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 818 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 818:

Ordered by title
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AuthorBillings, Robert William
TitleBaronial and Ecclesiastical Antiquities of Scotland
ImprintEdinburgh & London: William Blackwood & Sons
Date of Publicationn.d.
NotesThis is an unusual version of the first edition of Billings' magnum opus, a wide-ranging and thoughtful alphabetical discussion of notable early churches, castles and towers in Scotland, with engravings of the author's own detailed drawings. The engravers include some notable figures including John Sad(d)ler; see Rodney K. Engen, Dictionary of Victorian Engravers, Print Publishers and their Works, Cambridge: Chadwyck-Healey, 1979. The printing seems to have been completed in 1852 (the author's'introduction is dated 29 February 1852), although the 240 plates are dated 1847-1848. The National Library already has sets of the first standard edition (shelfmark NE.18.a.34, now rather worn and in need of rebinding; Hist.S.80.B) and of the 1908 version edited by A. W. Wiston-Glynn (shelfmark X.8.b). Like the standard edition, this set is in four volumes, but it is printed in large folio. There do not appear to be any text or plates different to the standard edition, but the plates are positioned differently and are in superior condition due to being printed on fine India paper. A curious feature is that throughout the volumes, one can find the occasional standard-size page inlaid in the folio, rather than printed on the larger paper. The large paper is foxed in places. A manuscript note on the inside of the front cover of the first volume states 'Blackwoods Copy La Folio India Paper Proofs Bt from Brunton 1971'. There does not appear to be other evidence for this, and Blackwood is not mentioned in the list of subscribers to the available versions described as 'Folio proofs and etchings' and 'India proofs'. Bound in blue cloth, with gold lettering. See DNB for Billings.
Acquired on09/11/00
AuthorHeckel, A.
TitleBattle of Culloden
ImprintLondon: Laurie & Whittle
Date of Publication1797
NotesThis original image for this was drawn by 'A. Heckel', probably the German artist Augustin Heckel, 1690-1770 and engraved by 'L.S.'. It depicts the battle of Culloden with William, Duke of Cumberland in the foreground. The fact that it was published over 50 years after the battle demonstrates how evocative the Jacobite rebellion was for many people many years afterwards. The Scottish National Portrait Gallery holds the original engraving which was 'printed for and sold by Tho. Bowles, May 1, 1747'. There is no copy of this print in the Blaikie Collection at the SNPG. The use of prints in the political process had been established for many years in Britain, in effect since the Civil War. Although a huge number of the prints produced were aimed at the large constituency of Jacobite sympathizers at home and especially abroad, the victors at Culloden also wished to get their message across in graphic form. This image is a case where the polemical function of the image is further enhance by the inclusion of text in the print itself. The rebels' 'rashness met with its deserved chastisement ? from Munro's intrepid regiments'. The rebels are also described as 'disturbers of the publick repose'.
Reference SourcesSharp, Richard. The engraved record of the Jacobite movement. Scolar Press, 1996. HP4.97.202
Acquired on10/07/03
Author[Glasgow Cape Club]
TitleBe it known to all men that we Sir Ride the super eminent sovereign of the Capital Knighthood of the Cape... being well inform'd ... of Walter Buchanan Esq.r... create, admit & receive him a Knight Companion of this most social order ...
Imprint[Glasgow?: s.n.]
Date of Publication1777
NotesThis is a membership certificate, printed on vellum, for the Glasgow branch of the Cape Club, or Knights Companions of the Cape. The Cape Club was a gentleman's club, formally constituted in Edinburgh in 1764, and which had the motto 'concordia fratrum decus'. The Glasgow branch, though less well-known than its Edinburgh equivalent, was active by 1771 and continued until well into the 19th century. Like other male social clubs of the period, the club's activies revolved around ceremonies which involved singing and copious drinking. Members of the Cape Club called themselves 'knights' - in this certificate the name of Walter Buchanan has been added in MS to the relevant space and he has chosen the title "Sir Hedge". Membership was drawn from a wide range of society from literati to local tradesmen. The "Glasgow Cape Hall", where they met, was in fact Mrs Scheid's tavern in the Trongate.
