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.

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Important Acquisitions 136 to 150 of 761:

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TitleA list of the sporting ladies who is [sic] arrived from all the principal towns in Great Britain and Ireland, to take their pleasure at Leith races, on Monday the 3d June 1776.
Imprint[Edinburgh : s.n.]
Date of Publication1776
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an 18th-century broadside containing an 86-line poem about the prostitutes lately arrived in Edinburgh to entertain gentlemen at the Leith races, held on the East Sands. It reviews the names and qualities of the "sporting ladies", recommending some, warning potential customers away from others, beginning with a Miss Clerk plying her trade at the back of Edinburgh's Bess Wynde, then other "ladies" from Aberdeen, Perth, Dunfermline, Inverness, Montrose, Dundee, etc., working Miln's Square, Niddery's Wynd, Gray's Close, and the Lawn-Market, concluding with two who could be found at Castle Wynd. Leith race week, establshed in the 17th century, was an important week in neighbouring Edinburgh's social calendar, sometimes leading to a partial suspension of work and business in the city. "On the approach of the race ... a great many fashionable families ... flocked into the town ... This influx of wealthy and idle people kept the city, during the whole of race week, in a state of feverish excitation, and converted it into one continual scene of gaiety and dissipation." (Campbell, p. 185). It was only to be expected that prostitutes would ply their trade for the benefit of the race-goers. The writer of this broadside concludes, tongue in cheek: "N.B. As there will be published a new List every day during the Races, Ladies who incline to be Booked, will loose no time in giving in their Names." This work is not recorded by the usual reference works, nor online catalogues. The only references to it can be found in Thomas Stevenson's "The bibliography of James Maidment" (Edinburgh, 1883 - p. 30) as having been sold on the 3rd day's sale of the antiquary James Maidment's collection on 29 April 1880 and T. Chapman & Son's catalogue of the sale where it is listed as part of lot 1000 "Collectanea curiosa", which sold for 80 shillings. Lot 1000 also included another Leith races broadside printed for 1777 (not recorded anywhere), and a broadside the "Sporting ladies' reply" (now in NLS - shelfmark: LC.1268(002)). This copy may well be Maidment's own copy but there are no marks of provenance to link it to him.
ShelfmarkRB.m.754
Reference SourcesAlexander Campbell, The History of Leith, Leith, 1827. Bookseller's notes.
Acquired on17/02/12
TitleThe rudiments of architecture; or the young workman's instructor. In two parts ... with twenty-three elegant designs of building, the most of which have been actually executed in North Britain. To which is added. The Builder's Dictionary. Intended for those whose time will not allow them to attend teachers.
ImprintEdinburgh: Printed by William Auld, Turk's close, Lawn market
Date of Publication1773
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is one of the first books of architectural designs produced in Scotland. The first such publication was George Jameson, Thirty-three designs, Edinburgh: 1765, an extremely rare book of which no copies are known in Scotland. In 1772, the first edition of an anonymous book entitled The rudiments of architecture was printed in Edinburgh by Robert Mundell (NLS copy at RB.m.418). This work was based on William Salmon, Palladio Londinensis (1762) and Sebastien Le Clerc, Treatise (1723). Eileen Harris notes 'The success of the compilation is due more to the absence of other such works printed in Scotland and the efforts of the publishers than to the second-hand, second-rate contents' (Harris, p.401). In 1773 this second edition appeared, with an additional 12 plates showing 23 designs for houses in the Palladian manner, modelled on Jameson's work. Despite Harris' disparaging remarks, this book was clearly of use, as the copy we have now acquired has marginal notes and sketches that suggest it was owned by a working architect. This may have been the William Watson whose contemporary inscription appears at the head of the title-page. No other copies are recorded in public ownership in Scotland.
ShelfmarkRB.m.635
Reference SourcesESTC N13160; Eileen Harris, British Architectural Books and Writers 1556-1785, CUP, 1990
Acquired on29/09/06
Title[Street traders' silhouettes]
Imprint[s.l. : s.n.]
Date of Publicationc. 1840s?
LanguageEnglish
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.
ShelfmarkRB.m.663
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 Tam O Shanter
Imprint'Somewhere in France [Belgium, Holland, Germany]
Date of Publication1944-45
LanguageEnglish
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
Title[69 execution broadsides]
Imprintvarious
Date of Publication1754-c.1850
LanguageEnglish
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.
ShelfmarkRB.l.238(1-69)
Acquired on17/12/07
TitleSlave trade.
ImprintHaddington: G. Miller and Son, printers.
Date of Publication1814
LanguageEnglish
NotesAn abolitionist broadside printed in Haddington, East Lothian indicating that the residents of Dunbar are petitioning Parliament for the universal abolition of the slave trade. Beneath the title is a woodcut of a slave being whipped by a white man, followed by an abolitionist poem and a call to the residents of Dunbar to sign the petition: 'It is requested that every well wisher to the melioration of the poor Africans, and those who, from motives of humanity, are inclined to give their dissenting vote to the revival of the bloody traffic, will come forward without delay.'
