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 755 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 301 to 315 of 755:
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|Title||A geographical history of Nova Scotia|
|Imprint||London: Paul Vaillant|
|Date of Publication||1749|
|Notes||This is one of the earliest printed accounts of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, which describes the rival claims of the French and British to the region. Writing for prospective settlers, the anonymous author in the preface says he has drawn on his own observations and those of the French Jesuit priest turned historian Pierre Charlevoix when writing his book. He stresses the importance of Nova Scotia to British trade and the security of the other British North American settlements in view of increasing tensions with French settlers (which eventually led to war). The book also includes descriptions of the Indians living in the area and their relations with the European settlers.|
|Reference Sources||Bookseller's catalogue|
|Title||L'Histoire et vie de Marie Stuart, Royne d'Ecosse, d'Oiriere de France, heritiere d'Angleterre & d'Ibernye ...|
|Imprint||Paris : Chez Guillaume Iulien|
|Date of Publication||1589|
|Notes||Robert Turner, an exiled Scottish Catholic and Professor of Divinity at Ingolstadt, produced the first edition of Mary Queen of Scots life and death in 1588, in Latin. This is the exceptionally rare first French edition of the work. Turner tried to portray Mary as a victim of Queen Elizabeth and a martyr to the Catholic faith. He also wished specifically to refute George Buchanan's attacks on the Scottish queen.
Turner was educated at Oxford and Douai, where he was ordained and became Professor of Rhetoric. He also taught at the German College in Rome before being appointed rector at the University of Ingolstadt. The National Library holds two copies of the Latin edition, but no other copies of the French have been traced worldwide.
|Title||Dancing taught without a master. The ball-room companion containing all the fashionable dances of the day.|
|Imprint||Aberdeen : J. Daniel and Son and all booksellers|
|Date of Publication||1879|
|Notes||This little pocket manual contains instructions for over 18 of the most commonly performed dances at balls or assemblies in the late 19th century. It was intended as a reminder for people who had taken dancing lessons, rather than for those new to dancing. No pages in this copy have been opened. However, the contents of the entire work can be read as a single sheet which measures 28 cm. x 45 cm when unfolded. |
|Title||A comical dialogue between Sawney and Bonaparte.|
|Imprint||Newcastle: D. Bass|
|Date of Publication||[1803-1805?]|
|Notes||A spoof conversation between a Scotsman and Napoleon Bonaparte in which Bonaparte threatens to invade Scotland and bring 'liberty' with him. It is a patriotic dialogue in which the 'Sawney' tells Napoleon that he is not wanted and will be resisted by the Highland Watch. The exchange ends with Sawney saying 'There's no a man in a' Scotland but would fight to the last drap o' his blood for the Land o' Cakes' and daring Napoleon to come. Sawney was an English nickname for a Scotsman, now no longer used. The Library also holds a chapbook along similar lines 'Sawney & Bonaparte a dialogue' printed in Stirling in 1807.|
|Title||Journal of a second expedition into the interior of Africa|
|Imprint||Philadelphia: Carey, Lea & Carey|
|Date of Publication||1829|
|Notes||This is the first American edition of the Scottish explorer's posthumously published account of his second African expedition. Clapperton had participated in an earlier expedition with Dixon Denham and Walter Oudney into Central and Western Africa to find the source and map the course of the Niger River. Denham had published an account of that expedition in 1826 in which he had claimed all the glory. In the meantime Clapperton had returned to Africa and on this second trek he was the expedition leader. In this attempt, which was again unsuccessful, he accomplished an immense amount of travel, and here are his travels to Bussa (where he learned the details of Mungo Park's death), Kanto, Katunga, and finally Sokoto, where he died of malaria and dysentery. It was his servant Richard Lander who finally accomplished the expedition's goals on a separate expedition, as detailed in Lander's additions to the basic narrative. The Journal's appendix contains such diverse information as short word lists of the Yoruba and Fellatah languages, meteorological tables, and a list of Clapperton's Arabic manuscripts. The engraved plan shows the course of the Kowara or Quarra River.