Reference SourcesJ. Strang, Glasgow and its clubs, 3rd ed., Glasgow, 1864, p.463
Acquired on24/11/09
ImprintLondon: J. M. Johnson and Sons
Date of Publication[1896?]
NotesThis is a highly decorative Victorian advertisement for the Edinburgh brewers Campbell and Co. The lettering is in bold red with striking gilt finishing. The lithographed poster is undated, but cannot have been produced after 1896, when Campbell & Co. amalgamated with Hope and King of Glasgow. UCampbell's are reputed to have started brewing as early as 1710. The business remained in the family until the 1896 merger.
Reference SourcesBookseller's catalogue, which cites the Scottish Brewing Archive.
Acquired on05/09/08
AuthorClark, John
TitleBeobachtungen ueber die Krankheiten auf langen Reisen nach heissen Gegenden und besonders ueber die Krankheiten, die in Ostindien herrschen.
ImprintCopenhagen, Leipzig: Heineck und Faber
Date of Publication1778
NotesThis is a very rare and indeed almost unknown German translation of John Clark's "Observations on the Diseases in Long Voyages to Hot Countries", first published in 1773. Clark (c. 1744-1805) was a surgeon on the East Indiaman Talbot, which sailed to the coasts of Malabar and Bengal, as well as to the east coast to Malacca und further to China between 1771 and 1772. Clark, son of a tenant farmer at Prior Raw, Roxburghshire, initially studied divinity, then medicine at Edinburgh, but left because of ill health. After a surgical apprenticeship in Kelso he took up an appointment as surgeon's mate in the East India Company's service in 1768. His "Observations" brought him 100 guineas from the Company and a reputation in nautical medicine. The book included meteorological and epidemiological data as well as therapeutic trials in scurvy and fevers.
Acquired on12/09/08
AuthorDenham, Dixon, Clapperton, Hugh & Oudney, Walter
TitleBeschreibung der Reisen und entdeckungen im Noerdlichen und Mittlern Africa
ImprintWeimar: Im Verlage des Landes-Industrie-Comptoirs
Date of Publication1827
NotesFirst edition in German of a classic travel book "Narrative of the travels and discoveries in Northern and Central Africa in the years 1822, 1823 and 1824". The author, an Englishman, Dixon Denham, had set out on a mission for the Colonial Office with two Scots, Hugh Clapperton and Walter Oudney, to do what Mungo Park had failed to accomplish, namely to trace the course of the Niger River. Unlike Park, who travelled eastwards from the west coast of Africa, the three explorers set out from North Africa in 1822 and travelled southwards. They failed in their mission but did explore areas of Central Africa hitherto unknown to Europeans, including Lake Chad, and they were able to establish that the Niger did not flow into it. Relations between Denham and the two Scots quickly deteriorated during the expedition and they went their separate ways. Oudney died in Africa in 1824 and Denham and Clapperton eventually reunited to make it back to Tripoli in 1825. While Clapperton returned to Africa to resume exploring, Denham returned to Britain and wrote this account of their expedition, in which he made little mention of his travelling companions and claimed some of their achievements and discoveries for his own. This German edition includes 3 plates: a map of the area covered by the expedition, and representations of Central African tribesmen
Reference SourcesDNB; Fergus Fleming "Barrow's Boys"
Acquired on07/02/08
AuthorMetastasio, Pietro.
TitleBethulia delivered. A sacred nama[sic].
Date of Publication1774
NotesA rare edition of this libretto, which was first performed in Vienna in 1734: only one other copy is recorded in Britain. The drama was set to music by Domenico Corri, (1746-1825) originally from Rome, who came to Scotland in on the recommendation of the musician Charles Burney in 1771. He was employed as singing master and composer to the Musical Society in Edinburgh and stayed in Scotland until about 1790. With his brother son Giovanni and later with his brother Natale, Domenico founded a successful musical publishing business before moving to London. He was also manager for a period of the Theatre Royal in Edinburgh. According to the cast list, Corri and his wife took the principal roles. The manuscript annotation on the title page appears to indicate that a benefit performance took place for Corri on 8th March 1774. The item also has a noteworthy provenance being owned by members of the Grant family of Monymusk, Aberdeenshire, the Signet Library and latterly Christina Foyle, of the Foyles London bookselling dynasty.
