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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AuthorPater, Erra.
TitleBook of knowledge: treating of the wisdom of the ancients.
ImprintGlasgow
Date of Publication1726
LanguageEnglish
NotesAn unrecorded edition of this hugely popular text 'translated' by the Tudor almanac compiler William Lilly who used the pseudonym 'Erra Pater, a Jew'. Most of the many eighteenth century editions are recorded in only one or two copies. The National Library also holds Glasgow imprints of this title dated 1786 and 1794. This edition is strikingly illustrated with a number of crude woodcuts of facial moles and astrological signs. Although most of the book follows the standard format of the almanac with astrological and meteorological predictions and medical advice, there is also some material of a Scottish flavour at the end of the book. This includes lists of Scottish fairs, descriptions of the 'most remarkable highways' and a 'table of the kings of Scotland'. William Lilly (1602-1681), the 'English Merlin', was the most successful and influential astrologer of seventeenth century England. He published an almanac every year from 1644 until his death in 1681. Lilly's almanacs and pamphlets had a tangible effect on public opinion, and his clients included many of the leading political and military figures of an age when most people naturally believed that the stars and planets had a direct influence on human affairs.
ShelfmarkABS.1.201.038
Reference Sourceshttp://www.skyhook.co.uk/merlin/ Parker, Derek. Familiar to all: William Lilly and astrology in the seventeenth century. (London, 1975) H3.75.2171
Acquired on25/09/01
AuthorGrant, John Peter [ed].
TitleBook of the Banff Golf Club bazaar.
Imprint[Banff]: Banffshire Journal Office,
Date of Publication1895
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a rare item of late 19th-century 'golfiana'. It consists of poems, songs and short stories by memebers of the Club, as well as portraits of local worthies. The publication was produced to coincide with a bazaar to raise funds for a new clubhouse and improvements to the course. The Banff Golf Club was founded in 1871, the members playing on a course on Banff links, although golf had of course been played in the area for centuries. The Club continued until 1924 when it amalgamated with another Banff club, the Duff House Club to become the Duff House Royal Golf Club. This particular copy has the bookplate of noted golf book collector Joseph Bridger Hackler.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2746
Acquired on10/04/09
AuthorGrant, James
TitleBothwell or the days of Mary Queen of Scots
ImprintLondon
Date of Publication1870?
LanguageEnglish
NotesPurchased with a selection of other yellowbacks by two popular Scottish authors. Yellowbacks (less commonly called 'mustard-plaster' novels) was the name given to the form of cheap fiction developed from the late 1840s and competed with the 'penny dreadful' as an accessible source of entertaining reading. The distinctive brightly coloured covers made the books very attractive for a growing reading public encouraged by the spread of education and the expansion of the railways. Routledges in establishing their 'Railway Library' in 1849, were the first of many publishers to target a new reading public with yellowbacks. This series ran to 1,277 titles, ending in 1899. Most works of fiction in this format were stereotyped reprints of earlier cloth editions. By the end of the 19th century, sensational fiction and adventure stories in addition to more 'educational' manuals, handbooks and cheap biographies were being published in this manner. These yellowback novels of Grant and Stevenson were typical of those published at this time. Edinburgh-born, James Grant (1822-1887), a distant relation of Sir Walter Scott, was a prolific author, writing some 90 books. Many of his 56 novels deal with key characters and events in Scottish history. In 1853 he founded the National Association for the Vindication of Scottish Rights. Grant is best remembered today as an historian - his thoroughly-researched 'Old and new Edinburgh' was published in 1880.
