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 834 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 196 to 210 of 834:

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Author[Miscellaneous]
Title[Collection of Scottish tracts]
Imprint[Various]
Date of Publication1691-1774
LanguageEnglish
NotesThese five volumes, bought at auction as one lot, contain 24 items. The National Library of Scotland has the world's strongest holdings of early Scottish tracts and pamphlets, and there are some particularly important additions here, with a number of very rare or unrecorded works. Some examples of works new to our collections are given here: 'A letter from a gentleman in Edinburgh to his friend in the country', Glasgow, 1752. Only one copy listed in ESTC (Princeton University) Andrew Welwood, 'A Glimpse of Glory', Edinburgh, 1774. Unrecorded. 'The Black Book of Conscience', 30th edition, Edinburgh, 1751. Only one imperfect copy in ESTC (Huntington Library) 'A description of all the kings of Scotland', 1713. Unrecorded. 'A non-juror's recantation', London, 1691. Unrecorded. 'Issuasive from Jacobitism', London, 1713. Unrecorded. It is always particularly useful to acquire unrecorded works bound in volumes with other items, as this helps to indicate the context in which they appeared, and so makes it easier for the unknown work to be interpreted. This is a particularly good group of pamphlets on Scottish religion and politics.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2313-17
Acquired on28/11/03
TitleCollection of single-sheet items, mainly posters and advertisements relating to land and agriculture in Scotland, dated between 1805 and 1903
NotesThese items include descriptions and valuations of estates and commercial property up for sale or rent, lists of farming equipment to be sold at auction, and a sheet of regulations for containing an outbreak of swine fever. Most are in excellent condition, particularly considering their age and ephemeral nature. The marks where the sheet was fixed to the wall can be seen on at least one item. Further evidence that these were working documents is supplied by the numerous manuscript annotations, including calculations and additions to the lists of goods. The detailed information regarding the pricing of materials, credit arrangements and the quality of particular areas of land should interest anyone researching agriculture, trade or local history in Scotland. It is also of interest as containing examples of Scottish provincial printing, in Linlithgow, Beith and Paisley. Family historians could also make use of the collection; several of the sales or re-lettings clearly came about as a result of the tenant's death, and these advertisements provide useful inventories of the tenant's furniture, tools and livestock.
ShelfmarkAPS.el.203.01(1-48)
Acquired on26/04/01
TitleCom. Civit. Limirick. The Information of the Right Honourable the Lord Forester
ImprintLimerick?
Date of Publication1714
LanguageEnglish
NotesAn apparently unique copy of a single-sheet item relating to the Pretender, James III, and the abortive uprising of 1715. This item is a curious account of a lawsuit which arose from a tavern brawl; Lord Forester had been drinking with other soldiers in a Limerick pub when one Richard Roche suggested that he was a Jacobite, 'which every honest Man, and every Scotch Man was for'. Forester demanded to know who had planted this impression in Roche's brain. A Lieutenant Barkly was called in, who denied ever having made such suggestions, at which point Roche seems to have started backtracking, leading an evidently enraged Forester to launch a prosecution. The impression of the damage that even an accusation of Jacobitism could cause to a public career is striking. This work, which provides an important Irish perspective on the rebellion, is not recorded in ESTC.
ShelfmarkRB.m.449
Acquired on30/01/01
AuthorMacdonald, George
TitleCome and play with me
ImprintLondon: Alexadnra Publishing Company
Date of Publicationc.1860-1900
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis children's annual contains an unacknowledged abridged and simplified version of George Macdonald's classic children's fantasy story The Princess and the Goblin. Macdonald's story was first published in 1872, and the version here reprints Arthur Hughes' original illustrations. The annual is undated. It contains references to the Arica earthquake of 1868 and the Franco-Prussian war of 1871-2 as recent events, so was presumably first printed around this time, although the advertisements suggest this may be a later reprint. That an abridged, and presumably unauthorized version of Macdonald's novel appeared so soon after its first publication is a testimony to its contemporary appeal, and shows the wide audience for his works. The annual has a cheerful cover in coloured boards, but the inviting illustration of a girl saying 'Come and play with me' is rather undermined by the stark advertisements on the inside boards: 'DO NOT UNTIMELY DIE!' but take 'Fennings' Fever Curer' instead.
