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 782 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 226 to 240 of 782:
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|Title||Dirge or a voice in the night, originally addressed to a clergyman at Edinburgh 1845.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Anderson and Bryce|
|Date of Publication||1848|
|Notes||This work is attributed to one Susan Williamson on the strength of a telling inscription on the verso of the dedication to Queen Victoria which reads: 'The writer of this book was Miss Susan Williamson who resided in Edinburgh with her brother Mr. David Williamson, in some of her ways she was odd, but not considered to be insane'. The 600 or so pages which follow can certainly be considered to be odd if not downright unintelligble to readers in the 21st century. An extract from the introduction sets the tone for what follows:
'And all vitellent spirits revolt or resault over whom was ratified reflection as a whispered word imputave before the perfectability of planatory imparature in the temporal attribute, whose nullity remained in premonitory complex'
The book consists of short texts of a religious nature dealing with sin, creation, eternity and so on. The only other copy traced is at the British Library and no other works by Susan Williamson are known.|
|Date of Publication||1728|
|Notes||This is a fine thesis binding in black morocco, with gold tooling on boards, spine, board edges and turn-ins. Fine green and gilt Dutch endpapers, with the attractive label of Kerr & Richardson, book makers of Glasgow, on the front pastedown. Curiously, Kerr & Richardson do not appear in SBTI. The actual text is ESTC T188177, the only other known copy of which is in the Advocates' Library. The textblock in this new copy is untrimmed and in superior condition. The binding complements that of Bdg.s.13, which may well have come from the same workshop: the structure of the design is similar, but different tools are used. The new copy is particularly distinguished by the stars in the panels on the spine, and the 'chain' design of the diagonals. The floral roll which makes up the central rectangle and which is repeated on the turn-ins is mostly crisp and clear, although there are a couple of slips on the front board where it can be seen how the craftsman ran on slightly too far.|
|Author||A.M. graduate in Physic [Tobias Smollett]|
|Title||Don Ricardo Honeywater vindicated.|
|Imprint||London: E. Pen|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||In 1748 the eminent English physician Richard Mead was viciously attacked in print by the London-based Scot William Douglas in the pamphlet "The cornutor of seventy-five". This withering response to Douglas's pamphlet appeared in the same year and includes a comprehensive rebuttal of Douglas's aspersions and a damning biography of Douglas, referred to here as 'Doctor Salguod'. The authorship of this rare satirical pamphlet has been convincingly attributed to Tobias Smollett. As a fellow Scot in London, Smollett must have been acutely aware of the prejudices against Scots in the wake of the recent Jacobite uprising, and was anxious to prevent Douglas from stirring up more trouble by attacking the most respected medical man in England. This pamphlet is signed on the final page 'Gill Blas', the same moniker used by Smollett, who had done an English translation of Lesage's work "Gil Blas", in his pamphlet "Thomsonus Redivivus". Smollett's stout defence of Mead appears to have ended Douglas's literary career and no doubt enhanced Smollett's standing in the medical and literary community of London.|
|Reference Sources||ESTC; DNB; R.A. Day, "The cornutor of seventy-five and Don Ricardo Honeywater vindicated", The Augustan Reprint Society publication no. 224-225, Los Angeles, 1987|
|Title||Donation of 4 items of ephemera, relating to bicentenary celebrations for Robert Burns on 25 January 1959, organised by the Scottish District of the Communist Party|
|Notes||1. Single Sheet Flyer, for the event in St Andrew's Hall, Glasgow
2. Ticket for the event
3. Souvenir Programme of the event signed by J. F. Campbell, Hugh MacDiarmid and Alex McCrindle
Three rare items of ephemera relating to bicententary celebrations for Robert Burns on 25 January 1959, organised by the Scottish District of the Communist Party. The programme is especially interesting as it lists the various contributors to the evening, including Hugh MacDiarmid and John Ross Campbell, editor of the Daily Worker.|
|Title||Dreadful fray, which took place at Culrain near Gladsfield in Ross-shire|
|Date of Publication||1820|
|Notes||A rare broadside consisting of letters printed in the 'Scotsman' and the 'Glasgow Courier', which gives a graphic, if one-sided, account of one of the flashpoints of the Clearances. In early 1820 Hugh Munro, the laird of Novar in Easter Ross, decided to clear his estates at Culrain, effectively evicting nearly 600 people, and place the land under sheep. No provision had been made for their resettlement. One of the letter writers describes Munro's actions as 'improvements' and the actions of the law-agents as 'warning' the people from their farms.
A few weeks prior to the incident described in this document, the law-agent on arriving to serve the Writs of Removal, was driven from the area. Subsequently, Sheriff Donald Macleod backed up by a small force of constables and militiamen was attacked by a 1000-strong 'mob', of whom women, labelled 'amazons', were to the fore. Once again the authorities were forced to retreat, but not before one local woman was mortally wounded, something not mentioned in these accounts. However faced with the power of the civil and military authorities and the stern disapproval of the local minister, the Rev. Alexander Macbean, the tenants submitted shortly afterwards.
