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 697 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 151 to 165 of 697:
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|Title||Child's garden of verses|
|Date of Publication||1919|
|Notes||See entry for New York 1905 edition.
These two illustrated American editions of Robert Louis Stevenson's popular collection of 64 poems for children, add to the library's collection of Stevenson's works. A child's garden of verses has been described as 'the most notable collection of serious poems written for children since Original poems for infant minds (1804-1805) by Anne and Jane Taylor' (Oxford companion to children's literature). The poems were composed by Stevenson in the early 1880's, inspired in part by Kate Greenaway's Birthday book for children (1880) and was published, without illustrations, in 1885. The first illustrated edition (by Charles Robinson) appeared in 1896.
Both editions have been illustrated by American women American illustrators; Bessie Collins Pease Gutmann and Maria Louisa Kirk. Stevenson's work was the first book illustrated by Gutmann (1876-1960). She was a popular illustrator during the first quarter of the twentieth century, best known for her drawings of 'innocent' children during the so-called golden age of illustration. Maria Kirk (1860-193-?) illustrated over fifty children's classics also during the early decades of the century. This edition is not listed in Beinecke.|
|Author||Davies, C. Langdon (ed.)|
|Title||China magazine. Christmas volume|
|Date of Publication||1868|
|Notes||This is a rich source of information about the early activities of the Scottish-born pioneering photographer John Thomson. Thomson is known to have played an important role in the development of the China Magazine, an interesting periodical, which gives valuable information about Chinese literature, British perceptions of the colonial environment, and, in particular, photographic images of China and other Asian countries. Two articles and three of the twenty-four original albumen prints in the Christmas volume of 1868 are clearly identified as Thomson's, and Thomson's contributions are acknowledged in the 'Envoi' at the end of the volume. The first article, 'The Cambodian Ruins' (pp.17-19), gives valuable information about Thomson's photographic explorations in 1866. With Mr. K[ennedy]., Thomson set out from Bangkok towards the Cambodian frontier, armed with a letter from the King of Siam. He describes the photograph which illustrates the article as 'the only good photograph out of six, the others having been spoiled by the violent efforts of a tribe of black monkeys, who persisted in shaking the branches of the trees every time they saw me emerge from my tent to expose the plate'. The second article (pp.80-2) is illustrated by a striking photograph of a stone carving of an elephant. The third photograph definitely by Thomson is of a cup presented to the retiring governor of Macao (p.82). It is, of course, possible that other prints in this volume are by Thomson. The 'Envoi' concludes by announcing that 'new photographic apparatus, additional type and ornamentation are either on their way out from England or already to hand', and appeals for more subscribers to help them foot the bill. The Christmas volume is a substantial publication, which evidently includes articles from earlier issues of the magazine: both the periodical and this special volume are quite uncommon.|
|Reference Sources||Stephen White, John Thomson, 1985.
Richard Ovenden, John Thomson, 1997.|
|Imprint||Hill of Tarvit|
|Date of Publication||1930-1938|
|Notes||This is a rather remarkable donation which brings back to Scotland some printed items with close personal connections to Hugh Sharp and his family. Hugh Sharp (1897-1937) was the Dundee jute manufacturer and bibliophile whose private library was presented to the nation in 1938 by his mother and sister, Elizabeth. The Hugh Sharp collection is now one of our finest special collections, with many first editions of literary classics in fine condition.
One of Hugh Sharp's friends was G. J. Scaramanga of Arundel, Sussex, who kept up the connection with the Sharps after Hugh's untimely death. He kept cards sent from Hugh and the Sharps in a special gilt-tooled folder.
This folder of Christmas cards, which has now been donated to the Library, includes cards from 1930 to 1935, a calendar for 1937 and a later newspaper cutting. Movingly, there is a letter from Elizabeth Sharp dated 27 August 1938, which includes an example of the bookplate specially designed for the Hugh Sharp collection at the National Library after Hugh's death that year.