ShelfmarkABS.1.201.016
Acquired on05/01/03
AuthorSmith, Richard
TitleBrief treatyse settynge forth divers truethes necessary both to be beleved of chrysten people, & kepte also
ImprintLondon: Thomas Petit
Date of Publication1547
LanguageEnglish
NotesESTC S1134 The acquisition of this item demonstrates how the different aspects of our work can join up serendipitously. Cataloguing the Fort Augustus collections led to a decision to feature Archbishop Hamilton's Catechism of 1552 on our webpages as a Highlight of the collections, and the research for that text meant that we spotted the connection with this Richard Smith item when it was not flagged at all by the vendor. Richard Smith (1500-1563) was a theologian and divine who, disregarding a couple of tactical recantations, took a staunchly Catholic side during the Reformation. He was the first Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford, and one of the team involved in the production of Henry VIII's Institution of a Christian Man in 1537. When the Protestant party triumphed in England, he twice fled first to Scotland and then to France. While his movements on the accession of Elizabeth I seem fairly clear, there is some confusion over where exactly he was and when, between his first flight from England in 1549 and his return in 1553. He certainly went to St Andrews in Scotland and thence to Louvain. John Durkan in McRoberts' collection "Essays on the Scottish Reformation" assigns the writing of the Hamilton catechism to another Englishman, Richard Marshall, but notes that Smith was distributing copies to clergy in November, and was present at the Synod which commissioned the catechism. In his edition of Hamilton's catechism in 1882, Professor Mitchell says that Smith was one of the theology faculty at St Andrews when the catechism was drawn up, and his involvement may have led to the echoes of the Institution of a Christian Man (in some cases, direct renderings into Scots) in the catechism. It does seem likely that the production of such a text would have involved the available experts, rather than being the work of one sole individual. Given all these factors, we can see that this Brief Treatyse is an equally significant source for the catechism to the Institution of a Christian Man. It is Smith's third original work, and its title, like that of the Institution ('A necessary doctrine and erudicion for any chrysten man') emphasizes what the ordinary lay Christian should know - exactly what the catechism offers. Certainly the layout of this book is similar to that of the catechism: it is to be hoped that a researcher will take on the task of comparing the contents. This library is the best in the world for the study of the 1552 catechism (we hold most of the surviving copies), and here we have an opportunity to enrich the understanding of it through the purchase of a little-known item which is at least a valuable context and probably a direct source. There is no other copy in Scotland according to the ESTC. While the Brief Treatyse is available on microfilm and also via EEBO, original copies are very rare. This copy has been described as 'not great, but better than a "working" copy'. There are a few minor imperfections, but the main problem is the title page, which is 'cut-round and crudely inlaid' without loss of text, and also 'soiled, somewhat browned and stained'. Finally, this item has a Scottish provenance: it contains the undated bookplate of Alexander Moffat of Edinburgh, who is unlisted in our bookplates index. At least one contemporary owner has left marginalia and other markings in the text; later owners include Wm Herbert, 1760 and the Duke of Sussex, whose armorial bookplate is on the front pastedown. Finally there is the bookplate of the Bristol collector James Stevens Cox (1910-1997). This book is one of three the NLS has purchased from the sale of his library, a collection considered worthy of its own location in the Short Title Catalogue of English books before 1640.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2321
Reference SourcesDNB, catalogue, David McRoberts: Essays on the Scottish Reformation; 1882 and 1884 editions of Archibishop Hamilton's Catechism
Acquired on18/12/03
AuthorLondon and North Western Railway
TitleBroadsides relating to Queen Victoria's journey by train from Ballater to Windsor.
ImprintLondon : London and North Western Railway
Date of Publication1876
LanguageEnglish
NotesNote: 9 broadsides showing the details of the Queen's journey on the 22nd and 23rd of November 1876. Includes; itinery of stations en route and times of arrival and departure, arrangements for telegraphing the train, arrangement of carriages, and precautions to be taken in the event of fog. Also included is a special notice announcing the postponment of the journey until the afternoon of the 23rd. The Queen returned to Windsor amid the rising tension between the great powers over the Eastern Question of the Ottoman Empire. In a letter to the Marquis of Salisbury dated Balmoral, 18th Nov. 1876 it is stated that the Queen had at one time thought of leaving on the 17th but floods below Perth had washed away bridges. The time to repair the tracks may account for the subsequent delaying of the journey.
