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 750 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Important Acquisitions 151 to 165 of 750:
Ordered by title |
Order by author
| Order by date
|Author||SMT Magazine and Scottish Country Life|
|Title||Calendar for 1940.|
|Date of Publication||1940|
|Notes||An 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.|
|Author||Rinuccini, Giovanni Battista|
|Imprint||Aix: Jean Roize|
|Date of Publication||1667 |
|Notes||An 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.|
|Author||Stevenson, Robert Louis [transl. Mme B.-J. Lowe]|
|Title||Cas etrange du Docteur Jekyll|
|Imprint||Paris: Librairie Plon|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||The 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.|
|Author||(Colbert), Hamilton, Alexander, 10th Duke of Hamilton|
|Title||Catalogue des objects d'art & de curiosite au Palais d'Hamilton|
|Date of Publication||1838|
|Notes||A 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.|
|Title||Catalogue of 1912 model Argyll Cars|
|Date of Publication||1912|
|Notes||From 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.|
|Reference Sources||'Imprentit' NLS exhibition labels, 2008; http://www.archiveshub.ac.uk/news/argyllmc.html; http://www.enginehistory.org/|
|Author||Hodgson & Co. [Auctioneers]|
|Title||Catalogue of an extensive & valuable library of economic, historical and general literature.|
|Imprint||London: [Hodgson & Co.], |
|Date of Publication||1904|
|Notes||Auction 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". |
|Reference Sources||The Scotsman "Failure of a Tobacco Manufacturer"(article October 15 1904).|
|Title||Catalogue of books belonging to the library of St. Andrew's Chapel, Aberdeen.|
|Imprint||Aberdeen: printed by George Cornwall|
|Date of Publication||1839|
|Notes||This pamphlet adds significantly to the Library's holdings of works providing information about the history of libraries and collecting in Scotland. St. Andrew's Chapel in Aberdeen was built in 1816 and opened in 1817 as a meeting-place for the Episcopalian congregation. It was raised to the dignity of a Cathedral church in 1914. The chapel library was apparently formed in 1831, and according to the preface in this work, several catalogues had already been issued before 1839. It would seem that the library was well-organised (at least on paper!): the preface discusses the collection development policy and notes that the holdings of serials are particularly strong. Detailed rules and regulations are given before the catalogue itself.
Naturally, the books are mainly theological, and particularly relate to the cause of the Episcopal Church. What is particularly notable is the number of early works, including several seventeenth-century Scottish books (Aldis items). There are also novels, biographies and collections of pamphlets. It would be interesting to know more about the ways in which this collection was formed (and, indeed, its eventual fate).|
|Title||Catalogue of books in quires, which will be offered to a select company of booksellers, at Hunter's Tavern, Edinburgh on Tuesday, October 21. 1794.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh, [William Creech],|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||An unrecorded catalogue of a book sale conducted by William Creech (1745-1815). The sale consisted of 348 lots arranged alphabetically by author or title, with each lot containing anything from a single copy for multi-volume works (e.g. Baronage of Scotland) to 50 copies (Ruddiman's Rudiments of the Latin tongue). All the books were offered unbound ('in quires'), a practice not unknown in the 18th century. The NLS also holds other catalogues of sales conducted by Creech 6.740(1) (1791) at Bdgs.89 (1793). The very large format of this catalogue is unusual and may account for its rarity.
Creech was known throughout his career for his disorganized finances; and this sale was perhaps intended as a method of reducing an overlarge inventory or improving cash flow. Successful bidders were offered extended payment terms, depending on the size of purchase. He was also known as being a sociable character - the sale was preceded by 'dinner on the table at three o'clock' with the sale beginning immediately afterwards.
William Creech was apprenticed to the Edinburgh booksellers Kincaid and Bell before learning more of the trade in London and on the continent. He established his own premises in the Luckenbooths in 1773 and remained in business there until his death in 1815. Creech was a member of the Town Council and served as Lord Provost from 1811-13.|
|Title||Catalogue of English books in circulation at Douglas & Foulis Library, 9 Castle Street, Edinburgh, and List of books added during 1913-1917|
|Date of Publication||1913 - 1918|
|Notes||This catalogue of Douglas & Foulis' circulating library gives a fascinating glimpse of the rules of the library, its charges (for one guinea a year, a person could borrow one book a month; for ten guineas, 30 books a month), and what books it contained. Through the supplementary 'List of Books Added during 1913-1917', it also gives a rare insight into reading tastes and the circulation of books during the First World War. It is easy to find out what books were published during this period: here we can see that books such as 'Trench Pictures from France' and 'Russian Court Memoirs 1914-16' were easily accessible to Edinburgh readers with five shillings (the lowest subscription) to spare. |
|Author||[Lothian, Marchioness of]|
|Title||Catalogue of household furniture, &c, which belonged to the late Marchioness of Lothian ... which will be sold by Roup, at Lothian House ... Monday the 3d March 1788 ... Mrs Bowie, Auctioneer.|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||An extremely rare printed sales catalogue of the household belongings of Jean, Marchioness of Lothian, sold by auction after her death in December 1787.
