Important acquisitions

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Rare Book Collections works to build up the national collections through purchases (through dealers or at auction) and donations. This directory gives details of 899 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 899:

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Author[Anon]
TitleJacobi des Andern aus Franckreich, in Gendancken nach Engeland.
ImprintCoelln [Cologne]: Bey Peter Hammern,
Date of Publication1696
LanguageGerman
NotesThe Library has one of the major collections of printed material relating to Jacobites and Jacobitism, including foreign-language works concerning the exiled Stuart court. This is an uncommon first (and only?) German-language printing of an anonymous work on James VII and II, which had first been printed in French in 1696 under the title "Histoire secrette [sic] du voyage de Jaques II a Calais pour passer en Angleterre". The book deals with the last attempt to restore James to the British throne after his exile in 1688. Early in 1696 Louis XIV of France lent ships and men to James for an invasion of England. To coincide with the arrival of the French, a rising was secretly organized by the Jacobites in England. However, as neither side would take the initiative, the murder of William III, planned by a group of Jacobites in London, was seen as a way out of the deadlock. The plot was betrayed on the eve of the murder attempt and most of the conspirators were apprehended. The assassination plot aroused enormous contemporary interest throughout Europe as evidenced by this book. By supporting the assassination attempt, James came out of the whole affair in an unflattering light. In England there was a backlash of loyalty to William and the Jacobite cause there was badly undermined. The place of publication for this book is uncertain as it appears under the 'Peter Hammer' imprint. Books in French with a 'Pierre Marteau' (French for Peter Hammer) imprint had started appearing in the 1660s. Allegedly located in the German city of Cologne the publishing house never actually existed. The fictitious imprint was used by booksellers and printers in the Netherlands, France and Germany who wanted to publish politically controversial books to avoid open identification and censorship. German-language 'Peter Hammer' books started appearing in the late 1680s. German intellectuals, who were opposed to the despotic character of the French monarchy and who supported the likes of William III in his wars against Louis XIV, used the imprint to print books such as this one, which was critical of the French monarch and of those, like the exiled King James, who were under his influence.
ShelfmarkAB.1.210.041
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre_Marteau
Acquired on14/05/10
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]
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[Anon]
TitleThe child's catechism in two parts. The first, treating of God... The second, of mans recovery... By a well-wisher to the education of children.
ImprintEdinburgh: [s.n.],
Date of Publication1751
LanguageEnglish
NotesLearning the catechism was an essential part of religious education in the 18th century. Catechisms accordingly were a staple of Scottish printing houses from the 17th century onwards. In the 1690s a catechism for children by the late Robert Leighton, bishop of Dunblane, was printed in Edinburgh. Leighton's catechism was followed in the first half of the 18th century by a number of similar children's catechisms, with shorter and simplified text, were printed in Scotland. This particular version of 1751, by an anonymous 'Well-wisher to the Education of Children', was originally composed for a four-year-old girl, and was continued for her with additional sections until she was twelve. The last eight pages comprise "Some forms of prayers for children." Only three known copies of this particular printed catechism have been recorded, none of them in the UK.
ShelfmarkAP.3.210.09
Acquired on13/08/10
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]
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 Publication1706
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]
TitleObservations of the management of flax from the field to the heckle.
ImprintEdinburgh: to be had of the booksellers
Date of Publication1784
LanguageEnglish
NotesFlax was widely grown in Scotland in the 18th-century for the textile industry and was an important part of the national economy. The anonymous author has written a detailed guide to the efficient cultivation and harvesting of the crop "from the field to the heckle", a heckle being the toothed comb-like implement used for dressing flax. He has also embellished the pamphlet with illustrations of machinery and added a second, separately paginated, part "a plan of farming books, to answer from five acres, to ten thousand, or any number", designed to aid farmers in employing their workers and farm animals efficiently when harvesting crops. The pamphlet was originally part of a volume in the library at Fettercairn house, home of the family of Forbes of Pitsligo, which was sold off at auction in 2016. Only two other copies are recorded.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2937
Acquired on22/04/17
Author[Anon]
TitleThe red-breast, a tale
Imprint[Edinburgh?: s.n.]
Date of Publication1787?
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an unrecorded printing of a mock erotic poem, dated at the end 'Edinburgh, 1787'. The less than polished nature of the printing suggests that the item was printed on a private press where the amateur printer had limited typefaces to hand and did not correct the errata at proof stage. The poem is prefaced by quotes from James Thomson's "Seasons" (Winter) and his "Castle of Indolence", and is written in the overwrought style of a contemporary love poem. The main content of the poem itself concerns a 'robin' creeping into a bedroom where 'Miss Fanny' is sleeping in a chair. The robin hops up to between her legs and leaps up with "hopes of bliss" only for Fanny to wake and tear him from his 'nest' and dash him lifeless to the floor.
ShelfmarkAP.1.217.27
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on07/04/17
Author[Anon]
TitleThe story of the blue bird.
ImprintEdinburgh : Oliver & Boyd
Date of Publication1840?
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is the only recorded copy of a chapbook style children's book published by Oliver & Boyd of Edinburgh, "embellished with neat wood cuts". The text is based on a fairy tale ("L'oiseau bleu") by the French author Madam d'Aulnoy (1650 or 51-1705), who is regarded as the originator of the term 'fairy tales'.
ShelfmarkAP.1.216.43
Acquired on10/06/16
Author[Anon]
TitleHouse games for rainy days
ImprintGlasgow: James Gibb & Co.
Date of Publication1860?
LanguageEnglish
NotesAn unrecorded collection of 12 household games for all ages, which show how in the middle of the 19th century entertainment was of a very homespun nature. Two of the games 'Blind man's buff' and 'Charades' were still popular throughout the 20th century. The games described are: 'Hunt the slipper', 'The feather', 'Pinch without laughing', 'The clairvoyant behind the screen', 'The advice gratis lottery', 'The mousetrap', 'Blind man's buff', 'The knight of the whistle', 'Charades', 'Historical puzzles', 'Conundrums', 'Quibbles'. Three of the games ('Charades', 'Conundrums' and 'Quibbles') have answers provided at the end. The work was published by the Glasgow firm James Gibb & Co. which went bankrupt in 1867.
ShelfmarkAP.1.216.42
Acquired on10/06/16
Author[Anon]
TitleA scene at Glasgow, or - Sir Donald Dictate in the dumps.
Imprint[London] : W. Wells
Date of Publication1783
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis satirical broadside relates to banking in Scotland in the 1780s. From the British Museum catalogue description: "A procession of men moving slowly from left to right led by a stout, plainly dressed man holding a thread which is attached to the noses of some of those who follow him, the others being onlookers, except for a man immediately behind the leader. The labels from the mouths of the characters are a prominent part of the design." In the speech labels there are references to an Edinburgh and a Paisley bank and also a reference to the United States. The Edinburgh bank may be the Royal Bank of Scotland which opened a branch in Glasgow in 1783, and the Paisley bank is probably the Paisley Banking Company, founded in the same year with financial support from the Royal Bank. The reference to the USA may refer to the heavy buying of goverment bonds in 1783 by speculators in anticipation of the ending of the American war of independence and the releasing of government funds previously intended for the military campaign. The identity of 'Sir Donald Dictate' is possibly David Dale, the cotton and linen manufacturer, who became the first Glasgow agent of the Royal Bank thanks to his father-in-law being a director of the bank. He is possibly the stout man on the far right of the broadside. The identity of the other 10 men depicted in the broadside is not known.
ShelfmarkAP.6.216.09
Reference SourcesBM Satires 6332
Acquired on24/06/16
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.
ShelfmarkAP.6.215.05
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
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