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 761 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 email@example.com
Important Acquisitions 106 to 120 of 761:
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|Title||Edinburgh and Port-Patrick time-bill.|
|Date of Publication||c.1790|
|Notes||This is a timetable for the Edinburgh to Portpatrick mail-coach, printed during the 1790s. It sets out the time and the distance for each stage of the journey, along with the name of the contractor responsible for each portion of the journey. The distance covered by the route, which took in places including Moffat, Dumfries, Newton Stewart, Glenluce and Stranraer, was 156 miles. The coach took 23 hours and 20 minutes to cover this distance, allowing for 30 minutes of 'office business' at Stranraer. This was considerably slower than the average royal mail coach, which moved at 11 mph in around 1800, and is indicative of the poor state of Scottish roads at the time.A weekly mail service from Portpatrick to Donaghadee in Co. Down (a distance of 21 miles) was established in 1662. In 1790 a daily mail service was introduced with the Post Office using its own vessels. Previously the mail had been carried by contract in privately owned ships. Portpatrick was also used as a port for sending troops and cattle to and from Ireland. The Portpatrick-Donaghdee route was superceded by the Stranraer-Larne crossing in the 1860s.
A regular coach travel for passengers between England and Scotland was only introduced in the 1750s. The journey from London to Edinburgh/Glasgow took 10 or 12 days depending on the season. By the 1780s this had been reduced to 4 days. Within Scotland there were coaches operating between Edinburgh and Glasgow from 1749 and from Edinburgh to Perth and Stirling by 1767. The use of mail coaches, which also catered for passengers, only began in Scotland in 1786 with the London-Edinburgh mail coach which travelled via the Great North Road. Edinburgh-Portpatrick followed in 1790 and Edinburgh-Aberdeen in 1798. However the heyday of the mail coach was short-lived. It was superceded by the railway in most parts of Scotland by the mid-19th century.|
|Reference Sources||Cunningham, R.R. Portpatrick through the ages. (1974)
Gordon, Anne. To move with the times: the story of transport and travel in Scotland (1988)|
|Title||The Visitor : comprising a detail of cholera lists, accidents, occurrences &c. &c.|
|Imprint||Glasgow: J. Farms|
|Date of Publication||1832|
|Notes||This is a very rare periodical published in Glasgow in 1832 to document the cholera epidemic sweeping through Scotland at the time. 'The Visitor' was published weekly from February 4th to April 25th 1832 and detailed the number of new cases, deaths and recoveries in Greenock, Paisley, Kirkintilloch and Glasgow. The worst of the outbreaks appeared to be in the west of Scotland but there was also news of the disease affecting Haddington, Musselburgh and Tranent and Edinburgh as well as Belfast, London and Newcastle.
In all over 3,000 people died in Glasgow alone. The disease arrived for the first time in Britain in 1831, probably on ships bringing imports from China. It spread rapidly in the growing industrial towns, where houses had been built quickly without any thought for sanitation or sewage disposal. There were further outbreaks in 1848, 1853 and 1866 and again the death toll was considerable.
The periodical contained practical information, including recipes for possible cures and symptoms to look out for. The publisher regarded cholera as an opportunity for people to repent of their sins and also noted the relatively large numbers suffering from intemperance who succumbed to the disease. Cholera had a huge impact on daily life - hawkers were unable to travel to the Highlands and weavers lost their jobs as there was no demand for their wares. There were also reports of 'cholera riots' in Glasgow, Paisley and Edinburgh. Surgeons were the particular target as they were suspected of 'burking' or murdering those who were ill. Three years after the Edinburgh murders by Burke and Hare, these events were still in the public mind. Apart from the news about cholera, 'The Visitor' also had a 'miscellaneous' section with details of fires, murders, drownings and robberies. In the issue for 14 March there was even mention of an earthquake in Crieff! In addition to the 20 issues of 'The Visitor' there are also a number of supplementary and related periodicals published from April to July 1832.
Morris, R.J. Cholera 1832: the social response to an epidemic. (London, 1976)|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Sir D. Hunter Blair and J. Bruce|
|Date of Publication||1807|
|Notes||This Bible was owned by Jane Baillie Welsh, who was to marry Thomas Carlyle and launch one of the greatest exchanges of correspondence in English. The book is bound for travelling, in red morocco with a fold-over flap to protect it. Inside, the flap is lined with green leather, and it is gilt-stamped 'J. B. Welsh 1814'. It is also signed 'Jane Baillie Welsh' on a flyleaf. In 1814 Jane was just thirteen and being tutored at home, in Haddington, East Lothian. The book clearly stayed with her, as Thomas Carlyle later added his own bookplate to the volume. There are remains of manuscript notes which someone has attempted to erase, but which could be reconstructed.
