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 196 to 210 of 772:

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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
Author[Fergusson, Thomas.]
TitleThe weeping christian; or The six vices of man.
ImprintGlasgow: James Duncan
Date of Publication1729
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an unrecorded, earliest known printing of a collection of six moral and devotional poems relating to the vices of mankind, namely: malicious envy, pride and insolence; excess of drinking; notorious, and vain swearing; lewd and wanton living; disobedience to parents. The work is anonymous and there is no clue in the text as to who the author is, but the imprint of a later (London? 1760?) printing of the work states that it was printed for one Thomas Fergusson "late a soldier in the Thirty-Third Regiment of Foot". Fergusson has been assumed to be the author but the existence of this Glasgow printing, possibly 30 years earlier than other known printings, calls this attribution into question.
ShelfmarkAP.1.212.15
Reference SourcesESTC
Acquired on03/06/11
Author[Fettercairn Cricket Club]
TitleRules of the Fettercairn Cricket Club 1865
ImprintMontrose: [Fettercairn Cricket Club]
Date of Publication1865
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis appears to be the earliest surviving printed rule book of a Scottish cricket club; indeed it may well be the earliest known surviving printed item relating to cricket in Scotland. It is a small four-page pamphlet printed in Montrose at the press of the local newspaper, the "Montrose Standard", for the cricket club of the nearby village of Fettercairn in Kincardineshire. Among the rules listed here is bye-law 4 which states that 'no spirituous liquors shall be brought on to the ground at any time; and no profane language shall be permitted.' Although the population of Fettercairn was relatively small (only 339 inhabitants were recorded in 1861), in the "Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland" published in 1882-85 the village is recorded as having quoit, cricket, and curling clubs. The patronage of nearby landowners such as the Gladstones at Fasque may have played a role in the establishment of cricket in the area, indeed this particular copy was originally part of the library at Fasque; but organised cricket matches were being played in Scotland long before the national game, association football, was established. The first cricket match for which records are available was played in September 1785 at Schaw Park, Alloa. The game was introduced to Scotland by English soldiers garrisoned here in the 18th century after the Jacobite uprisings. The influence of English workers in the textile, iron and paper industries led to clubs being established in places such as Kelso in 1820, and Penicuik in 1844. By the middle of the 19th century the game was firmly established in certain regions of in the south and east of Scotland, particularly in Aberdeenshire and Kincardineshire. Teams representing Scotland have played matches since 1865, the same year as this rule book was printed.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2742
Acquired on09/03/09
Author[Friendly Society of the Heritors of Edinburgh]
Title[Five printed documents relating to the Friendly Society of the Heritors of Edinburgh and suburbs thereof, Canongate, Leith, &c. for a mutual insurance of their tenements and houses &c. from losses by fire.]
Imprint[Edinburgh : s.n.]
Date of Publication[1720-1730]
LanguageEnglish
NotesFire was an ever-present danger in the Old Town of Edinburgh and in 1703 the city suffered a series of devastating fires, which led to the appointment of 'firemasters' who could recruit men to fight fires, the forerunner of a municipal fire brigade. Fire insurance companies, first established in London, were also introduced. The first fire insurance society in Scotland is thought to be Friendly Society of the Heritors of Edinburgh, which was founded in 1720. Contributors to the Society paid a small percentage of the total value of their properties in return for perpetual insurance and were entitled to interest from stock and profits of the insurance fund. This collection of five documents relating to the Friendly Society span the first ten years of its existence. It consists of three receipts: one for payment of a premium by the advocate Thomas Gordon, and two for "annual rent"; there are also two forms for transferring Gordon's policy to two men, Alexander Marjoribanks and George Falconer, who had presumably purchased the insured property.
ShelfmarkRB.l.264
Acquired on24/11/09
Author[Gilchrist, Archibald]
TitleEdinburgh sold by Arch. Gilchrist & Co. at their warehouse behind the city-guard ....
Imprint[Edinburgh ; Archibald Gilchrist]
Date of Publication[1781]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a fascinating piece of late 18th-century printed ephemera. It is an engraved trade card for the Edinburgh haberdasher Archibald Gilchrist which provides a list of goods that he sold at his "warehouse behind the city-guard". Around the middle of the eighteenth century Gilchrist had moved from Lanarkshire to establish his business in Edinburgh. At that time he was one of only two haberdashers in the city, the other being John Neil. The business became Archibald Gilchrist & Co. when two of his nephews named Mackinlay became partners. On Gilchrist's death the company was dissolved and around 1788 his son, also Archibald (c.1766-1804), set up as a haberdasher on the South Bridge.
