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 754 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 181 to 195 of 754:

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Author[Anon]
TitleA melancholy account of several barbarous murders & lately committed in the counties of Limerick, Clonmel, Kildare and Carlow
ImprintGlasgow: T. Duncan
Date of Publication[c. 1800]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a rare Glasgow broadside outlining recent murders committed in Ireland by groups of "armed banditties". After the failure of the 1798 Rebellion pockets of armed resistance to British rule were still to be found in parts of the country, with gangs carrying out robberies and reprisals on anyone with loyalist sympathies. The main series of murders mentioned here were the result of an attack on the Boland family home in Manister, Co. Limerick in March 1800. (Justice in this case turned out to be swift and brutal: contemporary newspaper accounts subsequently record that the following month two men, Henry Stokes and Patrick Sheehan, were found guilty by a general court martial at Limerick of the murder of the male members of the Boland family. The men were hanged, after which their bodies were brought to Limerick and thrown into a mass grave, the 'Croppies'-hole', at the new gaol.) The broadside briefly refers to the "state of fermentation" in "that unhappy country" but is more concerned with stressing the barbarity of the crimes being committed and also alludes to the apparent complicity of the Catholic church in the outrages by offering absolution to convicted murderers.
ShelfmarkAP.4.208.12
Acquired on02/05/07
Author[Anon]
TitleStates of the affairs of Messrs Douglas, Heron, and company, at August 1773, when they finally gave up business.
Imprint[Edinburgh: s.n.]
Date of Publication1780
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an unrecorded broadside of 1780, presumably printed in Edinburgh, which summarises the financial state of the failed Ayr Bank, one of the most dramatic crashes in the history of early Scottish, indeed European, banking. The bank had been founded in 1769 by the firm of Douglas, Heron & Co. with the motto "Pro bon publico", as a response to a rapidly growing demand in Scotland for banking facilities. Credit was tight among the existing banks and there was a general belief that a new bank could unleash the potential of land ownership in Scotland. The bank was supported by some of the leading aristocratic landowners in Scotland, its credit backed by the collateral of large tracts of land. However, in order to support land improvement schemes, the Ayr Bank adopted policies that proved to be far too risky. Adam Smith, would later comment in his 'Wealth of Nations', "this bank was far more liberal than any other had been, both in granting cash accounts, and in discounting bills of exchange" (II.ii.73). By June 1772 the bank had issued 1.2 million through advances and bills of exchange, around two thirds of the currency of the country. In the same month, news of the collapse of a London bank, which had extensive dealings with the Ayr Bank, reached Scotland; a financial crisis ensued which led to the eventual collapse of all but three of the country's 30 private banks. There was a run on the Ayr Bank forcing it to suspend payments on June 25. To shore up the loan book of the bank its partners had to put up the collateral of their lands; these lands were gradually sold over the following years to meet the bank's huge losses. The collapse of the bank was thus a major blow to the great Scottish landowning families, including Adam Smith's patron and former pupil, the Duke of Buccleuch, who was a major shareholder in it.
ShelfmarkRB.l.251
Reference SourcesAntoin E. Murphy, 'The Genesis of Macroeconomics', Oxford, 2009.
Acquired on18/06/09
Author[Anon]
TitleEarnest invitation to all profane persons to repent.
ImprintEdinburgh: Society for Promoting Religious Knowledge among the Poor.
Date of Publication1757
LanguageEnglish
NotesSwearing, drunkenness and working on Sundays are still issues in contemporary society, as they were over 250 years ago when this stern tract was printed warning of the dangers in indulging in these vices. The tract was printed for the Society for Promoting Religious Knowledge among the Poor (SPRKP), an organisation founded in London in 1750, which was the first of the evangelical tract societies that were established in the 18th and 19th centuries. It was founded by Protestant dissenters, but included many Anglicans among its members; its object was to promote religion by distributing bibles and cheap tracts, usually written by dissenting ministers, to the poor. The Society co-existed with the establishment church-orientated Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge, and later with the Society for Distributing Religious Tracts among the Poor, founded by the Methodist leader John Wesley in 1782. In 1756 branches of the SPRK were founded in Edinburgh and Glasgow along the same lines as the London model. The anonymous "Earnest invitation" is one of at least three Society publications printed by Ebenezer Robertson in Edinburgh in the late 1750s. Very few of Society's publications survive and there is only one other copy of this book recorded in ESTC, in the British Library's collections. This particular tract covers three sins: swearing and profanity, with particular regard to the army and navy; 'the great sin of profaning the Lord's day by worldly business and pleasures'; and 'the great evil of the sin of drunkenness'. The author may, according to lists of books published by the SPRKP, be the evangelical minister Isaac Toms (1709-1801) from Hadleigh in Suffolk, who is known to have written five tracts for the Society. In the tract the author thunders, "It is not to be doubted but the glaring impiety and gross profaneness of our armies and fleets, and the bulk of the nation, had had a great hand in raising the storm of divine judgements on man and beast". Published at a time when Britain was fighting the Seven Years War on the Continent and the French in North America, this was alarming stuff intended to shock sinners into repentance. Whether the book had any effect on the profane of Edinburgh is open to question. The SPRKP's influence in Scotland appears to have been confined to the 18th century, but elsewhere it lasted into the early part of the 20th century, although it is now largely forgotten.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2794
Reference SourcesIsabel Rivers "The first evangelical tract society" The Historical Journal, vol. 50, no. 1 (2007), pp. 1-22.
