A broadside, printed recto only in two columns with a woodcut of a ship at head of title. It concerns Potts' trial for rape, theft, robbery and piracy. The first three charges were not proven but he was found guilty of the latter and sentenced to be hanged at the Stood Mark "a rock about two miles in the sea". No year is given but it appears to be early 18th century with February 13th falling on a Wednesday in 1712 and 1723.|
|Title||Volume of Edinburgh newspapers, 1759-1770|
|Date of Publication||1759-1770|
|Notes||This volume of newspapers comes from the library of the Writers to the Signet, and also displays the bookplate of Steuart of Allanton. The papers are in generally good condition, with tax-stamps and occasional manuscript notes; there are a few tears and worm-holes. The run of the Edinburgh Weekly Journal is darkened and damaged at the edges, probably because it is notably larger than the other newspapers. It is this run which gives the volume its particular interest, as these editions (from 7 August 1765 to 11 October 1769, with many gaps), do not seem to be represented elsewhere in the National Library, or indeed in any other collections. Published on Wednesdays, the Edinburgh Weekly Journal was sold at the printing-house of William Auld & Co., later Auld, Smellie & Co., in the Lawnmarket at 2½d. Later editions give details of the price of subscription (10s10d a year for collection from the shop, 11s10d a year for delivery within Edinburgh, 14s a year for post to any town in Scotland). Typically for a journal of this period, it contains extensive foreign news, news from London, Edinburgh and America, and miscellaneous advertisements: for miracle cures, the sale of land and buildings, and for dramatic performances and new books. Storms, explosions, murders and 'remarkable occurrences' are described with gusto. There are also a number of poems and letters. See W.J.Couper, Edinburgh Periodical Press (1908), II. 93-6; M.E.Craig, Scottish Periodical Press (1931), 26.|
|Title||Collection of single-sheet items, mainly posters and advertisements relating to land and agriculture in Scotland, dated between 1805 and 1903|
|Notes||These 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.|
|Title||Complete Glossary for Sir W. Scott's Novels and Romances.|
|Imprint||Paris: Baudry's European Library|
|Date of Publication||1833|
|Notes||This 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.|
|Title||Weekly miscellany [of instruction and entertainment]|
|Imprint||Glasgow: William Bell|
|Date of Publication||1791|
|Notes||The Weekly Miscellany was published from 1789-1792, but few copies of its later years seem to survive. The NLS already has No. 1 (25th June 1789)-no. 26 (16th Dec. 1789) (NG.1588.b.5); this is a rare copy of the issues for 1791: No. 85 (2nd Feb) to No. 131 (21st Dec). The journal contains articles covering a wide range of subjects - contemporary politics, the anti-slavery debate, and historical articles are mixed with essays, poetry and fiction. While the subjects are world-ranging, there is a special interest in Scottish affairs, such as recollections of the Jacobite rebellion (including an 'Imitation of Psalm CXXVII. by a Scots Gentleman upon his arrival in France, summer 1746' (p. 142). More notably, this particular volume contains what is probably the first appearance in print of Robert Burns' poem 'Written in Friars Carse Hermitage' (p. 382, 31 Nov 1791). (Certainly it is the first surviving appearance, though Egerer conjectures that this poem may have been printed in 1789). It also contains Burns' Address to the Shade of Thomson (p.319, 2 Nov 1791), which had already appeared in the Edinburgh Advertiser.
This particular copy is not perfect, lacking some numbers and with some torn pages, but these imperfections are greatly outweighed by the rarity of the volume.|
|Reference Sources||ESTC P2351
J.W. Egerer: A bibliography of Robert Burns. London, 1964. Item 1260, p.344. (Friars Carse)
Item 24, p. 37 (Thomson)|
|Title||New South Wales calendar and General Post Office Directory, 1836|
|Date of Publication||1835|
|Notes||This copy of the short-lived New South Wales calendar, published from 1832 to 1837 has an notweworthy Scottish provenance. The upper flyleaf has the signature of one Alexander Imlay (1801-1847), surgeon, landowner and speculator. He was one of a trio of Aberdeenshire brothers, all surgeons, who arrived in Sydney in the early 1830s, a time when the colonies were expanding beyond the south-east corner of the continent. In 1832 Alexander toured the southern coast with Governor Bourke and six years later made a pioneering journey in South Australia across the Mount Lofty Ranges to the Murray river. At the peak of their land speculation the Imlays owned some 1500 sq. miles of southern territory. They remained in the area and in 1839 Alexander, described by 'The South Australian' as an 'eminent and enterprising colonist' arrived in Adelaide with a cargo of cattle and sheep.