ShelfmarkAB.3.204.004
Reference SourcesBookseller's catalogue
Acquired on07/02/04
AuthorStewart, Dugald
TitleCompendio di filosofia morale
ImprintPadua: Tipografia della Minerva
Date of Publication1821
LanguageItalian
NotesThis is the first Italian translation of Dugald Stewart's Outlines of Moral Philosophy, a book first published in Edinburgh in 1793, but here translated from the fourth edition of 1818. The prolific translator Pompeo Ferrario produced the Italian text and contributed a 'Preliminary Note' in which he set the book in the context of the 'Scottish Philosophical School', claiming for Stewart a key role as the school's best moral philosopher. He praises Stewart's works as 'l'Opera di Morale piu completa che sia fin qui comparsa in Inghilterra' - 'the most complete scheme of Moral Philosophy which has yet appeared in England'. This translation testifies to the Europe-wide reputation of Stewart and other 18th-century Scottish philosophers; no other copy is recorded on COPAC.
ShelfmarkAB.3.209.04
Reference SourcesBookseller's catalogue.
Acquired on12/02/09
AuthorLydgate, John
TitleComplaint of the Black Knight (Celebration edition 2008)
ImprintDundee: Visual Research Centre (University of Dundee), Dundee City Arts Centre
Date of Publication2008
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis portfolio commemorates the 500th anniversary of the first dated printed book in Scotland, Chepman and Myllar's edition of Lydgate's poem The Complaint of the Black Knight, which they entitled The Maying or Disport of Chaucer. On April 4th, 2008, 500 years to the day of the date in Chepman and Myllar's colophon, artists Paul Liam Harrison, Scott Hudson and Andy Rice reprinted the poem at the Visual Research Centre of the University of Dundee, Dundee City Arts Centre. However unlike Chepman and Myllar who produced their book on the then-conventional hand-press, these artists printed the text using the silkscreen method, using water-based acrylic inks, onto archival paper. The day's printing was accompanied by supporting events including a reading from the original text. NLS, whose curators supported the project from its inception, has now received number 4 of the limited edition of 18 prints, along with one of the artists' proofs produced on the day, in a cardboard portfolio. This handsome addition to our collections shows Scotland's 21st-century printers paying homage to the first printers 500 years ago.
ShelfmarkRB.el.13
Acquired on23/01/08
TitleComplete Glossary for Sir W. Scott's Novels and Romances.
ImprintParis: Baudry's European Library
Date of Publication1833
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis volume contains three works which were published in Paris, in English, in the nineteenth century. All have been annotated, most likely by a French owner, whose notes provide a fascinating insight into how much, or how little, the Scots dialect was understood abroad in the period. The third item is Thomas Moore's poem The Loves of the Angels (1823), and the second is a collection called Tales for the Fireside or the Road, by Popular Living Authors (1854). These tales include Mrs Norton's 'The Ruined Laird', and James Hogg's 'Extraordinary History of a Border Beauty', in both of which the Scots dialect is glossed by the annotator. But the most interesting item is the Glossary to Scott, where the annotator has written in many additional entries, presumably representing words encountered in his reading of the Waverley novels. These include 'Plaid, a worsted mantle' ; 'Claymore, epee avec garde en osier'; 'Quhom, whom'; 'Sonsy, merry'; 'Yoursell, yourself'. Scott was hugely popular in Europe: this book shows how one contintental reader coped with the language in which he wrote.
ShelfmarkABS.1.203.020(1)
Acquired on16/04/03
AuthorShakespeare, William
TitleComplete works of Shakespeare in 20 miniature volumes.
