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 765 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.

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Important Acquisitions 16 to 30 of 765:

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Title1759 : Burns' Centenary : 1859
Imprint[n.p.]
Date of Publication[n.d.]
NotesA most unusual Robert Burns item, which seems to have belonged to Burns' descendants. This volume contains an ode to the poet ('Ye beauteous stars, which ever shine above us'), which is bound up with a variety of photographic and manuscript material. At the head of the title-page is the manuscript note 'Presented to the sons of the Poet by the author, Washington Moon.' This may be the minor poet George Washington Moon (1823-1909). There are manuscript corrections to the poem which appear to be in the same hand. Many poems were produced to commemorate the centenary of Burns' birth, but there does not seem to be any record of this work as an independent publication. Perhaps it was printed privately, or extracted from a larger anthology as a presentation copy. Perhaps it was Burns' sons who had the volume made up as it currently stands: Moon's poem was bound in gilt maroon morocco, and had a number of blank leaves bound in after it which were used to attach various items relating to Burns. First is a photograph of a portrait of Burns, produced by John Ross, an Edinburgh photographer, with manuscript notes on the back and on the page indicating that it was presented by the poet's grand-daughter Mrs. Hutchinson in 1870. There is a photograph of the Burns' monument in Edinburgh, and another of a picture, possibly a scene of the 'Cottar's Saturday Night' produced by a Cheltenham photographer, G. Bartlett. Below this last photograph is a manuscript note dated 'Aug 14 / 08' [1808?]. Then follows a letter from one of the Hutchinsons to a Mrs Lamb about the 'Cottar's Saturday Night'. Next is a copy of a letter apparently given in Lockhart's Life of Burns, and a fragment of another Hutchinson letter. Finally is what purports to be an actual example of Burns' wax seal. A clue to the construction of the volume is given by a note on the recto of the flyleaf before the title-page: 'To Mrs Kershaw Lamb, as a small remembrance of her friends Col. William Nicol Burns, and Lt. Col. James Glencairn Burns.' This is dated 'April 18th 1872', from '3 Berkeley Street, Cheltenham'. These are both recorded as sons of the poet, and both are known to have lived in Cheltenham. Below this inscription, in a different hand, is the statement 'Presented by Mrs. Hutchinson Grandaughter of the Poet the same who as a child is represented in the Portrait of Mrs. Burns as her favourite grandchild.' Mrs. Hutchinson is presumably Sarah Hutchinson, (1821-1909), the daughter of James Glencairn Burns, who also lived in Cheltenham. A possible explanation, therefore, is that the poet George Washington Moon presented his verses to Burns' sons William and James; they added the photographs and letters with help from Sarah Hutchinson. The volume was presented to Mrs. Kershaw Lamb: does the final inscription on the flyleaf indicate that it was presented by Mrs. Hutchinson as well as Burns' sons, or that the volume passed from Mrs. Lamb back to Mrs. Hutchinson, who then passed it to someone else? There is plenty of material here to keep Burns researchers happy for some time.
ShelfmarkABS.8.203.01
Reference Sourceshttp://www.robertburns.org/
Acquired on20/11/02
TitleInaugural ceremonies in honour of the opening of Fountain Gardens, Paisley ... Published under the patronage and by authority of the Provost, Magistrates and Town Council.
ImprintPaisley: J & J. Cook
Date of Publication1868
LanguageEnglish
NotesFolio, [2], 92 This limited, imperial edition of 40 copies was 'published by request of a few gentlemen who wished to have a special edition de luxe'. There was also an edition for the general public and a 'drawing room' edition for subscribers. The book is dedicated to Thomas Coats, a local cotton manufacturer, who purchased the grounds for £20,000 and donated them to the town of Paisley. The gardens were designed by the Glasgow landscape architect James Niven, former assistant to Joseph Paxton at Chatsworth, and the fountains were erected by George Smith & Co. of the Sun Foundry, Glasgow. The Coates Family is indelibly bound up in the industrial history of Paisley, through their domination of cotton manufacturing output with four large mills at each corner of the town. Following the Victorian spirit of charitable works, laced with a strong Baptist belief, they endowed many buildings and gardens in Paisley during their period of Economic hegemony including the construction of the largest Baptist church in Europe (Coates Memorial Church) and the Fountain Gardens.
ShelfmarkPhot.med.30
Acquired on27/11/00
TitleDe' costumi e della morte di Maria Clementina Regina d'Inghilterra, di Francia, e d'Irlanda
ImprintIn Roma ed in Bologna
Date of Publication1737
LanguageItalian
NotesThis is a biography of Princess Clementina, the wife of the Old Pretender. She was the granddaughter of John Sobieski, the warrior king of Poland. Her marriage took place in 1719, under the protection of Pope Clement XI, who proclaimed the pair King and Queen of England. The alliance had been vehemently opposed by the Holy Roman Emperor, who had imprisoned the young woman. She was later dramatically rescued by a band of Jacobite adventurers led by Charles Wogan. The marriage proved turbulent, and unhappy with the princess leaving her husband for a time. A reconciliation was eventually arranged, although she did not long survive it as she died in 1731. This is a very good copy of a rare edition complete with portrait, and a final leaf containing an engraved coat of arms.
