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.

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Important Acquisitions 181 to 195 of 772:

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Author[Anon]
TitleAccount of a most melancholy and dreadful accident! Loss of the Comet steam-boat. 70 persons drowned.
Imprint[London] : Printed for J. Catnach,
Date of Publication[1825]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis broadside ballad combines a prose account of a maritime disaster with a poem commemorating the event, it also contains an appropriately melodramatic woodcut illustration of the sinking of the steam boat Comet. The Comet was the second steam boat owned by Henry Bell of Helensburgh to bear this name, the original Comet paddle steamer having been used in the first commercially successful steam boat service from 1812 onwards. When the original Comet was shipwrecked in 1820, Comet II took over the service, operating routes on the River Clyde and the west of Scotland. On 21 October 1825 she collided with the steamer Ayr off Kempock Point, near Gourock, and sank with the loss of 62 of the 80 passengers. News of the disaster was spread not only by the newspapers but also by contemporary street literature, namely the popular ballads printed in major British cities. The printer/publisher of this broadside was James "Jemmy" Catnach, the most prolific producer of street literature in London, who was based in the Seven Dials area, the centre of street ballad publishing at the time. Catnach, the son of a Scottish printer, employed a number of hack balladeers to compose poems relating to disasters such as these. In contrast to the rather sober prose account (which states incorrectly that 70 people had died) the author of the ballad wastes no opportunity in wringing out every last drop of pathos from the sinking; from a newly-married couple dying in each other's arms and small children being parted from the desperate grasp of their mothers, the awfulness of the event is conveyed to a public eager for the latest sensation.
ShelfmarkAP.el.212.01
Acquired on23/03/12
Author[Anon]
TitleThe puzzling cap: a choice collection of riddles
ImprintGlasgow : J. & M. Robertson
Date of Publication1784
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an unrecorded early Scottish childrens book in pocket-size format with original wrappers. Childrens books of this format and age are particularly rare. It consists of 18 riddles, with woodcut vignettes illustrating each one, which are as follows: The Miser, A Dark Lanthorn, Merry Andrew, A Ship, A Bear, A Parrot, A Cock, Robin Red Breast, A Cuckow, A Tree, A Wind-Mill, A Lark, A Doll, A Cuckold, Charity, Solomon's Temple, A Monkey, A Whale, A Watch. These were presumably popular verses of the time although the modern reader may find the inclusion of a riddle about a cuckold in a children's book to be curious to say the least. Various 18th-century printings of works entitled the "Puzzling cap", sometimes attributed to 'Billy Wiseman', survive; most of them being American imprints. NLS and UCLA have imperfect copies of 1786 printing of this work by Robertson of Glasgow; there is also a much longer version of the "Puzzling cap" printed by Newbery of London, also in 1786, but nothing as early as this copy, which makes it a remarkable early survival of a Scottish children's book.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2829
Acquired on18/11/11
Author[Anon]
Title[Lord's prayer and Apostle's creed in Greek]
ImprintEdinburgh : Andrew Symson,
Date of Publication1796
LanguageGreek
NotesThis unrecorded, small single sheet of Greek printing was done by Edinburgh-based printer, Andrew Symson (c. 1638-1712). Symson was probably born in England but was educated in Edinburgh. He served for several years as a Church of Scotland minister in south-west Scotland, at the time the heartland of Scottish presbyterianism. After relinquishing the ministry, Symson moved to Edinburgh in 1695 and set up a printing press in the Cowgate. He printed works by the likes of Sir George Mackenzie and Sir Robert Sibbald, as well as Latin vocabularies for use in schools. It is not clear why Symson would want to print the Greek text of the Lord's Prayer and the Apostle's Creed (at the time the standard creed used in Western European Christian tradition, in the 16th- and 17th-century Scottish Church, every service of public worship included a public recitation of the Apostles' Creed). Scottish churches of the period would not have used Greek in any part of the liturgy. It may well be that Symson had acquired a set of Greek long primer type and was experimenting with it; as a well-educated man and former minister he was no doubt familiar with Greek texts. There is no record of Symson printing anything substantial in Greek, only the occasional word appears in his printed output. Greek long primer type is listed as one of the specimens of types to be found in James Watson's printing house in "History of the Art of printing" (1713) and it may well be that Watson acquired his Greek type from Symson's printing house after the latter's death in 1712. This sheet was formerly in the collection of J.L. Weir, former Keeper of Manuscripts at Glasgow University.
