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.

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Important Acquisitions 121 to 135 of 772:

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Title[69 execution broadsides]
Date of Publication1754-c.1850
NotesA collection of 69 broadsides dating from 1754 to around 1850, all but five of which are almost certainly printed in Scotland. Most are printed in Glasgow but there are some from Edinburgh, with others most likely printed in Stirling, Perth and Ayr. The content is almost exclusively 'gallows literature' - accounts of executions and 'last speeches and dying confessions'. Highlights include the 'Last Speech and Dying Words of Robert Campbell, alias Drummond, alias Macgregor, alias Rob Roy', son of Rob Roy McGregor (1754) and a supposed account of the murder of William Hare a mere three months after the execution of his accomplice William Burke (1829). Hare actually survived until 1859. Of the 69, 59 are unique and a further 9 are known only as single copies. Surprisingly many of these executions are not recorded in Alex Young's Encyclopaedia of Scottish executions (1998), so this may be the only source we have for some of these cases.
Acquired on17/12/07
TitleThe Tam O Shanter
Imprint'Somewhere in France [Belgium, Holland, Germany]
Date of Publication1944-45
NotesThis is a group of 25 issues of a World War II trench newspaper written for Scottish soldiers. It was printed in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany and thus reflects the movement of Scottish troops in Western Europe towards the end of the war. They were each printed on one large 32 x 20 cm. sheet of paper. They were not type-set, but were crudely prepared on a typewriter and many of the copies also incorporate hand-drawn maps and other illustrations. The issues appear to have been folded down and carried by a soldier or soldiers for some length of time as there is dirt, tears, nicks, creases on many of them and all have horizontal and vertical fold lines. The Tam o'Shanter was the Divisional Newsletter of the 15th Scottish Division, a Territorial Division which had been disbanded at the end of WW1 and was revived in 1939. Tam o'Shanter was begun sometime in 1943. Newsletters were very much part of Divisional life and most followed the format of the famous "Wipers Times" of WW1. The contents are varied: good first-hand reports of military engagements including much on Arnhem; encapsulated reports from Scottish newspapers; anecdotes from soldiers and also humorous pieces. News was gleaned from local newspapers from where the battalions of the division recruited and was fed down from 21st Army Group of which the division was a part. There was a coordinating Press Office in St Andrew's House. The group consists of the following numbers: 'No.10. Somewhere in France. Divisional News Edition. Monday 24 July 44.' 'No.33. Somewhere in Belgium. Scottish News Edition. Friday 15 September 44.' 'No.40. Somewhere in France. General News Edition. Thursday 31 August 44.' 'No.56. Somewhere in Belgium. General News Edition. Monday 18 September 44.' 'No.65. Somewhere in Holland. General News Edition. Wednesday 27 September 44.' 'No.66. Somewhere in Holland. General News Edition. Thursday 28 September 44.' 'No.71. Somewhere in Holland. Edn Branch Publication. Tuesday 3 October 44.' 'No.72. Somewhere in Holland. Edn Branch Publication. Wednesday 4 October 44.' 'No.73. Somewhere in Holland. Edn Branch Publication. Thursday 5 October 44.' 'No.86. Somewhere in Holland. Edn Branch Publication. Wednesday 18 October 44.' 'No.91. Somewhere in Holland. Edn Branch Publication. Monday 23 October 44.' 'No.92. Somewhere in Holland. Edn Branch Publication. Tuesday 24 October 44.' 'No.99. Somewhere in Holland. Edn Branch Publication. Tuesday 31 October 44.' 'No.106. Somewhere in Holland. Edn Branch Publication. Tuesday 7 November 44.' 'No.110. Somewhere in Holland. Edn Branch Publication. Saturday 11 November 44.' 'No.116. Somewhere in Holland. Edn Branch Publication. Friday 17 November 44.' 'No.117. Somewhere in Holland. Edn Branch Publication. Saturday 18 November 44.' 'No.118. Somewhere in Holland. Edn Branch Publication. Sunday 19 November 44.' 'No.120. Somewhere in Holland. Edn Branch Publication. Tuesday 21 November 44.' 'No.121. Somewhere in Holland. Edn Branch Publication. Wednesday 22 November 44.' 'No.129. Somewhere in Holland. Edn Branch Publication. Thursday 30 November 44.' 'No.130. Somewhere in Holland. Edn Branch Publication. Friday 1 December 44.' 'No.148. Somewhere in Holland. Edn Branch Publication. Tuesday 19 December 44.' 'No.212. Somewhere in Germany. Edn Branch Publication. wednesday 21 February 45.' 'No.213. Somewhere in Germany. Edn Branch Publication. Thursday 22 February 45.'