ShelfmarkAB.1.204.05
Reference SourcesBooksellers catalogue
Acquired on03/01/04
TitleMy Bible. Embellished with engravings
ImprintEdinburgh: John Elder
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a rare edition of a chapbook where the leaves are printed on one side only, although the pagination is continuous. It contains four-line verses, all ending with the line "My Bible" and paraphrasing different passages from the Bible. It was published between 1837 and 1844 by John Elder, who is also known for printing a slip ballad called "Alice Grey". The chapbook contains 8 wood-engraved illustrations which are hand-coloured in green and yellow. It is in its original printed wrappers with wood engravings to both covers.
ShelfmarkAPS.2.203.032
Reference SourcesSBTI
Acquired on23/06/03
TitleLife and character of Robert Watt, who was executed for high treason at Edinburgh, the 15th October, 1794
ImprintEdinburgh: A. Shirrefs
Date of Publication1795
LanguageEnglish
NotesA rare edition (only 3 copies on ESTC, all in U.S.) of this unsympathetic life of Robert Watt, a government spy amongst the political reform societies who underwent an extraordinary conversion to the cause of revolution. Described as the 'natural son of a respectable gentleman in Scotland', he spent his formative years in Perth before working as a 'much respected' clerk in Edinburgh. However it was all downhill from there - Watt got involved in smuggling and when his offer to provide information on the revolutionary Society of the Friends of the People, for the princely sum of £1000, was spurned, he joined that Society with some enthusiasm. He was arrested in possession of a large amount weaponry, some of which is illustrated in the frontispiece, and executed for high treason in October 1794. This issue includes the name of William Lane, the London publisher and distributor, in the imprint. The other issue (copy at 3.855(3)) does not have Lane's name in the imprint. Both issues contain 'Verses written on seeing the execution of Robert Watt' which are frequently lacking in editions of this text.
ShelfmarkABS.2.204.004
Acquired on07/11/02
TitleMarie der Koenigin auss Schotlandt eigentliche Bildtnuss.
Imprint[Cologne: Johann Bussemacher]
Date of Publication[1587]
LanguageGerman
NotesThis is a fascinating broadside commemorating the execution of Mary Queen of Scots from a German Catholic perspective. The German text gives an account of her parentage and life, mentioning the role of Darnley, George Buchanan and Mary's son King James VI. There is an emphasis on Mary's European connections, and above all on her martyrdom for the Catholic faith. At the head of the text is a large and striking engraving by Johann Bussemacher; the central image is of Mary, wearing her crucifix and depicted with the arms of France and Scotland. Outside the border, which contains Latin phrases, are smaller images of her decapitation, and at the head of the engraving are (presumably cherubic) hands presenting a quill and the victor's laurels. This is in better condition than the only other known copy, in the British Library, which was David Laing's copy and has been cut up into four pieces. However, the British Library copy preserves some Latin verses which have been lost from the foot of our copy. These verses, by William Crichton or George Crichton, are as follows: 'Illo ego, quae Fata sum regali stirpe parentum, / Hoc tumulo parva contumulata tegor. / Hucque meo constans generoso in pectore virtus, / Prissacque me torfit, nec temeranda fides / Stemmata nil faciunt, nil prosunt sceptra, sed una, / Dum vixit, pietas, gloria nostra fuit. / Vtque Petri cathedram revereri discas, ob illam, / En mea martyris colla refecta vides' Despite this loss, this is a very desirable addition to our strong holdings of MQS material.
ShelfmarkRB.l.129
Reference SourcesAllison & Rogers, Contemporary Literature of the English Counter-Reformation, I, no. 805 BMSTC (German), p. 599
Acquired on28/10/02
TitleHistory of King Pippin
ImprintGlasgow: A. Paterson
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a delightful chapbook in very good condition. It was published by Archibald Paterson, an engraver and copperplate printer in Glasgow. Between 1820 and 1825 he published a number of small children's books with high quality engravings. "The history of King Pippin" contains 10 wood-engraved illustrations and is in its original printed wrappers with wood engravings to both covers.
ShelfmarkAPS 2.203.030
Reference SourcesSBTI
Acquired on23/06/03
TitleHistory of Master Jackey and Miss Harriot
ImprintGlasgow: A. Paterson
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a lovely chapbook in very good condition. It was published by Archibald Paterson, an engraver and copperplate printer in Glasgow. Between 1820 and 1825 he published a number of small children's books with high quality engravings. "The history of Master Jackey and Miss Harriot" contains 9 wood-engraved illustrations and is in its original printed wrappers with wood engravings to both covers.