ShelfmarkAP.2.212.19
Acquired on27/01/12
Author[Anon]
TitleTherese philosophe
ImprintGlascow [Glasgow]
Date of Publication1773
LanguageFrench
NotesThis is a very rare 1773 printing of the French erotic novel Therese Philosophe (Therese the philosopher), not recorded in ESTC, WorldCat or COPAC. It has a false 'Glascow' (Glasgow) imprint, but was probably printed on the Continent, in Paris or the Netherlands. The work first appeared in 1748 and was reprinted several times in the 18th and 19th centuries, becoming a bestseller - in modern parlance an "underground classic". It has been attributed to the marquis d'Argens (originally by the marquis de Sade, in his "Histoire de Juliette") and to Arles de Montigny, among others. The plot concerns the sexual adventures of a young bourgeois woman, Therese, who becomes a student of a Jesuit priest Father Dirrag, who is also counselling another female student, Mlle. Eradice. Father Dirrag and Mlle. Eradice were anagrams of Catherine Cadiere and Jean-Baptiste Girard, who in 1730 were involved in a highly-publicised trial in France for an illicit relationship between priest and student. After various adventures Therese ends up as the mistress of a wealthy Count, to whom she recounts her life story. The novel combines pornography with discussion of philosophical issues, including materialism, hedonism and atheism. It also depicts the sexual repression of women at the time of the Enlightenment, and abuse of power by representatives of the Church. This particular copy, which is in its original wrappers, is illustrated with 16 very graphic engravings. Jules Gay, in his "Bibliographie des Ouvrages Relatifs a l'Amour, aux Femmes, au Mariage [etc]", records 20 plates (including frontispiece) in this edition, as in the London [i.e. Paris?] 1771 edition, but there are no indication of any missing plates in NLS copy and the plates in this edition are different to the London 1771 edition.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2859
Acquired on31/05/13
Author[Anon]
TitleExcise a comical hieroglyphical epistle
Imprint[London]: I. Williams
Date of Publication1763
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an unusual satirical broadside attacking the unpopular Scottish prime minister John Stuart, third Earl of Bute (1713-1792). Engraved throughout, it takes the former of a rebus letter from 'Beelzebub' to the Earl of Bute. It is headed by representations of the Devil (Beelzebub) with a fork for a foot, and a portrait of Lord Bute, which, unusually, is not a caricature but is a faithful representation of Allan Ramsay's portrait of Bute. The letter suggests, through the liberal use of engraved symbolic illustrations, that following Bute's 'diabolic' conclusion of the peace with France in 1762 and the 'master stroke' of the cider tax, Bute should introduce taxes on other food and drink, "for why should the Vulgar (who are no more than Brutes in your Opinion) have anything to Eat above Grass without paying Tribute to their Superiors". The cider tax had actually been proposed by Bute's chancellor of the exchequer as a means of paying off the government's debts that it had accrued whilst waging the Seven Years War. Bute defended it in the House of Lords and it was passed on 1 April 1763. The tax was hugely unpopular, as it gave excise men the right to search private dwellings; riots broke out in the West Country and in the streets of London, where Lord Bute's windows were smashed. This broadside, dated "Pandemonium 1st April 1763", was part of the protest against Bute and his government. His opponents did not have long to wait to see Bute's downfall. Only 8 days after the bill was passed Bute had resigned from office, wearied by all the vicious attacks on him. The cider tax was eventually repealed in 1765, but Bute remained the target of satirists throughout the 1760s, being suspected of influencing the government behind the scenes.
ShelfmarkAP.6.213.06
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on30/08/13
Author[Anon]
TitleThe Edinburgh almanack for the year MDCCLXXVII.
ImprintEdinburgh : R. Fleming
Date of Publication1777
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis 1777 printing of the Edinburgh almanack (no copies recorded in ESTC) is notable for being in a contemporary red morocco wallet binding. An examination of the tools used on the binding shows that it is the work of Edinburgh's finest bookbinder of the 18th century, James Scott, and not recorded in J.H. Loudon's bibliography of Scott's work. The edges of the boards are decorated with the rococo-style rolls used by Scott. The lion rampant tool used on the spine is listed by Loudon as having been used by Scott's son, William, in the 1780s; however, the use here would indicate that it was used first by James Scott. No other wallet bindings by either Scott are recorded by Loudon, making this a rare and handsome oddity.