ImprintGlasgow : David Bryce and Son
Date of Publication1904
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a miniature set of Shakespeare's complete works in 20 volumes published by David Bryce of Glasgow. Bryce was Scotland's most prolific and successful producer of miniature books. The individual volumes measure only 50 mm. in height and they are bound in brown suede featuring gilt spine lettering and gilt textblock edges. The set is housed in a tiny wooden replica of Shakespeare's desk apparently modelled upon the original in a Stratford museum. A publisher's sticker on the back states that it is made of oak (presumably from an artefact or pew) taken out of Holy Trinity Church, Stratford, where Shakespeare was baptised and buried. The standard reference sources on miniature books make no mention of this set and no record for another set can be found.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2757
Reference SourcesBondy
Acquired on16/09/09
AuthorFleming, Robert
TitleConfirming worke of religion, in its necessity and use briefly held forth; that each Christian may have a proper ballast of his own, of the grounds and reasons of his faith, and thus see the greatness of that security; on which he adventures his eternal fate. ?
ImprintRotterdam: Printed by Reinier Leers.
Date of Publication1685
LanguageEnglish
NotesESTC R40606 A rare work by a popular ejected Scottish minister published in the place of his exile. Robert Fleming the elder (his son followed him as a writer and minister) was born in 1630 at Yester, Haddingtonshire, studied at Edinburgh and St Andrews, and may have fought in the Scottish army during the Civil War. He was called to the ministry in 1653, and deprived of his parish of Cambuslang, Lanarkshire, on the restoration of episcopacy in 1662. He preached in Scotland and London, in spite of problems with the authorities and other difficulties, until 1677, when he was called to a collegiate charge in the Scots Church at Rotterdam, a city where many religious exiles took refuge in the 17th century. On a visit to Edinburgh in 1679 he returned to Edinburgh, where he was imprisoned for holding conventicles, but escaped and returned to Rotterdam. His troubles with the Scottish authorities ended with the political changes of 1689, but he remained in Holland and died on a visit to London in 1694. The DNB lists eleven works by Fleming, in addition to sermons: he defended his own kind of protestantism against Quakers and Catholics alike, and related the lives of Scottish and Ulster Protestants to his own faith and what he saw as the workings of divine providence. This book, in that vein, attempts to show 'the true and infallible way, for attaining a confirmed state in Religion', as the title page says, relating spiritual doctrines and experiences to contemporary events - 'a short confirming prospect of the work of the Lord about his Church, in these last times.' The NLS already holds other editions of this work, but according to the ESTC there is no other copy of this edition in Scotland, and only seven others are recorded altogether. This copy comes to us with three interesting provenances. On the verso of the title page is an inscription signed 'H.D.A.': Omne tulit punctum/ Qui miscuit Utile dulci ['he has gained every point who has mixed the useful and the agreeable', from Horace's Ars Poetica]. I got this token of kindness from Mr. R.F. the author, my very worthy friend'. The book also has the bookplate of Patrick Hume, 1st Earl of Marchmont, Lord High Chancellor of Scotland, dated 1702. The gilt crowned orange from the arms of the Earl of Marchmont can still be seen on the spine panels, though faded. Finally there is the bookplate of the Bristol collector James Stevens Cox (1910-1997). This book is one of three the NLS has purchased from the sale of his library, a collection considered worthy of its own location in the Short Title Catalogue of English books before 1640.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2319
Reference SourcesDNB; sale catalogue
Acquired on17/12/03
AuthorDalhousie, James Andrew Broun Ramsay, Marquis of
TitleCopy of a minute by the Marquis of Dalhousie, dated February 28, 1856 reviewing his administration in India, from January 1848, to March 1856
ImprintPrinted by J. & H. Cox
Date of Publication1856
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis volume contains a presentation inscription on the title page to the Caledonian United Service Club by Colonel W. Geddes, C.B. It is one of the only examples extant of a review of a Governor-General's period in office from the East-India Company Period. Later reviews appear for succeeding Viceroys although their scope is often limited to the Home Department. This report covers both Foreign and Home Departments. Dalhousie's introduction suggests that this is the first example of such a report on administration, perhaps inspired because of his longer than usual tenure in India. A vast range of subjects are covered: Thuggees, tea, vaccination, female education, natural resources, the port of Singapore, the Burma war and the Sikh war.
ShelfmarkABS.9.202.12
Acquired on23/09/02
AuthorGrant, John
TitleCopy of a Paper to the Magistrates of Edinburgh
ImprintEdinburgh?