Lothian House, at the foot of the Canongate, was the family's Edinburgh town house and was leased after her death to the philosopher Dugald Stewart, eventually becoming the headquarters for Youngers brewery. The site is now to be occupied by the Scottish Parliament building and the sales catalogue gives a direct source of evidence to the Parliament's eighteenth century precursor.|
|Author||Andrew Sharp & Sons|
|Title||Catalogue of Iron & Brass Bedsteads, Child's Cots, Bed Chairs, &c.|
|Imprint||Glasgow: John F. Gourlie, Lith. |
|Date of Publication||c. 1900|
|Notes||This is a sumptuous trade catalogue with 53 lithographed plates, most of them partly printed in colour. Brass and wrought iron are much in evidence; no flat-pack self-assembly kits here. Judging by the size and solidity of the beds illustrated here, some are probably still around today. The Campbellfield Bedstead Works were built for Andrew Sharp in 1876, and were in Campbellfield Street in central Glasgow. This copy comes with three price lists dated 1901, one with manuscript corrections.|
|Title||Catalogue of Scottish rocks, Collected and Sold by John Sommerville, 18 West Register Street, Edinburgh.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: R. Wallace & Co.|
|Date of Publication||[1837?]|
|Notes||A very rare brochure listing 100 specimens of Scottish rocks which were for sale in cabinets. The samples came in three sizes, the largest at three inches costing £5. In the advertisement on the verso of the title page, the author states that the collection has been available for eight years, constantly undergoing improvements. The advertisement goes on to say that the collection represents nearly all the deposits to be found in Scotland, and that it will be of particular use to geologists in England as it 'stops at the point where the English strata begin to be more illustrative' than Scottish strata. The blank leaves bound into the volume suggest that it was intended for use as a field book. It is bound with the 1837 edition of John Phillip's 'Treatise on Geology'.|
|Author||[David Morison (1792-1855)]|
|Title||Catalogue of the Gray Library at Kinfauns Castle|
|Imprint||[Perth?: D. Morison]|
|Date of Publication||1827|
An unrecorded copy of the catalogue of the library of Baron Gray in Kinfauns Castle, Perthshire. This copy is unique in that it is entirely lithographed; 12 copies of the catalogue were produced the following year (1828) which had lithographed border designs on it but letterpress text.
David Morison, the compiler and printer of the catalogue, belonged to the famous Perth family of printers and he had worked as a librarian as well as printer, which meant he was the ideal person to produce a catalogue of Baron Gray's collection. He also appears to have been one of the first people in Scotland to master the art of lithography, which had been introduced to Scotland some 10 years before and was being widely used in book illustrations and jobbing printing. Although the contents of Baron Gray's library were largely unremarkable, Morison's catalogue is remarkable for its elaborate lithographed borders printed in red. A comparison of the two versions of the catalogue suggests that this 1827 version was an experiment or trial run by Morison, possibly done for Baron Gray. It is not as complete as the 1828 version and there are a number of differences in the border designs. Morison must have decided against producing further copies with lithographed text in favour of letter-press. From the dedication page it would appear that the catalogue was actually printed in Perth, where Morison would have had the printing stones for the lithography, rather than in Kinfauns Castle itself - although there is evidence of Baron Gray having had a printing press in Kinfauns Castle.
This copy was formerly in the collection of the famous New York-based bookseller and collector, Bernard Breslauer (1918-2004).|
|Reference Sources||Antony Lister "David Morison & the catalogue of Lord Gray of Kinfauns" Antiquarian Book Monthly Review (ABMR)vol. XIII (1986), pp. 416-421.
D. Shenck, Directory of the lithographic printers of Scotland, 1820-1870, Edinburgh, 1999.
|Title||Central India photographs|
|Date of Publication||1863|
|Notes||19 albumen prints by an unknown photographer in a portfolio. From the collection of Victor Alexander Bruce, 9th Earl of Elgin.
An important group of early photographs assembled between 1850 and 1867 by James Bruce, 8th Earl of Elgin, and his son Victor Alexander Bruce, the 9th Earl, providing a visual record of the distinguished careers of the two earls as diplomats, military strategists, and politicians in India and the Far East. The four albums form a valuable source for the study of colonial and imperialist expansion, global commercial travel, and, not least, the rapid growth of commercial photography. The purchase was made possible by generous contributions from the Heritage Lottery Fund (National Heritage Memorial Fund) and the National Art Collections Fund.|
|Author||Scott, Walter, Sir.|
|Title||Character of Lord Byron|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||Sir Walter Scott's Character of Lord Byron is bound with William Parry's Last days of Lord Byron with His Lordship's Opinions on Various Subjects Particularly on the State and Prospects of Greece. Scott's tribute to Byron first appeared in the May 19, 1824 issue of the 'Edinburgh Weekly Journal' and was later reprinted in 'The Pamphleteer', vol. 24, 1824.
This copy of the Character of Lord Byron does not incorporate the same typeface, or follow the same layout as the edition of Scott's article published in the 'The Pamphleteer.' No bibliographic record for this copy can be found in NSTC, RLIN, CURL, or the catalogues of the British Library, Library of Congress, Harvard, Yale, Oxford, Cambridge or the University of Edinburgh. Neither does it appear in William B. Todd's Sir Walter Scott : a bibliographical history, 1796-1832.
A footnote on p. 197, vol. VII, in John Gibson Lockhart's Life of Sir Walter Scott (Edinburgh: Constable, 1902) presents some relevant background information. According to a recollection in 1839 by Andrew Shortrede, an apprentice in the Edinburgh printing trade in 1824: 'Sir Walter came down from the Court of Session to the printing-office the day the intelligence of Byron's death reached Edinburgh and there dictated to James Ballantyne the article which appeared in the Weekly Journal. I think it was inserted without correction, or revisal, except by Ballantyne. From these circumstances, I with others imagined James had himself produced it in some moment of inspiration; but when I afterwards told him how I had been misled, he detailed suo more the full, true, and particular history of the article. Separate copies, I remember, were thrown off for some of Byron's friends.'
No publication details can be found anywhere on this copy of Scott's article. As Shortrede's recollection suggests, this is most probably one of the very few surviving separate copies, which James Ballantyne and Company had printed for the friends of Byron.|
|Reference Sources||Not in NSTC, RLIN or CURL|