ShelfmarkRB.m.702
Acquired on06/07/10
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
LanguageEnglish
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
TitleCatalogue of English books in circulation at Douglas & Foulis Library, 9 Castle Street, Edinburgh, and List of books added during 1913-1917
ImprintEdinburgh
Date of Publication1913 - 1918
LanguageEnglish
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.
ShelfmarkAB.3.208.03
Acquired on04/12/07
TitleThe King Emperor's Indian Durbar tour 1911-1912
Imprint[London?: s.n.]
Date of Publication[1912]
LanguageEnglish
Notes'Durbar' is a Persian term that was adopted in India to refer to a ruler's court. It could also be used to refer to a feudal state council or to a ceremonial gathering. The term was used during the British Raj for special royal occasions. Three imperial Durbars were held in Delhi: the first, held in 1877, marked the proclamation of Queen Victoria as Queen Empress of India; the second, held in 1902-03, marked the coronation of King Edward VII. The last, held on 12 December 1911, marked the coronation of King George V as 'King-Emperor' of India, and was the only Durbar that the ruler attended in person. The 1911 Durbar was "the most spectacular ceremony in the history of the British empire" (ODNB); it cost over £1 million to mount, and was over a year in preparation. Over 200,000 people attended the events taking place in Delhi's Coronation Park, which were captured in print, photography and the relatively new technology of film. As well as providing a clear sign of Britain's commitment to maintaining its grip on India, the Durbar was also used for particular political purposes. George announced the reversal of the unpopular 1905 decision that had partitioned Bengal. He also declared Delhi the new capital and laid its foundation-stone (soon after moved when New Delhi was re-sited). The Durbar was followed by a shooting expedition in Nepal and a visit to Calcutta (Kolkatta), the former capital of British India. The royal party returned home the following year, reaching Portsmouth on 5 February 1912. This lavishly-produced photo album was produced to commemorate King George's Durbar and subsequent tour through India. There are 208 photographic prints with printed letterpress captions pasted beneath them, bound in a full red morocco album with gilt lettering on the front cover. The photographs cover not just the Durbar but the whole of the royal tour, from the departure from Portsmouth, on 11 November 1911, to the thanksgiving service at St. Paul's, London, in February 1912 to mark the safe arrival home of the king and queen. The album also contains a number of memorable images of the elaborate hunting trip in Nepal and of Indian royalty. The photographs are not attributed to anyone but the person taking them clearly had very good access to the royal party. It is possible that the photographer was Ernest Brooks (b. 1878), who photographed the British royal family during this period and who during the War, in 1916, became the first official photographer to the Western Front appointed by the British military (many of his photographs are preserved in the Haig papers in NLS's manuscript collections). It is not known how many copies were produced and whether they were ever intended for public sale; a likely explanation is that a few copies were compiled for people travelling with the royal party as a souvenir of the tour.
ShelfmarkPhot.la.79
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on23/09/11
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
LanguageEnglish
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.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2718
Reference Sourceshttp://www.archiveshub.ac.uk/news/03101401.html;
Acquired on19/05/08
TitleThe Holy Bible, containing the Old and New Testaments. With arguments to the different books; and moral and theological observations, illustrating each chapter, and shewing the use and improvement to be made of it: composed by the Reverend Mr. Ostervald, Professor of Divinity, and one of the ministers of the Church at Neufchatel in Swisserland: translated at the desire of, and recommended by, the Honble. Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge.
ImprintLondon: Printed by J. Murray, no. 32, Fleet-street.
Date of Publication1777
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a unique and unrecorded Old Testament and Apocrypha printed by John Murray. No bibliographic record can be found for it in ESTC, COPAC, Darlow & Moule and it is also not recorded in the checklist of Murray publications found in Zachs' 'The First John Murray and the Late Eighteenth-Century Book Trade' (Oxford University Press, 1998). It is accompanied by the New Testament of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ which has new signatures and a different imprint: Edinburgh: Printed by William Darling, 1776. The New Testament is also not listed in ESTC. Arrayed throughout the entire Bible are 9 engraved maps and 82 full-page engraved plates by Charles Grignion (1721-1810). Grignion was born in London to Huguenot refugees and had a successful career as an historical engraver and book illustrator. He was regarded by many contemporaries as the 'Father and Founder of the English school of Engraving'. The plates are inscribed or presented to various bishops by William Rider (1723-1785). Rider published 'The Christian Family's Bible' in three large folio volumes between 1763 and 1767 and the plates may have initially appeared in those volumes.