Acquired on31/10/00
ImprintGlasgow: David Bryce and Sons
Date of Publication[1900?]
NotesThis is a miniature copy of the Bhagavad-Gita, printed in gold and produced by David Bryce of Glasgow, the pre-eminent 19th century Scottish maker of miniature books. Regular copies of this publication are extremely rare and this copy printed in gold type is most probably unique. The provenance is significant in that it was originally part of David Bryce's personal collection. It was then owned by Bryce's grand-daughter and later acquired by Louis W. Bondy (1910-1993), the author of the classic one-volume reference source entitled: Miniature Books: their History from the Beginnings to the Present Day. The book measures 3 x 4 cm. The text is printed upon the thinnest white tissue paper and it is bound in gold and purple grapevine patterned stiff paper. On the front board a curlicue-patterned paper is pasted on, at the center of which is the title. The same pattern is repeated on two separate pasted papers on the spine. The book is accompanied by a lidded silver box measuring 4.5 x 6.5 cm. The top lid is engraved with a pattern resembling a tartan which incorporates a shield device. Engraved in script in the center of the shield is Bryce's name, and "Jedburgh" below.
Reference SourcesBondy
Acquired on21/04/09
Date of Publication1607
NotesA striking Scottish binding with a long and impressive Scottish military provenance. It was the first edition of Giovanni Diodati's Protestant translation of the Bible into Italian. Diodati (1576-1649) was Professor of Theology and Professor of Hebrew at Geneva. The book was bound around 1680 by an unknown binder who was probably part of an Edinburgh workshop which bound at least six copies of Sir Thomas Murray's 'Laws and acts of parliament', Edinburgh, 1681 (copy at L.193.a). Although the designs differ in some ways, it is clear that the same set of tools (thistles and wild strawberry arrow-heads) have been used. It is notable also for the designs of circles, ovals and thistles on the gilt edges. It was probably bound originally for James Ogilvy, 3rd Earl of Findlater (d.1711), which accounts for the gilt initial 'F' beneath an earl's coronet on the covers. Ogilvy was a Justice of the Peace for Banff, who voted for the Union. Later owners include John Macfarlane, Writer to the Signet (mid-18th century), Charles Hope-Weir, (1710-1791), second son of the first Earl of Hopetoun and Lt. General Sir Whiteford Dalrymple (d. 1830),Colonel of the 57th Regiment and his descendants, who all served in the military.
Acquired on22/02/01
AuthorNamba, Toshio
TitleBibliography of Robert Burns in Japan
Date of Publication1977
NotesThe donor's father, Mr. Robert McLaren, was a president of the Robert Burns Federation, and his work brought him into contact with Professor Toshio Namba. Namba, a professor of English Literature, was deeply interested in Burns, and translated many of the poems into Japanese. This bibliography, with additional translations, is an important addition to our collections. It contains a manuscript dedication to Mr. McLaren, and is in fine condition in its original cardboard slipcase. With this donation we have received a copy of another book of relevance to Scottish-Japanese studies. Album England (1979), despite its title, consists of photographs of Scottish scenes with Japanese accompanying text. It also has a manuscript dedication from Namba. We have also been given a number of photographs including some of Mr. Namba and others of scenes in Tokyo. The notes on these photographs show that a warm friendship had developed between the Japanese researcher and the McLarens.
Acquired on29/10/04
AuthorBoswell, James
TitleBicentenary edition of Pitman's extra illustrated Boswell's Johnson
ImprintIsaac Pitman & Sons
Date of Publication1909
NotesThis edition of Boswell's Johnson was published in twenty weekly instalments beginning on Saturday September 18, 1909 and finishing on Saturday January 29th, 1910. The text is supplemented by the inclusion of over 560 illustrations offering information on people, places, documents and events associated with the narrative. The National Library's copy of this edition is notable for two reasons. Firstly, all twenty of the individually published parts are accounted for. Secondly, all of the front and back paper wrappers are present and in excellent condition.
Acquired on15/04/02
AuthorHarnisch, Carl.