ShelfmarkAPS.2.203.031
Reference SourcesSBTI
Acquired on23/06/03
Title[Volume containing 25 items, mainly chapbooks, relating to William Wallace and Robert the Bruce]
Date of Publicationc.1800-1865
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis volume, which formerly belonged to the poet Sydney Goodsir Smith, includes 21 chapbooks telling the tales of the exploits of Sir William Wallace and King Robert the Bruce in prose, verse and song. These items date from 1801 to 1861 and include imprints from Glasgow, Edinburgh, Montrose, Dumfries, Kelso, Newcastle, London and Belfast. The publication and distribution of chapbooks in Scotland reached its height between 1775 and 1825. Subsequently the market for this kind of material was absorbed by commercial publishers, examples of whose output is contained in this volume. With their simple wood-engravings and straightforward narratives, they would have been avidly read by children, at whom they were primarily aimed. It is interesting to note the similarities, and in some instances the exact copying of the text of the stories from one publisher to another.
ShelfmarkABS.1.203.018(1-26)
Acquired on16/10/00
TitleTo all householders [4 Edinburgh broadsides]
ImprintEdinburgh
Date of Publication[1808-1816]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThese four broadsides published at the behest of the city fathers of Edinburgh between 1808 and 1816 encapsulate the very essence of life in the northern metropolis at the time. Two deal with the Sabbath -- 'the improper practice of keeping open Ale or Tippling Houses, and also Shops, at all hours of Sunday' and 'measures...for keeping the Public Streets clean during the Lord's day'. In the latter case, the inhabitants were encouraged to get their servants to bring out their ashes on Saturday afternoon at the sound of a bell. The other two broadsides deal with the perennial bugbear of public disorder. A reward of 100 guineas was offered to those providing information on the 'knocking down...maltreating and robbing' of 'gentlemen and police officers. The main suspects were deemed to be 'apprentices and youth' and the offences took place on 31st December 1811. Plus ça change... In 1812 the Lord Provost and city magistrates were also berated concerning 'riots and outrages unexampled in any other City in the Kingdom' which occurred on the anniversary of King George III's birthday and another broadside strictly prohibited the citizenry from 'breaking down, cutting, carrying away ... any trees, branches of trees, planting, flowers, shrubbery; or of throwing squibs, serpents, fireballs ...'. Shopkeepers were cautioned against selling fireworks to children and masters urged to caution their apprentices and journeymen from 'intermixing with any tumultuous or disorderly assemblage of persons on the streets'. These items enhance the National Library's holdings of early 19th century ephemera and complements material being used in the RLS project 'Popular Print in Scotland'.
ShelfmarkAPS.4.202.40
Acquired on07/10/02
TitleMaçonnerie pratique: cours d'enseignement supérieur de la franc-maçonnerie rite écossais ancien et accepté... Publiée par un profane
Imprint2 vols., Paris: Édouard Baltenweck
Date of Publication1885
LanguageFrench
NotesThis is an important addition to the Library's holdings of literature relating to Freemasonry, dealing as it does with the 'Scottish Rite'. The work is produced from a fiercely anti-masonic standpoint, and the introduction denounces masonry as an anti-Catholic heresy, an epidemic which spreads blasphemy and corruption. The editor makes his case by devoting most of the work to the publication of a text which purports to have been drawn up as a guide to the secrets of masonry by a leading mason at a council at Lausanne in 1875. The magnificent folding plates depict the rites and symbols of the masons, and large folding tables give details of the supposed ranks of the masonic hierarchy. This two-volume work is handsomely bound in half navy calf by Maclehose of Glasgow, whose stamp is found on the verso of the first free endpaper in volume one. The spines have gilt tooling and leather labels in red and brown with gilt lettering; the endpapers and the edges of the leaves are marbled. From the library of Fort Augustus, with bookplates in both volumes.
ShelfmarkAB.2.202.16
Acquired on30/09/02
TitleEdinburgh the twenty day of May
ImprintEdinburgh: by John Moncur
Date of Publication1726
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis broadside announces the annual Edinburgh archery competition, founded in 1709, for which the prize was a silver arrow. The contest was to take place at Leith Links, in July 1726. Only members of the Royal Company of Archers, a patriotic society with strong Jacobite leanings, were eligible to take part. The winner was to keep the silver arrow for a year, and have his badge fixed to it with the badges of previous winners. When he returned the arrow at the end of that year, he was to receive five pounds. It seems that John Earl of Wigtown was the winner in 1726. The woodcut headpiece shows the arms and motto of the City of Edinburgh, with the doe and maiden supporters (but not the coronet and anchor). Together with the large historiated initial, this adds to the attraction of a most interesting single-sheet item. Only one other copy of this broadside has been traced.
