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 772 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 106 to 120 of 772:

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TitleThe Holy Bible translated from the Latin Vulgat [sic]. [Douai version]
Date of Publication1750
NotesThis edition of the Old Testament text of the Douai Bible, the English translation used by Catholics, was revised by Richard Challoner (1691-1781) to approximate more closely to the King James Bible, and remained the standard Catholic English Bible until 1941. This copy belonged to a Jacobite who was a prominent member of an old Catholic Scottish family, James Maxwell of Kirkconnel (1708-1762). Maxwell was an officer in the Jacobite forces during the 1745 rising, and his Narrative of Charles Prince of Wales' Expedition to Scotland is one of the most important primary sources for the event. After Culloden, he escaped to France and remained in exile for five years, returning to take up his position as laird of Kirkconnel in 1750. These four volumes, all with the family bookplate and inscribed 'Kirkconnell' in a contemporary hand', could conceivably have been acquired by Maxwell for the family library, whether as an appropriate remembrance of his time abroad, or as part of his concern to renovate the family home.
Reference SourcesBookseller's catalogue; Darlow & Moule; DNB
Acquired on26/01/07
TitleStaffa, Iona, Inverness, Cromarty, Invergordon, Burghead & Oban, Tobermory, Strontian, &c. Regular and more speedy conveyance to the above ports & .
Date of Publication1835
NotesThis is a very rare and relatively undamaged broadside from the early years of steamships plying the west coast of Scotland. The very first steamer was the Comet which sailed from Glasgow to Fort William via the Crinan Canal in 1819. Throughout the 1820s a number of ships made the long and sometimes arduous trip from Glasgow to Fort William or to Inverness via the newly opened Caledonian Canal. One of the ships mentioned here - 'The Highlander' had from 1822 taken passengers and freight from the Clyde to the Sound of Mull. 'The Staffa' operated from 1832 to 1848 mainly to the west coast and to Inverness. 'The Maid of Morven' operated from 1827 to 1850 to both west coast but also to the east coast ports of Invergordon, Cromarty and Burghead. Although the main purpose of these ships was trade - carrying freight and passengers going about their business - they also accomodated tourists visiting Staffa and Iona. The painter J.M.W. Turner travelled on 'The Maid of Morven' when he went on a sketching tour of the west coast in 1831. During this trip he visited Fingal's Cave on Staffa and made some pencil sketches.
Reference SourcesDuckworth, C.L.D. and Langmuir, G.E. West Highland steamers. 1987.
Acquired on30/01/07
TitleThe complete cellar-book or butler's assistant in keeping a regular account of his liquors.
ImprintEdinburgh : Printed for Thomas Veitch
Date of Publication[1842]
NotesOne of the many duties of butlers working in large households was to keep an account of the beverages in the cellar. This is an example of a cellar book which helped butlers to maintain an adequate stock for their masters. The preface provides instruction on how to use the book. The first line contains the number of bottles of each drink at the beginning of the week, the next line the number of bottles of each drink added. Then there are separate lines for each day of the week showing what was drunk on each day. At the end of the week the butler would simply subtract the number of bottles used from the total at the beginning of the week and with the new figures proceed to the page for the following week. Unfortunately we do not know who owned the establishment in question here. This cellar book records what was drunk from August 1842 to September 1843. Port, sherry and hock were the most popular drinks. Whisky, rum and liqueurs were rarely drunk while the columns for porter, ales and 'cyder' were not added to throughout the year. There were two weeks during the year when a lot of stock was consumed  Christmas and the week of 5 March 1843. During the latter week, 2 bottles of port were drunk, 6 of sherry, 1 of madeira, 2 of claret(1819), 7 of hock, 5 of St. Julien, 2 of sherry, 1 of claret (1815) and 1 of claret (1825).
Acquired on20/02/07
Title[Two Scotland vs England international football programmes]
Date of Publication1928, 1940
NotesThe 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.
ShelfmarkRB.m.648, RB.m.649
Acquired on28/05/07
TitleThe Holy Bible.
ImprintEdinburgh: Alexander Kincaid,
Date of Publication1762
NotesThis 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 SourcesOxford DNB
Acquired on25/06/07
TitleLiving wonder! Never seen in this country before.
ImprintEdinburgh: Oliver & Boyd
Date of Publicationc.1809-1814
NotesThis 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 SourcesFrost, Thomas. The old showmen and the London fairs. London, 1874; Oxford DNB
Acquired on04/06/07
Title1951 Exhibition of Industrial Power - Kelvin Hall, Glasgow - Festival of Britain.
Imprint[Glasgow, 1951]
Date of Publication1951
NotesThis 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.
Acquired on10/09/07
TitleThe ten little travellers.
ImprintGlasgow: John S. Marr & Sons
Date of Publicationc.1880
NotesThis 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.
Acquired on24/09/07
TitleA catalogue of books, lately imported from abroad ... which will be sold by way of auction ...
ImprintEdinburgh: Printed for David Randie
Date of Publication1726
NotesAn 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.