The volume contains some useful information about the development of the burgeoning colony in the 1830s. Included are 'regulations for the assignment of male convict servants' and a 'Report on the epidemic catarrh, or influenza, prevailing among the sheep in this colony' which resulted in the loss of 2,500 animals. There are also lists of ministers of the Church of Scotland, (p.325) and arrivals (some from Leith) and departures of ships in Sydney harbour (p. 378-p.397) The Post Office Directory at the back of the volume reveals many Scottish surnames, as well as a number of finely engraved advertisements.
During the period in which this calendar was published, the number of 'unassisted' immigrants from Scotland, mainly from the Lowlands, increased noticeably. Of the 110,000 assisted immigrants who arrived in Australia between 1832 and 1850, about 16,000 (14.5%) were Scots. Although Scots settled throughout the colonies, they tended to favour New South Wales (which then included Queensland and Victoria) as opposed to South Australia, Van Diemen's Land or Western Australia.|
|Title||Catalogue of books in quires, which will be offered to a select company of booksellers, at Hunter's Tavern, Edinburgh on Tuesday, October 21. 1794.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh, [William Creech],|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||An unrecorded catalogue of a book sale conducted by William Creech (1745-1815). The sale consisted of 348 lots arranged alphabetically by author or title, with each lot containing anything from a single copy for multi-volume works (e.g. Baronage of Scotland) to 50 copies (Ruddiman's Rudiments of the Latin tongue). All the books were offered unbound ('in quires'), a practice not unknown in the 18th century. The NLS also holds other catalogues of sales conducted by Creech 6.740(1) (1791) at Bdgs.89 (1793). The very large format of this catalogue is unusual and may account for its rarity.
Creech was known throughout his career for his disorganized finances; and this sale was perhaps intended as a method of reducing an overlarge inventory or improving cash flow. Successful bidders were offered extended payment terms, depending on the size of purchase. He was also known as being a sociable character - the sale was preceded by 'dinner on the table at three o'clock' with the sale beginning immediately afterwards.
William Creech was apprenticed to the Edinburgh booksellers Kincaid and Bell before learning more of the trade in London and on the continent. He established his own premises in the Luckenbooths in 1773 and remained in business there until his death in 1815. Creech was a member of the Town Council and served as Lord Provost from 1811-13.|
|Title||Bunch o' gatherings glean'd from the two past generations consisting of eight-page ballads, songs, tales, elegies, executions, &c., mostly poetical …|
|Imprint||Paisley: William Anderson|
|Date of Publication||1860|
|Notes||These two volumes of chapbooks were compiled by the Paisley 'broker and bookseller' William Anderson. Apparently he had come across a pile of undistributed chapbooks languishing in a Paisley warehouse. He then had them bound up into collections and issued them in volumes of between 30-100 chapbooks as is stated on the title page. Both these volumes containing 53 and 56 items were issued with a frontispiece of Robert Tannahill the Paisley poet/song-writer. Only one other copy - in Cleveland Public Library - has been traced.
Most of the chapbooks date from the 1820s and were printed in towns throughout Scotland including Glasgow, Edinburgh, Stirling, Falkirk and Paisley. Most of them are already included in the National Library's collections, but there are a number of additions to the collection including 'The news to which is added, the humours of Glasgow Fair' printed by R. Hutchison at the Saltmarket, Glasgow and the wonderfully titled Paisley chapbook 'The wonderful advantages of drunkenness'
Included in the second volume are a number of issues of the Paisley Repository published in the early decades of the 19th century. Anderson had published issues of a penny periodical called the 'New Paisley Repository' between 1852 and 1853.|
|Title||Catalogue of books belonging to the library of St. Andrew's Chapel, Aberdeen.|
|Imprint||Aberdeen: printed by George Cornwall|
|Date of Publication||1839|
|Notes||This pamphlet adds significantly to the Library's holdings of works providing information about the history of libraries and collecting in Scotland. St. Andrew's Chapel in Aberdeen was built in 1816 and opened in 1817 as a meeting-place for the Episcopalian congregation. It was raised to the dignity of a Cathedral church in 1914. The chapel library was apparently formed in 1831, and according to the preface in this work, several catalogues had already been issued before 1839. It would seem that the library was well-organised (at least on paper!): the preface discusses the collection development policy and notes that the holdings of serials are particularly strong. Detailed rules and regulations are given before the catalogue itself.
Naturally, the books are mainly theological, and particularly relate to the cause of the Episcopal Church. What is particularly notable is the number of early works, including several seventeenth-century Scottish books (Aldis items). There are also novels, biographies and collections of pamphlets. It would be interesting to know more about the ways in which this collection was formed (and, indeed, its eventual fate).|