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 735 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 735:

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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
Title[Greenock Library catalogues].
Imprintvaries
Date of Publication[1808-1820]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis bound volume containing 8 catalogues and supplements to the catalogues of the subscription library at Greenock (known today as the Watt Library) is an important addition to the Library's holdings of material relating to library history in Scotland. The catalogue comes from the family library of James Watt (1736-1819) the engineer and includes a note in Watt's hand preceding the supplement for 1815. The library was established in 1783 when a number of gentlemen organized a library 'to save themselves the expence of purchasing many books, and to avert the fatal effects which are sometimes occasioned by circulating libraries'. What these 'fatal effects' were is a moot point, but the subscription libraries, were, in contrast to the circulating libraries, organized on a not-for-profit basis. Watt, born in Greenock and educated at the Grammar School there, lived in the town until he was 18, when he left to go to Glasgow (and later London) to to become an apprentice to a mathematical instrument maker. In spite of the fact that he lived and worked in Birmingham from 1773, Watt retained his links with the west of Scotland throughout his life, with frequent holidays in Glasgow and Greenock as well as overseeing a new harbour in his home town. After he retired from his firm Boulton & Watt in 1800, he continued to demonstrate his interest in Greenock, mainly as a subscriber to the library. In 1816 he gave the library the princely sume of 100 'to fom the beginning of a scientific library, for the instruction of the youth of Greenock' . By 1818, when Watt was on the 'Committee of the Greenock Library of Arts and Sciences' there were three parts to the library - arts and sciences, foreign books (from 1807 - mainly French) and the general library. In the 1812 supplementary catalogue, there is even a list of books in the juvenile library. In addition to the subscribers, scholars in the Mathematical school and 'any other respectable inhabitant' of Greenock could have access to the books relating to the 'arts and sciences'. Catalogues also on microfilm at Mf.51(7)
ShelfmarkRB.s.2283(1-8)
Reference SourcesKaufman, P. 'The rise of community libraries in Scotland', p.254 in Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America vol.59, 1965. HP1.201.1250 Kelso, William. The James Watt story. Greenock, 1997. HP2.98.585
Acquired on07/05/03
Title[The last words of James, El. Of Derwentwater]
Imprint[Sl.l, s.n.]
Date of Publication[1716]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a remarkable broadside (68 x 50 cm) probably produced shortly after the execution in 1716 of the Jacobite leaders. It is engraved throughout and consists of the oval portraits of eight of the leaders and the last words of six of them. The British Museum Catalogue of Prints and Drawings lists a much smaller print (without any text) depicting 7 oval portraits - James III in the centre surrounded by Kenmure, Bruce, Collingwood, Paul, Hall and Gascoigne. One can only speculate on who produced this grand work and why. Presumably it was to keep alive the memory of the Jacobite leaders among their supporters in Scotland or abroad. It is however, likely that the proceeds from the sale of such a print were devoted to the relief of the executed mens' families. After the 'Old Pretender' scuttled back to France in early February 1716, the rebellion collapsed. Most of the Jacobite noblemen made their way to the continent and of those noblemen condemned to death, only Derwentwater and Kenmure actually paid the penalty. Both had been captured in the course of the skirmish at Preston. The original sentence involved them being hanged but before they died they were to be disembowelled (with the bowels burned before their faces) then beheaded and quartered. But because of their social status a mere beheading, which took place on Tower Hill in February 1716, sufficed. The fact that there was considerable sympathy, though not active support, for the Jacobite cause in Scotland, meant that the rebels were dealt with relatively leniently with many being 'allowed' to escape. The only other known copy is held by the Drambuie Liqueur Company, Edinburgh.
ShelfmarkRB.case.1(15)
Reference SourcesKemp, Hilary. Jacobite rebellion. (London, 1975) H3.76.379 Sharp, Richard. The engraved record of the Jacobite movement. Scolar Press, 1996. H4.97.202
Acquired on12/05/03
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
LanguageEnglish
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.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2708
Reference SourcesBookseller's catalogue; Oxford DNB entry for Henry Scougal
Acquired on21/02/08
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
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
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
TitleSignal [+ misc. other French-language periodicals from World War II from 1940-44]
ImprintBerlin: Deutscher Verlag
Date of Publication1941-44
LanguageFrench
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.
ShelfmarkRB.l.244
Reference Sources"Hitler's Wartime Picture Magazine" (ed. S.L. Mayer) London, 1978
Acquired on22/08/08
TitleA comical dialogue between Sawney and Bonaparte.
ImprintNewcastle: D. Bass
Date of Publication[1803-1805?]
LanguageEnglish
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.
ShelfmarkAP.4.208.14
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]
LanguageEnglish
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.
ShelfmarkAP.3.208.15
Reference SourcesDNB; RL Stevenson "Memoir of Fleeming Jenkin"
Acquired on18/07/08
TitleGuide to Edinburgh Air Raid Shelters.
ImprintPublished by C.J. Cousland & Sons Limited. Creative Modern Printers, 30 Queen Street., Edinburgh.
Date of Publication194-?
LanguageEnglish
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.
ShelfmarkPB1.208.91/7
Acquired on18/09/08
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
LanguageEnglish
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.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2700
Acquired on01/04/08
TitleAct of council, regulating the manner of carrying chairs.
Imprint[Edinburgh]
Date of Publication1749
LanguageEnglish
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.
ShelfmarkRB.m.672
Acquired on14/07/08
Title1951 Exhibition of Industrial Power - Kelvin Hall, Glasgow - Festival of Britain.
Imprint[Glasgow, 1951]
Date of Publication1951
LanguageEnglish
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.
ShelfmarkGSC.2007.2.10
Acquired on10/09/07
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
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