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 735 of the most important items we have acquired since 2000. We update it regularly as new material comes in. The description gives information about why it was chosen and what makes it particularly interesting. You can order the list by date of acquisition, author or title.

Please let us know what you think of this resource, if you have information to add about an acquisition, or if you have rare Scottish books that you would like to donate or sell. Email us at rarebooks@nls.uk

      

Important Acquisitions 181 to 195 of 735:

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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]
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]
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]
TitleA particular account of the cruel murder of Mrs. Thompson & in the city of Dublin
ImprintGlasgow: John Muir
Date of Publicationc. 1821
LanguageEnglish
NotesAccounts of murders were a stock theme in 19th-century broadsides, the more gruesome and tragic the better. This moralising Glasgow broadside is based on an account in the "Dublin Journal" of the brutal murder of 19 year-old Mrs Thompson in the house of a certain Captain Peck in Portland Place, and would have been of interest to the large Irish community in Glasgow. Two servant women, Bridget Ennis and Bridget Butterly, appear to have worked together on a plan to burgle the house. During the robbery Mrs Thompson was murdered, apparently stabbed with a knife and beaten with a hot poker. The broadside typically focuses on Mrs Thompson's youth and beauty and the fact that she was the mother of a three week-old child. The author draws some comfort from the fact that the culprits were swiftly apprehended, Butterly having aroused suspicion by using a blood-stained 10 note at a local grocer's shop. The Library also has in its collections another broadside reporting the execution of Ennis and Butterly on 21 May 1821 and Butterly's public confession (shelfmark: L.C.Fol.73(20) - digitised on the Word on the Street (http://www.nls.uk/broadsides/broadside.cfm/id/14675/criteria/butterly)), which gives further details of the crime. Butterly was a former servant and lover of Captain Peck, who had a miscarriage when pregnant with his child and was later dismissed from service for speaking disrespectfully of "Miss" [sic] Thompson. Along with Ennis she decided to rob her former employer and to use the proceeds to flee to England. The women's motivation for the robbery as revenge on the predatory Captain Peck is thus made clear. Butterly's decision to murder Mrs/Miss Thompson, against Ennis's wishes, is seen as jealousy on her part, the victim being presumably Peck's mistress and the mother of his child.
ShelfmarkAP.4.208.13
Acquired on02/05/07
Author[Anon]
Title[A group of 8 poetical broadsides, printed on silk and dedicated to Count Agostino Scotti dei Duglassi]
Imprint[Padua: Giuseppe e Fratelli Penada & Gio. Antonio Conzatti]
Date of Publication[c. 1800]
LanguageItalian
NotesThis is a collection of Italian poetical broadsides composed to celebrate Count Agostino Scotti dei Duglassi's graduation from university in Padua with a law degree. The Scotti dei Duglassi were a branch of the Scottish Douglas family who settled in northern Italy in the 16th-century. The poems are printed on coloured silk (three on ivory-coloured silk, one on pink, three on light blue and one on yellow) four of them have woodcut headpieces. The texts of all 8 poems are different. The Count was born c. 1776 and presumably graduated in his early 20s, so these broadsides were printed c. 1800. The University of Padua was founded in 1222 and is one of the oldest universities in Italy (second only after Bologna). Graduation ceremonies in Padua were very important and solemn events and became very popular during the sixteenth century, often involving all the citizens of the city. After the ceremony a banquet took place and the graduates celebrated together with their family and friends. In many cases, the graduates' relatives arranged for the publication of sonnets, poems and songs to announce their graduation. These publications were written by the graduates' friends or parents and praised the intellectual abilities and the moral strength of the graduates. It is rare for such poems to have survived, let alone ones printed in silk in such fine condition. One of the broadsides has a contemporary ink inscription: Pellegrin Pasqualigo Friulano.
ShelfmarkRB.el.29
Acquired on11/06/09
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
Author[Dodsley, Robert, ed.]
TitleA collection of poems in six volumes.
ImprintLondon : J. Dodsley
Date of Publication1770
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis handsome 6-volume set of English poetry was bound by James Scott of Edinburgh, the most celebrated of 18th-century Scottish bookbinders. It was formerly in the library of Invercauld Castle, Aberdeenshire, one of a number of bindings executed by Scott for the Farquharson family who lived there. Dodsley's first collection of poetry was published in 1748, in three volumes, later editions were expanded to six volumes as a sign of its popularity. These particular bindings are not identified in Loudon's 1980 work on James and William Scott, but can be identified by the use of the Italianate operatic mask tool on the spines, which was one of Scott's tools. The flourish used to decorate the centre of some of the spine compartments can also be identified as a Scott tool, as well as the roll used to edge the boards.
ShelfmarkBdg.s.955-960
Reference SourcesJ.H. Loudon, James Scott and William Scott, bookbinders (1980); Bookseller's notes
Acquired on16/11/12
Author[Erskine, Andrew and Ross, Walter.]
TitleTo the revolution club
Imprint[Edinburgh]
Date of Publicationc. 1788
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis unrecorded pamphlet is a tory satire against the Scottish whigs enthusiasm for the Glorious Revolution. The authors (see below) leave the reader in no doubt at the their unease at proposals that a monument be erected in honour of William III. They sarcastically suggest that it should be located in the Valley of Glencoe! The signature at the end is 'Gibbie Burnet' a very unveiled reference to the historian Gilbert Burnet, one of the key supporters of the Glorious Revolution. The text was re-printed (APS.1.81.45; ESTC T108704) in 1792, at a time when it was feared that the unrest in France would spread across the Channel, as an appendix to a proclamation (ESTC T148691) by King George III warning against attempts at the 'subversion of all regular government'. The preface to this proclamation mentions that this pamphlet was first printed in 1788 with the aim of 'diverting the Northern part of this kingdom from joining in the popular enthusiasm' for the Revolution of 1688. The motives behind the re-printing of this pamphlet are difficult to unravel: the author of the preface seems to favour both the revolutions of 1688 and 1789 and implies that any attempts to suppress them were futile. The pamphlet comes from the collection of Alexander Fraser Tytler (1747-1813), Lord Woodhouselee, Professor of History at the University of Edinburgh, sold at Bonhams, Edinburgh in August 2002. Fixed to the final blank page is a sheet of manuscript possibly with annotations partly in the hand of Tytler, listing 'The King's Advocates since the institution of the Court of Session', from 1537 to 1725. The inscription on the title page, presumably in Tytler's hand, reads 'written by Walter Ross and the honble Andrew Erskine'. The latter, who committed suicide in 1793 was one the closest friends of the young James Boswell and they collaborated on 'Critical strictures on the new tragedy of Elvira' and 'Letters between the honourable Andrew Erskine and James Boswell', both published in 1763. Walter Ross was probably the Writer to the Signet of the same name (1738-1789) who wrote a number of legal works in the 1780s.
ShelfmarkRB.m.509
Acquired on01/10/02
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