Acquired on09/07/10
Author[Anon]
TitleWhiskiana, or, the drunkard's progress. A poem. In Scottish verse.
ImprintGlasgow: printed by A. Napier
Date of Publication1812
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a poem in Scots dealing with the "evil of habitual intoxication", which mixes humour with a serious moral message. The anonymous author, 'Anti-Whiskianus', reveals in the preface that he was originally from the village of Ceres in Fife and wrote the poem between 1810 and 1811. "Whiskiana" is in five parts covering the progress of a drunkard from inebriation to redemption: a description of the drunkard, his wife's lament for his "infatuated conduct", his remorse, his repentance, and finally his complete reformation when he swaps the bottle for a prayer book. The author acknowledges Scots popular poet Hector Macneill as an inspiration; Macneill had written a ballad against the evils of drink, "Scotland's Skaith, or, The History of Will and Jean", first published in 1795, which quickly became a popular favourite and which is quoted on the title page. "Whiskiana" can be regarded as a further sign of growing unease among some Scots about the social problems caused by excessive alcohol consumption. Scotland in the late 18th and early 19th centuries was becoming an increasingly urbanised society due to the Industrial Revolution, with a growing and thirsty population, and there was little attempt to control and regulate alcohol production, illicit spirits being found in most taverns. 'Anti-Whiskianus' has no qualms in his preface about criticising the late Robert Burns, indeed the poem is meant to "counteract the excessive praises lavished on whisky by Burns". The author may have been influenced by James Currie's biography in his four-volume edition of the works of Burns, first published in 1800, in which Currie controversially mentioned that Burns drank to excess. He may also have in mind the traditions of Scottish conviviality exemplified by the male drinking clubs of the 18th-century to which many Scottish literary figures, including Burns, belonged, 'How comes it why ilk Scottish bard/Their sonnets always interlard, Strong recommending drinking hard, Wit to inspire?/Can sober thinking e'er retard/Poetic fire?" For men such as 'Anti-Whiskianus' temperance was the only solution to the problem; such sentiments would lead in the late 1820s to the establishment of temperance societies in Scotland. This appears to be the only published version of the poem, no other copies have been recorded in other major libraries.
ShelfmarkAP.1.211.06
Reference SourcesJack S. Blocker, David M. Fahey, and Ian R. Tyrrell eds "Alcohol and temperance in modern history: an international encyclopedia" v. 1 Santa Barbara, Calif., c. 2003.
Acquired on15/01/11
Author[Anon]
TitleOverland route to India and China.
ImprintLondon: T. Nelson and Sons,
Date of Publication1858
LanguageEnglish
NotesIn the 19th century the firm of Thomas Nelson became of the most successful publishing houses in the world. From its bookselling origins in Edinburgh at the end of the 18th century the firm expanded into publishing and printing. This particular book is an example of their success in printing good quality, affordable, small format books. Despite the title, this anonymous work describes a sea journey to China, stopping in Gibraltar, Malta, Egypt and India, Ceylon, Hong Kong and Singapore, before ending up in Shanghai. The only real overland part of the journey was travelling from Alexandria to Suez (the Suez canal was yet to be built), which involved, according to the author, "incessant galloping and jolting over the parched desert" as the railway line through the desert was still in construction. The book has particularly attractive colour plates, produced using an early chromolithograph technique based on G. J. Cox's invention of transferring steel and copperplate engraving onto lithographic stone but using a combination of light blue, chocolate brown, and beige. This technique proved to be a cost effective way to print colour illustrations. "Overland route" appears to be a particularly rare Nelson publication, with only two other UK library locations in WorldCat.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2815
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on20/05/11
Author[Anon]
TitleThe agreable [sic] contrast between the British hero and the Italian fugitive.