ShelfmarkAP.1.210.12
Acquired on29/05/10
Author[Glasgow Cape Club]
TitleBe it known to all men that we Sir Ride the super eminent sovereign of the Capital Knighthood of the Cape... being well inform'd ... of Walter Buchanan Esq.r... create, admit & receive him a Knight Companion of this most social order ...
Imprint[Glasgow?: s.n.]
Date of Publication1777
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a membership certificate, printed on vellum, for the Glasgow branch of the Cape Club, or Knights Companions of the Cape. The Cape Club was a gentleman's club, formally constituted in Edinburgh in 1764, and which had the motto 'concordia fratrum decus'. The Glasgow branch, though less well-known than its Edinburgh equivalent, was active by 1771 and continued until well into the 19th century. Like other male social clubs of the period, the club's activies revolved around ceremonies which involved singing and copious drinking. Members of the Cape Club called themselves 'knights' - in this certificate the name of Walter Buchanan has been added in MS to the relevant space and he has chosen the title "Sir Hedge". Membership was drawn from a wide range of society from literati to local tradesmen. The "Glasgow Cape Hall", where they met, was in fact Mrs Scheid's tavern in the Trongate.
ShelfmarkRB.l.267
Reference SourcesJ. Strang, Glasgow and its clubs, 3rd ed., Glasgow, 1864, p.463
Acquired on24/11/09
Author[John Hood]
TitleThe letters of Zariora and Randale
ImprintEdinburgh : Walker and Greig
Date of Publication1814
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an unrecorded, anonymous novel by a Scottish author. A contemporary MS note on the half title of this copy states 'Written by John Hood of Stoneridge A.D. 1813'. 'Stoneridge' refers to Stoneridge, or Stainrigg, House near Coldstream in the Scottish Borders. John Hood (1795-1878) was a local landowner. In 1841-1842 he travelled to Australia to visit his oldest son, and his account of his journey was published in 1843 under the title "Australia and the East". "The letters of Zariora and Randale" is an epistolary novel which would appear to be a youthful literary experiment of the 18-year-old Hood, presumably printed at the author's own expense. The novel is set in contemporary Spain and is moral tale about the dangers of excessive passion, in this case Randale's doomed love for a young woman Maria. The young Scot, the 'Chevalier Charles Randale', when living in Spain writes to his friend 'Mr. Zariora' of his love for Maria, the daughter of the Baron Lariana. When she suddenly dies he is overcome with grief and Zariora visits him in Spain, reporting his adventures to another friend 'Kalthander'. The novel closes with Zariora writing to Kalthander that his friend Randale refuses to leave the home of his dead lover and return to Scotland; he concludes "I fear that this dear man's emaciated form and disordered mind speak a quick decay". This copy appears to have been censored, as some lines have been ruled out to the point of illegibility on the title page, and a number of words throughout the text have been carefully removed by scraping away the surface of the paper. Pages 29-30 are also missing from this copy.
ShelfmarkAB.1.215.58
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on27/02/15
Author[John Law]
TitleLettres patentes du roy : portant privilege au Sieur Law & sa Compagnie d'establir une Banque generale.
