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 818 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 211 to 225 of 818:

Ordered by author
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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?]
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.
Reference SourcesGolf Digest Magazine
Acquired on03/04/09
Author[Law, John]
TitleLettre au sujet de l'arrest du Conseil d'État
Date of Publication1720
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.
Acquired on26/09/01
Author[Law, John]
TitleEtat general des dettes de l'Etat
ImprintParis: Antoine-Urbain Coustlier
Date of Publication1720
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.
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
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'?
Acquired on19/10/00
Author[Lothian, Marchioness of]
TitleCatalogue of household furniture, &c, which belonged to the late Marchioness of Lothian ... which will be sold by Roup, at Lothian House ... Monday the 3d March 1788 ... Mrs Bowie, Auctioneer.
Date of Publication[1788]
NotesAn extremely rare printed sales catalogue of the household belongings of Jean, Marchioness of Lothian, sold by auction after her death in December 1787. Lothian House, at the foot of the Canongate, was the family's Edinburgh town house and was leased after her death to the philosopher Dugald Stewart, eventually becoming the headquarters for Youngers brewery. The site is now to be occupied by the Scottish Parliament building and the sales catalogue gives a direct source of evidence to the Parliament's eighteenth century precursor.
Acquired on18/10/00
Author[MacFait, Ebenezer]
TitleEntwurf von Platon's Leben, nebst Bermerkungen ueber dessen schriftstellerischen und philosophischen Charakter.
ImprintLeipzig: Dyk,
Date of Publication1797
NotesThis is the first German translation of "Remarks on the Life and Writings of Plato", which was originally published in Edinburgh in 1760 by the obscure Scottish scholar-physician Ebenezer MacFait (d. 1786). MacFait's book focuses particularly on Plato's "Republic", and includes a defence of Plato's ideas against the criticisms which appeared in the scholarly works published by the 18th-century English politician Viscount Bolingbroke. The translation was the work of Karl Morgenstern (1770-1852) then professor of philosophy at the university of Halle, who had published his own commentary on the "Republic" in 1794; it is augmented with his own notes on Plato. This particular copy has doodles in pencil on the paper covers, including four faces in profile, and the word 'Tennemann' written in several places, which suggests that this book may have once been owned by a student of the Platonic scholar Wilhelm Gottlieb Tennemann (1761-1819), who himself had written a four-volume work "System der Platonischen Philosophie" (Leipzig, 1792-95).
Shelfmark AB.3.210.07
Acquired on23/04/10
Author[Mercer, John]
TitleExact abridgement of all the public acts of assembly of Virginia.
Date of Publication1759
NotesThis collection of early acts passed by the assembly of colonial Virginia covers legislation from 1660 to 1758. Chronological tables give summary information, but the bulk of the text is taken up with an abridgement of the acts under alphabetical headings such as 'Deer', 'Duty on Slaves', 'Executions', 'Madeira Wine', 'Runaways' etc. A detailed index ensures that this is a highly practical reference work. Mercer had produced his first collection of acts in 1737, which was printed in Williamsburg, Virginia. Presumably this edition was printed in Glasgow in order to give Scottish traders information about the community with which they were making commercial transactions. However, most copies seem to have found their way to North America, with the result that this is a rare book in the British Isles; no copy is found in the Advocates' Library.
Acquired on21/05/02
Title[Collection of Scottish tracts]
Date of Publication1691-1774
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.
Acquired on28/11/03
Title[Collection of 6 pre-1701 items printed in Scotland]
Imprint[Edinburgh, s.n.]