Acquired on18/09/07
TitlePsalterium Sancti Ruperti (Vollstandige Faksimile-Ausgabe im Originalformat des Manuale)
ImprintGraz, Austria : Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt
Date of Publication[2007]
NotesThis 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.
Acquired on28/08/07
TitleA new version of the Psalms of David , fitted to the tunes used in churches.
ImprintEdinburgh: Printed for William Gordon
Date of Publication1761
NotesThis 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 SourcesESTC; Scottish Book Trade Index
Acquired on24/09/07
Title[Street traders' silhouettes]
Imprint[s.l. : s.n.]
Date of Publicationc. 1840s?
NotesThis is a collection of 25 woodcut engravings of silhouettes of street traders, ten of which are Scottish. The woodcuts have been removed from other publications and mounted on bigger sheets. Three of the street traders are well-known Glasgow characters: The blind fiddler and poet Alexander MacDonald called Blind Alick, the ballad singer and speech crier James McIndoe called Jamie Blue, and The Major, a street singer and kind of dancer who performed together with Coal Mary. The silhouette of the Glasgow Bellman may well be a likeness of the Glaswegian Bell Geordie. The other Scottish street traders depicted are Jemmy the showman, Billy Bain (Bill Porter) and Geordie Moore from Edinburgh, Willie Collie (Buttery Willie) from Aberdeen, Jamie Stephen from Montrose and the carter Willie Harrow from Dundee. From the 1820 onwards silhouettes tended to be full-length rather than just portrait size. The ones we have acquired are a mix of both kinds, although the portrait depictions outnumber the full length ones. We have not been able to establish which publications the silhouttes were taken from originally.
Reference SourcesD. Whitaker: Auld Hawkie and other Glasgow characters. Glasgow, 1988 [HP4.88.1771] [Collection of press-cuttings on pedlars and chap-books]. Dundee, c. 1900-1920 [RB.m.141] R. Collison: The story of street literature. London, 1973 [NG.1195.f.9] L. Shepard: The history of street literature. Newton Abbot, 1973. P. Hickman: National Portrait gallery silhouettes. London, 1972.
Acquired on22/10/07
TitleThe Edinburgh Rose.
ImprintLondon: Joseph Myers
Date of Publicationc.1860
NotesThis 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.
Acquired on29/10/07
TitleCatalogue of English books in circulation at Douglas & Foulis Library, 9 Castle Street, Edinburgh, and List of books added during 1913-1917
Date of Publication1913 - 1918
NotesThis catalogue of Douglas & Foulis' circulating library gives a fascinating glimpse of the rules of the library, its charges (for one guinea a year, a person could borrow one book a month; for ten guineas, 30 books a month), and what books it contained. Through the supplementary 'List of Books Added during 1913-1917', it also gives a rare insight into reading tastes and the circulation of books during the First World War. It is easy to find out what books were published during this period: here we can see that books such as 'Trench Pictures from France' and 'Russian Court Memoirs 1914-16' were easily accessible to Edinburgh readers with five shillings (the lowest subscription) to spare.
Acquired on04/12/07
TitleA catalogue of foreign and native forest-trees; also fruit trees, evergreens, flowering shrubs & sold by Robert Anderson, seedsman and nurseryman ... Edinburgh. AND A catalogue of foreign and native forest-trees, flowering shrubs, evergreens, flowering shrubs and greenhouse plants & sold by Archibald Dickson and Sons, & at Hassendeanburn, near Hawick
ImprintEdinburgh : R. Fleming and A. Neill; [Hawick : s.n.]
Date of Publicationc.1785; c.1795
NotesThese slim volumes from the late 18th century are very rare examples of Scottish nurserymen's catalogues. Robert Anderson's catalogue is unrecorded whereas there are two other copies (both in the UK) of Archibald Dickson's catalogue. Robert Anderson, who later worked as Anderson, Leslie & Co., had a large nursery at Broughton Park in Edinburgh and specialised in fruit trees, especially pears. In 1798, the whole nursery stock was acquired by another Edinburgh concern, Dicksons and Shade. Unusually, the catalogue is priced. In the advertisement preceding his lengthy address on the merits of larch (introduced to Scotland in the 1720s), Anderson expresses his hope that the catalogue 'will be of great service in promoting the planting of this country, which is so much wanted at present.' The library holds another catalogue (with 44 pages) by Anderson, which may predate this one. Archibald Dickson was one of the leading nurserymen in Scotland. Members of the family also ran tree nurseries in Perth, Edinburgh and Belfast. The first was founded in 1728 by Robert Dickson and by 1835 five generations of the family had been involved in the trade. The National Library of Scotland also holds day books and price books of the firm from the 18th and 19th centuries in the Manuscript Collections (MSS.29489-29490 and MS.3354).
ShelfmarkRB.s.2701 ; RB.s.2702
Reference SourcesDesmond, Ray. Dictionary of British and Irish botanists and horticulturists including plant collectors, flower painters and garden designers. London, 1994. Harvey, John. Early horticultural catalogues. Bath, 1973.
Acquired on17/12/07
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