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 727 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 136 to 150 of 727:

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TitleThe complete pocket book or, gentleman and trademan's daily journal, for the year of our Lord 1764.
ImprintLondon: Printed for J. Johnson
Date of Publication1763
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis work, of which only one copy is recorded in the UK, contains a fascinating record of accounts and appointments of a relative or employee of James Duff, the second Earl of Fife (1729-1809). This unnamed individual seems to have been based in London sorting out the business affairs of Lord and Lady Fife. He records his correspondence with them and the payments he makes on their behalf. The Earl of Fife was MP for Banff between 1754 and 1780. He married Lady Dorothea Sinclair (Lady Fife) in 1759. In 1763, the year in which this volume was published, he succeeded his father in the title and estates, mainly in Aberdeen and Moray. The Earl devoted himself to the improvement of the property, which he greatly increased by the purchase of land in the north of Scotland. Most of the entries, however, concern the expenses of the Earl's man in London. For example, he was a frequent visitor to the Smyrna Coffee House in Pall Mall, a popular meeting place for Whigs during this period. He also went regularly to the theatre and the opera - both Drury Lane and Covent Garden are mentioned throughout. This was a man who was also concerned with his appearance: nosegays, shaving powder and toothpicks as well as payments to his hairdresser are recorded. He hired coaches and chairs, the 18th-century equivalents of black cabs. He also bought snuff, gloves, sealing-wax, fruit, woodcocks, teal and turkey and gave money to charity almost on a weekly basis.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2633
Acquired on16/10/06
TitleIn four days to London. The Edinburgh and London fly coaches, by way of Newcastle and York.
Imprint[Edinburgh?]
Date of Publication1776
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a ticket for a 'fly coach' between Edinburgh and Newcastle. It was issued to a Mrs. Inchbald on 2 July 1776. This was possibly Elizabeth Inchbald, the actress who was touring Scotland with the West Digges theatre company at the time. On the back are details and prices for fly coaches from Edinburgh to London via Newcastle, York and Grantham, run by James Dun, Cowgate Port, Edinburgh. The entire journey which began at 2am from Edinburgh took 4 days. Dun was based at this address from 1772 to 1777 and was competing directly against another coach service which ran from the Black Bull in the Canongate. In 1777 Dun moved to a larger establishment in St. Andrew's Square in the more fashionable New Town. Coach travel between England and Scotland was a relatively new phenomenon. It was only in 1753 that a regular passenger carrying service was instigated. This took ten days in the summer and twelve in the winter, so Dun's four-day service was a considerable improvement.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2634
Acquired on16/10/06
TitleStevensoniana: being a reprint of various literary and pictorial miscellany associated with Robert Louis Stevenson the man and his work
ImprintNew York: Bankside Press
Date of Publication1900
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis rare item is, indeed, a collection of miscellaneous items by and about Robert Louis Stevenson: it includes texts such as Stevenson's article on Beranger in the Encyclopaedia Britannica and a poem about Stevenson by W.E. Henley, and illustrations including facsimile title pages and reproductions from earlier editions. It is a fine example of American private press de luxe publication of the period, one of a series of such literary productions by the Bankside Press at this time, with M.F. Mansfield accredited as the publisher and Blanche McManus responsible for the illustrations. Originally published in 6 parts (12 are advertised in this volume, but only 6 were produced), the whole, including the original paper covers, has been rebound in contemporary maroon half morocco with black and pink marbled boards and endpapers.
ShelfmarkFB.s.888
Reference SourcesBeinicke Stevenson bibliography vol. 1 item 1425; bookseller's catalogue
Acquired on11/08/06
TitleThe Poster: an illustrated monthly chronicle
ImprintLondon [various printers]
Date of Publication1898-1900
LanguageEnglish
NotesThe five volumes of this rare periodical contain numerous attractive plates of contemporary posters, some in colour. There are articles relating to artists and printers, reviews of exhibitions and movements in fashion, design and collecting. Writing on advertisements and other forms of ephemera is also included. Posters have traditionally been neglected in library collections: they are hard to store and conserve, inconvenient to issue to readers and difficult to catalogue using systems designed for books. With the advent of digitisation, however, poster collections are starting to become accessible in new ways. This is an important periodical to acquire, as it gives extensive information about the art of the poster during some of its golden years. Hopefully it will be useful to those researching the poster and the bibliography of related arts.
ShelfmarkDJ.s.906
Acquired on02/03/05
TitleThe ten little travellers.
ImprintGlasgow: John S. Marr & Sons
Date of Publicationc.1880
LanguageEnglish
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.