Date of Publication1794
LanguageEnglish
NotesThese single-sheet items record the unusual paranoia afflicting a man who describes himself as a journeyman weaver. John Grant believed that he was being chased and tormented by none other than the philosopher David Hume, and wrote to these various public figures to seek their assistance. In the first printed letter to the magistrates of Edinburgh, which Grant dates 'Edinburgh, July 11. 1794.', he explains that the persecution has now lasted for 26 years. Hume has followed him through Scotland, England and Ireland, bribing people to poison Grant's food. Grant acknowledges that an accusation directed against such a respected philosopher may cause surprise, but suggests that 'ungoverned passions supersede learning by weakening the understanding.' Grant is particularly roused by the injustice of the monument erected to Hume in Calton churchyard (presumably Grant did not accept that this monument existed because Hume had died in 1776). Laid on the back of this paper is a manuscript letter, possibly autograph, from Grant to one Doctor Gleghorn, complaining at the doctor's decision not to admit him to Glasgow Infirmary. The exact nature of his illness is unclear, but he expresses dissatisfaction at the doctor's suggested remedies of wearing flannel against the skin and rubbing the legs with spirits: the obvious conclusion is that David Hume has told Gleghorn what to say. Both these letters speak of enclosing other papers, which are probably no longer extant. Neither printed item is recorded in ESTC.
ShelfmarkAPS.3.201.13
Acquired on20/02/01
TitleCopy of verses on the Tay Bridge Disaster
Date of Publication[1880]
NotesThe Tay Bridge Disaster of 28 December 1879, in which some 75 people died when the bridge collapsed as their train was crossing, inspired many outpourings of verse. The bookseller here felt impelled to state 'NOT BY McGONAGALL', as William McGonagall's poem beginning 'Beautiful railway bridge of the Silv'ry Tay!' is one of his most notorious compositions. This broadside poem perhaps scans better than McGonagall's efforts, but it is still essentially sentimental doggerel. Incredible though it may seem, the writer thought that this was an appropriate composition to be sung, and suggests that this be done to the air known as 'Rock me to sleep'. There is even a chorus: 'Down 'neath the waters, down in the deep, / With the train for their coffin, in the river they sleep, / The Tay was the grave that received their last breath - / Near 100 poor souls went from pleasure to Death.' If this seems in rather poor taste, it compares quite well with the lurid media reporting of modern-day tragedies.
ShelfmarkAPS.4.202.37
Acquired on30/05/02
AuthorByron, George Gordon
TitleCorrespondance de Lord Byron avec un ami.
ImprintParis: A. et W. Galignani
Date of Publication1825
LanguageFrench
NotesAs the publishers of this work say, 'Everything concerning this great poet & cannot fail to excite the most lively interest'. R.C. Dallas' 'The Correspondence of Lord Byron' has a curious history. An author himself, Robert Dallas (1754-1824) was connected to Byron by marriage (his sister married Byron's uncle). The two corresponded in the early years of Byron's career, and Dallas had an editorial role in Byron's early poetry. In return Byron gave him the copyright to the first two cantos of Childe Harold's Pilgrimage and The Corsair, although later he seems to have dropped the personal and literary friendship. In possession of Byron's letters to his mother during his eastern travels, as well as of their own correspondence, Dallas prepared an edition of all these letters which he planned to publish after Byron's death in 1824. However Hobhouse and Hanson, Byron's executors and self-appointed keepers of his memory, took legal action to prevent its publication. Dallas died soon after, and his son published 'The Correspondence' in Paris in 1825: as the French publishers point out, the attempt to suppress the book only served to whet the public's appetite for it. While the English edition of this book is well known, copies of this French translation are scarce (none are recorded in COPAC). The publishers state that they had originally obtained the French rights to the book and had intended to publish it at the same time as the English edition; their translation was delayed by the legal action, and now they are publishing the two at the same time. These two volumes therefore provide eloquent testimony both to Byron's continental popularity, and to the controversy he was still capable of arousing after his death.
ShelfmarkAB.2.206.002
Reference SourcesDNB.
Acquired on17/06/05
AuthorKendall, E. G.
TitleCosmopolitan System of Dresscutting.