ShelfmarkAPS.5.201.12
Reference SourcesBuckle, George Earle (editor). The letters of Queen Victoria. Second series. (London, 1926) (X.190.d)
Acquired on01/08/01
AuthorByron, George Gordon
TitleBruden Fran Abdyos. En Osterlandsk Berattelse i Tvanne Sanger, af Lord Byron
ImprintStockholm: Zacharias Haeggstrom
Date of Publication1830
LanguageSwedish
NotesThis is the first Swedish edition of Byron's dramatic poem The Bride of Abydos, one of his Turkish Tales. The poem first appeared in 1813, a tragic love-story which perhaps is founded on Byron's own love for his half-sister Augusta: in this tale, the lovers Zuleika and Selim are cousins, but were half-brother and sister in the original draft. This Swedish edition testifies to the popularity of even Byron's lesser-known poetry across continental Europe, and unusually survives in its original paper wrappers, complete with details of the price. No copy is recorded in COPAC.
ShelfmarkAPS.1.206.002
Reference SourcesCOPAC; Oxford Companion to English Literature
Acquired on17/06/05
TitleBunch o' gatherings glean'd from the two past generations consisting of eight-page ballads, songs, tales, elegies, executions, &c., mostly poetical …
ImprintPaisley: William Anderson
Date of Publication1860
LanguageEnglish
NotesThese two volumes of chapbooks were compiled by the Paisley 'broker and bookseller' William Anderson. Apparently he had come across a pile of undistributed chapbooks languishing in a Paisley warehouse. He then had them bound up into collections and issued them in volumes of between 30-100 chapbooks as is stated on the title page. Both these volumes containing 53 and 56 items were issued with a frontispiece of Robert Tannahill the Paisley poet/song-writer. Only one other copy - in Cleveland Public Library - has been traced. Most of the chapbooks date from the 1820s and were printed in towns throughout Scotland including Glasgow, Edinburgh, Stirling, Falkirk and Paisley. Most of them are already included in the National Library's collections, but there are a number of additions to the collection including 'The news to which is added, the humours of Glasgow Fair' printed by R. Hutchison at the Saltmarket, Glasgow and the wonderfully titled Paisley chapbook 'The wonderful advantages of drunkenness' Included in the second volume are a number of issues of the Paisley Repository published in the early decades of the 19th century. Anderson had published issues of a penny periodical called the 'New Paisley Repository' between 1852 and 1853.
ShelfmarkABS.1.203.044
Reference SourcesSBTI
Acquired on28/05/03
AuthorMackenzie, Isobel
TitleCaberfeigh
Imprint[Gollanfield House, Invernessshire]
Date of Publication1874
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an extraordinary example of private printing. Isobel Mackenzie (1852-1880) was given a Berri's People's Printing Press by her parents - illustrated in the frontispiece sketch. She used it to print six issues of Caberfeigh: A Magazine of Polite Literature, while suffering from tuberculosis at Gollanfield House. Despite the subtitle, however, this is not a typical example of Victorian family literature; it is actually very entertaining and full of satirical humour. 'Cabear fèidh' is the Gaelic for 'deer antler' and it is the war cry of the Clan Mackenzie. Isobel was evidently determined to cheer herself and her family with stories, jokes, poems and quizzes. She describes visits to England with witty and precise language. The standard of the printing is good for a private family press. Additional interest is supplied by the fact that Isobel was the niece of the writer Robert Michael Ballantyne (1825-1924), best known today for his swashbuckling yarn The Coral Island (1858). He contributed two articles to Caberfeigh ("From our African correspondent" in issue 1 and "Buncle's experiences on the Continent" in issue 6). For this copy, he also supplied the water-colour volume title-page and two highly dramatic pen and ink drawings for Isobel's own story "R-R-R Remorse! A Tale of Love! Murder! and Death!!!" in issue 5. This bound set of the magazine was presented to Isobel as a Christmas present for 1874. As well as the Ballantyne illustrations, and another colour illustration of Isobel's cat Nixie, there are 14 tipped-in albumen photographs, mainly of family and friends; there are photographs of Isobel and her uncle Robert ('Bob'), as well as an image of Gollanfield House. In this copy there are manuscript additions, probably in Isobel's hand, which identify the writers of various anonymous articles (e.g. on p. 13 of issue 1, a poem is ascribed to 'Mamma'). This copy comes from the library of the Ballantyne bibliographer Eric Quayle, sold at auction in March 2006. There are a couple of imperfections; pp. 7-8 of issue 6 are missing, and pp. 16-18 may also be missing (although this may just be a numbering error  another copy also lacks pages 16-18). Two other sets of this magazine are currently known, one in private hands, one at the University of Texas at Austin, USA. This is, apparently, the only copy of Caberfeigh in public ownership in Scotland.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2669
Reference SourcesEric Quayle, R. M. Ballantyne: a bibliography of first editions, London: 1968, p. 122.
