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 755 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 151 to 165 of 755:

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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
TitleCaledonian Mercury [15 issues for September - October 1737]
ImprintEdinburgh: Thomas and Walter Ruddiman
Date of Publication1737
LanguageEnglish
NotesThe 'Caledonian Mercury' was one of Scotland's earliest newspapers, being published three times a week from 1720 onwards, and lasting until the 1860s. In 1729, Thomas Ruddiman (1674-1757), future keeper of the Advocates Library, and his brother Walter, bought the paper. Ruddiman had already been printing the paper since 1724 at his printing house in the Lawnmarket in Edinburgh, and the death of the previous owner William Rolland gave him an opportunity to own a newspaper. As well reporting the main European news through rehashing the contents of the London newspapers, the 'Caledonian Mercury' also reported on Scottish events, becoming a forum for Ruddiman's own brand of moderate Jacobitism. Thomas Ruddiman passed on his half of the printing business to his son in 1739 and devoted himself to his work at the Advocates Library and scholarly publications. The paper remained in the Ruddiman family until 1772. NLS has an incomplete run of this important title, lacking all issues for the years 1737 and 1738. Early issues of the paper rarely come on the market, so this was a welcome opportunity to fill some of the gaps in the Library's holdings.
ShelfmarkRB.m.758
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography; G. Chalmers, 'The life of Thomas Ruddiman' (London, 1794)
Acquired on29/08/14
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
TitleCatalogue of books in quires, which will be offered to a select company of booksellers, at Hunter's Tavern, Edinburgh on Tuesday, October 21. 1794.
ImprintEdinburgh, [William Creech],
Date of Publication[1794]
LanguageEnglish
NotesAn 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.
ShelfmarkRB.l.133
Reference SourcesSBTI
Acquired on20/01/03
TitleCatalogue of books belonging to the library of St. Andrew's Chapel, Aberdeen.
ImprintAberdeen: printed by George Cornwall
Date of Publication1839
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis 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).
ShelfmarkAPS.3.203.06
Reference Sourceshttp://www.ifb.net/webit/standys.htm http://www.aberdeen.anglican.org/Cathedral.htm http://www.cathedral.aberdeen.anglican.org/
Acquired on07/01/03
TitleCatalogue of English books in circulation at Douglas & Foulis Library, 9 Castle Street, Edinburgh, and List of books added during 1913-1917
ImprintEdinburgh
Date of Publication1913 - 1918
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis 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.
ShelfmarkAB.3.208.03
Acquired on04/12/07
Author[Lothian, Marchioness of]
TitleCatalogue 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.
Imprint[Edinburgh]
Date of Publication[1788]
NotesAn 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.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2072
Acquired on18/10/00
AuthorAndrew Sharp & Sons
TitleCatalogue of Iron & Brass Bedsteads, Child's Cots, Bed Chairs, &c.
ImprintGlasgow: John F. Gourlie, Lith.
Date of Publicationc. 1900
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis 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.
ShelfmarkAB.10.207.07
Acquired on28/03/07
AuthorSommerville, John
TitleCatalogue of Scottish rocks, Collected and Sold by John Sommerville, 18 West Register Street, Edinburgh.
ImprintEdinburgh: R. Wallace & Co.
Date of Publication[1837?]
LanguageEnglish
NotesA 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'.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2650(2)
Acquired on12/03/07
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