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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Important Acquisitions 256 to 270 of 782:
Ordered by date acquired |
Order by author
| Order by title
|Imprint||Glasgow: David Bryce and Sons|
|Date of Publication||[1900?]|
|Notes||This is a miniature copy of the Bhagavad-Gita, printed in gold and produced by David Bryce of Glasgow, the pre-eminent 19th century Scottish maker of miniature books. Regular copies of this publication are extremely rare and this copy printed in gold type is most probably unique.
The provenance is significant in that it was originally part of David Bryce's personal collection. It was then owned by Bryce's grand-daughter and later acquired by Louis W. Bondy (1910-1993), the author of the classic one-volume reference source entitled: Miniature Books: their History from the Beginnings to the Present Day.
The book measures 3 x 4 cm. The text is printed upon the thinnest white tissue paper and it is bound in gold and purple grapevine patterned stiff paper. On the front board a curlicue-patterned paper is pasted on, at the center of which is the title. The same pattern is repeated on two separate pasted papers on the spine. The book is accompanied by a lidded silver box measuring 4.5 x 6.5 cm. The top lid is engraved with a pattern resembling a tartan which incorporates a shield device. Engraved in script in the center of the shield is Bryce's name, and "Jedburgh" below.
|Title||The mountain cottage.|
|Imprint||Pittsfield, Mass. : E.P. Little|
|Date of Publication||1844|
|Notes||This short work is a rare and virtually unknown American children's story about a Scottish immigrant, James Orwell, which perpetuates stereotypes of Scottish greed and melancholy. The anti-hero had been in the U.S. for over 50 years, losing his livelihood when his shop was burnt down during the revolutionary wars. He retreated from society to this mountain cottage and cut a forlorn and repulsive figure. There is a moral and uplifting aspect to the tale relating to Orwell's children. The daughter dies after a long illness while the son returns in the manner of the prodigal son.
The author, John Todd (1800-1873) was an American Congregationalist who wrote a number of books for children. Only three copies of this work are recorded, all in North America.
|Author||Alexander, James Edward, Sir.|
|Title||On the means of defending farm houses.|
|Imprint||Graham's Town [South Africa]: [s.n.],|
|Date of Publication||1835|
|Notes||This is a rare South African imprint which gives instructions for the defence of farms during the 6th Cape Frontier (or Xhosa) War. The author, James Alexander (1803-1885) was a Scottish army officer, who at the time was serving in South Africa as the as aide-de-camp to Sir Benjamin D' Urban, the then governor of the Cape Colony. Alexander played a key role in organising the defence of settlements such as Grahamstown and leading an exploring party into the heart of South Africa. The 6th Cape Frontier War was one of series of nine armed conflicts between white European settlers (Boers and British) and the native Xhosa peoples of the Eastern Cape area of South Africa, which lasted for around 100 years, from the late 18th to the late 19th century. The 6th war was triggered by the killing of Xhosa chief by a government commando party in 1834. An army of 10,000 Xhosa swept into the Cape Colony the following year, pillaging and burning the homesteads and killing all who resisted. Alexander's pamphlet gives practical instructions, complete with seven illustrations, for farmers on how to defend their property. The war ended with the signing of a peace treaty in 1836. Alexander went on to pursue a long and distinguished career in the army, serving in various parts of the British Empire.|
|Title||The ass reliev'd. a true tale. In which is contained some remarks and observations, on the office of a tide-waiter. |
|Imprint||Greenock: William Johnston,|
|Date of Publication||1812|
|Notes||This is an unrecorded Greenock chapbook by a local author, William Duncan. The verso of the title page notes that "The following tale is founded on fact, and happened in June, 1802, when the author was then but young in the service". 'The ass reliev'd' is in fact a mock-serious poem in Scots based on an incident involving an ass on board a ship during Duncan's time spent working as a tidesman or tide-waiter (a customs officer who goes on board a merchant ship to secure payment of the duties before a cargo can be unloaded). The second part of the poem 'Being remarks on the office of a tidewaiter' is a lament for the low pay and long hours involved in the job.|