ImprintParis :Chez la Veuve de Franc¸ois Muguet
Date of Publication1716
LanguageFrance
NotesThis is the first letter patent issued on 2 May 1716 on behalf of King Louis XV of France, authorising the Scottish financier John Law (1671-1729) to found a general bank in France. Law is one of the most colourful and notorious figures in Scottish history. In the early 1690s he moved to England to make his fortune. Using his superior knowledge of mathematics and probability theory, he spent his time 'gaming and sharping'. His career as a gambler was, perhaps inevitably, fraught with risk; in 1692 he was forced to sell his rights of inheritance to his late father?s estate of Lauriston, a few miles west of Edinburgh, to his mother. In April 1694 he killed a man in a duel over the affections of a woman. He was convicted of murder at the Old Bailey in London and sentenced to death, but managed to escape from prison and fled to the Continent. Law then travelled widely in Western Europe, where he gained a reputation as a financial expert who was able to support himself through speculating in currency markets in France and the Netherlands. He also developed his theories of the advantages of establishing a national land bank, and of expanding the money supply to increase national output, by issuing banknotes backed by land, gold, or silver. Law tried, without success, to sell his ideas of a bank for national finance and a state company for commerce to the rulers of various countries in the early 1700s. He settled in France in 1713 and lobbied Louis XIV and his finance minister, Nicolas Desmarets, to form a national bank. His plan was initially favourably received, but rejected shortly before the king's death in September 1715. However, the old king?s death proved to be stroke of fortune which transformed Law?s career. Louis's successor, his great-grandson Louis XV, was only a child of five, so France was then governed by a regency council, presided over by Philippe, duke of Orleans, the late king?s nephew and son-in-law. The duke of Orleans, as a regent, was a bold leader; he was dedicated to reforming the policies of the late king and to restoring the finances of France, which were in a very poor state thanks to Louis XIV embroiling France in a series of expensive wars. The resultant shortage of precious metals had also led to a shortage of coins in circulation, which in turn limited the production of new coins. As a fellow gambler, the duke of Orleans was particularly interested in Law's plan for a bank as a way of dealing with the national debt. He agreed to the foundation of a 'banque generale' (General Bank), with the authority to issue banknotes. A further letter patent was issued on 20 May, stipulating the regulations for the operation of the General Bank. The bank proved to be popular and profitable within a short time, which encouraged Law to think on a bigger scale. In 1717 he set up the Compagnie d'Occident (formerly known as the Mississippi Company), which consolidated existing French trading companies who had control of the ports and islands of Louisiana, and a monopoly on the beaver trade in Canada. The company was strongly connected to the bank from the start, and in December 1718, to reflect its enhanced status, the Banque Generale became the Banque Royale, with Law appointed as director. In May 1719 Law added the struggling French East India and China companies to his own, and renamed the new company, the Compagnie des Indes. From being a simple trading company, the Compagnie des Indes took over the collection of indirect taxes in France and redemption of the debt; it had in effect become a giant holding company controlling almost the entire revenue-raising system in France, the national debt, the overseas companies, the mint, as well as the note-issuing bank. The rise of the company led to Law gaining a prominent role in the government of France; by May 1720 he was effectively chief minister and minister of finance in France. However, the rapid expansion of Law?s company led to boom and bust, with its shares being the subject of wild speculation on the French stock market, as adventurers and aristocratic gamblers from all over Europe bought and sold shares at vastly inflated prices. The Banque Royale was declared bankrupt in October 1720, having already temporarily closed in May of that year, and the share price of the Compagnie des Indes collapsed. Law lost his own personal fortune and in December he had to resign from his ministerial posts. He went into exile abroad, living for a brief spell in England. The death of the duke of Orleans in 1723 put an end to his hopes of ever returning to France. He died in Venice in poverty.
ShelfmarkRB.m.759
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National biography
Acquired on06/03/15
Author[Jones, Robert T.]
TitleA short love story: the people of St Andrews and Robert T. (Bobby) Jones Jr.
Imprint[Atlanta, GA : Atlanta Athletic Club]
Date of Publication[1973?]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a commemorative pamphlet issued by the Atlanta Athletic Club shortly after the death of its most famous member, the amateur golfer Robert (Bobby) Tyre Jones Jr. (1902-1971). The pamphlet reproduces the text of two speeches, one given by Jones and the other by the Provost of St Andrews, Robert Leonard, on the occasion of Jones becoming a citizen of the Royal Burgh of St. Andrews in 1958. The 19-year-old Jones had first played at the home of golf at the British Open in 1921; he famously tore up his scorecard in disgust during his third round after failing to get his ball out of a bunker on the 11th hole. He publicly expressed his dislike of the Old Course and in return the local press labelled him as an 'ordinary boy'. Six years later, however, he returned to St. Andrews to successfully defend his British Open championship, which marked the beginning of a long and special relationship with the course and Scottish golfing fans. In 1930 he won a Grand Slam of tournaments (the open and amateur championships in both the USA and Britain), winning the British championship at St Andrews. He effectively retired from the game after 1930, but continued to be active in the world of golf. In 1948 Jones was diagnosed with a rare, incurable spinal cord disorder which gradually crippled him. In 1958 he was appointed as team captain of the USA for the World Amateur Team Championship at St. Andrews. At the packed and emotional dinner at the Younger Graduation Hall to mark Jones becoming an Honorary Burgess (he was the first American since Benjamin Franklin to receive the honour), the golfer, who by now could only stand with the aid of leg braces, spoke movingly of his career and the special role St. Andrews had played in it.