In 1997, the library acquired a copy of Schiller's 'Don Karlos' (Leipzig, 1804), which also has Jane's inscription and Thomas's bookplate. This latest acquisition is particularly interesting as it has this smart binding - which suggests that books were already prized by Jane as a young teenager.
|Title||Saga: the magazine of Eastbank Hospital. No.1, Summer 1953.|
|Imprint||[Kirkwall: Eastbank Hospital]|
|Date of Publication||1953|
|Notes||George Mackay Brown was the editor of this short-lived periodical published by and for the patients and staff of Eastbank Hospital in Kirkwall. A total of 5 issues were published during 1953 and 1954 and Brown contributed 23 of the 58 pieces including poetry, prose and editorials.
Brown was in Eastbank being treated for tuberculosis. The title of the magazine was suggested as he said in his editorial by 'the long and bitter struggle of men' against TB.
He had previously been hospitalized as a result of TB in 1940. At the time of this spell at Eastbank Brown was teaching at Newbattle Abbey College, near Dalkeith, Midlothian.
His time there, where fellow Orcadian, Edwin Muir was the warden, gave Brown 'a sense of purpose and direction'.
This cover illustration drawn by Ernest Marwick shows the view of Kirkwall from the hospital verandah. It is unlikely that many copies of this home-produced magazine have survived and this is therefore a very welcome edition to the Library's holdings of material
by George Mackay Brown.
|Reference Sources||Royle, Trevor. The Mainstream companion to Scottish literature. (Edinburgh, 1993)|
|Title||The Holy Bible.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Alexander Kincaid,|
|Date of Publication||1762|
|Notes||This Edinburgh Bible, which belonged to the Rev. James Oliphant, (1734-1818) is of interest for a number of reasons. Oliphant was lampooned by Robert Burns in his 1786 poem 'The ordination' for his booming voice. The Bible also contains at the front of the volume a list of the texts on which Oliphant preached, together with the dates of the sermons between 1761 and 1781. During this time he was minister at Kilmarnock and Dumbarton. Some of this information appears to have been written in a form of shorthand.
Oliphant was a somewhat controversial figure during his lifetime. His adoption of a certain kind of Calvinist theology attracted the hostility of colleagues in the Church of Scotland. In 1773 his Kilmarnock opponents even hired a man to walk the streets of Dumbarton to make fun of him.
|Reference Sources||Oxford DNB|
|Title||A new version of the Psalms of David , fitted to the tunes used in churches.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Printed for William Gordon|
|Date of Publication||1761|
|Notes||This Edinburgh edition of the Psalms has been acquired because of the rarity of the edition, the sumptuous nature of the herrringbone binding and its provenance. Only one other copy - at Aberdeen University Library - is recorded. It appears to have been bound for Margaret, Countess of Dumfries, who married the 6th Earl of Dumfries in 1771; 'M. Dumfries' is inscribed in cut-out letters at the head of the title page. It was later owned by the Countess's grandson, Lord James Stuart, younger brother of the second Marquess of Bute and M.P. for Cardiff during the early 19th century. The binding, which retains the brightness of the original crimson morocco, is tooled in gilt. There are two sets of endpapers - one the original Dutch gilt and pasted onto them, 19th century marbled papers.
William Gordon, who is named in the imprint, worked as a bookseller in Edinburgh from the 1750s until the 1780s. He also had the distinction of being sued on at least two occasions by other booksellers for selling pirated editions of other works.
|Reference Sources||ESTC; Scottish Book Trade Index|
|Title||Psalterium Sancti Ruperti (Vollstandige Faksimile-Ausgabe im Originalformat des Manuale) |
|Imprint||Graz, Austria : Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||This is a facsimile of the miniature codex 'Psalterium Sancti Ruperti' from the library foundation of St. Peter in Salzburg. The pages measure only 37 x 31 mm in size and the Carolingian minuscule is easily legibile in spite of a font size of 1.5mm and a maximal line-spacing of only 1.2mm The original Psalterium was most likely written in the third-quarter of the 9th century in north-eastern France. All 117 folios of the facsimile are according to the original border cuttings. The binding closely follows the details of the original and feature front and back book covers out of wood, two authentic, bicoloured trusses and a hand-stitched headband with exposed book spine. |
|Title||A catalogue of books, lately imported from abroad ... which will be sold by way of auction ...|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Printed for David Randie|
|Date of Publication||1726|
|Notes||An extremely rare 1726 sales catalogue printed for David Randie. Randie was postmaster in the Canongate according to a manuscript annotation on the title page. The catalogue is stitched as issued, is 48 pages long, and features 755 lots which are arranged by bibliographical format. The auction took place 'in the little Plain-stone Closs opposite to the foot of Marlin's Wynd in the Cowgate' on Thursday the 13th of January 1726.