Acquired on15/02/08
TitleNotes upon, and illustrations of, the treatise intitled the Life of God in the soul of man. To which is prefixed a preface taking off the material objections lately published against that little Book, to which are subjoined, a poem upon prayer, with a short account of Dr. Scougal's life, &c. By a young gentleman.
ImprintEdinburgh: W. Cheyne
Date of Publication1744
NotesThis rare book offers an insight into contemporary responses to one of the most popular Scottish devotional works. Henry Scougal (1650-1678) was a Church of Scotland minister in Aberdeenshire and professor of divinity at King's College, Aberdeen. He first published The Life of God in the Soul of Man, originally a manual for his private devotion, in 1677. It was reprinted many times into the 19th century, with enthuasiastic admirers as diverse as Gilbert Burnet, John Wesley, and Benjamin Franklin. This work shows the effect Scougal's book had on one reader described as a 'young gentleman' on the title page. The publisher's address to the reader refers to 'the author's distance from the press' (perhaps like Scougal he was based in Aberdeenshire) and his 'youthful modesty' which led to the anonymous publication. It also mentions that this 'impression' amounts 'only to a very small number, and upon a fine paper, neatly bound, for the reader's pocket', which must explain the scarcity of the book today. The author's preface, where he says that like Scougal he was a young man training for the ministry, explains that he was provoked to write by criticisms of Scougal's book: the first that Scougal's description of Christ as 'he never knew the nuptial bed' was indecent, and the second that he was accused by 'a sect pretty well known' of being Arminian and Socinian. A search of ESTC and ECCO does not uncover any details of these controversies, which would have remained unknown were it not for the 'young gentleman's' defence. His book itself contains several different responses to Scougal: a commentary on The Life of God; a poem 'On Prayer', a 'Life and Character' of Scougal, including a Latin text translated into English, and a poem in praise of Scougal. The author was clearly as much an admirer of Scougal the person as Scougal the theologian, perhaps identifying the young clergyman as a role model, and the mixture of prose and poetry in the volume show him inspired intellectually and emotionally by Scougal's life and work. Only one other copy of this book is listed in ESTC, at the British Library, with a different collation. Though the edges of the first few leaves are damaged, the book preserves its original wrappers. It comes from the library of the 20th-century book collector Bent Juel-Jensen.
Reference SourcesBookseller's catalogue; Oxford DNB entry for Henry Scougal
Acquired on21/02/08
Title[Advertisement for John Hogan, Spectacle Maker, Edinburgh] That whereas John Hogan, removed from the Lucken-Booths to the Lower End of the Canongate, at the Sign of the Spectacles...
Imprint[Edinburgh: s.n.]
Date of Publicationca.1740-1750?
