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 772 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 16 to 30 of 772:

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TitleHoly Bible
Date of Publication1764
NotesAn unusual contemporary binding for a 1764 Edinburgh-printed edition of the Bible. It is the first of two (or possibly three) volumes. A small number of similar floral bindings were produced in the 1760s and 1770s usually in crimson or red morocco (F.4.e.17) but occasionally in green, as in this example. The library holds two similar, though not identical, bindings with this motif. It is noteworthy for a number of reasons: the spine does not have any raised bands or compartments; it has bold block-printed Dutch gilt endpapers and most strikingly the foredge is tooled in blind, with the petals decorated in red (now faded) in a complementary floral design. On the upper pastedown is the bookplate of James Drummond, possibly dating from the 1880s. (Bookplate also in RSM.23, acquired 1887).
Acquired on23/01/01
TitleDonation of 4 items of ephemera, relating to bicentenary celebrations for Robert Burns on 25 January 1959, organised by the Scottish District of the Communist Party
Notes1. Single Sheet Flyer, for the event in St Andrew's Hall, Glasgow 2. Ticket for the event 3. Souvenir Programme of the event signed by J. F. Campbell, Hugh MacDiarmid and Alex McCrindle Three rare items of ephemera relating to bicententary celebrations for Robert Burns on 25 January 1959, organised by the Scottish District of the Communist Party. The programme is especially interesting as it lists the various contributors to the evening, including Hugh MacDiarmid and John Ross Campbell, editor of the Daily Worker.
Acquired on29/01/01
TitleExpress from Scotland; with an Account of Defeating Two Thousand of the Rebels
ImprintDublin: b. J. Whalley
Date of Publication1715
NotesAn apparently unique copy of a single-sheet item relating to the Pretender, James III, and the abortive uprising of 1715. This item is a Dublin newsletter printed by John Whalley in October 1715, reporting the defeat of forces sent by the Earl of Mar to capture Edinburgh, by the Duke of Argyle. The paper also reports an attempt to proclaim the Pretender in Dublin, and a verbal proclamation in County Galway. Whalley, whose newsletters appeared two or three times a week, seems to have been fiercely hostile to Ireland, being of English descent, and to Catholicism, the Pretender's religion, going so far as to petition the House of Lords in 1719 for the castration of priests (See M. Pollard, Dictionary of Members of the Dublin Book Trade 1550-1800, Bibliographical Society, 2000, pp. 603-4; R. L. Munter, Hand-List of Irish Newspapers 1685-1750, Cambridge Bibliographical Society, 1960, no. 57). This work, which provides an important Irish perspective on the rebellion, is not recorded in ESTC.
Acquired on30/01/01
TitleCollection of Petitions, Informations and Answers to the Lords of Council and Sessions
Date of Publication1721-45
NotesThis 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).
Acquired on31/01/01
TitleCom. Civit. Limirick. The Information of the Right Honourable the Lord Forester
Date of Publication1714
NotesAn 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.
Acquired on30/01/01
Date of Publication1607
NotesA 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.
Acquired on22/02/01
TitleDreadful fray, which took place at Culrain near Gladsfield in Ross-shire
Date of Publication1820
NotesA rare broadside consisting of letters printed in the 'Scotsman' and the 'Glasgow Courier', which gives a graphic, if one-sided, account of one of the flashpoints of the Clearances. In early 1820 Hugh Munro, the laird of Novar in Easter Ross, decided to clear his estates at Culrain, effectively evicting nearly 600 people, and place the land under sheep. No provision had been made for their resettlement. One of the letter writers describes Munro's actions as 'improvements' and the actions of the law-agents as 'warning' the people from their farms. A few weeks prior to the incident described in this document, the law-agent on arriving to serve the Writs of Removal, was driven from the area. Subsequently, Sheriff Donald Macleod backed up by a small force of constables and militiamen was attacked by a 1000-strong 'mob', of whom women, labelled 'amazons', were to the fore. Once again the authorities were forced to retreat, but not before one local woman was mortally wounded, something not mentioned in these accounts. However faced with the power of the civil and military authorities and the stern disapproval of the local minister, the Rev. Alexander Macbean, the tenants submitted shortly afterwards. But for the ultimately unsuccessful resistance of the people, it is unlikely that this incident would have reached the newspapers. There was considerable nervousness among the authorities, a fear that local unrest was symptomatic of wider radicalism given the recent occurences at Peterloo and Cato Street. The broadside was printed, probably in Edinburgh by William Cameron, known as 'Hawkie', a speech-crier and a well-known printer of street literature, who mainly worked in Glasgow.