|Author||Grant, John Peter [ed].|
|Title||Book of the Banff Golf Club bazaar.|
|Imprint||[Banff]: Banffshire Journal Office,|
|Date of Publication||1895|
|Notes||This is a rare item of late 19th-century 'golfiana'. It consists of poems, songs and short stories by memebers of the Club, as well as portraits of local worthies. The publication was produced to coincide with a bazaar to raise funds for a new clubhouse and improvements to the course. The Banff Golf Club was founded in 1871, the members playing on a course on Banff links, although golf had of course been played in the area for centuries. The Club continued until 1924 when it amalgamated with another Banff club, the Duff House Club to become the Duff House Royal Golf Club. This particular copy has the bookplate of noted golf book collector Joseph Bridger Hackler.|
|Author||Johnston, James F. W.|
|Title||Queries regarding the potato disease.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Laboratory of the Agricultural Chemistry Association,|
|Date of Publication||[1845?]|
|Notes||This is an interesting questionnaire sent out to Scottish farmers ('the most skilful local farmers') by the laboratory of the Agricultural and Chemistry Association regarding potato disease. The 26 questions on the sheet were intended to get an understanding of the extent of potato disease in Scotland. In 1844, a new form of potato blight was identified in America, an air-carried fungus 'Phytophthora Infestans'. It basically turned a potato into a mushy mess that was completely inedible. The American blight was first identified in France and the Isle of Wight in 1845. The summer of 1845 turned out to be mild but very wet in Britain and Ireland. It was almost the perfect weather conditions for the blight to spread, which it did in Ireland to a catastrophic effect. It also badly affected the Highlands of Scotland, another area where the potato had become the staple food, from 1846 to 1852.
|Author||Cunningham, James, Captain.|
|Title||Proposals for printing, by subscription, Tartuffe: or, The holy hypocrite detected and exposed.|
|Imprint||[Edinburgh?: s.n.], |
|Date of Publication||[1764?]|
|Notes||This is a single sheet item in the form of a spoof prospectus which is referred to in a 1764 legal action entitled: 'Memorial for Mr. David Blair, minister of the Gospel and Brechin, defender, against Captain James Cunningham, defender'. David Blair (1701-1769), minister at Brechin, believing that his second wife Ann was having an adulterous affair with Captain Cunningham of Balbougie, Fife, published a story that the child recently born to his wife was not his but was fathered by Cunningham. Blair had married his second wife in 1759, his first wife having died some years previously, and is recorded as having one child with her in 1762, a daughter who lived only for a few months. Cunningham denied the charges, but admitted to publishing several satirical publications on Blair of which this is most probably one. The reference to "Tartuffe" in the title recalls the famous 17th-century French comedy by Moliere, in which the main character is a scheming hypocrite, who ostensibly and exaggeratedly feigns virtue, especially religious virtue. |
|Title||The Edinburgh Almanack and Scots Register for 1807|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: David Ramsay & Son|
|Date of Publication||1807|
|Notes||This Edinburgh Almanack belonged to Fletcher Norton (1744-1820), second son of Fletcher Norton, first Baron Grantley, Speaker of the House of Commons. 'Fletcher Norton, Abbey Hill, Edinburgh' as he signs himself in this book, was appointed one of the Barons of the Scottish Exchequer in 1776 and set up residence in the Scottish capital. According to James Grant's book Old and New Edinburgh, Norton 'stood high in the estimation of all' as 'husband, father, friend, and master'. A founding member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Norton was a supporter of Scottish culture, playing a key role in ensuring the publication of Albyn's Anthology, an important collection of Scottish music. Norton gave his name to East and West Norton Place, Abbeyhill, the streets now located on the site of his old Edinburgh home.