NotesPreviously unrecorded in ESTC, this 18th-century advertisement publicizes the removal of one John Hogan from the Luckenbooths (the famous row of shops at St Giles on Edinburgh's Royal Mile, destroyed in the 19th century) to the 'lower end of the Canongate'. The Mr Robertson to whose premises Hogan removes must surely be the William Robertson whose house was 'near St John's Cross, Canongate', and who around the same time as this broadside was published was developing a 'catadioptric microscope', a 'dioptrick telescope', and an 'artificial eye, explaining the nature of vision' among other inventions. Hogan's advertisement here is for the work of a more ordinary optician: 'who makes and sells the best Christal Spectacles ... by the Use of which, those People who have weak Eyes, may be made capable to read or work as long as those who have stronger'. He also advertises reading glasses, 'Christals for Pictures', 'all Sorts of Glasses to preserve the Eyes when rideing [sic]' and 'all Sorts of Shagreen Cases, of any Fashion or Form; as reasonable as in any Part of Great Britain.' This single sheet, illustrated with a woodcut of a pair of spectacles, might have been posted up around town, or sent to customers: such ephemera rarely survives.
Reference SourcesESTC; William Robertson: A description of the figure, construction and use of a new catadioptric microscope, invented by William Robertson (Edinburgh, ca. 1750).
Acquired on21/02/08
TitleDancing taught without a master. The ball-room companion containing all the fashionable dances of the day.
ImprintAberdeen : J. Daniel and Son and all booksellers
Date of Publication1879
NotesThis little pocket manual contains instructions for over 18 of the most commonly performed dances at balls or assemblies in the late 19th century. It was intended as a reminder for people who had taken dancing lessons, rather than for those new to dancing. No pages in this copy have been opened. However, the contents of the entire work can be read as a single sheet which measures 28 cm. x 45 cm when unfolded.
Acquired on01/04/08
TitleA comical dialogue between Sawney and Bonaparte.
ImprintNewcastle: D. Bass
Date of Publication[1803-1805?]
NotesA spoof conversation between a Scotsman and Napoleon Bonaparte in which Bonaparte threatens to invade Scotland and bring 'liberty' with him. It is a patriotic dialogue in which the 'Sawney' tells Napoleon that he is not wanted and will be resisted by the Highland Watch. The exchange ends with Sawney saying 'There's no a man in a' Scotland but would fight to the last drap o' his blood for the Land o' Cakes' and daring Napoleon to come. Sawney was an English nickname for a Scotsman, now no longer used. The Library also holds a chapbook along similar lines 'Sawney & Bonaparte a dialogue' printed in Stirling in 1807.
Acquired on10/03/08
Title[Theatre programme for two plays: 1. My son-in law 2: The frogs]
Imprint[Edinburgh: privately printed]
Date of Publication[1873]
NotesThis 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 SourcesDNB; RL Stevenson "Memoir of Fleeming Jenkin"
Acquired on18/07/08
TitleAct of council, regulating the manner of carrying chairs.
Date of Publication1749
NotesIn modern times, local government concerns itself with seemingly banal regulations concerning parking, litter or public lighting. There is nothing new in this - perceived 'over regulation' was alive and well in Edinburgh over 250 years ago, as this broadside demonstrates. The city authorities were forced into action to ask 'chairmen' - those who carried sedan chairs and their occupants around the city - to ensure their chairs had 'a light fixed upon one of the fore-poles of the chair'. This apparently followed a number of incidents resulting in 'many hurts and inconveniences that have happened to the inhabitants & by the chairmen carrying or resting their chairs without lights under cloud of night'. Furthermore all chairs had to be numbered. If these regulations were not followed, chairmen faced being fined a shilling, imprisonment, loss of hire and the chair impounded! The first sedan chairs for public hire were introduced into Edinburgh in 1687. Horse drawn coaches were often unsuited to the narrow closes and steep hills of Edinburgh's Old Town. In 1687 there were only 6 chairs available but by 1779 there were 180 hackney-chairs and 50 private chairs in Edinburgh. The table of fairs introduced in the regulation dated 1738, referred to in this broadside, specified 6d a trip within the city, 4s for a whole day's rental, and 1s 6d for a journey of half a mile outside town. The majority of the chairmen were Highlanders and this was reflected in the use of tartan for their uniforms.
Acquired on14/07/08
TitleThe state of Kelso Dispensary opened for the admission of patients, on the 5th of December, 1777.