ImprintLondon : Cosmopolitan Dresscutting Association, 65A, Oxford Street
Date of Publication1893
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a complete kit for home tailoring and dress cutting which includes the printed step-by-step instructions and five cardboard cut-out tools: the main chart, sleeve chart, child's sleeve, collar chart, and the "Cosmopolitan scale" used for measuring purposes. The kit is especially interesting for its provenance. The verso of the cardboard tools have the manuscript inscription "Miss Ireland" with the "sleeve chart" having "Miss Ireland 143 Constitution St. Leith". The 1889-90 Post Office Edinburgh and Leith Directory records a W[illia]m Ireland living at 143 Constitution Street Leith and a Miss Ireland, dressmaker at 41 Lothian Road Edinburgh. The 1899-1900 Post Office Edinburgh and Leith Directory records Misses M. & E. Ireland. milliners and dressmakers at 1 Great Wellington Street, Miss E. Ireland, milliner at 165 Leith Walk and Miss Ireland, dressmaker, at 41 Lothian Road, Edinburgh. The kit is accompanied by a carrying folder with the ownership label of the "Rodmure Dresscutting Association, 153 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow. Madame Levine, Manageress". The Rodmure School of Dresscutting was founded by Joseph Fox (1851-1933) who was credited with introducing the method of individual pattern-cutting to the city and in training many Glasgow seamstresses at his school. The Rodmure System incorporated a "scientific" sizing and cutting apparatus based on a system of radial punch holes and proportion. As the Cosmopolitan System of Dresscutting also incorporates complex measuring tools with punch holes one wonders whether Fox was adapting ideas from elsewhere. Fox's daughter Rhoda Levine was the school's manageress. She had a sister named Muriel, who trained as a Milliner in Paris before returning to Glasgow to open a dress shop near The Rodmure school. Although cutting systems like the Cosmopolitan and Rodmure systems were popular and seen as a solution to the technical problems created by the complex cut and fit of stylish women's clothing, they were criticized for not always equipping students with the skills of a true tailor. As the instruction booklets and accompanying tools for these systems were extremely complex, there was a lucrative market for schools of instruction on their correct application.
ShelfmarkAB.11.216.03
Acquired on16/05/16
Author[Nicholas Breton]
TitleCrossing of proverbs, or A book divided into two parts.
ImprintEdinburgh: Re-printed by A.S.
Date of Publication1710
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an unrecorded first Scottish printing of a book first published in London in 1616. The author Nicholas Breton or Britton (1554/5-c. 1626) from Essex, was a prolific writer in both prose and verse but little is known of his later life. Although he seems to have had enjoyed the patronage of a number of aristocrats, the sheer volume of works he produced indicate that he was a hack author in constant need of funds. In the first two decades of the 17th century he became best known for his verse satires and devotional poems. Breton also wrote three anthologies of proverbial wisdom: "Crossing of Proverbs" (two parts, both 1616) and "Soothing of Proverbs" (1626). "Crossing of proverbs" was printed at least three more times in the 17th-century and ESTC records two further printings from 1720 and 1731, both possibly done in Aberdeen. This 1710 printing by "A.S." who might be the Edinburgh printer Andrew Symson (d. 1712), is unknown. This particular copy, which is bound in a 19th-century blue morocco binding, has had a number of famous owners, as can be seen by the various bookplates and inscriptions. The front pastedown has the armorial bookplate of Sir John Stirling Maxwell (1866-1956) and there is an armorial bookplate on the back pastedown "Keir" with the motto "Proverbs" i.e. Keir House, near Stirling in Scotland. Keir House was inherited by John Stirling-Maxwell's father William (1818-1878) in the 1840s. William Stirling-Maxwell, writer, historian and politician, collected books of proverbs, many of which had "Keir, Proverbs" bookplates affixed to the rear pastedowns. Also on the front pastedown is a manuscript signature in pencil "D. Laing", i.e. David Laing (1793-1878) antiquary and librarian of the Signet Library. There are also manuscript notes on the first two flyleaves followed by the bookplate of "Lt. Colonel V. S. M. de Guinzbourg". Colonel Victor De Guinzbourg assembled a large collection of proverbs and published books on the subject. De Guinzbourg worked in counterintelligence prior to WWII and, according to his family, was known by more than one name during the time. Little is known about him until after the war when he began work for the UN.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2921
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on18/03/16
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