ShelfmarkAP.3.209.32
Reference SourcesGolf Digest Magazine
Acquired on03/04/09
Author[Law, John]
TitleLettre au sujet de l'arrest du Conseil d'État
Date of Publication1720
LanguageFrench
NotesThese items are useful additions to the Library's holdings of publications relating to the career and policies of John Law, the Scot turned economist and banker who became controller-general of finances in France. The first item announces the success of the reform of the French financial system, which Law had directed (although these reforms were shortly to result in the disastrous collapse of the 'Mississippi bubble' which ruined numerous investors). Law's biographer Antoin Murphy describes this work as 'Law at his disingenuous best'. The second item is an attempt to justify the measures of 22 May 1720, which had involved a reduction in the price of the paper currency which Law had introduced. Both items are anonymous, but seem likely to be by Law or commissioned by him: certainly they relate to the radical policies which originated with Law. Law eventually fled France in disgrace, and died in exile. His ideas are now considered to have been ahead of their time. See Antoin E. Murphy, John Law (1997), pp. 293+, 244+. These two books are good copies in modern boards.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2109
Acquired on26/09/01
Author[Law, John]
TitleEtat general des dettes de l'Etat
ImprintParis: Antoine-Urbain Coustlier
Date of Publication1720
LanguageFrench
NotesThese items are useful additions to the Library's holdings of publications relating to the career and policies of John Law, the Scot turned economist and banker who became controller-general of finances in France. The first item announces the success of the reform of the French financial system, which Law had directed (although these reforms were shortly to result in the disastrous collapse of the 'Mississippi bubble' which ruined numerous investors). Law's biographer Antoin Murphy describes this work as 'Law at his disingenuous best'. The second item is an attempt to justify the measures of 22 May 1720, which had involved a reduction in the price of the paper currency which Law had introduced. Both items are anonymous, but seem likely to be by Law or commissioned by him: certainly they relate to the radical policies which originated with Law. Law eventually fled France in disgrace, and died in exile. His ideas are now considered to have been ahead of their time. See Antoin E. Murphy, John Law (1997), pp. 293+, 244+. These two books are good copies in modern boards.
ShelfmarkRB.m.453
Acquired on26/09/01
Author[Le Wright, John]
TitleTwo Proposals Becoming England at this Juncture to Undertake. One, for securing a Collony [sic] in the West-Indies... And the other, for advancing Merchandize
Imprint[London]: Printed
Date of Publication1706
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis proposal for a new English colony near Darien has some curious features. Nationalistic and somewhat naive, the writer explains that his project will be much more successful than the ruinous Spanish colonies or the feeble Scottish enterprise. On the Scots efforts he writes 'the Scots Company made nothing of it, true; but what could a single ship do in so great an affair? And we now are addressing to the English, between who and the Scots, we allow no comparison in point of trade.' Wright (not in DNB) sees his proposed colony as a part of the struggle for international political supremacy. He concludes with a promise to reveal a new method for preserving ships against worms. Details: ESTC T167866, 4o, pp. [2], ii, 1-8; sig. ?2, A4, in folding case. Imprint partly cropped. Author's name appears at foot of introductory epistle to the Merchant Adventurers of England, p. ii. Like all the other copies, the final page has the catchword 'By', although the page also has the word 'Finis' and the work appears to be self-contained. There does not appear to be a connection with the other work Wright published in 1706, Captain le Wright's Warrant (ESTC T34125). Possibly, the text as we have it was only intended to be the first proposal, and 'Finis' indicates the end of the proposal rather than the end of the work as a whole. Was the printing interrupted for some reason before Wright could get down to a detailed description of his plans for 'advancing Merchandize'?
ShelfmarkRB.s.2078
Acquired on19/10/00
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