ImprintNewcastle: Printed at the Union Press, by J. Palmer
Date of Publication1788
NotesThis is a very rare and unrecorded work on the Kelso Dispensary, the first hospital in the town and only the second in Scotland (after the Edinburgh Royal Public Dispensary). The Kelso establishment was founded by the Earl of Haddington in 1777. Dispensaries were served to a large degree by free student labour, and costs were kept down too through a high (working-class) patient turnover. This pamphlet provides us with a lot of information on health care in a provincial town in the late 18th century. We see, from the list of subscribers, that the great and the good gave money to support the dispensary; there is a list of regulations, treasurer's report, a most informative table detailing the diseases of the patients treated (consumption and fever were the most common causes of mortality) and a table of the parishes 'from which patients had been admitted'. Inserted into the pamphlet is a printed circular letter dated 31 October 1788, with a manuscript note from Thomas Scott reminding an eminent subscriber (addressed as your Lordship) that his subscription of 14 guineas was overdue.
Reference Sourceshttp://www.archiveshub.ac.uk/news/03101401.html;
Acquired on19/05/08
TitleDe Hollandsche Wysgeer.
ImprintTe Amsterdam : By Dirk onder de Linden, Bybel- en Boekverkooper, in de Kalverstraat, over de Nieuwezyds Kapel.
Date of Publication1759
NotesThis is the complete run of an unusual and rare Dutch periodical. It covers a wide variety of subjects including natural history (with hand-coloured plates), foreign literature, the latest murder cases and developments in science and technology. The translations of literature include some Scottish texts. Most significantly there are references to James Macpherson's Europe-wide success for Ossian. Volume V contains a poetic description of the climate and landscape of the Scottish Highlands which prepares the reader for the first Dutch edition of a selection of 'Oscian' in volume VI (pp. 66-69). The translator Egbert Buys is known to have compiled at least two Dutch-English dictionaries, one of which specialized in terms used in art.
Acquired on21/07/08
TitleSignal [+ misc. other French-language periodicals from World War II from 1940-44]
ImprintBerlin: Deutscher Verlag
Date of Publication1941-44
NotesA collection of periodicals relating to the Second World War in France. Apart from the English-language 'Life', the periodicals are all in French. The collection consists of: 'Life'- 20 November 1944, 'La Semaine'- 23 April 1942, 'Match' - 15 February 1940; and the following Nazi propaganda publications: 'Le Cahier Jaune'- 2 Dec 1941 (A French anti-Semitic publication), 'Dieppe 1942' (a news sheet published in response to the failed Allied raid on the port of Dieppe in August 1942), 'Der Adler' ('The Eagle' -Luftwaffe propaganda magazine)-20 May 1941; 29 July 1941; 24 March 1942: 19 Oct 1943 and 71 issues of 'Signal' from May 1941 to September 1944. 'Signal' was a key part of Nazi war propaganda: a magazine created in an effort to win over other European nations to the Nazi cause, and to promote and justify German hegemony over Europe. It was based on the format of the 'Berliner Illustrirter Zeitung' (BIZ), the leading picture and news magazine in Germany, and was first published on in April 1940 by the Deutscher Verlag in Berlin. It subsequently appeared on a fortnightly basis, and at its peak it reached a maximum circulation of 2,500,000 copies per issue, appearing in over 20 different languages. Due to its central role as a propaganda tool, the reporting of current affairs in 'Signal' had to fit in with the official Nazi line, and from 1943 onwards, as the war began to go badly for Germany, the focus of the magazine shifted more to celebrity gossip, sporting events and fashion. No expense was spared on illustrations, 'Signal' boasted full-page colour plates, and colour covers from 1944 onwards. With articles by an elite group of staff authors and war correspondents, the magazine quickly established itself as the number one propaganda publication in wartime Europe. The magazine continued to be produced well into 1945, but distribution was by then extremely limited due to the Allied advance into continental Europe.