ShelfmarkRB.m.634
Reference SourcesNot in ESTC Not in Darlow & Moule
Acquired on07/08/06
TitleThe wanderer or surprizing escape
ImprintDublin: J. Kinnier
Date of Publication1747
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an unrecorded edition of this work on the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745. Another Dublin edition was printed by William Brien and Richard James also in 1747. Editions were also published in London (two by Jacob Robinson in 1747) and Glasgow (1752). It demonstrates the interest there was throughout Britain and Ireland in the rebellion and its aftermath and the continuing war of words between the different sides after decisive result at Culloden.This work is essentially a criticism of the Young Pretender’s actions as described in Ralph Griffith’s ‘Ascanius, or the Young Adventurer’ (London, 1746). In Griffith’s work, the Pretender is compared to the son of Priam wandering after the fall of Troy. It is interesting to note that the frontispiece of the Pretender is based very closely on that which appeared in Griffith’s work. Here the anonymous author gives a factual and much less dewy-eyed account of what had happened.The printer Joshua Kinnier was also a papermaker and publisher who was in business in Dublin from about 1743 until at least 1767. He died in 1777. Although there is an extensive entry under his name in the ‘Dictionary of members of the Dublin Book Trade 1550-1800’, this work is not mentioned.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2598
Reference SourcesM. Pollard. Dictionary of members of the Dublin Book Trade 1550-1800
Acquired on04/04/05
Title[3 early nineteenth century Edinburgh trade cards]
Imprint[Edinburgh]
Date of Publication[c.1811-1842]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThese three trade cards provide us with a fascinating snapshot of the commercial life of the growing capital in the first half of the 19th century.The earliest of the three is probably that advertising the activities of H. Urquhart who was working as a hairdresser, peruque (wig)-maker and perfumer from premises at 31 George Street from 1811-1815. According to the Edinburgh and Leith Post Office Directory he worked at other addresses in George Street and Hanover Street around the same period. The engraving has been inexpertly hand-coloured probably many decades later. The text on the verso of the illustration describes in detail the services offered by Urquhart. We have been unable to discover when George King, velvet and silk dyer, was working. Around 10 dyers are listed in Edinburgh trade directories from 1810 to 1840, but there is no mention of King. The style of dress on the engraving suggest that in dates from the first quarter of the 19th century. The Watergate referred to on the card was a physical structure guarding the entry to the Canongate from the north-east. It acted as a toll barrier rather than a military defence. The engraved card advertising Tait’s New Royal Hotel on Princes Street probably dates from the 1840s. It was engraved by Mould & Tod who had an address on North Bridge in 1842. The scene shows a bustling street with people promenading outside the hotel, which is opposite the Scott Monument (opened in 1846).Trade cards probably date from the late 18th century. The advances in printing technology in the early 19th century led to trade cards becoming far more plentiful. This was accentuated when colour printing was developed from mid-century onwards. The trade card evolved into the business card which is still in use today. There are other examples of Scottish trade cards in the collection at RB.m.571 and RB.m.112.
ShelfmarkAPS.1.206.001
Reference SourcesEdinburgh and Leith Post Office directories 1810-1850
Acquired on04/04/05
TitleFrancis Garden Lord Gardenstone
Imprint[Edinburgh? : s.n.]
Date of Publication[18--]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis broadside commemorates the eccentricities of Francis Garden, Lord Gardenstone (1721-1793). It is printed on French laid paper with the watermarks Papier a la main and Auvergne with a flower and sprouting heart. However, the quality of printing suggests that the broadside is in fact a product of the mid- to late nineteenth century. It is possible that it was printed as a deluxe version for the centenary of the erection of St. Bernard's Well at Stockbridge in 1789, which had been financed by Lord Gardenstone. Born and educated in Edinburgh, Francis Garden was admitted an advocate in 1743 and appointed a lord of session in 1764. Notwithstanding his convivial propensities during his early practice at the bar, he was characterised by A.F. Tytler as an "acute and able lawyer". As a philanthropist he is remembered fondly for buying the estate of Johnston in Kincardineshire in 1762 in order to build a new village; he also founded a library and museum there for the use of the villagers, not to mention an inn. However, Lord Gardenstone is probably best remembered for his particular taste for social hilarity and his many peculiarities, one of which was an extreme fondness of pigs. Some anecdotes are retold in the broadside; another one recalls the occasion of Garden's involvement in the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion: serving under Sir John Cope, he and a companion preferred wine and oysters to watching and warding, tarried too long in a bar at Musselburgh and were captured by an enemy patrol. About to be hanged, they were released when they were seen to be completely drunk and incapable. Lord Gardenstone died in Morningside aged 72 and is buried in Greyfriars churchyard in an unmarked grave.
ShelfmarkRB.l.227
Reference SourcesOxford DNB, www.electricscotland.com
Acquired on14/06/05
TitleThe case of the Bishop of Ross, resident of the Queen of Scots, who was seized and committed to the Tower by Queen Elizabeth, for traiterous practices, and endevouring to raise a rebellion against her.
ImprintLondon: Printed for Edward Symon...sold by J. Roberts...
Date of Publication1717
LanguageEnglish
NotesA rare work attempting to construct a case against Count Karl Gyllenborg’s treasonable communications with Jacobites, by drawing on the case of John Leslie, Bishop of Ross’s support for Mary Queen of Scots' right of succession to the throne of England. The text revolves around the retelling of the events of 1584 with emphasis on pinpointing a legal parallel between the two cases of treason. Gyllenborg was imprisoned until the threatened rebellion blew over, more as a guaranteed safe custody or protection than as a punishment.
ShelfmarkRB.m.618
Acquired on11/04/05
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