Imprint[London : s.n.]
Date of Publication[1746]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an engraved satirical broadside printed in the aftermath of the Battle of Culloden, which gives an indication of the anti-Jacobite sentiments in the capital. Prince Charles Edward Stuart, the "Italian fugitive", sits in a library reading and leaning his elbow on "The Pope's Bull". At his feet lies a print of the battle of Culloden and a broken anchor. He is flanked by Britannia and Prince William, the Duke of Cumberland (the "British hero") who both issue rebukes to him. At the foot of the broadside is engraved "Here happy Britain tells her joyfull [sic] tales, And may again since Williams arms prevails".
ShelfmarkRB.l.253
Acquired on26/06/09
Author[Anon]
TitleA dramatic dialogue between the King of France and the Pretender.
ImprintLondon: printed by T. Gardner
Date of Publication1746
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis 12-page pamphlet contains an unrecorded poem in blank verse printed in London in 1746. The anonymous work, signed only 'By a young gentleman of Oxford', is an imaginative recreation of a conversation between King Louix XV of France (1710-1774) and Charles Edward Stuart (1720-1788), known as the Young Pretender, following events at the Battle of Culloden. The Battle of Culloden, on 16 April 1746, marked an end to the Jacobite uprising, which started in 1745 and Charles Stuart's attempt to restore the House of Stuart to the British throne. While the King refers to Prince William, duke of Cumberland (1721-1765) as 'that beardless, unexperienc'd Boy', the Pretender recounts the abilities of the Duke in battle: 'But, soon as e'er the sad and dreadful Name / Of Cumberland was whisper'd through the Lines, / Each Face grew pale, a sudden Panick seiz'd / Each Scottish Heart, as if some mighty Power / With him had join'd, to disappoint our Hopes.' The Pretender goes on to relate his troops' valiant attempts before they 'fell a victim to their dreadful Duke', and Charles himself was forced 'reluctant, from the bloody Field'. The poem ends on a pessimistic note with an order to the Pretender from the King: 'Betake thee strait to some religious Choir, / ... Where, in Peace you may forever live, / And think no more of ruling o'er a People, / Who both despise Religion and their Prince.' This is the only recorded copy of the poem and supplements the Library's rich holdings of printed material relating to Jacobites and Jacobitism.
ShelfmarkRB.m.701
Reference SourcesBookseller's catalogue; Oxford DNB
Acquired on09/08/10
Author[Baird, Charles]
Title[Privillegiya, dannaya ober' bergmejsteru 7-10 klassa Karla Berdu na upotrablenie mashiny]
ImprintSt Petersburg: [s.n.]
Date of Publication1825
LanguageRussian
NotesCharles Baird (1766-1843) was a prominent Scottish engineer and industrialist who started his career at the Carron Company, the leading ironworks in Scotland. He travelled to Russia in 1786 to help establish a gun factory there and then set up his own ironworks in the 1790s in St. Petersburg. Baird was one of a number of Scottish entrepreneurs working in Russia at the time and he became one of the most successful. The Baird Works supplied much of the metalwork for the capital city and specialised in the manufacture of steam-driven machinery. This papmphlet is a printed privilege ("privillegiya"), a public document which sets out the Baird Works' monopoly on using a steam-driven machine to sort, compress and pack bales of flax and hemp for transportation. Russia was one of the main producers and exporters of flax in the world (by the 20th century it was producing 90% of the world's total crop) so the machine potentially had an important role in the Russian economy, hence the need to patent it. It was one of several developed by Baird; by 1825 his ironworks was producing 130 steam engines of all kinds. The privilege also includes two folding plates illustrating the machine. Baird's company became a byword for efficiency in Russia, the local inhabitants at the time used the expression 'just like at Baird's factory' to denote when something was running smoothly. Baird was also famous for having built the first steamship in Russia in 1815 and for developing a new method of refining sugar.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2773
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on01/12/09
Author[Barbour, Margaret Frazer].
TitleThe Way Home.
ImprintEdinburgh: Printed by John Greig & Son
Date of Publication1855
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis appears to be the first, privately-printed edition of Barbour's account of a family tragedy. In late 1852 or early 1853, her family was travelling from Edinburgh to Manchester, when the train met with an accident; her son Georgy was killed instantly and her son Freddy died a few days later. This book gives an account of their lives and grapples with the significance of their loss from the point of view of her evangelical Christianity. The text begins with a dramatic account of the accident. Barbour then meditates on the tragedy through prose and poetry, and finally recounts episodes in her children's lives which she feels reveal the workings of divine grace. Barbour's motives for writing were no doubt partly therapeutic - to try to make sense of the disaster, and to create for herself an imaginative portrait of her children in heaven. However, she was also determined to use her story to promote missionary work in China. The missionary William Chalmers Burns had seen Freddy as a baby in Edinburgh, and thereafter the family always had an interest in the missions. The children gave another missionary, Mr. Johnston, some money to buy Bibles, and this led Johnston to found the Children's Chinese Bible Fund of the English Presbyterian Church. An appendix appeals for funds for this cause. A book like this does not conform to modern tastes. The author's sentimental piety can strike a jarring note to the modern reader. The book is also fiercely anti-Catholic, particularly in its description of the family's tours in Italy. However, it is still moving in its descriptions of the children's upbringing, seen from the perspective of their early deaths. This copy includes 9 tipped-in albumen photographs, mainly, it would seem, of Scottish missionaries in China. This is thus an important addition to our collections relating to foreign missions by the Scottish churches. A substantially revised public edition was published in 1856; we have a copy at shelfmark VV.6/2.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2666
Acquired on21/06/07
Author[Binding - Scott, James of Edinburgh]
TitleThe book of common prayer + A companion to the altar + A new version of the Psalms of David
ImprintEdinburgh: Adrian Watkins,
Date of Publication1756-57
LanguageEnglish
NotesThe Library has the largest institutional collection of bindings by James Scott and his son William, the renowned Scottish bookbinders of the second half of the 18th century, and is always looking to add to its collections. This particular volume contains three works bound together in a red morocco binding which is representative of James Scott's earlier work. It combines the characteristics of the rococo style with elements of chinoiserie, a style that preceded his shift into a more neo-classical decorative influence. Both boards are bordered by a Greek-key roll, panels with an elaborate rococo decoration framing a radiating pyramid, with use of swan and nesting bird tools; the spine is gilt in compartments, repeating a tool with two birds. The binding appears datable to c.1777 from a comparison with the recorded uses of Scott's tools detailed in J.H. Loudon's James Scott and William Scott, bookinders (Edinburgh, 1980). On this binding can be found the nesting bird tool (Zo.9) the swan tool (Zo.7) and the radiating pyramid tool (Ge.2). Also present are the detached flower head tool (Bo.7) and rococo scrolls (Sc. 1). The endpapers have been patterned with a painted spatter decoration that was used on some of Scott's earlier bindings. The title page of prayer book contains the signature of the owner "Louisa Graeme" and a note regarding her identity, namely Louisa Graham (d. 1782) wife of David Graham of Orchil, Perthshire.
ShelfmarkBdg.m.171(1-3)
Reference SourcesJ.H. Loudon, "James Scott and William Scott, bookbinders" (NY, 1980)
Acquired on03/06/11
Author[Cameron, William]
TitlePoems on various subjects.
ImprintEdinburgh: Gordon and Murray
Date of Publication1780
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is the only published collection of poems by the Church of Scotland minister William Cameron (1751-1811), who was educated at the Marischal College, Aberdeen, where he had been a pupil of James Beattie. It has been bought for its contemporary tree calf binding by James Scott of Edinburgh - NLS already has two copies of this book with Scott bindings. The title page has Scott's circular binder's ticket stuck on at the foot of the page (Scott was the first Scottish bookbinder to have used a ticket). This copy is not recorded in J.S. Loudon's bibliography of Scott bindings but the tools used on the binding can be found in Loudon's book. The boards are decorated with Greek key borders, the spine with olive morocco label, and with musical instrument ornaments. This copy was one of two in the library at Invercauld Castle, near Braemar. Both copies were bound by James Scott (the other binding does not contain Scott's ticket). Invercauld has been the seat of the Farquharson family since at least the sixteenth century. It seems very probable that the Farquharson family knew Cameron well, as of the three copies of this book identified by Loudon in 1980 as being in Scott bindings, two (JS 74 and 74.5) have associations with the family, one is inscribed with the names of F. Farquharson and C. Farquharson, the other is noted as 'a present ... from Mr. Farquharson 1781'. The family may in fact have been responsible for distributing the book to their friends. The binding became available when the library of Invercauld was sold at auction in 2012.
ShelfmarkBdg.s.954
Reference SourcesJ.H. Loudon, James Scott and William Scott, bookbinders (1980); Bookseller's notes
Acquired on03/08/12
Author[Celtic F.C.]
Title[Programme of 1967 European Cup Final (Inter Milan v. Celtic) + 6 continental newspapers relating to the match]
Imprint[S.n., s.d.]
Date of Publication1967
LanguageEnglish, Portugese, Italian, French
NotesOn 25 May 1967, Celtic beat Internazionale (Inter) of Milan 2-1 to become the first British football team to win the world's premier club competition, the European Cup. Inter were hot favourites to win, having been champions of Europe three times in the previous four years and having only been defeated once in continental competition up until the 1967 final. Several thousand Celtic supporters were in the crowd in the Portuguese National Stadium in Lisbon to see Inter take an early lead through a penalty, but two second-half goals from Gemmell and Chalmers won the match for the Scottish side. The victory was a vindication for Celtic manager Jock Stein's belief in attacking football, which was in stark contrast to the ultra-defensive tactics favoured by the Italians. The achievement of the 'Lisbon Lions' was all the more remarkable in that all the players in the team had been born within a 30-mile radius of Glasgow. This collection of material relating to the 1967 final contains the official match programme (ink-stamped "2/6" on the front cover with what appears to be an additional price in British currency). There are also issues of continental newspapers for 25-26 May, which are: Italian newspaper "Il Giorno" for 25 May with additional colour supplement relating to the match, and an issue for 26 May reporting Inter's defeat; an edition of the French sports newspaper "L' Equipe" for 25 May; an edition of Portuguese sports newspaper "Bola" for 25 May; issues of Italian sports newspaper "Stadio" for 25 and 26 May.
ShelfmarkRB.l.250
Acquired on09/01/09
Author[Charles Atlas]
TitleHealth and Strength
Imprint[London:: Charles Atlas Ltd.]
Date of Publication[c. 1948]
LanguageEnglish
NotesCharles Atlas (originally named Angelo Siciliano) arrived in the USA as an immigrant from Italy in the early 1900s. He became a devoted body-builder in his youth devising a system of exercises, later referred to as dynamic tension, to build the perfect body. He developed his own muscle-building business in the 1920s, which had an extremely effective advertising campaign directed at 7-stone weaklings who had sand kicked in their faces at the beach. By the late 1930s his mail order course "Health and Strength", which covered dynamic tension and a healthy lifestyle, had become a global success. Subscribers signed to up to get a series of booklets which covered 12 lessons and a supplement on 'perpetual daily exercise'. His firm, Charles Atlas Ltd., had offices around the world, including London. This is a very well-preserved example of Atlas's mail order course which was produced, specifically for British users, in the late 1940s.
ShelfmarkPB9.208.7/1
Acquired on10/10/08
Author[Currie, John Lang]
TitleA catalogue of books on Australia and the neighbouring colonies: being a portion of the library of John L. Currie of Lawarra (formerly Larra).
ImprintMelbourne: Melville, Mullen and Slade,
Date of Publication1891.
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is the second edition of a catalogue of one of the great colonial Australiana book collections. The collector, John Lang Currie (1818-1898), was a wealthy pastoralist who was born in the parish of Yarrow, Selkirkshire. At the age of 21 he set off to join his cousins in Australia. In the 1840s he established his own farm at Larra (Lawarra) in New South Wales where he specialised in breeding merino sheep which were prized for the length, fineness and glossy appearance of their wool. Thanks to drainage and land improvement the number of sheep at Larra increased from just over 6,000 in 1846 to over 34,000 in 1879. Currie returned to Scotland several times and was shipwrecked in 1871 and again in 1874. Part of his wealth was used to acquire books on the history of Australia as is recorded by this catalogue, which was printed in limited numbers for distribution to institutions and private collectors.
ShelfmarkAB.3.209.40
Reference SourcesAustralian Dictionary of Biography (online edition)
Acquired on07/10/09
Author[David Morison (1792-1855)]
TitleCatalogue of the Gray Library at Kinfauns Castle
Imprint[Perth?: D. Morison]
Date of Publication1827
LanguageEnglish
Notes 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).
ShelfmarkRB.m.626
Reference SourcesAntony 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.
Acquired on15/04/05
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