The catalogue is extremely clean with leaves D3-4 partially uncut suggesting that the item was never actually consulted. The catalogue is not listed on ESTC.
|Title||The ten little travellers.|
|Imprint||Glasgow: John S. Marr & Sons|
|Date of Publication||c.1880|
|Notes||This is a colourfully illustrated children's book published by the Glasgow firm John S. Marr & Sons in the 1880s. This company published a large variety of material including biographies, poems and song books, from the 1860s to the 1890s. The book consists of ten pages (counting inside covers), each with a full page colour lithograph by Maclure & Macdonald of Glasgow, and 8 lines of text for the traditional counting rhyme beginning 'Ten funny little travellers, took ship across to France...'. By the end of the book the ten have been reduced to none.
The book is very much of its time in its portrayal of one of the travellers - a stereotypical black traveller, who invariably does all the work and ends up the last one left.
|Title||1951 Exhibition of Industrial Power - Kelvin Hall, Glasgow - Festival of Britain. |
|Date of Publication||1951|
|Notes||This striking catalogue marks one of Scotland's contributions to the celebrations for the Festival of Britain. The 1951 festival marked a moment of national self-confidence as the austerity of the war years started to come to an end. As the text makes clear, this is not a commercial trade fair, but a celebration of Britain's technical and economic development, and its contribution to civilisation. However, many of the firms involved have included colourful advertisements for tools, heavy machinery, power generation and financial services. One of the most interesting features is the emphasis on the generation of electricity from renewable resources: hydro-electricity and wind power are discussed and promoted. The hope is expressed that engineers 'will be able to produce in Scotland by wind-power alone as much electricity as is being produced in the country at present by any other means'. The publication suggests an optimistic and ambitious society looking to a prosperous future: unfortunately, not all the hopes expressed in 1951 have yet been fulfilled.|
|Title||The complete pocket book or, gentleman and trademan's daily journal, for the year of our Lord 1764.|
|Imprint||London: Printed for J. Johnson|
|Date of Publication||1763|
|Notes||This work, of which only one copy is recorded in the UK, contains a fascinating record of accounts and appointments of a relative or employee of James Duff, the second Earl of Fife (1729-1809). This unnamed individual seems to have been based in London sorting out the business affairs of Lord and Lady Fife. He records his correspondence with them and the payments he makes on their behalf.
The Earl of Fife was MP for Banff between 1754 and 1780. He married Lady Dorothea Sinclair (Lady Fife) in 1759. In 1763, the year in which this volume was published, he succeeded his father in the title and estates, mainly in Aberdeen and Moray. The Earl devoted himself to the improvement of the property, which he greatly increased by the purchase of land in the north of Scotland.
Most of the entries, however, concern the expenses of the Earl's man in London. For example, he was a frequent visitor to the Smyrna Coffee House in Pall Mall, a popular meeting place for Whigs during this period. He also went regularly to the theatre and the opera - both Drury Lane and Covent Garden are mentioned throughout. This was a man who was also concerned with his appearance: nosegays, shaving powder and toothpicks as well as payments to his hairdresser are recorded. He hired coaches and chairs, the 18th-century equivalents of black cabs. He also bought snuff, gloves, sealing-wax, fruit, woodcocks, teal and turkey and gave money to charity almost on a weekly basis.
