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 765 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 email@example.com
Important Acquisitions 136 to 150 of 765:
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|Title||Stevensoniana: being a reprint of various literary and pictorial miscellany associated with Robert Louis Stevenson the man and his work|
|Imprint||New York: Bankside Press|
|Date of Publication||1900|
|Notes||This 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.|
|Reference Sources||Beinicke Stevenson bibliography vol. 1 item 1425; bookseller's catalogue|
|Title||The Edinburgh Rose.|
|Imprint||London: Joseph Myers|
|Date of Publication||c.1860|
|Notes||This is a remarkable piece of paper engineering from the mid-nineteenth century. At first glance it looks like a cleverly sculpted paper rose coloured in pink and green. However, once opened the viewer sees 28 vignette engravings of Edinburgh and its surroundings including Calton Hill, the Castle, Holyrood Palace, Roslin Chapel and Tantallon Castle. It is contained within an envelope, entitled 'The Edinburgh Rose' with an engraving of the Scott Monument. On one side the imprint reads, 'Joseph Myers & Co., London', and on the other 'C. Adler, Hamburg'. Myers and Adler produced a series of over 100 roses depicting views of places throughout Britain and Europe. |
|Title||A catalogue of books, lately imported from abroad ... which will be sold by way of auction ...|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Printed for David Randie|
|Date of Publication||1726|
|Notes||An 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.
|Title||The ten little travellers.|
|Imprint||Glasgow: John S. Marr & Sons|
|Date of Publication||c.1880|
|Notes||This 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.
|Title||[Greenock Library catalogues].|
|Date of Publication||[1808-1820]|
|Notes||This 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)|
|Reference Sources||Kaufman, P. 'The rise of community libraries in Scotland', p.254 in Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America vol.59, 1965.
Kelso, William. The James Watt story. Greenock, 1997.
|Title||The 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.|
|Imprint||London: Printed for Edward Symon...sold by J. Roberts...|
|Date of Publication||1717|
|Notes||A 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.|
|Title||[Two Scotland vs England international football programmes]|
|Date of Publication||1928, 1940|
|Notes||The earlier of the two football programmes featured here is the rare match programme of the England-Scotland football international of 1928, and is in fact the earliest international programme in the National Library's collections. The match in question was the final one of the Home Championship at Wembley Stadium and unusually it decided not who would win the competition, but who would get the 'wooden spoon'. In the event Scotland's team immortalized as the 'Wembley Wizards' unexpectedly thrashed the 'Auld Enemy' 5-1 to win for the first time at Wembley before an attendance of over 80,000. Going into the game the Scots were not expected to do well. They had lost the previous year to England at Hampden, and had drawn against Wales and lost to Northern Ireland in the other Home Championship fixtures. The team selected did not inspire much confidence either - one of the forwards Hughie Gallacher of Newcastle United had not played for a couple of months - and overall it was felt that the smaller and lighter Scots would be no match for their stronger English counterparts. However, a heavy pitch greatly helped the smaller Scottish forwards who ran rings around the lumbering English defenders. Alex James from Preston North End and Huddersfield's Alex Jackson shared the five goals, sparking great celebrations among the Scottish fans there to witness the famous victory and also among the passionate footballing public back in Scotland. The victory was also a major factor in establishing the tradition of the mass Scottish pilgrimage to Wembley every two years.
The second programme relates to a less memorable England-Scotland wartime international, but the match, according to contemporary reports, was keenly contested on the day. During the Second World War full internationals were suspended; charity matches were held instead to raise funds for worthy war-related causes. The proceeds, over £5,000, of this Scotland-England match in 1940 went to the Red Cross. A film of the match was made by Pathé News for showing to the troops at home and abroad.
The game played at Hampden in front of a crowd of 62,000 ended in a 1-1 draw. The most interesting feature of this programme is that it has been signed by most of the players. For Scotland some of the noteworthy signatures were those of Bill Shankly, then playing at Preston North End and later to become a great Liverpool manager, and Tom Walker of Hearts,later a Hearts manager in the 1950s. For England there are the autographs of Stanley Matthews of Stoke, one of the all time greats, as well as those of Stan Cullis of Wolves and the captain Bert Sproston of Manchester City. A sign of the times was that the English goalkeeper named in the programme, Sam Bartram was not allowed to travel by the RAF.
|Title||Living wonder! Never seen in this country before.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd|
|Date of Publication||c.1809-1814|
|Notes||This 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'.
|Reference Sources||Frost, Thomas. The old showmen and the London fairs. London, 1874; Oxford DNB|
|Title||The Holy Bible.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Alexander Kincaid,|
|Date of Publication||1762|
|Notes||This 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.