Reference Sources"Hitler's Wartime Picture Magazine" (ed. S.L. Mayer) London, 1978
Acquired on22/08/08
ImprintLondon: J. M. Johnson and Sons
Date of Publication[1896?]
NotesThis is a highly decorative Victorian advertisement for the Edinburgh brewers Campbell and Co. The lettering is in bold red with striking gilt finishing. The lithographed poster is undated, but cannot have been produced after 1896, when Campbell & Co. amalgamated with Hope and King of Glasgow. UCampbell's are reputed to have started brewing as early as 1710. The business remained in the family until the 1896 merger.
Reference SourcesBookseller's catalogue, which cites the Scottish Brewing Archive.
Acquired on05/09/08
TitleTheatre Royal, Adelphi. Unparalleled attraction!
ImprintGlasgow: Robert Donaldson, printer and lithographer
Date of Publication1844
NotesA mid 19th-century theatre poster (50cm x 25cm) for the Theatre Royal, Adelphi in Glasgow. The poster advertises a July 2, 1844 production of 'Aladdin, or The Wonderful Lamp' with the word 'Aladdin' formed from the bodies of 12 Chinese figures in traditional oriental dress. The poster is in excellent condition in spite of its fragility. Near the bottom of the broadside the proprietor is listed as Mr. David Prince Miller. Miller (1809?-1873) was a travelling entertainer who came to Glasgow with his family in the late 1830s. He was well known in Glasgow for his productions of popular entertainment on Glasgow Green. He was briefly jailed for performing without a licence. In 1842 Miller built and became manager of the Adelphi Theatre, a wooden building on the Green, opposite the Jail, at the foot of Saltmarket. It was also known as the Theatre Royal Adelphi, or the Sans Pareil Pavilion and was one of two licensed theatres in Glasgow during the first half of the 19th century. The Adelphi was extremely popular. However, the uninsured theatre burned down in 1848 and Miller ran into other business difficulties. He went back on the road as a travelling showman, returning to Glasgow only near the end of his life.
Acquired on18/09/08
TitleMair Macjigger
ImprintGlasgow: Gowans & Gray ; London: R. Brimley Johnson
Date of Publication1903
NotesThis is a short work of fiction in which the character Sherlock Holmes travels to Edinburgh and Portobello to hunt for Mair Macjigger. The front cover features an illustration of a sullen cigarette-smoking youth in a tam o'shanter. The front cover of this book states that this is the third edition completing 20,000 copies. Inside are dates for the first three editions, all dated within 12 days of each other in August 1903. No Sherlock Holmes or Arthur Conan Doyle websites appear to mention this book.
Acquired on18/09/08
TitleGuide to Edinburgh Air Raid Shelters.
ImprintPublished by C.J. Cousland & Sons Limited. Creative Modern Printers, 30 Queen Street., Edinburgh.
Date of Publication194-?
NotesThe front wrapper features a photograph of people emerging from a shelter on the edge of Princes Street Gardens. Other photographs feature firemen in wartime helmets, and nurses at a first aid post. There are also seven pages of maps depicting the locations of the shelters in central Edinburgh. The book begins with a foreword by John Falconis, the Chief Air Raid Warden, in which he gives advice on what to do in the event of an air raid. He presents useful information on how to deal with mustard gas liquid on the skin, and the nature of incendiary bombs. He also imparts psychological advice: 'Wars are won by successfully exploiting fear.'; 'Air raids are not planned to cause civilian casualties; they create mental apprehension, suspense and distress; they lower morale; they disorganise national work ...' The advertisements are excellent, and include: a builder offering to bring peoples air raid precautions to completion; Redpath Brown & Co. Ltd. of Edinburgh, have an illustration of people in one of their shelters; 'Saved again! Duncan's nut milk chocolate ... always keep some handy for real inward protection, proof against hunger and nerves'. Other adverts include children's games from Jenners, gas masks, and air raid protection equipment.
Acquired on18/09/08
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