The Christmas cards include facsimile reproductions from books in Hugh Sharp's collection, and they were finely printed by Pillans and Wilson of Edinburgh in only 50 copies each. Each card is interesting and tasteful, in decorated card covers and with coloured ties.|
|Title||Chronicle of Perth: a register of remarkable occurrences, chiefly connected with that city, from the year 1210 to 1668|
|Imprint||Edinburgh Maitland Club|
|Date of Publication||1831|
|Notes||An apparently unique copy of this Maitland Society publication, printed on vellum. It is not mentioned in the list of the Society's publications listed in A catalogue of the publications of Scottish historical and kindred clubs and societies by Charles Sanford Terry (Glasgow, 1909). The volume is tastefully bound in contemporary morocco, with the borders tooled in gilt with floral designs.
The Maitland Club was a publishing society founded in Glasgow in 1828 with the purpose of editing and printing works of Scottish historical and literary interest. It was named after the 16th century poet and editor, Sir Richard Maitland of Lethington. The Club produced over 50 publications between 1829 and 1859.|
|Title||CL. Psalmes of David in Meeter. With an exact Kalendar, also morning & evening prayers.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh, Printed by James Bryson, and are to bee sold at his shop, a little above the Kirk-stile at the signe of the golden angel.|
|Date of Publication||1640|
|Notes||This is a beautiful and important book: both the text and the binding are new to our collections. It is an edition of the metrical Psalms printed in Edinburgh in 1640 and contained in a silver binding, decorated with a design of birds and flowers. The leaf edges are gilt and decorated with a stamped design of dots and crosses. The first blank pastedown has the pencil note 'Hamilton Bruce' (probably the collector some of whose books the Library already has). The recto of the following blank has a pasted-on slip with the ink inscription 'This Edition of the Psalms was sold at £4..4 plain binding / Lowndes' (William Thomas Lowndes the bibliographer?)
The text appears to be an unrecorded Aldis item, apparently in 32o. Aldis 975 (Cwn.651) is quarto; Aldis 976 (Cwn.483(2)) is duodecimo; Aldis 977 (Cwn.49) is printed by R. Bryson; Aldis 978 (Hall.191.k) has a variant title and is 16o. This edition is not mentioned in W. Cowan, 'Bibliography of the Book of Common Order', EBS X (1911-13). No examples have been traced in STC or ESTC.
It seems that the binding is contemporary. The thin-gauge silver, which is not hallmarked, is overlapped by the old endpapers. One would expect a Victorian binding to have new endpapers, and, indeed, to be more artistically confident. The blackening of the silver where it has not been touched, and the loss of the clasps, also suggest an earlier binding. The Sotheby's sale of silver and enamel bindings of 10 May 1985 does not provide any definitive answers, nor does J. F. Hayward's Silver Bindings from the J. R. Abbey Collection. No. 38 in the Sotheby's catalogue shows a seventeenth-century English silver binding with a bird and flowers: evidently British craftsmen were doing work of this quality in the seventeenth century. Various silver experts were consulted about this work, and there are different opinions. Some suggest the binding is Dutch or German (perhaps a luxury binding for a member of the Scottish reformed communities in the Low Countries?), some suggest that the style is more likely to be British.|
|Reference Sources||W. Cowan, 'Bibliography of the Book of Common Order', EBS X (1911-13).
Sotheby's sale of silver and enamel bindings, 10 May 1985. J. F. Hayward, Silver Bindings from the J. R. Abbey Collection.|
|Title||[Collection of 42 pamphlets etc]|
|Date of Publication||c. 1859-1900|
|Notes||John Beddoe (1826-1911) was born in Worcestershire but studied medicine at Edinburgh University, becoming house physician at Edinburgh Royal Infimary. He developed a keen, not to say obsessive, interest in the different ethnic or racial groups of Europe. His studies of hair and eye colour, height and physique, are among the early works of the science of anthropology. More disturbingly, his ethnological writings prepare the way for the theories of racial separation and extreme nationalism that disfigured the early twentieth century.
This is a collection of some 43 pamphlets and offprints in two volumes, many inscribed by the author, perhaps to a family member or close friend. Among these are some rare provincial Scottish and English imprints, such as 'Anthropological history of Europe', Paisley, 1893. Beddoe spent much of his life in the English west country, and there are some interesting examples of Bristol printing. Many of the works have a distinct Scottish slant. Notably, his publication 'On the stature and bulk of man' has tables with details of Scottish villagers, measured with and without shoes, and weighed with and without clothes. Amusingly, Beddoe spends some time complaining that people would not always cooperate with his researches. In Scotland, the east coast fishermen proved 'extremely stubborn and suspicious', and a Glasgow manufacturer told him it was a 'waste of workmen's time'.
These pamphlets fit in well with existing collections such as the Combe collection of phrenological writings. Although much of Beddoe's data is of great interest, one feels unhappy at the direction of his arguments. 'On the physical characteristics of the Jewish race' (1869) is not actually coloured by any anti-Semitic remarks, but how much did it contribute to the rise of racist pseudo-science sixty years later? This is, perhaps, the darker side of Edinburgh's contribution to science and medicine.|
|Title||Collection of etchings after the most eminent masters of the Dutch and Flemish schools|
|Date of Publication||1803|
|Notes||These two volumes contain 361 fine etchings in the style of the old masters of the Low Countries as well as contemporary character studies, fashion plates, scenes of rustic life and genre scenes of Edinburgh life. The plates were drawn on thin India paper and mounted on thick cream paper and bound in contemporary straight grain morocco with decorative borders in gilt and blind. Though published in 1803, the etchings are dated between 1783 and 1802. Deuchar's etchings were published in a number of formats. The National Library has a single small volume with 168 etchings (M.99.b). Other versions with 369 India paper etchings in 4 quarto volumes and 381 etchings printed directly onto wove paper in 3 folio volumes (both in private hands) have also been traced.
It seems likely that this scarce work was produced for private circulation among friends, including the artists David Allan, John Brown and Alexander Runciman. In many of the plates Deuchar showed 'appreciation of the quality of the etched line' and 'had an influence on the later etchings of Wilkie and Geddes' (Cursiter)
Deuchar (1743-1808) from farming stock, worked as a Edinburgh seal-engraver in Edinburgh. A gifted amateur, he played an important role in encouraging Henry Raeburn to become an artist. Deuchar frequented the shop of James Gilliland, the jeweller and goldsmith, where the young Raeburn was an apprentice. After giving Raeburn some drawing lessons, Deuchar urged him to become a portrait painter.|
|Reference Sources||Caw, James L. Scottish painting past and present. Edinburgh, 1908 (Art.S.45.2)
Cursiter, Stanley. Scottish art to the close of the nineteenth century. London, 1949 (Art.S.45.C2|
|Author||Brewster, David., Somerville, Mary et al.|
|Title||Collection of offprints presented to or collected by James Veitch.|
|Date of Publication||1812-1831|
|Notes||This is a remarkable collection of nine papers written by six scientists (five of whom were Scots) during the early 19th century. What makes this collection so interesting is that all of these papers were presented to James Veitch (1771-1838), the self-educated polymath who was acquainted with these and other prominent contemporary scientists. He was also known to major public figures such as Sir Walter Scott and Francis Jeffrey, editor of the Edinburgh Review.
Veitch came from Inchbonny, near Jedburgh where he made his living as a ploughwright, but he also found the time to dabble in mathematics, mechanics and astronomy. He set up a scientific workshop on the Jedburgh turnpike where he gave lessons to local educated men in these subjects. By the late 1820s he had stopped making ploughs and devoted his time to making telescopes and clocks. His customers for telescopes included Scott, the Earl of Hopetoun, the Earl of Minto, Mary Somerville and Professor Schumacher of the Altona Observatory in Germany. He was also working as the Inspector of Weights and Measures for Roxburghshire.
Veitch is best known today as the man who inspired the young David Brewster (1781-1868), the inventor of the stereoscope and the kaleidoscope, to take an interest in scientific matters. With Veitch's help, Brewster had made his first telescope by the age of ten. Appropriately enough, four of the nine papers in this volume are by Brewster. There is also the first scientific paper by Jedburgh-born Mary Somerville (1780-1872). She was a leading scientific author and the first woman to have a work published in the Royal Society of London's Philosophical Transactions. The other papers are by Basil Hall, the son of the eminent geologist Sir James Hall, John Robison from Edinburgh and Alexander Rogers, who possibly came from Leith. There is also a paper by the Englishman William Hyde Wollaston, inventor of the camera lucida.
|Reference Sources||Gordon, Margaret Maria. The home life of Sir David Brewster. Edinburgh, 1881.
Clarke, T.N. et al. Brass & glass: scientific instrument making workshops in Scotland. Edinburgh, 1989.
|Title||Collection of Petitions, Informations and Answers to the Lords of Council and Sessions|
|Date of Publication||1721-45|
|Notes||This is a made-up title (nineteenth-century title page) for a volume containing a rich collection of rare eighteenth-century legal publications in generally excellent condition. These petitions, answers, bills and informations all concern the citizens of Edinburgh. Property developers are reported for building tenements higher than their neighbours', merchants seek to recover debts, barbers and wig-makers try to strengthen their guilds against competition. Contemporary manuscript notes frequently describe the outcome of a case, which adds to the human interest and gives the documents a useful context. A particularly fascinating item is Answers for Francis Duke of Buccleugh (12 June 1744), in which the matter under dispute is the rental value of the farmland around Dalkeith, in particular relation to the cost of manure. The final deposition concludes that 'the Dung of the said Town is kept for the Use of the Vassals and Tenants within the Lordship of Dalkeith, and always was so... frequently the said Dung is considerably increased by a Troop or two of Dragoons frequently quartering in the said Town from time to time.' In all there are some 150 individual works, mostly two-leaf items, many of which are not recorded in ESTC. Imperfections: a very few stained pages, edges discoloured, pages near beginning of volume wormed. Provenance: inside front board is note 'The Gift of John Cadwalader Esquire, Dec. 1846; and since rebound, and a printed title added.' Below is the bookplate of Edward D. Ingraham. The binding is nineteenth-century marbled boards with calf back and corners, slightly worn but overall in good condition. Possible digitisation interest: Copy Bill of Suspension, 6 November 1721 (woodcut head-piece & initial); Information for James Hog, 1 November 1742 (initial); Case of the Double Return for the Shire of Berwick (head-piece & initial); Answers for William Cramond, 27 January 1743 (initial & interesting remarks on gaming); Petition of George Fordyce, 24 February 1743 (striking initial); Information for John Jamieson in Cirencester, 28 January 1744 (initial).|
|Author||Rushbrook, Alfred Henry|
|Title||Collection of photographs of the south side of Edinburgh|
|Date of Publication||1929|
|Notes||These 138 silver gelatin prints form an invaluable record of the St. Leonards area of Edinburgh, largely swept away by slum clearance programmes. The photographer, Alfred Rushbrook, was commissioned by the City of Edinburgh Improvement Trust to record this area prior to its redevelopment. The photographs are part of the same photographic tradition as Thomas Annan and Archibald Burns, who both worked on similar civic projects in Glasgow and Edinburgh respectively during the late nineteenth century. Most of the images record the buildings and street life of the city and are fascinating for recording contemporary shop front design and advertising hoardings. Rushbrook worked as a photographer in Edinburgh from about 1900 to the late 1930s and when these pictures were taken he was working out of 92-96 Nicolson Street.|
|Title||Collection of Poems|
|Date of Publication||1823|
|Notes||Bought with [Walter Scott, Letter on Landscape, 1831], $600.00. This item transferred to MSS.
Two very unusual Scott items, both from the collections of the Scott bibliographers William B. Todd and Ann Bowden: in the bibliography, these are items 166A and 256A.1 respectively. Baillie encouraged many poets to submit original unpublished works for inclusion in her volume, among whom were Scott, Wordsworth, Southey and Campbell. This copy has been purchased because it was apparently given as a present by Scott (see the publisher's note on title-page), and it is finely bound with Scott's personal portcullis device in gilt on the spine. No other examples of such a binding are known outside Scott's own library at Abbotsford.
The second item is a curious facsimile of a Scott letter. At some point this copy has been included in a collection of forgeries, but it seems unlikely that anyone would be fooled for long: although the postmark is dated 1830, the paper is watermarked 1831! The National Library holds what is probably the original of this letter, MS.23141.f.9. A comparision of the two suggests that great labour went into the production of the facsimile, for no very obvious reason.|
|Reference Sources||William B. Todd & Ann Bowden, Sir Walter Scott – a bibliographical history, 1998.|
|Title||[Collection of Scottish tracts]|
|Date of Publication||1691-1774|
|Notes||These five volumes, bought at auction as one lot, contain 24 items.
The National Library of Scotland has the world's strongest holdings of early Scottish tracts and pamphlets, and there are some particularly important additions here, with a number of very rare or unrecorded works. Some examples of works new to our collections are given here:
'A letter from a gentleman in Edinburgh to his friend in the country', Glasgow, 1752. Only one copy listed in ESTC (Princeton University)
Andrew Welwood, 'A Glimpse of Glory', Edinburgh, 1774. Unrecorded.
'The Black Book of Conscience', 30th edition, Edinburgh, 1751. Only one imperfect copy in ESTC (Huntington Library)
'A description of all the kings of Scotland', 1713. Unrecorded.
'A non-juror's recantation', London, 1691. Unrecorded.
'Issuasive from Jacobitism', London, 1713. Unrecorded.
It is always particularly useful to acquire unrecorded works bound in volumes with other items, as this helps to indicate the context in which they appeared, and so makes it easier for the unknown work to be interpreted. This is a particularly good group of pamphlets on Scottish religion and politics.|
|Title||Collection of single-sheet items, mainly posters and advertisements relating to land and agriculture in Scotland, dated between 1805 and 1903|
|Notes||These items include descriptions and valuations of estates and commercial property up for sale or rent, lists of farming equipment to be sold at auction, and a sheet of regulations for containing an outbreak of swine fever. Most are in excellent condition, particularly considering their age and ephemeral nature. The marks where the sheet was fixed to the wall can be seen on at least one item. Further evidence that these were working documents is supplied by the numerous manuscript annotations, including calculations and additions to the lists of goods. The detailed information regarding the pricing of materials, credit arrangements and the quality of particular areas of land should interest anyone researching agriculture, trade or local history in Scotland. It is also of interest as containing examples of Scottish provincial printing, in Linlithgow, Beith and Paisley. Family historians could also make use of the collection; several of the sales or re-lettings clearly came about as a result of the tenant's death, and these advertisements provide useful inventories of the tenant's furniture, tools and livestock.|
|Title||Com. Civit. Limirick. The Information of the Right Honourable the Lord Forester|
|Date of Publication||1714|
|Notes||An apparently unique copy of a single-sheet item relating to the Pretender, James III, and the abortive uprising of 1715. This item is a curious account of a lawsuit which arose from a tavern brawl; Lord Forester had been drinking with other soldiers in a Limerick pub when one Richard Roche suggested that he was a Jacobite, 'which every honest Man, and every Scotch Man was for'. Forester demanded to know who had planted this impression in Roche's brain. A Lieutenant Barkly was called in, who denied ever having made such suggestions, at which point Roche seems to have started backtracking, leading an evidently enraged Forester to launch a prosecution. The impression of the damage that even an accusation of Jacobitism could cause to a public career is striking.
This work, which provides an important Irish perspective on the rebellion, is not recorded in ESTC.|
|Title||Come and play with me|
|Imprint||London: Alexadnra Publishing Company|
|Date of Publication||c.1860-1900|
|Notes||This children's annual contains an unacknowledged abridged and simplified version of George Macdonald's classic children's fantasy story The Princess and the Goblin. Macdonald's story was first published in 1872, and the version here reprints Arthur Hughes' original illustrations. The annual is undated. It contains references to the Arica earthquake of 1868 and the Franco-Prussian war of 1871-2 as recent events, so was presumably first printed around this time, although the advertisements suggest this may be a later reprint.
That an abridged, and presumably unauthorized version of Macdonald's novel appeared so soon after its first publication is a testimony to its contemporary appeal, and shows the wide audience for his works. The annual has a cheerful cover in coloured boards, but the inviting illustration of a girl saying 'Come and play with me' is rather undermined by the stark advertisements on the inside boards: 'DO NOT UNTIMELY DIE!' but take 'Fennings' Fever Curer' instead.|
|Reference Sources||Bookseller's catalogue|