But for the ultimately unsuccessful resistance of the people, it is unlikely that this incident would have reached the newspapers. There was considerable nervousness among the authorities, a fear that local unrest was symptomatic of wider radicalism given the recent occurences at Peterloo and Cato Street.
The broadside was printed, probably in Edinburgh by William Cameron, known as 'Hawkie', a speech-crier and a well-known printer of street literature, who mainly worked in Glasgow.|
|Title||Dream of John Ball and a king's lesson.|
|Imprint||Hammersmith, Kelmscott Press|
|Date of Publication||1892|
|Notes||A valuable addition to the Library's large collection of Kelmscott Press publications. The Kelmscott Press, modestly described by William Morris himself, as 'a little typographical adventure' is regarded as the most influential and famous of the private presses which emerged in the latter years of the nineteenth century. Between 1891 and 1898, 52 books were produced of which the Library holds 49. Morris sought to emulate the books produced in the early years of printing and 'to produce books which it would be a pleasure to look upon as pieces of printing and arrangement of type'. Morris oversaw every aspect of the production and design of the Kelmscott books 'the paper, the form of the type, the relative spacing of the letters, the words and the lines, and lastly the position of the printed matter on the page'.
A king's lesson and A dream of John Ball were first published in the socialist journal Commonweal in 1886 and 1887. This utopian socialist work is one of the few writings of the press with clear political overtones. Most of the Kelmscott books, were works of literature, including many medieval texts. This is one of the 300 copies printed on paper; 11 were also printed on vellum. The frontispiece was engraved by W.H. Hooper based on a design by Sir Edward Burne-Jones, with the lettering and border being designed by Morris.|
|Title||Duke of Albany's Own Highlanders|
|Date of Publication||1881|
|Notes||Purchased with a selection of other yellowbacks by two popular Scottish authors. Yellowbacks (less commonly called 'mustard-plaster' novels) was the name given to the form of cheap fiction developed from the late 1840s and competed with the 'penny dreadful' as an accessible source of entertaining reading. The distinctive brightly coloured covers made the books very attractive for a growing reading public encouraged by the spread of education and the expansion of the railways. Routledges in establishing their 'Railway Library' in 1849, were the first of many publishers to target a new reading public with yellowbacks. This series ran to 1,277 titles, ending in 1899. Most works of fiction in this format were stereotyped reprints of earlier cloth editions. By the end of the 19th century, sensational fiction and adventure stories in addition to more 'educational' manuals, handbooks and cheap biographies were being published in this manner.
These yellowback novels of Grant and Stevenson were typical of those published at this time. Edinburgh-born, James Grant (1822-1887), a distant relation of Sir Walter Scott, was a prolific author, writing some 90 books. Many of his 56 novels deal with key characters and events in Scottish history. In 1853 he founded the National Association for the Vindication of Scottish Rights. Grant is best remembered today as an historian - his thoroughly-researched 'Old and new Edinburgh' was published in 1880.|
|Title||Dundee from the tram cars : an illustrated guide to the city and its surroundings. |
|Imprint||Dundee: John Durham & Co.|
|Date of Publication||1908|
|Notes||This well-illustrated guide book to Dundee and the surrounding area was published by the local Tramways Committee. There are descriptions of the notable places to see along all the routes. The preface notes that 'the horse and steam haulage of earlier days has given place to electric traction'. The statistics which follow are impressive - 20,000 miles covered weekly, 15 million passengers conveyed annually. The guide also includes a map of the tram routes with a list of the routes, fares, stations and distances.
Electric trams were on the streets of Dundee for over 50 years from 1900 to 1956. Loosely inserted in the volume are a number of interesting ephemeral items: Dundee City Tramways security card from 1911 and an employees pass for Andrew Thomson dated March 1910. There is also a photograph of a driver and conductor standing in front of the Blackness tram.