ShelfmarkBdg.s.961
Reference SourcesJ.H. Loudon, "James Scott and William Scott, bookbinders" (London, 1980); bookseller's notes
Acquired on29/11/13
Author[Anon]
TitleRemarks on a voyage to the Hebrides, in a letter to Samuel Johnson, LL.D
ImprintLondon : G. Kearsly
Date of Publication1775
LanguageEnglish
NotesIn January 1775 Samuel Johnson's 'Journey to the Western Isles of Scotland' was published. His account of his three-month tour of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland in the late summer and early autumn of 1773, in the company of James Boswell, met with a mixed reception. Scots were affronted by his apparent bias against their country and his description of primitive culture in the Highlands, as well as his dismissal of the poems of Ossian as a modern invention by their editor James Macpherson. Journalists in both Edinburgh and London, politically hostile to Johnson, accused him of ingratitude in abusing Scottish hospitality. A brief entry in the 'Caledonian Mercury' for 4 February 1775 went as far as to state that Johnson was "now under a course of mercury" having caught the pox ("Scotch fiddle") "in the embraces of a female mountaineer" on this island of Coll. This anonymous and acerbic pamphlet addressed to the English author, while not descending into the cheap abuse of the 'Caledonian Mercury', was part of the attack on Johnson's work. The author, clearly a proud Scot, begins by commenting on Johnsons life-long prejudice against Scotland: "The contemptible ideas you have long entertained of Scotland and its inhabitants, have been too carefully propagated not to be universally known; and those who read your Journey, if they cannot applaud your candour, must at least praise your consistency, for you have been very careful not to contradict yourself. Your prejudice, like a plant, has gathered strength with age - the shrub which you nursed so many years in the hothouse of confidential conversation, is now become a full-grown tree, and planted in the open air" (pp. 2-3). The author goes on to make detailed observations on Johnson's inaccuracies and misjudgements in the book. The conclusion of the pamphlet is predictably damning, "the flame of national rancour and reproach has been for several years but too well fed you too have added your faggot" (p. 35). The truth of the matter was more complex. Johnson was deeply interested in Scotland and had a deep knowledge of its culture and history in comparison with other Englishmen of his day. Most of his anti-Scottish remarks seem to have been intended simply to provoke and tease. As someone with Jacobite sympathies, his criticisms were more directed at Scottish Presbyterianism and the way its supporters, in his opinion, had betrayed the house of Stuart and allowed elements of Scotland's native culture to decline. Johnson himself could shrug off all criticism of the work; the book earned him 200 guineas, as well as the admiration of George III, and considerable success in terms of sales.
ShelfmarkAB.2.214.04
Reference SourcesP. Rogers, 'Johnson and Boswell: the transit of Caledonia' Oxford, 1995; M. Pittock "Johnson and Scotland" in 'Samuel Johnson in Historical Context' (ed. Clark and Erskine-Hill) Basingstoke, 2002; bookseller's notes; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on03/01/14
Author[Anon]
TitleA postehaste conveyance for S-[cottish] members
Imprint[London] : James Bretherton,
Date of Publication1784
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a satirical print by the famous caricaturist James Sayers (1748-1823) dated 20 January 1784. It shows an archetypal Scotsman in bonnet and tartan stockings, whose body is mostly enclosed in an envelope. He is being posted (in this case being hurled through the air) from Scotland to London. The envelope is addressed "To the Majority St Stephens Westmr. Free Duke or No Duke" and has been franked with the word "Free". The print is an attack on William Henry Cavendish Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland (1738-1809) who in April 1783 had become Prime Minister, as the figurehead of a coalition government dominated by Charles James Fox and Lord North. Portland's government was reluctantly accepted by King George III, who worked in private to undermine it. When Portland presented an ambitious bill to reform the East India Company, the King was able to influence the House of Lords to reject it. "Portland failed to rise to the daunting challenges of persuading the Lords of the merits of the India Bill and countering the king's unconstitutional interference. The duke's speeches were lacklustre, and he also contrived to bungle the management of parliamentary procedure" (ODNB). By the time this print was on sale Portland had already resigned as Prime Minister, along with Fox and North, leaving William Pitt to struggle to form a minority government. His reputation had been damaged by what his enemies regarded as his government's cynical and ultimately unsuccessful attempts to hold on to power. One of the accusations levelled at Portland was that he had created a special fund for travelling expenses in order to win the favour of Scottish MPs. Sayers's engraving thus depicts a Scottish MP travelling to Westminster to prop up Portland's regime.
ShelfmarkIN PROCESS
Reference SourcesBM Satires 6381; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on30/01/15
Author[Anon]
Title[Volume of 16 early 19th-century Scottish chapbooks, mostly printed in Kilmarnock]
ImprintScotland: s.n.
Date of Publication[1815-1820]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis volume contains 16 rare Scottish chapbooks, 15 of which are printed in Kilmarnock and one in Ayr (no. 16). It includes 4 unrecorded Kilmarnock printings (nos 3, 6, 7 and 12 in the volume). The chapbooks all contain versions of popular ballads and songs of the period. The volume is in a 19th-century half-leather binding by Henderson and Bisset of Edinburgh and all the chapbooks have been interleaved with laid paper. There are no visible marks of provenance in the volume.
ShelfmarkAB.1.215.52(1-16)
Acquired on20/02/15
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
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