ShelfmarkAP.4.207.47
Acquired on24/09/07
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
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
TitleMemento mori
ImprintEdinburgh: Alexander Alison
Date of Publication[1738]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an interesting piece of printed ephemera from mid-18th century Edinburgh. In Britain printed funeral invitations - called burial letters - are known from at least the late seventeenth century. Many, like this, exhort the reader to 'Memento mori' - remember that you must die. Usually printers would produce ready-printed non-specific invitations on which the name of the deceased and the time and place of the funeral would be entered by hand. Mr. Simson must have reasonably well-off to have been able to afford to have his invitations fully printed . These invitations were usually hand-delivered by servants or people specially employed for the task. In large burghs delivering such letters became a recognized occupation. Woodcut invitations such as this tended to use stock narrative or allegorical compositions. The images - the grim reaper, the skull and crossbones, the cortege - relate not only to the death of the person in question but also as reminder of one's own mortality. Little is known of David Simson apart from the fact that he was employed in the legal profession. The Library holds another example of such woodcut imagery (without letterpress but in manuscript) at APS.el.150.
ShelfmarkAPS.2.205.005
Reference SourcesLlewellyn, Nigel, The art of death. (London, V&A, 1991) GME.1/20 Hatches, matches and despatches: catalogue of exhibition held at General Register House 1996-97. GRP.1999.2.4 Gordon, Anne. Death is for the living. (Edinburgh, 1984) H4.84.2025
Acquired on06/09/04
TitleLiving wonder! Never seen in this country before.
ImprintEdinburgh: Oliver & Boyd
Date of Publicationc.1809-1814
LanguageEnglish
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'.
ShelfmarkAP.4.207.24
Reference SourcesFrost, Thomas. The old showmen and the London fairs. London, 1874; Oxford DNB
Acquired on04/06/07
TitleThe Holy Bible.
ImprintEdinburgh: Alexander Kincaid,
Date of Publication1762
LanguageEnglish
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.
ShelfmarkRB.m.653(1)
Reference SourcesOxford DNB
Acquired on25/06/07
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
TitleSailm Dhaibhidh
ImprintEdinburgh: C. Elliot
Date of Publication1787
LanguageGaelic
NotesThis book of psalms in Gaelic has been bound in the style of William Scott, probably not long after it was published in 1787. The ornament at foot of the spine is identical to that reproduced by W.S. Loudon as W.12 in his work on the Edinburgh binders William and James Scott. As a binder William was not as prolific as his father James. It is known that William was binding books in Edinburgh from 1785-1787 and possibly into the early 1790s. A larger version of this particular design can be seen on the spine of Samuel Charter's Sermons, published in Edinburgh in 1786. Another piece of evidence pointing to the possibility of this having been bound by William Scott is the fact that this book was printed for Charles Elliot. Scott printed bound at least 3 works printed for Elliot. However it has to be said that evidence linking Scott with this binding is somewhat tenuous. Most of Scott's bindings were far more elaborate - the covers were usually of tree calf and none of them have this simple border. The text is John Smith's revision of the Gaelic Psalter, published by the Synod of Argyll. Smith was assistant minister of the parish of Kilbrandon and Kilchatten and subsequently minister at Campbeltown. The front flyleaf is signed 'Duncan Campbell' which may be Duncan Campbell, the clerk of the Synod of Argyll.
ShelfmarkBdg.s.915
Reference SourcesLoudon, J.H. James and William Scott, bookbinders. London : Scolar Press, 1980.
Acquired on01/05/06
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
TitleHoly Bible
ImprintEdinburgh: Sir D. Hunter Blair and J. Bruce
Date of Publication1807
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis Bible was owned by Jane Baillie Welsh, who was to marry Thomas Carlyle and launch one of the greatest exchanges of correspondence in English. The book is bound for travelling, in red morocco with a fold-over flap to protect it. Inside, the flap is lined with green leather, and it is gilt-stamped 'J. B. Welsh 1814'. It is also signed 'Jane Baillie Welsh' on a flyleaf. In 1814 Jane was just thirteen and being tutored at home, in Haddington, East Lothian. The book clearly stayed with her, as Thomas Carlyle later added his own bookplate to the volume. There are remains of manuscript notes which someone has attempted to erase, but which could be reconstructed. In 1997, the library acquired a copy of Schiller's 'Don Karlos' (Leipzig, 1804), which also has Jane's inscription and Thomas's bookplate. This latest acquisition is particularly interesting as it has this smart binding - which suggests that books were already prized by Jane as a young teenager.
ShelfmarkBdg.s.917
Acquired on28/08/06
TitleA catalogue of books, lately imported from abroad ... which will be sold by way of auction ...
ImprintEdinburgh: Printed for David Randie
Date of Publication1726
LanguageEnglish
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.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2688
Acquired on18/09/07
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