This almanac, whose blank pages were used by Norton to keep a record of his expenditure, provide an interesting insight into the daily life of a member of Edinburgh's social and cultural elite in the early 19th century, recording the 18 shillings spent on tooth powder, and the £2.9.0 spent on a chaise to London, among other notes. Our perception of movement between England and Scotland during this period is largely one of Scots emigrating - this book bears witness to an Englishman who successfully moved to Scotland and integrated himself with its cultural life.|
|Reference Sources||Oxford DNB; James Grant, Old and New Edinburgh, vol.5 chapter 13 (http://www.oldandnewedinburgh.co.uk/volume5/page138/single)|
|Title||Rider's British Merlin for the year of Our Lord God 1804. |
|Imprint||London: Printed for the Company of Stationers|
|Date of Publication||1804|
|Notes||This almanac, in a splendid decorative binding, is perhaps most interesting for its annotations: there is no ownership inscription, but it would be possible to reconstruct much about the owner from the copious notes on blank pages throughout the text. There are accounts (five shillings for a yard of lace, nineteen for 'stuff for petticoats', sixpence for a 'poor woman', for instance), recipes, notes on sermons and devotional topics, and poetry - most clearly attributed to authors such as Cowper, but some perhaps original. From the accounts and recipes, it seems likely that this almanac had a female owner; from the other content, one with a particularly spiritual and poetical turn of mind.|
|Author||[Jones, Robert T.]|
|Title||A short love story: the people of St Andrews and Robert T. (Bobby) Jones Jr.|
|Imprint||[Atlanta, GA : Atlanta Athletic Club]|
|Date of Publication||[1973?]|
|Notes||This 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 Sources||Golf Digest Magazine|
|Author||Bell, James Stanislaus.|
|Title||Journal d' une residence en Circassie pendant les annees 1837, 1838, et 1839.|
|Imprint||Paris: Arthus Bertrand.|
|Date of Publication||1841|
|Notes||James Stanislaus Bell (1796-1858) was a Dundee-born trader who in the 1830s started trading in Circassia, a region of the North Caucasus on the north-eastern shore of the Black Sea. Circassia had long been a key strategic location for the ongoing power struggle between the Russian, Ottoman, British and French empires. Russia wanted to expand its territory along the Black Sea coastline, while Britain and France sought to reduce Russia's ability to take advantage of the declining Ottoman presence in the area in order to protect their own trading interests in the Middle and Far East. From the 1760s onwards the Russians and local tribes living in Circassia engaged in a series of battles and wars over the territory, which were only ended in 1864 when Circassian leaders finally swore loyalty to the Russian Czar. Bell was following in the footsteps of another Scot, the diplomat David Urquhart, who in 1834 was the first Briton to champion the Circassians' cause against the Russians.
Bell chartered a vessel, the "Vixen", to trade with directly with the local people and landed on the Caucasian coast in late 1836. He declared his cargo as salt, but the Russian authorities were convinced that he in fact was smuggling weapons and confiscated his ship. The Russians' suspicions may have been well-founded, given Bell's links with Urquhart and the British government's anti-Russian stance. Bell made his second trip to Circassia in 1837, accompanied by "The Times" journalist J.A. Longworth, ostensibly to negotiate reparations for the capture of his ship as the British government had publicly declined to get involved in his dispute with the Russians. He may also however have been reporting in secret to the British government on the political and military situation. He ended up staying in the region until 1839. During these years he took time to study the language, customs and traditions of the Circassians, even accompanying them on raids behind the Russian lines. Both Bell and Longworth wrote books based on their time in Circassia. Bell's work was originally published in English in 1840 as 'Journal of a residence in Circassia' and is regarded as the most comprehensive first-hand account of the Russo-Circassian wars in the latter part of the 1830s. This French translation by Louis Vivien appeared in the following year, as did a German translation. Vivien supplied an historical and geographical introduction for the French edition, which contains the same plates as used in the English edition. Bell later worked as a government agent in Central America, where his daughter married the Prussian adventurer and author Gustavus von Tempsky.