Date of Publicationbetween 1630 and 1693
NotesA collection of 6 Scottish single-sheet items printed before 1700, these were formerly part of a bound volume of mainly 17th century broadsides and pamphlets belonging at one time to an Alexander Warrand of Muir of Ord, who died in 1899. The volume was sold at auction in 2011 and the NLS subsequently acquired these six items: (1) a proclamation of Charles I, printed in 1630, relating to tax collection in Scotland; (2) a 1660 proclamation of the Committee of Estates against "unlawfull meetings and seditious papers"; (3) answers for Henry Nevil Payne, an agitator for the Roman Catholic cause in Scotland, to the indictment raised by the lord advocate (c. 1693); (4) "Act and ratification in favours of the glass manufactory in Morisons Haven" (1698) (Morrison's Haven was a harbour at Prestongrange, East Lothian, which was then a busy port); (5) "Reasons for passing an act for communication of trade to the town of Leith" (c. 1693), a printed document concerning the Acts of the Scottish Parliament in 1672 and 1693 which removed trade restrictions in Edinburgh and extended the trading rights of baronies such as Leith; (6) a proclamation, from the Commonwealth era, of the commissioners at Leith, dated 1651, requiring merchants to make a full declaration of all their merchandise to the customs officials at the chief ports in Scotland. Items 4, 5 and 6 are of particular interest as they are not recorded in ESTC or Aldis's bibliography of books printed in Scotland before 1701.
Reference SourcesESTC, Aldis
Acquired on03/02/11
Author[Morris, James Archibald]
TitlePhotographs of the auld brig of Ayr (built about fifteenth century)
Imprint[Ayr: s.n.]
Date of Publication1910
NotesThis a rare privately-published photo album documenting, in a series of 28 numbered photographs, the restoration of Ayr's most famous landmark, the Auld Brig. Built in the 15th-century, the bridge featured in Robert Burns's poems "The Brigs o' Ayr" and "Tam o'Shanter". By the start of the 20th-century the bridge was in poor condition and was almost demolished. However, a campaign led by architect and local historian James Archibald Morris (1857-1942), and supported by the Earl of Rosebery, was successful in raising funds for restoring the Auld Brig to its former glory. As the cover of the album informs us, £11,000 was raised from subscribers around the world, with the restoration work taking place between 1907 and 1910. The Earl of Rosebery re-opened the bridge on 29 July 1910. All bar three of the 28 gelatine prints were taken by Morris, who was a keen amateur photographer. Morris presumably arranged for the photographs to be bound in albums (with a leaf of explanatory notes for each photograph) and distributed, presumably to members of the executive committee of the Ayr Auld Brig preservation campaign whose names appear on the back cover.
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on16/11/12
Author[Morris, William and Wyatt, A.J. translators]
TitleTale of Beowulf sometime king of the folk of the Weder Geats
ImprintHammersmith: Kelmscott Press
Date of Publication1895
NotesWith the purchase of this item along with "Atalanta in Calydon" the NLS has completed its collection of books which were available for public sale at the Kelmscott Press (there are 2 remaining items in the A section of Peterson's bibliography but it is unlikely that copies will be available for purchase). Beowulf seems to have been a favourite and long-cherished project of Morris. He described the Anglo-Saxon epic poem as "the first and best poem of the English race, [with] no author but the people", which would have appealed to his socialist principles. In 1893 he began his own translation of the poem using a papraphrase by the scholar Alfred John Wyatt. He completed the translation the following year then worked with Wyatt to revise his text. The book was issued in February 1895, 300 copies were printed on paper and 8 on vellum, and, costing over £485 to produce, was one of the more of the more expensive productions of the KP. Problems with the initial printing led to several sheets having to be reprinted. Morris was later to claim that he had lost money on the book; but the final publication ranks as one of the triumphs of the press, living up to Morris's dictum that his book were "beautiful by force of mere typography" . Morris and Wyatt's translation was reprinted by Longmans in 1898.
Reference SourcesPeterson "Bibliography of the Kelmscott Press" A32
Acquired on30/07/04
Author[Muriel Digby]
Title[Victorian 'Newspaper Cuttings' album containing numerous theatre programmes, playbills, clippings and other items]
ImprintS.l.: s.n.
Date of Publication[1881-1883]
NotesThis album records part of the acting life of Muriel Digby, who performed in many showings of a popular play "The colonel". The play by Francis Cowley Burnand (1836-1917), an English comic writer and playwright, satirised the popular aesthetic craze taking place in Britain in the second half of the 19th century. In October 1881 the Prince of Wales finally persuaded his mother, Queen Victoria, to attend a command performance of "The colonel" in Abergeldie Castle, near Braemar, Aberdeenshire, by Edgar Bruce's touring company, who were playing in Edinburgh at the time. The performance was much enjoyed by the Royal family, in particular by the Queen who had previously loved theatre performances and was viewing her first play in twenty years following the death of her husband Albert in 1861. It was however another five years after "The colonel" before she would watch another one. Two copies of the programme specially produced for the Abergeldie performance are attached to the first leaf of the album. Each one depicts both sides of the programme, with emblems on the front which are absolutely of the aesthetic movement style. The outer 'aesthetic' side was engraved and copyrighted by JA Lowell & Co. Boston, 1878. The inner printed side, incorporating the Royal coats of arms, was printed by James Turner & Co., Lithographers, Edinburgh. Many of the newspaper clippings and other items refer to the Abergeldie performance, one reporting "one of the most interesting events that has happened in the theatrical world for many years." Muriel Digby is not listed among the cast of the performers at Abergeldie but she did subsequently play female roles in "The colonel" in various performances around the UK. A Glasgow Gaiety Theatre playbill, for September 1882, depicts the bust of Queen Victoria - with printed reference to the Abergeldie performance. Some of the newspaper clippings relating to performances of the play lack the name of the newspaper, but most have the name written above the clipping. No record can be located of any other copy of the Abergeldie programme.
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on20/11/15
Author[Nicholas Breton]
TitleCrossing of proverbs, or A book divided into two parts.
ImprintEdinburgh: Re-printed by A.S.
Date of Publication1710
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.
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on18/03/16
Author[Peter Williamson]
TitleList of all the streets, wynds, squares and closes, of the city of Edinburgh and Canongate.
ImprintEdinburgh: Peter Williamson
Date of Publication1779
NotesThis is an unrecorded broadside printed by Peter Williamson, one of Scotland?s most colourful characters of the 18th century. 'Indian Peter' (1730-1799), was abducted from Aberdeenshire as a ten-year-old, and indentured/enslaved for seven years in colonial Virginia. He was later captured by Cherokees, but escaped to narrate his adventures in travelling performances and in print. Returning to Britain he trained to be a printer, becoming a celebrated bookseller and coffee-house keeper in Edinburgh. Williamson published the first Edinburgh street directory in 1773. The present example is a large broadside printing of Williamson's directory, with a more straightforward layout, that gives the names of over 400 places in the city. It was presumably intended to be pasted-up on the walls of offices, workshops and other public areas. In addition to the list of places, Williamson also includes a number of advertisements for his own services, these include his famous "Portable Printing Presses" which he explains, is so constructed, "that it will throw off one Folio Page, or four Quarto Pages, at a time, with great ease and exactness". The broadside also advertises Williamson's edition of the Psalms of David "printed upon a new type, and superfine paper, so calculated that it may be carried in a watch-pocket or in a snuff-box". In the imprint Williamson announces that he runs a penny postal service in Edinburgh; the first postal service in Edinburgh recorded in print.
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on22/07/16
Author[Salmon, William]
TitleAristotle's Master-Piece
ImprintGlasgow: [n.n.]
Date of Publication1782
NotesThe 'Joy of Sex' of its day, this is a revised version of the work that first appeared with this title in 1694, and was continually republished thereafter. A compendium of popular medical knowledge, folklore and myth, it promises a guide to marriage, copulation and procreation, plus 'the picture of several monstrous births'. There are various unpleasant woodcuts, some derived from the first edition, of deformed babies. All kinds of remedies are proposed for infertility, difficult childbirth or 'green sickness' in virgins. There are detailed descriptions of the genitals and practical sections for midwives. Works like this have an enduring popularity. This Glasgow edition of 1782 is otherwise unrecorded. This edition has an amusing section at the end, 'Observations on the human body', which discusses how appearances reveal more about the person. ('When the nostrils are close and thin, they denote a man to have but little testicles'.) A curious feature of this copy is that the endpapers are printed leaves from an Edinburgh sermon. The bookseller suggests that the binder had a sense of humour.
Reference SourcesWing, EEBO, ESTC
Acquired on17/09/03
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