Acquired on19/06/07
TitleCabinet of curiosities (No. I-IX)
ImprintLondon : Printed for the booksellers
Date of Publication1795
LanguageEnglish
NotesThe "London Corresponding Society" was a radical society which sought political reform, inspired by the ideals of the French Revolution. It was founded in January 1792 by a group of friends, including a Scottish radical, Thomas Hardy (1752-1832). In the same year the Scottish political reformer Thomas Muir (1765-1799) helped to set up the "Association of the Friends of the People in Edinburgh". The "Cabinet of curiosites" is a miscellany containing prose, and some poetry, relating to members of the above reform societies arrested on charges of high treason. ESTC identifies only one other copy in the UK of nos. I-VII. This copy includes two additional parts. No.VIII contains a verse, "The petition of the clerks and apprentices of writers to the Signet and writers in Edinburgh". No. IX contains part of a letter by Muir "Extract of a letter from Mr. Muir to a friend in London, Sidney, December 13, 1794". Muir was arrested on a charge of sedition and transported to Botany Bay along with three other radicals. Among these reformers known as the "Scottish martyrs" was Thomas Fyshe Palmer (1747-1802), whose letter to Mr. Jeremiah Joyce describing life in Australia is also published in No. IX.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2766(1)
Reference SourcesOxford DNB; bookseller's catalogue
Acquired on30/09/09
AuthorSMT Magazine and Scottish Country Life
TitleCalendar for 1940.
Date of Publication1940
LanguageEnglish
NotesAn unusual survival, this calendar was found in an attic in reasonably good condition, with its original metal hanger. The different months are illustrated by good-quality prints of paintings of various Scottish landscapes. The artists include W. M. Cuthill, Healey Hislop, Alastair Dallas and George Melvin Rennie. The front cover is a martial scene of armed highlanders gathering around Bonnie Prince Charlie, which was presumably chosen in view of the recent outbreak of war with Germany. The calendar has not been covered with scribble as is the usual fate of such ephemeral items, and would still look good on the wall. One of the few pencil notes is curious: by 'September', someone has written 'Septembre'. Was the calendar sent as a present to someone in France, or was it owned by a French resident in Scotland? SMT [Scottish Motor Traction] magazine was despite its title a wide-ranging and colourful magazine with stories, letters, descriptions of Scottish towns and landscapes; very much the kind of thing one could find in dentists' waiting rooms. The 1940 volume of the magazine, which NLS holds, is full of a breezy optimism with regard to the war, and a strong current of Scottish nationalism. The magazine is quite happy to discuss the question of Scotland's future status within the union, and includes a letter asking whether federalism should actually be a war aim. This sits well with the cover of the calendar, which recalls Scotland's separate military traditions. Together, the magazine and calendar present a much more colourful image of 1940 than the conventional stereotype.
Shelfmark8.159/18
Acquired on10/01/02
AuthorRinuccini, Giovanni Battista
TitleCapucin Escossois.