|Title||[Advertisement for John Hogan, Spectacle Maker, Edinburgh] That whereas John Hogan, removed from the Lucken-Booths to the Lower End of the Canongate, at the Sign of the Spectacles...|
|Date of Publication||ca.1740-1750?|
|Notes||Previously unrecorded in ESTC, this 18th-century advertisement publicizes the removal of one John Hogan from the Luckenbooths (the famous row of shops at St Giles on Edinburgh's Royal Mile, destroyed in the 19th century) to the 'lower end of the Canongate'. The Mr Robertson to whose premises Hogan removes must surely be the William Robertson whose house was 'near St John's Cross, Canongate', and who around the same time as this broadside was published was developing a 'catadioptric microscope', a 'dioptrick telescope', and an 'artificial eye, explaining the nature of vision' among other inventions. Hogan's advertisement here is for the work of a more ordinary optician: 'who makes and sells the best Christal Spectacles ... by the Use of which, those People who have weak Eyes, may be made capable to read or work as long as those who have stronger'. He also advertises reading glasses, 'Christals for Pictures', 'all Sorts of Glasses to preserve the Eyes when rideing [sic]' and 'all Sorts of Shagreen Cases, of any Fashion or Form; as reasonable as in any Part of Great Britain.' This single sheet, illustrated with a woodcut of a pair of spectacles, might have been posted up around town, or sent to customers: such ephemera rarely survives. |
|Reference Sources||ESTC; William Robertson: A description of the figure, construction and use of a new catadioptric microscope, invented by William Robertson (Edinburgh, ca. 1750).|
|Title||Notes upon, and illustrations of, the treatise intitled the Life of God in the soul of man. To which is prefixed a preface taking off the material objections lately published against that little Book, to which are subjoined, a poem upon prayer, with a short account of Dr. Scougal's life, &c. By a young gentleman.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: W. Cheyne|
|Date of Publication||1744|
|Notes||This rare book offers an insight into contemporary responses to one of the most popular Scottish devotional works. Henry Scougal (1650-1678) was a Church of Scotland minister in Aberdeenshire and professor of divinity at King's College, Aberdeen. He first published The Life of God in the Soul of Man, originally a manual for his private devotion, in 1677. It was reprinted many times into the 19th century, with enthuasiastic admirers as diverse as Gilbert Burnet, John Wesley, and Benjamin Franklin. This work shows the effect Scougal's book had on one reader described as a 'young gentleman' on the title page. The publisher's address to the reader refers to 'the author's distance from the press' (perhaps like Scougal he was based in Aberdeenshire) and his 'youthful modesty' which led to the anonymous publication. It also mentions that this 'impression' amounts 'only to a very small number, and upon a fine paper, neatly bound, for the reader's pocket', which must explain the scarcity of the book today. The author's preface, where he says that like Scougal he was a young man training for the ministry, explains that he was provoked to write by criticisms of Scougal's book: the first that Scougal's description of Christ as 'he never knew the nuptial bed' was indecent, and the second that he was accused by 'a sect pretty well known' of being Arminian and Socinian. A search of ESTC and ECCO does not uncover any details of these controversies, which would have remained unknown were it not for the 'young gentleman's' defence. His book itself contains several different responses to Scougal: a commentary on The Life of God; a poem 'On Prayer', a 'Life and Character' of Scougal, including a Latin text translated into English, and a poem in praise of Scougal. The author was clearly as much an admirer of Scougal the person as Scougal the theologian, perhaps identifying the young clergyman as a role model, and the mixture of prose and poetry in the volume show him inspired intellectually and emotionally by Scougal's life and work.