Acquired on06/03/01
TitleWounds o' the Kirk o' Scotland
ImprintDublin: b. James Carson
Date of Publication1730
NotesThis is a rare edition of a popular and remarkable sermon (ESTC T14610 records only one other copy). In 1638, James Row preached in St. Giles's to persuade the congregation to sign the National Covenant. Row's use of broad Scots and homely expressions seem to have made the sermon famous; in particular, his adaptation of the tale of Balaam's ass includes a colourful description of Balaam's 'Pock-mantle' (travelling bag) which was full of detestable books like the Book of Common Prayer. Several of the editions in the National Library use the term 'Pockmanty preaching' as a generic term on the title-page. It is interesting that the first printed edition, which appeared in 1642 (NLS copy at Ry.1.7.109), was a considerably more English text: it has been argued that the colourful Scots vernacular of the later editions is really an exaggerated adaptation for satirical purposes. See Memorials of the Family of Row (Edinburgh, 1828). Certainly, it seems likely that the popularity of the work in the eighteenth century had more to do with the remarkable language than the reforming doctrinal content. The theory that the sermon was adapted for humourous purposes is supported by the fact that it includes the 'Elegy on the Reverend Mess Sawney Sinkler', a pseudo-Scots satirical poem. Both this sermon and the 'elegy' are included in primarily comic publications such as An appeal to the publick; or, the humble remonstrance of the five-foot-highians (1733, copy of one edition in NLS at Ry.1.5.171). Collation: 8o, unsigned, pp. 16.
Acquired on12/03/01
TitleHoly Bible
Date of Publication1647
NotesBound with New Testament, London, 1647 and Psalms of David in meeter, Edinburgh, 1647. An unspoilt example of a simple binding which is likely to have been produced in Scotland in the second quarter of the seventeenth century. The tool in the centrepiece, though it resembles a thistle, is more likely to be a carnation. The crudeness of this tool and the fact the volume includes Psalms printed in Edinburgh strengthens the plausability of it being a Scottish binding. The centrepiece is typical of the kinds of tools that developed towards the end of the centrepiece period, c.1640, which is quite late by London standards. This edition of the 'Psalms of David in meeter' printed by Robert Bryson is not recorded in Aldis or Wing. He was primarily a bookseller and he began printing in 1640. He was also a bookbinder, though definitive examples of his bindings have not been traced. Bryson died in 1645, so this imprint is somewhat erroneous. The business was taken over by his heirs in 1646.
Acquired on10/04/01
TitleNew South Wales calendar and General Post Office Directory, 1836
Date of Publication1835
NotesThis copy of the short-lived New South Wales calendar, published from 1832 to 1837 has an notweworthy Scottish provenance. The upper flyleaf has the signature of one Alexander Imlay (1801-1847), surgeon, landowner and speculator. He was one of a trio of Aberdeenshire brothers, all surgeons, who arrived in Sydney in the early 1830s, a time when the colonies were expanding beyond the south-east corner of the continent. In 1832 Alexander toured the southern coast with Governor Bourke and six years later made a pioneering journey in South Australia across the Mount Lofty Ranges to the Murray river. At the peak of their land speculation the Imlays owned some 1500 sq. miles of southern territory. They remained in the area and in 1839 Alexander, described by 'The South Australian' as an 'eminent and enterprising colonist' arrived in Adelaide with a cargo of cattle and sheep. The volume contains some useful information about the development of the burgeoning colony in the 1830s. Included are 'regulations for the assignment of male convict servants' and a 'Report on the epidemic catarrh, or influenza, prevailing among the sheep in this colony' which resulted in the loss of 2,500 animals. There are also lists of ministers of the Church of Scotland, (p.325) and arrivals (some from Leith) and departures of ships in Sydney harbour (p. 378-p.397) The Post Office Directory at the back of the volume reveals many Scottish surnames, as well as a number of finely engraved advertisements. During the period in which this calendar was published, the number of 'unassisted' immigrants from Scotland, mainly from the Lowlands, increased noticeably. Of the 110,000 assisted immigrants who arrived in Australia between 1832 and 1850, about 16,000 (14.5%) were Scots. Although Scots settled throughout the colonies, they tended to favour New South Wales (which then included Queensland and Victoria) as opposed to South Australia, Van Diemen's Land or Western Australia.
Acquired on18/04/01
TitleCollection of single-sheet items, mainly posters and advertisements relating to land and agriculture in Scotland, dated between 1805 and 1903
NotesThese 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.
Acquired on26/04/01
TitleVolume of Edinburgh newspapers, 1759-1770
Date of Publication1759-1770
NotesThis volume of newspapers comes from the library of the Writers to the Signet, and also displays the bookplate of Steuart of Allanton. The papers are in generally good condition, with tax-stamps and occasional manuscript notes; there are a few tears and worm-holes. The run of the Edinburgh Weekly Journal is darkened and damaged at the edges, probably because it is notably larger than the other newspapers. It is this run which gives the volume its particular interest, as these editions (from 7 August 1765 to 11 October 1769, with many gaps), do not seem to be represented elsewhere in the National Library, or indeed in any other collections. Published on Wednesdays, the Edinburgh Weekly Journal was sold at the printing-house of William Auld & Co., later Auld, Smellie & Co., in the Lawnmarket at 2d. Later editions give details of the price of subscription (10s10d a year for collection from the shop, 11s10d a year for delivery within Edinburgh, 14s a year for post to any town in Scotland). Typically for a journal of this period, it contains extensive foreign news, news from London, Edinburgh and America, and miscellaneous advertisements: for miracle cures, the sale of land and buildings, and for dramatic performances and new books. Storms, explosions, murders and 'remarkable occurrences' are described with gusto. There are also a number of poems and letters. See W.J.Couper, Edinburgh Periodical Press (1908), II. 93-6; M.E.Craig, Scottish Periodical Press (1931), 26.
Acquired on17/05/01
TitleFull, true, and particular account of the trial and condemnation of Wilson Potts, late Captain of the Dreadnought Privateer, belonging to Newcastle, who was sentenced to be hanged at the Stood Mark, near Leith, on Wednesday the 13th of February next
Date of Publications.n., 1712 or 1723?
NotesA broadside, printed recto only in two columns with a woodcut of a ship at head of title. It concerns Potts' trial for rape, theft, robbery and piracy. The first three charges were not proven but he was found guilty of the latter and sentenced to be hanged at the Stood Mark "a rock about two miles in the sea". No year is given but it appears to be early 18th century with February 13th falling on a Wednesday in 1712 and 1723.
Acquired on22/05/01
TitlePhotographs of the streets and closes of Leith] 8 Albumen prints mounted on card, with the streetnames written in pencil by a later hand, bound in a contemporary [?] album
Date of Publication1860s
NotesThese eight albumen prints probably date from the 1860s. They are of the backstreets and closes of Leith, according to internal evidence especially on print 8 showing 'Leith Funeral Establishment', and later annotations in pencil at the foot of the cardboard mounts. They are similar in subject matter to the photographs of Archibald Burns, who famously photographed the slum clearances in Edinburgh, but even more like the photographs in Thomas Annan's The Old Closes & Streets of Glasgow 1868-1877 (1900 edition). Research by historians of photography may reveal more about these important photographs, but it may be that they represent a bridge between the work of Hill and Adamson and the later work of Archibald Burns and Thomas Annan.
Acquired on04/06/01
TitleFull Report of the Proceedings at the Meetings of Messrs. Thompson and Borthwick, at Dalkeith
ImprintGlasgow: George Gallie & W. R. M'Phun
Date of Publication1833
NotesGeorge Thompson and Peter Borthwick both gave lectures in Dalkeith on 22 March 1833, on the subject of the future of slavery. The anti-slavery movement was close to victory at this point, with the Emancipation Act which abolished slavery throughout the British colonies to be passed in August 1833. This small pamphlet recounts with unconcealed glee the hostile reception given to Borthwick's defence of the system and the applause for Thompson's appeal for emancipation. Borthwick's talk was given shortly after noon, and hissed by about 300 people. Thompson spoke at 7pm before about 1500 people, who seem to have cheered every other word. These antagonists seem to have confronted each other several times in the 1830s, and other publications containing their speeches and related discussions can be found. Thompson's speeches in 1833 led to the formation of the Edinburgh Society for the Abolition of Slavery; in 1834 he travelled to American to campaign against slavery, thereby placing his life in some danger. (DNB)
Acquired on26/06/01
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