TitleBildliche Darstellungen in Arabeskenform zu Ossians Gedichten
ImprintBerlin: G. Reimer
Date of Publication1835
NotesThis is a rare copy, in its original wrappers, of a portfolio of six lithographs, and a leaf of descriptive text, by the German artist Carl Harnisch (1800-1882). The lithographs are illustrations are inspired by the poems of Ossian, which had already appeared in German translation in the 1770s and continued to be popular in the early 19th century. The artist has done them in the arabesque form, which uses a decorative motif comprising surface decorations based on rhythmic linear patterns of scrolling and interlacing foliage and tendrils. The European version of arabesque art was inspired by early Islamic art and became widely used from the 15th and 16th centuries onwards. In his introduction Harnisch states that, "the following leaves, a series of drawings in the arabesque form, arose out of reading Ossian. The intention of their creator, as can been seen from the chosen form of representation, has been to portray an overall view of the ancient Nordic bard's individual sensibilities and poetry, rather than each drawing represent a particular passage in the poet's work." Harnisch had already published in 1832 a series of arabesque lithographs of illustrations inspired by Goethe's Faust. Harnisch later emigrated to the USA where he continued to work as an artist and lithographer.
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on20/12/13
TitleBiographical sketch of Mr. Morison, the hygeist.
Imprint[London]: G. Taylor
Date of Publication[1837?]
NotesThis 8-page pamphlet is about James Morison (1770-1840), pill manufacturer, originally Bognie, Aberdeenshire. Morison claimed to have suffered incessant poor health until his fifties, which doctors were unable to cure and which eventually led him to develop his "Universal Vegetable Pill" in the 1820s. He sold his pills through a network of agents and local retailers throughout Europe and the USA. After a series of sudden deaths attributed to his pills, Morison having advocated taking his pills in large doses, he moved to Paris in 1834. Despite this setback affecting sales of his pills he continued to market his product aggressively, this being one of a series of pamphlets he produced, which includes a portrait of the man himself.
Acquired on29/01/16
Author[Walter Scott]
TitleBirthday chimes from Scott: selections from the poems and tales of Sir Walter Scott.
ImprintEdinburgh : W. P. Nimmo, Hay & Mitchell
Date of Publication1891
NotesThis is a birthday book, compiled by William T. Dobson, which provides a Scott quote for each day of the year with space to enter the birthdays of friends and family. The photographic illustration mounted on the binding is a trimmed reproduction of James Valentine's photograph of the Valley of Tay from Kinnoul, taken in 1882. Kinnoul Hill's Tower, visible in the left margin of the photograph, is a folly built on the cliff's summit in 1829 by Lord Gray of Kinfauns, whose home, Kinfauns Castle, is visible from the hill. Grey also built nearby Binn Tower and used both as observatories. The selection of this image for the cover could be related to the Gray family, as five of the six names entered in ink in this copy share the Gray surname. W. P. Nimmo, Hay & Mitchell produced a total of 22 "Birthday chimes" on various themes, as shown on the publisher's advertisement, including Bible words, Shakespeare and Keats. Purchasers of the series were able to customise bindings (cloth or leather) and finishing details, such as the gilt edges. Presumably this photographic addition was ordered alongside the cloth binding.
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on06/11/15
AuthorAnderson, Alan and Jennie
TitleBlue remembered hills
ImprintLoanhead: Tragara Press
Date of Publication2004
NotesThe Tragara Press was founded by Alan Anderson in Edinburgh in 1954 who has, remarkably, continued to produce fine work for fifty years. The National Library has always collected Tragara books, and has marked-up copies of the two bibliographies of the press. Alan Anderson has donated many of the Tragara books we hold, and has now given us this, the last book which will be printed by Tragara. It is a selection of verse by Alan and Jennie Anderson (the title comes from A. E. Housman's 'A Shropshire lad'). This edition is limited to 20 copies, hand-set in Garamond type and printed on paper made by Amatruda of Amalfi. It is a fine conclusion to half a century of Scotland's most enduring private press.
Reference SourcesAlan Anderson, 'The Tragara Press', 1979; 1991.
Acquired on20/12/04
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