|Title||Earnest invitation to all profane persons to repent.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Society for Promoting Religious Knowledge among the Poor.|
|Date of Publication||1757|
|Notes||Swearing, drunkenness and working on Sundays are still issues in contemporary society, as they were over 250 years ago when this stern tract was printed warning of the dangers in indulging in these vices. The tract was printed for the Society for Promoting Religious Knowledge among the Poor (SPRKP), an organisation founded in London in 1750, which was the first of the evangelical tract societies that were established in the 18th and 19th centuries. It was founded by Protestant dissenters, but included many Anglicans among its members; its object was to promote religion by distributing bibles and cheap tracts, usually written by dissenting ministers, to the poor. The Society co-existed with the establishment church-orientated Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge, and later with the Society for Distributing Religious Tracts among the Poor, founded by the Methodist leader John Wesley in 1782. In 1756 branches of the SPRK were founded in Edinburgh and Glasgow along the same lines as the London model. The anonymous "Earnest invitation" is one of at least three Society publications printed by Ebenezer Robertson in Edinburgh in the late 1750s. Very few of Society's publications survive and there is only one other copy of this book recorded in ESTC, in the British Library's collections. This particular tract covers three sins: swearing and profanity, with particular regard to the army and navy; 'the great sin of profaning the Lord's day by worldly business and pleasures'; and 'the great evil of the sin of drunkenness'. The author may, according to lists of books published by the SPRKP, be the evangelical minister Isaac Toms (1709-1801) from Hadleigh in Suffolk, who is known to have written five tracts for the Society. In the tract the author thunders, "It is not to be doubted but the glaring impiety and gross profaneness of our armies and fleets, and the bulk of the nation, had had a great hand in raising the storm of divine judgements on man and beast". Published at a time when Britain was fighting the Seven Years War on the Continent and the French in North America, this was alarming stuff intended to shock sinners into repentance. Whether the book had any effect on the profane of Edinburgh is open to question. The SPRKP's influence in Scotland appears to have been confined to the 18th century, but elsewhere it lasted into the early part of the 20th century, although it is now largely forgotten.|
|Reference Sources||Isabel Rivers "The first evangelical tract society" The Historical Journal, vol. 50, no. 1 (2007), pp. 1-22.|
|Title||Edinburgh and Port-Patrick time-bill.|
|Date of Publication||c.1790|
|Notes||This is a timetable for the Edinburgh to Portpatrick mail-coach, printed during the 1790s. It sets out the time and the distance for each stage of the journey, along with the name of the contractor responsible for each portion of the journey. The distance covered by the route, which took in places including Moffat, Dumfries, Newton Stewart, Glenluce and Stranraer, was 156 miles. The coach took 23 hours and 20 minutes to cover this distance, allowing for 30 minutes of 'office business' at Stranraer. This was considerably slower than the average royal mail coach, which moved at 11 mph in around 1800, and is indicative of the poor state of Scottish roads at the time.A weekly mail service from Portpatrick to Donaghadee in Co. Down (a distance of 21 miles) was established in 1662. In 1790 a daily mail service was introduced with the Post Office using its own vessels. Previously the mail had been carried by contract in privately owned ships. Portpatrick was also used as a port for sending troops and cattle to and from Ireland. The Portpatrick-Donaghdee route was superceded by the Stranraer-Larne crossing in the 1860s.
A regular coach travel for passengers between England and Scotland was only introduced in the 1750s. The journey from London to Edinburgh/Glasgow took 10 or 12 days depending on the season. By the 1780s this had been reduced to 4 days. Within Scotland there were coaches operating between Edinburgh and Glasgow from 1749 and from Edinburgh to Perth and Stirling by 1767. The use of mail coaches, which also catered for passengers, only began in Scotland in 1786 with the London-Edinburgh mail coach which travelled via the Great North Road. Edinburgh-Portpatrick followed in 1790 and Edinburgh-Aberdeen in 1798. However the heyday of the mail coach was short-lived. It was superceded by the railway in most parts of Scotland by the mid-19th century.|
|Reference Sources||Cunningham, R.R. Portpatrick through the ages. (1974)
Gordon, Anne. To move with the times: the story of transport and travel in Scotland (1988)|
|Title||Edinburgh Calotype Club Album, Volume 1|
|Date of Publication||c. 1848|
|Notes||By an extraordinary sequence of events, the Library, in partnership with Edinburgh City Council, purchased the 'lost' Edinburgh Calotype Album at auction on 12 December 2001. The sister album (volume 2) was acquired by Edinburgh Central Library in 1952. Having the output of the club, acknowledged as the first photographic society in the world, reunited in Edinburgh is a remarkable coup. The Edinburgh Calotype Club was formed in the early 1840s after a group of Edinburgh gentlemen, mostly advocates, doctors and academics, were introduced to the process by Sir David Brewster (1781-1868). The photographs in the album are a mixture of portraits, landscapes, buildings and sculptures, most of them showing locations in Scotland such as Edinburgh, Newhaven, St Andrews, Fairlie and Inverness. These invaluable images enable the researcher to discover a wealth of information about Scotland and its people in the mid-19th Century. As part of the project, both albums have been digitised and mounted on a specially designed website www.nls.uk/pencilsoflight to enable the widest possible access to this resource.