Only one other copy of this book is listed in ESTC, at the British Library, with a different collation. Though the edges of the first few leaves are damaged, the book preserves its original wrappers. It comes from the library of the 20th-century book collector Bent Juel-Jensen.|
|Reference Sources||Bookseller's catalogue; Oxford DNB entry for Henry Scougal|
|Author||Scott, Sir Walter|
|Title||Halidon Hill. En dramatisk Skildring ven Sir Walter Scott, Baronet. Oversat af K. L. Rahbek|
|Imprint||Copenhagen: Forlagt af C.A. Reitzel|
|Date of Publication||1822|
|Notes||This is the first Danish translation of Scott's 'dramatic sketch' Halidon Hill, by the celebrated Danish man of letters Knud Lyne Rahbek (1760-1830). It is a rare item: no other copies are listed in COPAC or OCLC. Rahbek had published the first Danish translations from Scott in 1817, three years after the war between Britain and Denmark was concluded; this translation appeared in the same year that Halidon Hill was first published in Britain. Rahbek presented a copy of this work to Scott, which is listed in the Abbotsford Library Catalogue. Earlier the same year, he had presented a copy of a collection of Danish ballads to Scott, who replied (probably out of politeness) that he really should learn such an interesting language. In his periodical Tilsueren, Rahbek writes of this correspondence and says that he will send this translation of Halidon Hill to Scott 'as a primer of Danish'. One doubts whether Scott did indeed take advantage of this gift to improve his Danish. This copy is in the original publisher's wrapper, with an inscription in Danish on the front cover. Surviving correspondence between Rahbek and Scott can be viewed in NLS MS.3894, ff. 197-98 (Rahbek's letter to Scott) and NLS MS.85 (photostat of Scott's reply, presented by the Royal Library of Denmark which holds the original). |
|Reference Sources||Bookseller's catalogue; Millgate Union Catalogue of Walter Scott Correspondence; The Reception of Sir Walter Scott in Europe, ed. Murray Pittock (London, 2006); Letters of Sir Walter Scott, ed. H. Grierson, vol. 7.|
|Title||The new poetical works of John Gerrond, the Galloway poet.|
|Imprint||Dumfries: Printed for the author|
|Date of Publication||1818|
|Notes||John Gerrond was born near Gateside in Galloway in 1765. In 1776 his family moved to what is now Castle Douglas. He eventually trained as a blacksmith under his father and in 1783 he opened a smithy at Clarebrand, Galloway. He spent some time travelling through the United States and after returning from America, he set up as a grocer and spirit merchant in Castle Douglas, displaying the sign, 'John Gerrond, from Boston.'
In 1802, he published the first edition of his poems entitled: 'Poems on Several Occasions'. A second edition was issued in 1808; and a third, for which he obtained fourteen hundred subscribers, was printed in 1811. This 1818 edition is extremely rare with the only other extant copy being held in the collection of the Broughton House Library in Kirkcudbright.
John Mactaggart (1791-1830), author of 'The Scottish Gallovidian Encyclopedia' did not hold John Gerrond in high regard. He states that Gerrond "published at various times stuff he termed poems; shameless trash ..." However, he goes on to state that "if he had had ten times more industry than what he has, he would have wrote some tolerable verses, as his madness is ratherly that of a poet's."
|Title||The Tam O Shanter|
|Imprint||'Somewhere in France [Belgium, Holland, Germany]|
|Date of Publication||1944-45|
|Notes||This is a group of 25 issues of a World War II trench newspaper written for Scottish soldiers. It was printed in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany and thus reflects the movement of Scottish troops in Western Europe towards the end of the war. They were each printed on one large 32 x 20 cm. sheet of paper. They were not type-set, but were crudely prepared on a typewriter and many of the copies also incorporate hand-drawn maps and other illustrations. The issues appear to have been folded down and carried by a soldier or soldiers for some length of time as there is dirt, tears, nicks, creases on many of them and all have horizontal and vertical fold lines.
The Tam o'Shanter was the Divisional Newsletter of the 15th Scottish Division, a Territorial Division which had been disbanded at the end of WW1 and was revived in 1939.
Tam o'Shanter was begun sometime in 1943. Newsletters were very much part of Divisional life and most followed the format of the famous "Wipers Times" of WW1. The contents are varied: good first-hand reports of military engagements including much on Arnhem; encapsulated reports from Scottish newspapers; anecdotes from soldiers and also humorous pieces.
News was gleaned from local newspapers from where the battalions of the division recruited and was fed down from 21st Army Group of which the division was a part. There was a coordinating Press Office in St Andrew's House.
The group consists of the following numbers:
'No.10. Somewhere in France. Divisional News Edition. Monday 24 July 44.'
'No.33. Somewhere in Belgium. Scottish News Edition. Friday 15 September 44.'
'No.40. Somewhere in France. General News Edition. Thursday 31 August 44.'
'No.56. Somewhere in Belgium. General News Edition. Monday 18 September 44.'
'No.65. Somewhere in Holland. General News Edition. Wednesday 27 September 44.'
'No.66. Somewhere in Holland. General News Edition. Thursday 28 September 44.'
'No.71. Somewhere in Holland. Edn Branch Publication. Tuesday 3 October 44.'
'No.72. Somewhere in Holland. Edn Branch Publication. Wednesday 4 October 44.'
'No.73. Somewhere in Holland. Edn Branch Publication. Thursday 5 October 44.'
'No.86. Somewhere in Holland. Edn Branch Publication. Wednesday 18 October 44.'
'No.91. Somewhere in Holland. Edn Branch Publication. Monday 23 October 44.'
'No.92. Somewhere in Holland. Edn Branch Publication. Tuesday 24 October 44.'
'No.99. Somewhere in Holland. Edn Branch Publication. Tuesday 31 October 44.'
'No.106. Somewhere in Holland. Edn Branch Publication. Tuesday 7 November 44.'
'No.110. Somewhere in Holland. Edn Branch Publication. Saturday 11 November 44.'
'No.116. Somewhere in Holland. Edn Branch Publication. Friday 17 November 44.'
'No.117. Somewhere in Holland. Edn Branch Publication. Saturday 18 November 44.'
'No.118. Somewhere in Holland. Edn Branch Publication. Sunday 19 November 44.'
'No.120. Somewhere in Holland. Edn Branch Publication. Tuesday 21 November 44.'
'No.121. Somewhere in Holland. Edn Branch Publication. Wednesday 22 November 44.'
'No.129. Somewhere in Holland. Edn Branch Publication. Thursday 30 November 44.'
'No.130. Somewhere in Holland. Edn Branch Publication. Friday 1 December 44.'
'No.148. Somewhere in Holland. Edn Branch Publication. Tuesday 19 December 44.'
'No.212. Somewhere in Germany. Edn Branch Publication. wednesday 21 February 45.'
'No.213. Somewhere in Germany. Edn Branch Publication. Thursday 22 February 45.'
|Author||Denham, Dixon, Clapperton, Hugh & Oudney, Walter|
|Title||Beschreibung der Reisen und entdeckungen im Noerdlichen und Mittlern Africa|
|Imprint||Weimar: Im Verlage des Landes-Industrie-Comptoirs|
|Date of Publication||1827|
|Notes||First edition in German of a classic travel book "Narrative of the travels and discoveries in Northern and Central Africa in the years 1822, 1823 and 1824". The author, an Englishman, Dixon Denham, had set out on a mission for the Colonial Office with two Scots, Hugh Clapperton and Walter Oudney, to do what Mungo Park had failed to accomplish, namely to trace the course of the Niger River. Unlike Park, who travelled eastwards from the west coast of Africa, the three explorers set out from North Africa in 1822 and travelled southwards. They failed in their mission but did explore areas of Central Africa hitherto unknown to Europeans, including Lake Chad, and they were able to establish that the Niger did not flow into it. Relations between Denham and the two Scots quickly deteriorated during the expedition and they went their separate ways. Oudney died in Africa in 1824 and Denham and Clapperton eventually reunited to make it back to Tripoli in 1825. While Clapperton returned to Africa to resume exploring, Denham returned to Britain and wrote this account of their expedition, in which he made little mention of his travelling companions and claimed some of their achievements and discoveries for his own. This German edition includes 3 plates: a map of the area covered by the expedition, and representations of Central African tribesmen|
|Reference Sources||DNB; Fergus Fleming "Barrow's Boys"|
|Title||Complaint of the Black Knight (Celebration edition 2008)|
|Imprint||Dundee: Visual Research Centre (University of Dundee), Dundee City Arts Centre|
|Date of Publication||2008|
|Notes||This 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.|
|Author||Stuart, John Knox|
|Title||The chemical experimentalist; or, an attempt to allure by experiment. Third edition.|
|Date of Publication||1834-37|
|Notes||With the running title of "Stuart's Useful Information for the People", this book is an excellent example of early 19th-century attempts to popularise science for the masses. The author aims to guide the reader "towards the cultivation of the simple and sublime science - chemistry", using simple language and lots of diagrams. The book appears to have been issued in individual numbers which form seven parts. Of particular interest are the rather crudely produced illustrations, including an advertisement for the author's own popular medicines, as well as a cloth sample on p. 121. |
|Title||[69 execution broadsides]|
|Date of Publication||1754-c.1850|
|Notes||A collection of 69 broadsides dating from 1754 to around 1850, all but five of which are almost certainly printed in Scotland. Most are printed in Glasgow but there are some from Edinburgh, with others most likely printed in Stirling, Perth and Ayr. The content is almost exclusively 'gallows literature' - accounts of executions and 'last speeches and dying confessions'. Highlights include the 'Last Speech and Dying Words of Robert Campbell, alias Drummond, alias Macgregor, alias Rob Roy', son of Rob Roy McGregor (1754) and a supposed account of the murder of William Hare a mere three months after the execution of his accomplice William Burke (1829). Hare actually survived until 1859.
Of the 69, 59 are unique and a further 9 are known only as single copies. Surprisingly many of these executions are not recorded in Alex Young's Encyclopaedia of Scottish executions (1998), so this may be the only source we have for some of these cases. |
|Title||A catalogue of foreign and native forest-trees; also fruit trees, evergreens, flowering shrubs & sold by Robert Anderson, seedsman and nurseryman ... Edinburgh. AND
A catalogue of foreign and native forest-trees, flowering shrubs, evergreens, flowering shrubs and greenhouse plants & sold by Archibald Dickson and Sons, & at Hassendeanburn, near Hawick
|Imprint||Edinburgh : R. Fleming and A. Neill; [Hawick : s.n.]|
|Date of Publication||c.1785; c.1795|
|Notes||These slim volumes from the late 18th century are very rare examples of Scottish nurserymen's catalogues. Robert Anderson's catalogue is unrecorded whereas there are two other copies (both in the UK) of Archibald Dickson's catalogue. Robert Anderson, who later worked as Anderson, Leslie & Co., had a large nursery at Broughton Park in Edinburgh and specialised in fruit trees, especially pears. In 1798, the whole nursery stock was acquired by another Edinburgh concern, Dicksons and Shade. Unusually, the catalogue is priced. In the advertisement preceding his lengthy address on the merits of larch (introduced to Scotland in the 1720s), Anderson expresses his hope that the catalogue 'will be of great service in promoting the planting of this country, which is so much wanted at present.' The library holds another catalogue (with 44 pages) by Anderson, which may predate this one.
Archibald Dickson was one of the leading nurserymen in Scotland. Members of the family also ran tree nurseries in Perth, Edinburgh and Belfast. The first was founded in 1728 by Robert Dickson and by 1835 five generations of the family had been involved in the trade. The National Library of Scotland also holds day books and price books of the firm from the 18th and 19th centuries in the Manuscript Collections (MSS.29489-29490 and MS.3354).
|Shelfmark||RB.s.2701 ; RB.s.2702|
|Reference Sources||Desmond, Ray. Dictionary of British and Irish botanists and horticulturists including plant collectors, flower painters and garden designers. London, 1994.
Harvey, John. Early horticultural catalogues. Bath, 1973.|