|Author||[Fettercairn Cricket Club]|
|Title||Rules of the Fettercairn Cricket Club 1865|
|Imprint||Montrose: [Fettercairn Cricket Club]|
|Date of Publication||1865|
|Notes||This 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.|
|Title||Leichte und ganz neue Art Pferde zu englisiren [sic] [+ 1 other work]|
|Imprint||Arnheim: Felix Grundlieb|
|Date of Publication||1770|
|Notes||This volume contains the second work by the 18th-century Scottish horse doctor, Dionysius Robertson, which the Library has acquired in recent years (the other being the first edition of his ground-breaking work "Pferde-Artzney-Kunst" AB.1.208.004). Nothing is known of his early life, but we do know that in 1735 he entered into the service of lieutenant-general Sir James Campbell of Lawers, Perthshire. In the 1740s he served with the British army on the Continent in the War of the Austrian Succession. Robertson stayed on the continent when the War ended in 1747. He later worked for Friedrich, Margrave of Bayreuth-Brandenburg, in Bayreuth and for Friedrich's son-in-law, Duke Carl Eugen of Wuerttemberg. In 1753, in response to what he regarded as the relative lack of written knowledge relating to breaking in horses and their medical treatment, he published in Stuttgart his work "Pferde-Artzney-Kunst". Robertson then went on to serve Friedrich Augustus II, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland. In 1757 he left the Elector and eventually settled in the Prussian city of Landsberg on the river Warthe (now Gorzow Wielkopolski in western Poland), where he practised his veterinary skills. He travelled widely in northern Europe during this period and became particularly renowned for his skill in castrating stallions and for introducing the practice of cauterisation to Germany. In this work of 1770 he describes how cosmetic surgery could be carried out on horses to improve their appearance. He outlines the process of 'Anglicising', i.e. docking, the tail of a horse by cutting and raising the tail of a horse while the animal is kept in its stall. By using a system of weights and pulleys the docked tail could be pulled upwards until it had a pleasing erect appearance. He Robertson then gives directions on how to carry out an operation to reduce the size of a horse's ears, as well as tips and recipes on curing common ailments which afflicted horses. The tail and ear operations are illustrated with folding engraved plates. Bound in with Robertson's work is another anonymous German work of 1774, "Von der lieflaendischen Pferdezucht und einigen bewaehrten Pferdecuren" on horse-breeding as practised in Liefland (i.e. Livonia - a Baltic state now incorporated into Estonia and Latvia) and on various cures for horse ailments.|
|Author||Dickson & Mann Ltd.|
|Title||[Trade catalogue advertising coal cleaning and sorting machinery etc.]|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Morrison & Gibb|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||This is an early illustrated trade catalogue, which includes photographic illustrations of products produced by the firm Dickson & Mann at their Bathville steel works in Armadale, West Lothian. Dickson & Mann introduced the steel industry to the area and became specialist manufacturers of surface conveying and coal-handling equipment to the coalmines in the Armadale area, as well as other parts of Britain. Conveniently situated near to the railway level crossing on the Bathville and Bathgate Road, the steel works was electrified in 1893 to keep pace with the demands of the coal industry. This fourth edition of the firm's catalogue also includes illustrations of the works itself. Founded in 1876, Dickson & Mann became an incorporated company in 1892 and continued in business until 1969; their business records are now housed in the National Archives of Scotland.|
|Title||A grammar of the Carnataca language|
|Imprint||Madras: College Press|
|Date of Publication||1820|
|Notes||This is the first published grammar of the Kannada language of India. The author was a member of the McKerrell family of Hillhouse in Ayrshire. He travelled to India in 1805 and later became master of the mint in Madras. In his preface he explains that he was initially employed in a "judicial situation" in the region of British Carnara (Karnataka - formerly known as the kingdom of Mysore) and was required to learn the Carnataca (Kannada) language of the local inhabitants. He proposed compiling a grammar as early as 1809, but ill health and demands of work delayed the publication of this book until 1820. A new grammar of the Kannada language, based on McKerrell's earlier work, was published in 1859 in Bangalore.|