The project received financial support from:
The Heritage Lottery Fund
The National Art Collections Fund
The Gordon Fraser Charitable Trust
Edinburgh City Council
|Title||Edinburgh sold by Arch. Gilchrist & Co. at their warehouse behind the city-guard ....|
|Imprint||[Edinburgh ; Archibald Gilchrist]|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||This 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.|
|Title||Edinburgh the twenty day of May|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: by John Moncur|
|Date of Publication||1726|
|Notes||This broadside announces the annual Edinburgh archery competition, founded in 1709, for which the prize was a silver arrow. The contest was to take place at Leith Links, in July 1726. Only members of the Royal Company of Archers, a patriotic society with strong Jacobite leanings, were eligible to take part. The winner was to keep the silver arrow for a year, and have his badge fixed to it with the badges of previous winners. When he returned the arrow at the end of that year, he was to receive five pounds. It seems that John Earl of Wigtown was the winner in 1726.
The woodcut headpiece shows the arms and motto of the City of Edinburgh, with the doe and maiden supporters (but not the coronet and anchor). Together with the large historiated initial, this adds to the attraction of a most interesting single-sheet item. Only one other copy of this broadside has been traced.|
|Reference Sources||ESTC T32423
Old Leith at leisure, James Scott Marshall (1976) HP1.77.865
Sports and pastimes of Cotland, Fittis (1975). H2.88.473|
|Title||Edinburgh weekly miscellany.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: J. Elder [J. Colston]|
|Date of Publication||1831-1832|
|Notes||This is the second recorded copy of the complete run (14 issues) of a short-lived Edinburgh newspaper, the other complete run being in the Mitchell Library, Glasgow. The editorial to the first issue reveals that this will be a literary newspaper/periodical with a difference: 'As it is a well known fact, that many possessed of genius, and strong mental power, have, from diffidence, want of opportunity, and a thousand other obvious reasons, confined their efforts to their own solitary perusal, or, at most, to the limited circle of their private friends. To give such an opportunity of placing their productions before the public eye, a column will always be reserved in the Weekly Miscellany'. Despite these fine sentiments, the paper also relied on snippets of works taken from established authors, such as John Galt, Francis Jeffrey and Washington Irving. The "Waterloo directory of Scottish newspapers and periodicals" also notes that the paper continually stresses the evils of intemperance. Issued on a weekly basis, the 8-page long "Weekly Miscellany" appears initially to have been a success. By the time of the fifth number in December 1831 the editor refers to the 'unprecedented demand' for the publication; moreover, the list of agents selling it in Edinburgh grows considerably over the first few issues, with agents appearing in other places in central Scotland by the time issue 7 is printed. By issue 13 the publication date has shifted from Wednesday to Saturday as a result of a delay in producing a masthead (an engraving of the goddess Minerva) for the Miscellany. However, the next issue proved to be the last one, with the editor revealing that some of the agents had been less than forthcoming in paying him for the copies they had sold, leaving him unable to continue to producing the paper. At the end of this final issue is a note by the editor, asking for any unwanted copies of issues one and two, in order to make up complete sets, which were bound up with a general title page and index. This particular copy is a complete set, with a general title page which reveals that the Miscellany was 'conducted by R.C.H.'. The identity of R.C.H., who was presumably the editor and founder of the paper, is not known. The NLS copy has an inscription on the general title page: Janet Howison Craufurd Craufurdland 1833. Craufurdland castle in Ayrshire is the family seat of Howison (Houison) Craufurd family, (Winifred) Janet was a daughter of the then laird William Howison Craufurd. There is a further note in pencil on the title page stating that someone recovered this book from becoming snuff paper.|
|Reference Sources||Waterloo directory of Scottish newspapers and periodicals, 1800-1900 (ed. J.S. North), Waterloo, Ont., 1989, no. 2296|
|Author||Richard of St Victor|
|Title||Egregii patris et clari theologi Ricardi ... de superdivina trinitate theologicu[m] opus. |
|Date of Publication||1510|
|Notes||This is an early Estienne imprint and the first edition of a treatise on the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, which defines God as three divine persons or hypostases: the Father, the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit. It is not included in Richard's "Opera omnia" published four years earlier. The work was edited by Jacques Lefèvre d'Etaples (Jacobus Faber Stapulensis, ca. 1460-1536) who also wrote the commentary. The Augustinian theologian Richard of St Victor (d. 1173?) became prior of the abbey of St Victor at Paris and is supposed to have composed this doctrine after his appointment at St Victor in 1162. Richard was thought from the 16th century onwards to have been a Scot, but there is no concrete evidence to prove this assumption. However, the printing of book is probably an example of how Hector Boece and other 16th-century Scottish scholars sought to promote all things Scottish on the Continent through the agency of the leading Parisian printers of the day. In the same year Estienne printed John Mair/Major's "In Primum Sententiarum" and its sequel "In Secundum Sententiarum" for Josse Bade d'Asch. Estienne would almost certainly have thought he was printing a Scottish author. The text is notable for its six woodcut diagrams variously illustrating the composition of the Trinity.
|Reference Sources||Booksellers' notes; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography|