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 745 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 745:

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Title[211 nineteenth century pamphlets on education]
ImprintVarious
Date of Publication19th century
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a collection of 12 bound volumes containing 211 nineteenth century pamphlets on topics related to education. They were at one time in the library of the Educational Institute of Scotland. The Educational Institute of Scotland was founded in 1847 and is the oldest teaching union in the world. Queen Victoria granted a Royal Charter to the EIS and among the powers conferred was the power to award a degree of Fellow of the Institute. The EIS remains the only trade union that awards degrees. Liverpool and Scotland feature strongly in the collection and there are also items from the United States, Wales and other parts of England. Items produced by the pupils on their press in an Edinburgh disabled pupils school are particularly interesting. Important authors represented include William Godwin and Thomas Chalmers among others.
ShelfmarkAB.3.206.002-013
Acquired on21/02/06
TitleThe Holy Bible, containing the Old and New Testaments: newly translated out of the original tongues; and with the former translations diligently compared and revised.
Imprint Edinburgh: Printed by Alexander Kincaid
Date of PublicationMDCCLXXIII [1773]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a two-volume contemporary Scottish binding in green morocco. Both volumes feature a centre floral emblem surrounded by gilt leaves, swirls and corner floral emblems. The edges of the boards are gilt-tooled. The spine is divided into five panels with one panel incorporating a gilt volume number, and the others with identical gilt floral emblems. The edges of the text-blocks are stained yellow and the endpapers are floral patterned Dutch gilt. Both volumes are accompanied by contemporary custom sewn leather pouches.
ShelfmarkBdg.s.914
Acquired on22/06/06
TitleHoly Bible
ImprintLondon: Eyre & Spottiswoode
Date of Publication1850
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an outstanding example of Victorian Scottish craftsmanship. The binding was specially commissioned for the 50th wedding anniversary of William and Agnes Renton on 7 July 1852. We know quite a bit about this couple, thanks to a book entitled 'Memorial of Mrs. Agnes Renton', privately printed in Kelso in 1866 for their family (NLS shelfmark OO.8/2). Agnes Renton was born into a merchant family in Edinburgh on 16 February 1781. William Renton was born in Edinburgh on 7 January 1774 and was also a merchant; he married Agnes on 7 July 1802, and their marriage seems to be have been particularly happy and fruitful. Agnes is portrayed in the Memorial as a strong, intelligent and devout woman, and extracts from her letters confirm this impression. The Memorial describes the anniversary celebrations, which culminated in the presentation of this Bible (pp.26-9): 'On the completion of the fiftieth year of her married life an interesting celebration of it took place, at which all the members of her family in this country were present, including four sons, two daughters, three sons-in-law, two daughters-in-law...and twenty-three grandchildren... About noon on the Jubilee Anniversary, Wednesday, July 7, 1852, the different branches of the family met in their common home, the house of our venerable parents, 22 Buccleuch Place. On entering, all, old and young, received wedding favours and gloves, according to old Scotch fashion. The seniors were ushered into the drawing-room, where father and mother awaited them; and when they were all assembled and had taken their places - the aged couple in arm chairs about the middle of the room - the youngsters entered in procession, two and two, according to age, and, ranged in a beautiful group in front of their grandparents, presented, by the hands of John Robson, as eldest grandson, though not eldest grandchild, the gift of the united grandchildren. It consisted of a magnificent quarto Bible, richly bound and clasped. In the interior of the board fronting the title-page a silver shield is inserted, of ten inches by six, within which is an oval tablet, six inches by four and a-half, containing an embossed genealogical tree of gold. On the base of the trunk are engraved the names of the grandparents, with a plaited lock of the hair incased beneath each. On the successive branches are the names of their children, and where married those also of their partners, with a number of twigs attached, corresponding to that of the grandchildren, and affixed to each a lock of the child's hair with a number indicating the name on the margin of the shield. Surrounding the tablet is a space of about an inch, between the gold rim inclosing it and the border of the shield, which is occupied at the top and bottom with the inscription, and on either side with the names of the donors, in the order of their families, to the number of thirty-one. In making the presentation the speaker delivered a pretty and appropriate address, expressive of the love and reverence and good wishes of the donors, and of their desire to follow the example which had been set by their grandparents, and to gladden their hearts by walking in the fear of the Lord. "Grandpapa" replied with not a little emotion, giving vent to his feelings of gratitude, interest, and affection. We then engaged in worship.' This detailed description leaves no room for doubt that this is the very Bible which is now being offered to NLS. It is a most remarkable object. As well as the extraordinary family tree inside the front board, the Bible is finely bound with gold tooling all over, gilt gauffered leaf edges, fine brass clasps and a velvet lining inside the boards. It is housed in a purpose-built box, also lined with velvet. The book measures 340 x 260 x 112 mm., and the box 345 x 405 x 195 mm. The combined weight is significant. The box also contains two small envelopes containing the hair of two further grandchildren (born after the event?) and a rather moth-eaten pamphlet 'The Rentons of Renton' (about 1950). NLS does not have a copy of this pamphlet, although we have an earlier history of the family, 'Renton', at shelfmark S.120.i. What is particularly noteworthy is that this binding is the work of Colin Frame of Glasgow, according to the lettering on the inner edge of the joint of the front board. This is a binder who is recorded in the Scottish Book Trade Index, but about whom little seems to be known. We do not appear to have any other examples of his work - but he was clearly a highly skilled and innovative craftsman. There is clearly much to discover about 19th-century Glasgow binders, if work of this quality has remained unknown to this day. NLS has only an imperfect copy of this Bible at shelfmark NF.715.b.6.
ShelfmarkBdg.l.48
Acquired on21/11/05
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
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
TitleRepository of Arts.
ImprintEdinburgh: D.Macintosh,
Date of Publicationc.1817-c.1822
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis large engraving (25 x 16 cm) of Daniel Macintosh's Repository of the Arts in Princes Street was probably produced for advertising purposes. It is slightly unusual in that although tradesmen did produce engraved advertisements, they were rarely as large as this. Macintosh is recorded as having been a carver, gilder and print-seller in South St. Andrew's Street from 1799 onwards. He moved to Princes Street in 1817 where he also sold "ladies fancy works, stationery, water colours & all requisites for drawing". As he was also a drawing master, it is possible that he drew the very fine illustration of his shop which was engraved by James Girtin. Little else is known about Macintosh. The National Library only holds one book he published - "Twelve etchings of views in Edinburgh", dated 1816.
ShelfmarkRB.m.641
Reference SourcesScottish Book Trade Index
Acquired on27/11/06
TitleThe Visitor : comprising a detail of cholera lists, accidents, occurrences &c. &c.
ImprintGlasgow: J. Farms
Date of Publication1832
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a very rare periodical published in Glasgow in 1832 to document the cholera epidemic sweeping through Scotland at the time. 'The Visitor' was published weekly from February 4th to April 25th 1832 and detailed the number of new cases, deaths and recoveries in Greenock, Paisley, Kirkintilloch and Glasgow. The worst of the outbreaks appeared to be in the west of Scotland but there was also news of the disease affecting Haddington, Musselburgh and Tranent and Edinburgh as well as Belfast, London and Newcastle. In all over 3,000 people died in Glasgow alone. The disease arrived for the first time in Britain in 1831, probably on ships bringing imports from China. It spread rapidly in the growing industrial towns, where houses had been built quickly without any thought for sanitation or sewage disposal. There were further outbreaks in 1848, 1853 and 1866 and again the death toll was considerable. The periodical contained practical information, including recipes for possible cures and symptoms to look out for. The publisher regarded cholera as an opportunity for people to repent of their sins and also noted the relatively large numbers suffering from intemperance who succumbed to the disease. Cholera had a huge impact on daily life - hawkers were unable to travel to the Highlands and weavers lost their jobs as there was no demand for their wares. There were also reports of 'cholera riots' in Glasgow, Paisley and Edinburgh. Surgeons were the particular target as they were suspected of 'burking' or murdering those who were ill. Three years after the Edinburgh murders by Burke and Hare, these events were still in the public mind. Apart from the news about cholera, 'The Visitor' also had a 'miscellaneous' section with details of fires, murders, drownings and robberies. In the issue for 14 March there was even mention of an earthquake in Crieff! In addition to the 20 issues of 'The Visitor' there are also a number of supplementary and related periodicals published from April to July 1832.
ShelfmarkABS.1.206.060(1)
Reference Sourceshttp://www.learningcurve.gov.uk/victorianbritain/healthy/default.htm Morris, R.J. Cholera 1832: the social response to an epidemic. (London, 1976)
Acquired on07/06/06
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
TitleDescriptive sketch of the print of the death of Gen. Sir Ralph Abercrombie.
ImprintLondon: John P. Thompson
Date of Publication1804
LanguageEnglish and French
NotesThis broadside is a guide to a print depicting the death of General Sir Ralph Abercromby in Egypt in 1801. The death of Abercromby at the Battle of Alexandria was recorded by a number of painters including James Northcote, Philip de Loutherburg and Samuel James Arnold. It is likely that the print was based on the work of one of these painters. Abercromby was born in Menstrie, Clackmannanshire, in 1734. He was educated in Alloa and Rugby before studying law at the universities of Edinburgh and Leipzig. His military career began in 1758 during the Seven Years War. For a number of years in the 1770s he sat in Parliament as an MP for Clackmannanshire. The French Revolutionary Wars revived Abercromby's military career - he fought in Flanders and the West Indies, then served briefly in Ireland before the rebellion of 1798. In 1800 Abercromby was appointed as commander of the British forces in the Mediterranean. In the process of routing the French at Abu Qir Bay, near Alexandria in March 1801, he was fatally wounded. He was later buried on Malta. Abercromby was a popular figure in the British army and his death elevated him to hero-status among the general public. Curiously, although the imprint gives the date as 1804, the paper has a watermark dated 1809! The publisher was John Peter Thompson, who worked as an engraver, printer and printerseller in Great Newport Street, London from 1792 to 1813.
ShelfmarkRB.l.232
Reference SourcesDNB
Acquired on31/07/06
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 complete cellar-book or butler's assistant in keeping a regular account of his liquors.
ImprintEdinburgh : Printed for Thomas Veitch
Date of Publication[1842]
LanguageEnglish
NotesOne of the many duties of butlers working in large households was to keep an account of the beverages in the cellar. This is an example of a cellar book which helped butlers to maintain an adequate stock for their masters. The preface provides instruction on how to use the book. The first line contains the number of bottles of each drink at the beginning of the week, the next line the number of bottles of each drink added. Then there are separate lines for each day of the week showing what was drunk on each day. At the end of the week the butler would simply subtract the number of bottles used from the total at the beginning of the week and with the new figures proceed to the page for the following week. Unfortunately we do not know who owned the establishment in question here. This cellar book records what was drunk from August 1842 to September 1843. Port, sherry and hock were the most popular drinks. Whisky, rum and liqueurs were rarely drunk while the columns for porter, ales and 'cyder' were not added to throughout the year. There were two weeks during the year when a lot of stock was consumed  Christmas and the week of 5 March 1843. During the latter week, 2 bottles of port were drunk, 6 of sherry, 1 of madeira, 2 of claret(1819), 7 of hock, 5 of St. Julien, 2 of sherry, 1 of claret (1815) and 1 of claret (1825).
ShelfmarkAP.4.207.10
Acquired on20/02/07
TitleMacKenzie's Gazette
ImprintNew York and Rochester, NY
Date of Publication1838-39
LanguageEnglish
NotesThe Dundonian William Lyon Mackenzie (1795-1861) ran a circulating library with his mother before emigrating to the province of Upper Canada in 1820. He became a politician and journalist, starting with the publication of the "Colonial Advocate" in 1824. Politically he supported the critics of the local ruling class of Tory politicians and colonial administrators. He was elected to the assembly of the new provincial capital York in 1828 but was ejected three years later by the Tories. In 1834, when York became incorporated as the City of Toronto, Mackenzie became its first mayor. He later pushed for greater Canadian autonomy, which led to the armed Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837-8; the revolt was quickly put down by British troops and Mackenzie and his allies fled to the USA. He settled in New York and on 12 May 1838 launched "Mackenzie's Gazette", asserting that the newspaper would defend the cause of Canadian patriots, who, although now based the USA, were still determined to overthrow the Upper Canadian government and remove the British presence in the province. In January 1839 Mackenzie moved to Rochester, New York state, continuing to publish the newspaper from there, but financial support for him and his cause began to dry up; moreover, in June of that year Mackenzie was found guilty of violating America's neutrality laws. He served almost a year in prison, but still managed to publish his newspaper, although issues appeared only sporadically. The last issue was published in December 1840, six months after MacKenzie received a pardon by the US President, Martin Van Buren. Mackenzie later became an American citizen, but he returned to Canada in 1850 when an amnesty for those who took part in the 1837-8 Rebellion was announced. He remained active in politics and journalism for the rest of his life. "Mackenzie's Gazette" was an important, if rather short-lived, literary expression of radical, anti-colonial feeling among Canadians and American sympathisers and contains much valuable historical information for the period. The set acquired by NLS comprises Vol. 1, numbers 27 to 52, covering November 1838 to May 1839; there are no recorded original copies of the newspaper in the UK.
ShelfmarkRB.l.265
Reference SourcesDNB
Acquired on01/04/10
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
TitlePennsylvania Packet, and Daily Advertiser for Saturday December 5, 1789
ImprintPhiladelphia: John Dunlap and David C. Claypoole
Date of Publication1789
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis single issue of the Pennsylvania Packet contains an advertisement for the first American edition of Adam Smith's Enquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, which was printed for and sold by Thomas Dobson, Second Street, Philadelphia in three volumes, price 1-2-6. 'The superior merit of this interesting Work is universally acknowledged where the Book itself is known ... The Publisher flattered himself he should perform an acceptable service to the generous and discerning Public, by presenting to them an Elegant American Edition of this Work at this important period - Printed on a superfine paper and good type, handsomely bound and lettered, at not more than one half the price for which the London Edition can be imported and sold.' While many American libraries hold copies of Dobson's edition, the National Library is one of only two British institutions recorded in ESTC as possessing a copy (shelfmark RB.s.1408). Dobson was born in Scotland but emigrated to Philadelphia. Best known for publishing the first American edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, he also published other books by Scottish authors such as Robert Burns.
ShelfmarkRB.l.256
Reference SourcesRobert D. Arner: Dobson's Encyclopaedia : the publisher, text, and publication of America's first Britannica, 1789-1803 (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1991)
Acquired on12/08/09
TitleThe Holy Bible translated from the Latin Vulgat [sic]. [Douai version]
Imprint[Dublin?]
Date of Publication1750
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis edition of the Old Testament text of the Douai Bible, the English translation used by Catholics, was revised by Richard Challoner (1691-1781) to approximate more closely to the King James Bible, and remained the standard Catholic English Bible until 1941. This copy belonged to a Jacobite who was a prominent member of an old Catholic Scottish family, James Maxwell of Kirkconnel (1708-1762). Maxwell was an officer in the Jacobite forces during the 1745 rising, and his Narrative of Charles Prince of Wales' Expedition to Scotland is one of the most important primary sources for the event. After Culloden, he escaped to France and remained in exile for five years, returning to take up his position as laird of Kirkconnel in 1750. These four volumes, all with the family bookplate and inscribed 'Kirkconnell' in a contemporary hand', could conceivably have been acquired by Maxwell for the family library, whether as an appropriate remembrance of his time abroad, or as part of his concern to renovate the family home.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2645
Reference SourcesBookseller's catalogue; Darlow & Moule; DNB
Acquired on26/01/07
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