|Title||[Theatre programme for two plays: 1. My son-in law 2: The frogs]|
|Imprint||[Edinburgh: privately printed]|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||This is a rare theatre programme specially printed for the performance of two plays at the home of (Henry Charles) Fleeming Jenkin (1833-1885) on May 3,5 and 6 1873. In 1868 Jenkin had become Professor of Engineering at Edinburgh University, where he encountered and befriended the young student Robert Louis Stevenson, then studying engineering. Jenkin was a man of great learning and wide interests. His home theatricals at 5 Fettes Row in Edinburgh's New Town became events in the Edinburgh social calendar. This programme was for a performance of a French comedy ("Le gendre de M. Poirier" by Emile Augier), specially translated for the occasion, followed by an English-language version of the ancient Greek comedy "The frogs". Among the cast of actors for the two plays were Jenkin, Robert Louis Stevenson and the Edinburgh-based artist/illustrator William Hole who later illustrated many of Stevenson's works. In his "Memoir of Fleeming Jenkin", first published in 1887, two years after Jenkin's death, Stevenson reminisced fondly about his amateur dramatics as part of Jenkin's company.|
|Reference Sources||DNB; RL Stevenson "Memoir of Fleeming Jenkin"|
|Title||Living wonder! Never seen in this country before.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd|
|Date of Publication||c.1809-1814|
|Notes||This is a striking and unusual flyer advertising the exhibition of a 'great serpent or boa constrictor, alive' at Stephano Polito's menagerie, probably in Edinburgh in the early years of the 19th century. Stephano (or Stephen) Polito (1763/4-1814) was born in Italy but spent the bulk of his working life in England. He started his career by exhibiting supposedly exotic human beings at Bartolomew Fair, before establishing a menagerie of 'wild beasts' many of which had been collected from East India merchantmen. He travelled around the country showing elephants, kangaroos and rhinos. Lord Byron visited the collection at Exeter Change, London in 1813 where he remarked on a performing elephant that took off his hat.
Polito travelled regularly to Scotland as well as to Ireland. It is assumed that he went to the same place in Edinburgh every year as no exact location is mentioned. Polito also claims to be the first to exhibit this species in Britain. He reassures the public by claiming that his specimen is perfectly secure and that even 'the most timorous may approach it with safety'.
|Reference Sources||Frost, Thomas. The old showmen and the London fairs. London, 1874; Oxford DNB|
|Title||The Edinburgh Rose.|
|Imprint||London: Joseph Myers|
|Date of Publication||c.1860|
|Notes||This is a remarkable piece of paper engineering from the mid-nineteenth century. At first glance it looks like a cleverly sculpted paper rose coloured in pink and green. However, once opened the viewer sees 28 vignette engravings of Edinburgh and its surroundings including Calton Hill, the Castle, Holyrood Palace, Roslin Chapel and Tantallon Castle. It is contained within an envelope, entitled 'The Edinburgh Rose' with an engraving of the Scott Monument. On one side the imprint reads, 'Joseph Myers & Co., London', and on the other 'C. Adler, Hamburg'. Myers and Adler produced a series of over 100 roses depicting views of places throughout Britain and Europe. |
|Title||[Two Scotland vs England international football programmes]|
|Date of Publication||1928, 1940|
|Notes||The earlier of the two football programmes featured here is the rare match programme of the England-Scotland football international of 1928, and is in fact the earliest international programme in the National Library's collections. The match in question was the final one of the Home Championship at Wembley Stadium and unusually it decided not who would win the competition, but who would get the 'wooden spoon'. In the event Scotland's team immortalized as the 'Wembley Wizards' unexpectedly thrashed the 'Auld Enemy' 5-1 to win for the first time at Wembley before an attendance of over 80,000. Going into the game the Scots were not expected to do well. They had lost the previous year to England at Hampden, and had drawn against Wales and lost to Northern Ireland in the other Home Championship fixtures. The team selected did not inspire much confidence either - one of the forwards Hughie Gallacher of Newcastle United had not played for a couple of months - and overall it was felt that the smaller and lighter Scots would be no match for their stronger English counterparts. However, a heavy pitch greatly helped the smaller Scottish forwards who ran rings around the lumbering English defenders. Alex James from Preston North End and Huddersfield's Alex Jackson shared the five goals, sparking great celebrations among the Scottish fans there to witness the famous victory and also among the passionate footballing public back in Scotland. The victory was also a major factor in establishing the tradition of the mass Scottish pilgrimage to Wembley every two years.
The second programme relates to a less memorable England-Scotland wartime international, but the match, according to contemporary reports, was keenly contested on the day. During the Second World War full internationals were suspended; charity matches were held instead to raise funds for worthy war-related causes. The proceeds, over £5,000, of this Scotland-England match in 1940 went to the Red Cross. A film of the match was made by Pathé News for showing to the troops at home and abroad.
The game played at Hampden in front of a crowd of 62,000 ended in a 1-1 draw. The most interesting feature of this programme is that it has been signed by most of the players. For Scotland some of the noteworthy signatures were those of Bill Shankly, then playing at Preston North End and later to become a great Liverpool manager, and Tom Walker of Hearts,later a Hearts manager in the 1950s. For England there are the autographs of Stanley Matthews of Stoke, one of the all time greats, as well as those of Stan Cullis of Wolves and the captain Bert Sproston of Manchester City. A sign of the times was that the English goalkeeper named in the programme, Sam Bartram was not allowed to travel by the RAF.