|Reference Sources||Oxford DNB|
|Title||Psalterium Sancti Ruperti (Vollstandige Faksimile-Ausgabe im Originalformat des Manuale) |
|Imprint||Graz, Austria : Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||This is a facsimile of the miniature codex 'Psalterium Sancti Ruperti' from the library foundation of St. Peter in Salzburg. The pages measure only 37 x 31 mm in size and the Carolingian minuscule is easily legibile in spite of a font size of 1.5mm and a maximal line-spacing of only 1.2mm The original Psalterium was most likely written in the third-quarter of the 9th century in north-eastern France. All 117 folios of the facsimile are according to the original border cuttings. The binding closely follows the details of the original and feature front and back book covers out of wood, two authentic, bicoloured trusses and a hand-stitched headband with exposed book spine. |
|Title||A new version of the Psalms of David , fitted to the tunes used in churches.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Printed for William Gordon|
|Date of Publication||1761|
|Notes||This Edinburgh edition of the Psalms has been acquired because of the rarity of the edition, the sumptuous nature of the herrringbone binding and its provenance. Only one other copy - at Aberdeen University Library - is recorded. It appears to have been bound for Margaret, Countess of Dumfries, who married the 6th Earl of Dumfries in 1771; 'M. Dumfries' is inscribed in cut-out letters at the head of the title page. It was later owned by the Countess's grandson, Lord James Stuart, younger brother of the second Marquess of Bute and M.P. for Cardiff during the early 19th century. The binding, which retains the brightness of the original crimson morocco, is tooled in gilt. There are two sets of endpapers - one the original Dutch gilt and pasted onto them, 19th century marbled papers.
William Gordon, who is named in the imprint, worked as a bookseller in Edinburgh from the 1750s until the 1780s. He also had the distinction of being sued on at least two occasions by other booksellers for selling pirated editions of other works.
|Reference Sources||ESTC; Scottish Book Trade Index|
|Title||[The last words of James, El. Of Derwentwater]|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||This 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.|
|Reference Sources||Kemp, Hilary. Jacobite rebellion. (London, 1975)
Sharp, Richard. The engraved record of the Jacobite movement. Scolar Press, 1996. H4.97.202|
|Title||Greenock news-clout, no.31|
|Imprint||Greenock: John Lennox|
|Date of Publication||28 September 1850|
|Notes||This is the only known copy of this issue of a short-lived but remarkable Greenock newspaper, which was printed on calico - a coarse and light-weight form of cotton. The Watt Library in Greenock holds 5 other issues - all printed on the same material - dating from 1849-1850. According to the masthead this title was a successor to the 'Young Greenock',' Aurora' and 'Quilp's Budget'. These titles have not been traced. The masthead goes on to state that these titles were declared in January 1849 by the Solicitor of Stamps to be illegal. The printer/publisher John Lennox was summoned before the Court of the Exchequer, fined £100 and forced to pay the expenses of the case. Lennox had for a long time been a campaigner against this 'tax on knowledge' and it appears that he was not prosecuted for printing on calico. The printer and 'News-clout' were even mentioned in Parliament during a debate on the newspaper tax in March 1850.
In order to circumvent the tax on newspapers (which saw the newspapers carry a red stamp showing the amount of tax levied), the publisher John Lennox decided to print this newspaper on calico. The contents of the paper itself are unremarkable reports of municipal election and court cases, letters on the Episcopal Church, advertisements and articles on female franchise and second sight.
Lennox had been a newsagent in Dumbarton around 1822. He printed the 'Dumbarton Argus' from 1832 until 1834 and printed a number of monthly periodicals in Greenock additional to those mentioned above (The Second Precursor, Sam Slick, and The Ventilator) in the 1840s. He died in 1853 aged 59. Monthly papers were not subject to the tax, so publishers like Lennox published papers weekly, though using a different title every week to evade the tax. The tax on newspaper which had been enacted in 1712 was abolished in 1855.|
|Reference Sources||William Stewart. John Lennox and the 'Greenock Newsclout' a fight against the taxes on knowledge. Glasgow, 1918
|Title||1951 Exhibition of Industrial Power - Kelvin Hall, Glasgow - Festival of Britain. |
|Date of Publication||1951|
|Notes||This 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.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Alexander Alison|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||This 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.|
|Reference Sources||Llewellyn, Nigel, The art of death. (London, V&A, 1991)
Hatches, matches and despatches: catalogue of exhibition held at General Register House 1996-97.
Gordon, Anne. Death is for the living. (Edinburgh, 1984)