ImprintAix: Jean Roize
Date of Publication1667 [1647]
LanguageFrench
NotesAn extremely rare copy of what may be the first French edition of Rinuccini's work on George Leslie, (Father Archangel) a convert to Catholicism who became a Capuchin friar. Leslie had a colourful career being in the Scots College in Rome in 1608, posting Catholic manifestos on church doors in Aberdeen in 1624 before fleeing to France around 1629. He managed to incur the wrath of Rome and had to appear before the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith in 1631. Thanks to the testimony of Scottish Catholics he was cleared of all charges and returned to Scotland where he died in 1637. While in Rome he met Rinuccini then the Archbishop of Fermo who wrote a somewhat fantastic account of Leslie's adventures for the edification of the faithful, which was first published in Macerata, Italy in 1644. Rinuccini had employed the Scot in preaching and other pastoral work in his diocese. Editions were published in French, Latin and other European languages - the NLS holds editions printed in French in 1650, 1660, 1662 and 1664 - though no English editions were published until the 19th century. This may have been because of the fictitious nature of the work particularly in relation to Leslie's alleged aristocratic origins in Aberdeenshire. Although the date on the title page is 1667, the true date is probably 1647, which would make it the first French edition. This is the date of the Aix edition in Repertoire bibliographique des livres imprimés en France au XVIIe siècle (1996), number 540. There is also an ownership inscription on the title page from 'Convent d'Annessy', dated 'Juin 1649'. No locations are recorded but the book is known from two sources: Lexicon capuccinum 118 and a Paris bookseller's catalogue Presses provinciales.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2292
Reference SourcesDNB
Acquired on22/11/02
AuthorStevenson, Robert Louis [transl. Mme B.-J. Lowe]
TitleCas etrange du Docteur Jekyll
ImprintParis: Librairie Plon
Date of Publication[1890]
LanguageFrench
NotesThe first French edition of Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is one of those books which one would automatically assume could be found in the National Library of Scotland. However, this seems to be an extremely rare book, which was not included in the extensive library of Stevenson's works collected by Edwin J. Beinecke. One copy is located in the Bibliotheque Nationale. The rarity of this work is something of a puzzle as the book is a typical yellow paperback, the format in which many popular works were published in the late nineteenth century. Perhaps the other copies were simply read to death. The copy we have just acquired is in near-mint condition.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2295
Reference SourcesBeinecke
Acquired on28/08/03
Author(Colbert), Hamilton, Alexander, 10th Duke of Hamilton
TitleCatalogue des objects d'art & de curiosite au Palais d'Hamilton
Date of Publication1838
LanguageFrench
NotesA catalogue that never was. This is a quite remarkable curiosity that started life in France towards the end of the 17th Century, was bought in the early 18th Century by the 10th Duke of Hamilton and has now been purchased by the National Library of Scotland. Jean Baptiste Colbert (1619-1683) was Louis XIV's principal minister, an acknowledged financial wizard and an ardent book collector. At some date late in his career, he had made up for himself a volume of some 300 folio sheets of blank paper, watermarked with his own arms and bound in a striking red morocco armorial binding, showing a version of the Colbert arms. It is not clear what Colbert intended to do with this handsome volume but it is likely that he saw it as a manuscript catalogue of his extensive book collection. If that was the intention, then it never happened, for when Alexander Hamilton, 10th Duke of Hamilton and 7th Duke of Brandon purchased it sometime in the early decades of the 19th Century it was blank throughout. The 10th Duke was a committed Francophile and renewed a dormant family claim to the Dukedom of Chatelherault in the French peerage. His intention for the volume seems clear since there is a manuscript title leaf in pen and ink 'Catalogue des objects d'art & de curiosite au Palais d'Hamilton 1838' and there are manuscript headings for various rooms of the Palace such as 'Salle Appartenante a La Bibliotheque' and 'Bibliotheque' and 'Chambre de Toilette de Madame La Duchesse'. However these headings end half way through the volume as the Duke, like Colbert before him, grew bored or forgot this fine volume. The binding is late 17th Century full red morocco, gilt-panelled, with the arms of Jean Baptist Colbert in the centre panels of the upper and lower boards, surrounded by the collar s of the order of Saint-Michel and of the Saint-Esprit, and with coroneted monograms incorporating the letters JBC both at each of the central panels and in each of the seven compartments of the spine. From the library of the Dukes of Hamilton with the Hamilton's 19th Century armorial bookplate on the front pastedown.