ShelfmarkRB.l.134
Reference SourcesESTC T32423 http://www.xs4all.nl/~marcelo/archery/library/books/book_of_archery/chapter07/chapter7_5.html Old Leith at leisure, James Scott Marshall (1976) HP1.77.865 Sports and pastimes of Cotland, Fittis (1975). H2.88.473
Acquired on20/05/03
TitleInformation for Ross of Auchlossin, against the possessors of the Temple-lands.
Date of Publication1706?
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a most curious document discussing the order of the Knights Templar in Scottish history, of which no other copies can be traced. The text is known from its appearance in 'Templaria', 1828 (shelfmark H.30.c.26): this edition seems to have used the copy we have just acquired, as the 1828 editor notes that the last page seems to be missing a few words of text. In 1828 it was stated that no other copies were known. A dispute between Robert Ross of Auchlossin and his tenants on lands formerly held by the Templars led to the production of this document. It traces the fortunes of the order, in order to make the case that the Templars were not a religious order, and that therefore their lands were not directly annexed to the crown after the Reformation in 1587. The Lords of Session agreed that Auchlossin's case was correct. This is a striking example of early Scottish interest in the medieval religious order, often associated with Freemasonry. The conjectural date of 1706 is taken from a manuscript annotation on the first page.
ShelfmarkRB.l.135
Reference SourcesFountainhall, 'Decisions', v. 2, 1761, shelfmark Nha.L74, pp. 94-5
Acquired on12/08/03
TitleHoly Bible. With Psalms. Edinburgh, 1744.
ImprintEdinburgh
Date of Publication1743 [1744]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThese two volumes of the Bible and metrical Psalms are bound in black goatskin with gold-tooling in outstanding condition. The design is unusual: each board has a central column of eight roundels with dotted centres, which are flanked by elegant floral tooling, all within a dog-tooth roll border. The design was clearly considered thoughtfully, and the blind guide-lines around which it is structured are still visible. The style is comparable to that of the binding on our copy of a 1720 Book of Common Prayer at Bdg.s.768, but there the tools are quite different and the overall impression is graceful but less substantial. This new acquisition has a highly demonstrative binding, and it seems to have been commissioned as a celebratory wedding gift. Inside each volume is a red goatskin label with gold tooling, which reads 'Helen Scott 6th March 1765'. On the first blank leaf of the first volume is an ink list of births, Isobell in 1766, Marion in 1768, and John in 1770. Additionally, there are green and gilt endpapers with a floral design. The spines are finely tooled with five panels separated by raised bands; the second gilt compartment contains the volume number, the other compartments have a saltire design. There is gilt roll tooling to the board edges, and an attractive floral roll on the turn-ins. The textblock is complete and in good condition, the leaf edges are gilt. The second volume is perhaps very slightly more worn (at head and foot of spine) as a possible indication of the fact that this volume contained the metrical Psalms and was hence more likely to be carried to church or used for family worship. This is a bright and appealing addition to the bindings collection, with a human story in it. The bookseller has donated with this purchase an imperfect copy of a Bible printed in Edinburgh by Alexander Kincaid in 1778. Although this is only the first volume, without the title-page, it is attractively bound in red goatskin with a deep floral border. The spine is tooled with five compartments, each containing an oval green leather label, the second with the volume number, the others containing the image of an urn. There are marbled endpapers and the edges are gilt. A very different item to the acquisition described above, but also highly attractive and, again, showing some unusual tooling.
ShelfmarkBdg.s.416(1)
Acquired on19/06/02
TitleNewcastle Courant, giving an account of the most material occurrences, both foreign and domestick.
ImprintNewcastle upon Tyne: printed and sold by John White
Date of Publication1716
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis bound volume contains of 20 of the tri-weekly issues of the Newcastle Courant for 1716. It brings together news of British affairs from places such as Gibraltar, Amsterdam, Cologne, Paris, Venice, Malta, Petersburg, Warsaw, London and Edinburgh. For instance, one news item reports the drowning at sea in a storm of the chief of Clanranald and 20 of his followers on 1 March. The Newcastle Courant is particularly interesting for its coverage of events relating to the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715 and its aftermath. It has numerous reports of executions, such as the "decollation" of the Jacobite rebels the Earl of Derwentwater and the Lord Viscount Kenmure on 25 February 1716. The escape via Caithness and Kirkwall to Sweden of 120 rebels, among them Lord Duffus, Sir George Stirling of Sinclair and Keith Seaton of Touch, appeared on 3 March. A journal of the proceedings of captured rebels from Edinburgh to London, written by a Scots prisoner in the Marshal Sea, was published in instalments. ESTC records 9 holdings of the Newcastle Courant in Britain, but none in Scotland.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2329
Acquired on01/09/03
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