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 775 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 775:
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|Title||Bethulia delivered. A sacred nama[sic].|
|Date of Publication||1774|
|Notes||A 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.|
|Imprint||Glasgow: David Bryce and Sons|
|Date of Publication||[1900?]|
|Notes||This 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.
|Date of Publication||1607|
|Notes||A 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.|
|Title||Bibliography of Robert Burns in Japan|
|Date of Publication||1977|
|Notes||The 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.|
|Title||Bicentenary edition of Pitman's extra illustrated Boswell's Johnson|
|Imprint||Isaac Pitman & Sons|
|Date of Publication||1909|
|Notes||This 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.|
|Title||Bildliche Darstellungen in Arabeskenform zu Ossians Gedichten|
|Imprint||Berlin: G. Reimer|
|Date of Publication||1835|
|Notes||This 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 Sources||Bookseller's notes|
|Author||Anderson, Alan and Jennie|
|Title||Blue remembered hills|
|Imprint||Loanhead: Tragara Press|
|Date of Publication||2004|
|Notes||The 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 Sources||Alan Anderson, 'The Tragara Press', 1979; 1991.|
|Author||Smith & Wellstood (Limited) Columbian Stove Works|
|Title||Bonnybridge price list and illustrated and descriptive catalogue of Smith & c's patent and registered American cooking stoves, portable kitchen ranves, warming stoves, for church, hall, parlour, office, shop and ware-room use, &c. Catalogue 2A|
|Imprint||Bonnybridge : [s.n.]|
|Date of Publication||[1888?]|
|Notes||This trade catalogue of Bonnybridge iron foundries dates from the 1880s, the heyday of heavy industry in central Scotland. The firm of Smith & Wellstood was established in Glasgow in 1858 to sell American-style free-standing stoves in Britain. Outlets were subsequently opened in Liverpool, Dublin and London. The firm was the driving force in persuading the British public to invest in efficient, slow-burning stoves in place of open fires. These stoves used less fuel and produced more heat than the type being used in Britain in the 1850s. The founders were James Smith and Stephen Wellstood, both Edinburgh-born entrepreneurs who had begun their business careers in the United States.
Smith decided it would be more economic to produce the stoves in Scotland than to import them from the United States. In 1855 James Smith had contracted the services of George Ure, an ironfounder of some repute and a partner of Crosthwaite, Ure & Co. of Camelon. Ure opened his own foundry - the Columbian Stove Works - in Bonnybridge in 1860 to make the castings for the stoves. The finished products were transported down the Forth-Clyde canal to Smith's warehouses in Glasgow. Smith & Wellstood opened their foundry in 1873 and in 1890 amalgamated with George Ure & Co. In addition to stoves, baths, ranges, gates, railings, pots, pans, piano frames and umbrella stands were manufactured. At the turn of the century Smith & Wellstood introduced the first closed anthracite-burning stoves onto the UK market. These were modelled on a French design and became known as the Esse range of stoves.|
|Reference Sources||Borthwick, Alastair. The history of Smith & Wellstood Ltd. ironfounders. (Bonnybridge, 1954) H4.80.755
McIntosh, Fiona. Bonnybridge in bygone days. (Falkirk, 1989) HP3.90.453
Smith & Wellstood Ltd., Ironfounders, Bonnybridge. (Survey / National Register of Archives (Scotland) no.2198) (Edinburgh, 1989) GRH.9|
|Title||Book of ceilings|
|Imprint||London: Printed for the author|
|Date of Publication||1776|
|Notes||The copy on offer seems to differ from the copy purchased by the Library in 1980 (Sotheby's auction - £456) only by the fact that all of the 48 plates have been coloured. The possibility of acquiring coloured copies of A book of ceilings was mentioned in an advertisement in Richardson's New designs in architecture (1792). The cost was 48 guineas - a guinea per plate - a colossal sum even in those days (in today's terms about over £3500). The only coloured copies traced are at the British Library and the National Library in Warsaw.
The British Library copy (55.I.18 from the Royal Library in an 'Adam' design binding) has both the coloured and uncoloured copies of each plate bound together. The coloured plates have less rich colour and 'white' areas are left as plain paper as compared to the body-colouring in the NLS copy. Also the coloured and uncoloured copies seem not be always the same printed state - e.g. for plate XII Richardson's name is engraved and printed in black on the uncoloured copy whereas on the coloured copy his name is in brown and may be in manuscript. A possible explanation is that the colouring in the BL copy was carried out separately and at an earlier stage.
ESTC lists 13 copies - the only other copies in Scotland are at Bowhill (the then Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch are listed among the subscribers), and Paxton House, Berwickshire, which has the first four plates published in 1774. Both copies are uncoloured. Eileen Harris in British architectural books and writers 1556-1785 lists 4 additional holdings (2 British). Two of the designs (plates XVII and XVIII) were carried out for Sir Lawrence Dundas of Edinburgh, one of which is now to be seen in the Board Room of the Royal Bank of Scotland building in St. Andrew Square, Edinburgh.