ShelfmarkBdg.l.42
Acquired on22/12/00
TitleCatalogue of 1912 model Argyll Cars
Imprint[Alexandria, Dumbartonshire?]
Date of Publication1912
LanguageEnglish
NotesFrom small beginnings in the 1890s, Argyll Motors quickly became Britain's largest car manufacturer. In 1906, the company occupied Europe's largest and most up-to-date motor vehicle factory at Alexandria, on the banks of Loch Lomond. This sales catalogue is from the company's heyday in 1912: it lists monarchs from Sarawak to Sweden among users of Argyll cars, as well as the senior members of the British royal family. A year later in 1913, an Argyll car broke thirteen world records in a single day at the Brooklands track in Surrey. The catalogue contains illustrations of the Alexandria factory and a list of models, from the 12 h.p Doctor's Coupe to the 25 h.p. Landaulette, 'a magnificent example of the coachbuilder's art'. This car also used the patent single sleeve-valve engine developed by Scottish inventor Peter Burt, which would later play an interesting role in the early history of aeroplane design. 'As long as a country produces a Car like the New Argyll - which I consider is the acme of clean and good design - it has nothing to envy or fear from anybody', says the catalogue. However the company faced financial difficulties and went into liquidation in 1914. Although revived in the 1920s, the marque was finished by 1932.
ShelfmarkFB.m.838
Reference Sources'Imprentit' NLS exhibition labels, 2008; http://www.archiveshub.ac.uk/news/argyllmc.html; http://www.enginehistory.org/
Acquired on27/11/08
AuthorHodgson & Co. [Auctioneers]
TitleCatalogue of an extensive & valuable library of economic, historical and general literature.
ImprintLondon: [Hodgson & Co.],
Date of Publication1904
LanguageEnglish
NotesAuction sale catalogues may not at first sight seem particularly interesting but the stories that lie behind them often are. This catalogue was produced for the sale in London in 1904, between May 9th and 13th, of the "property of a gentleman" - a substantial library covering mainly trade and commerce. The books on sale included several early works on Scotland, America and the West Indies, works on tobacco, and a large number of 17th-century books of the Civil War and Commonwealth periods. The "gentleman" in question was J.T. (James Taylor) Bell of Glasgow. Bell was a senior partner in the tobacco firm of J. & F. Bell, founded by his father and uncle in the mid-19th century, which manufactured Three Nuns tobacco and Three Bells cigarettes. The company ran into severe financial difficulties in the early 1900s and went into voluntary liquidation in early 1904. At the bankruptcy court in Glasgow in October of that year, the sorry state of Bell's finances was revealed. James Taylor Bell himself owed the company £12,000, and, as a means of reducing his debts, he revealed that he had had his library of c. 9000 volumes valued and then sold. He admitted that he had spent over £11,000 acquiring his library but that the Hodgson's sale in May had only realised £2,000, leaving with him a loss of £9,000. This particular copy of the sale catalogue reveals all the details of the sale; it has been neatly annotated in ink with the prices realised for each lot in the sale. The name of the London booksellers Francis Edwards is inscribed on the front pastedown which suggests that it belonged to an employee of the firm who attended the sale. Most of the c. 1700 lots in the sale sold for very modest prices, rarely going above the £1-2 range. The apparent lack of interest in Bell's library is in stark contrast to the prices realised for 15 lots of old English literature, owned by a separate collector, which were sold at the end of the third day of the sale. These books attracted far higher prices, most notably £230 for a "clean and perfect copy" of the London, 1598 edition of George Chapman's translation of Homer's "Iliad".
ShelfmarkRB.s.2796
Reference SourcesThe Scotsman "Failure of a Tobacco Manufacturer"(article October 15 1904).
Acquired on30/04/10
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