Ian Gow, Head of the Curators Department of the National Trust for Scotland has examined the work and believes it more likely that such a deluxe work would have been purchased by book collectors rather than by architects. He has also remarked on the unusual use of gouache and the body-colouring employed in the roundels in the designs. Mr. Gow believes that the acquisition of this work by the National Library offers the opportunity for art and architecture historians to find out more about the colouring of ceilings in 18th century houses and mansions.
There is little doubt that Richardson (who may have come from Inveresk, Midlothian) was closely associated with the Adam brothers earlier in his career. At the age of about 20 he was involved, albeit in a minor capacity and under James Adam's direction, in turning Robert Adam's plates of and commentary on Diocletian's Palace at Split into a publishable book (this was published in 1764 as Ruins of the Palace of the Emperor Diocletian at Spalatro in Dalmatia. Richardson accompanied James Adam on his Grand Tour from 1760 to 1763 and had plenty of opportunity to study the remains of ancient architecture and painting. The National Library holds 2 of Richardson's letters written to his patron (Archibald Shiells of Inveresk) recording his observations of Rome (MS.3812). He probably left the employ of the Adams prior to 1773 as he is not listed among the numerous artists and architects employed by them. According to Eileen Harris it was however Adam's folio of executed designs described in French and English (Works in architecture, published in parts from 1773) which prompted Richardson to start publishing his own works in a similar fashion in 1774. By publishing the work in instalments over a number of years he helped to increase the sales to those unable to invest 3-4 guineas all at once.
A book of ceilings did not have the desired effect of attracting new patrons for Richardson. By publishing his own designs he made available his works for imitation and execution by others and rendered unnecessary his actual employment as an architect.|
|Reference Sources||DNB, Harris, Eileen, British architecture books and writers 1556-1785 (Cambridge, 1990)|
|Author||Church of England|
|Title||Book of common prayer|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Adrian Watkins|
|Date of Publication||1756|
|Notes||This volume contains an incomplete 1756 printing of the Book of Common Prayer, as well as a 1764 printing of the "Communion-Office for the use of the Church of Scotland" printed for the Episcopal Church, and a 1757 Edinburgh printing of the Psalms of David. It is has been acquired for its binding done by James Scott of Edinburgh, one of the best bookbinders in 18th century Britain. Six other James Scott bindings of the 1756 Book of Common Prayer are recorded in J.H. Loudon's bibliography "James Scott and William Scott bookbinders", dating from the years 1774-1780. This rather worn and faded binding, in crimson morocco, resembles the earlier bindings from 1774/75 (JS 9, 11, 11.5) and so can probably be dated to c. 1774. A MS genealogy on the verso of the final leaf in the volume and rear pastedown shows that it belonged to Alexander Stewart of Invernahyle, Argyllshire (1707/8-1795), and his family. Stewart was one of the sons of the laird of Invernahyle and during the 1745/46 Jacobite uprising he served in the Jacobite army along with the Stewarts of Appin. He fought at Prestonpans and Culloden; in the former battle he saved the life of a Hanoverian officer, Colonel Whitefoord of Ballochmyle. In his later years he was regular visitor to the house of Sir Walter Scott's father. Scott, as a boy, was thrilled to hear Stewart's tales of the '45 and he visited Stewart in Argyllshire in 1786 or 1787. Scott later claimed that listening to Stewart's tales gave him the inspiration for his most famous historical novel "Waverley", with Stewart acting as a model for the novel's protagonist, Edward Waverley. |
|Reference Sources||J.H. Loudon "James Scott and William Scott bookbinders" London, 1980; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography|
|Title||Book of knowledge: treating of the wisdom of the ancients.|
|Date of Publication||1726|
|Notes||An 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.|
Parker, Derek. Familiar to all: William Lilly and astrology in the seventeenth century. (London, 1975) H3.75.2171|
|Author||Grant, John Peter [ed].|
|Title||Book of the Banff Golf Club bazaar.|
|Imprint||[Banff]: Banffshire Journal Office,|
|Date of Publication||1895|
|Notes||This 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.|
|Title||Bothwell or the days of Mary Queen of Scots|
|Date of Publication||1870?|
|Notes||Purchased 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.|
|Title||Brief treatyse settynge forth divers truethes necessary both to be beleved of chrysten people, & kepte also|
|Imprint||London: Thomas Petit|
|Date of Publication||1547|
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.|
|Reference Sources||DNB, catalogue, David McRoberts: Essays on the Scottish Reformation; 1882 and 1884 editions of Archibishop Hamilton's Catechism|
|Author||London and North Western Railway|
|Title||Broadsides relating to Queen Victoria's journey by train from Ballater to Windsor.|
|Imprint||London : London and North Western Railway|
|Date of Publication||1876|
|Notes||Note: 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.|
|Reference Sources||Buckle, George Earle (editor). The letters of Queen Victoria. Second series. (London, 1926) (X.190.d)|