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.

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Important Acquisitions 31 to 45 of 818:

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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[Walter Scott]
TitleBirthday chimes from Scott: selections from the poems and tales of Sir Walter Scott.
ImprintEdinburgh : W. P. Nimmo, Hay & Mitchell
Date of Publication1891
NotesThis is a birthday book, compiled by William T. Dobson, which provides a Scott quote for each day of the year with space to enter the birthdays of friends and family. The photographic illustration mounted on the binding is a trimmed reproduction of James Valentine's photograph of the Valley of Tay from Kinnoul, taken in 1882. Kinnoul Hill's Tower, visible in the left margin of the photograph, is a folly built on the cliff's summit in 1829 by Lord Gray of Kinfauns, whose home, Kinfauns Castle, is visible from the hill. Grey also built nearby Binn Tower and used both as observatories. The selection of this image for the cover could be related to the Gray family, as five of the six names entered in ink in this copy share the Gray surname. W. P. Nimmo, Hay & Mitchell produced a total of 22 "Birthday chimes" on various themes, as shown on the publisher's advertisement, including Bible words, Shakespeare and Keats. Purchasers of the series were able to customise bindings (cloth or leather) and finishing details, such as the gilt edges. Presumably this photographic addition was ordered alongside the cloth binding.
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on06/11/15
AuthorBenedict & Saunders Wylie
TitleFree kicks at football.
ImprintGlasgow: William Love
Date of Publication1882
NotesA very rare piece of early football ephemera, this 19-page pamphlet is separated into two different sections, written by two pseudonymous authors 'Benedict' and 'Saunders Wylie'. The whole volume is interspersed with satirical and humorous hand drawn cartoons by 'Jingo'. It consists of a series of humorous poems and pieces, reminiscent of political sketches popular at the time, relating to the rapidly developing sport of association football in Scotland. Only two other copies of this work are recorded, one in Glasgow and one in the USA.
Reference SourcesGlasgow Universitly Library Special Collections website http://special.lib.gla.ac.uk/exhibns/month/jan2004.html
Acquired on23/10/15
Author[Edward Simms]
TitleStanzas to the memory of Sir Walter Scott.
Imprint[Malvern? : s.n.]
Date of Publication[1839]
NotesA rare elegy to Scott, only one other copy recorded in the UK, which was apparently printed seven years after his death and circulated privately. This particular copy is a presentation copy, inscribed on the title leaf: "J.H. Markland Esqre. with the Author's best respects". Markland has identified the author as 'The Revd. Edwd. Simms ? Curate of Malvern' and dated it to August 1839. Simms was probably the author, as the poem is signed "E.S." at the end, and the recipient ought to have known who had given him the poem. James Heywood Markland (1788-1864) was a successful solicitor, a noted book collector and a very early member of the Roxburghe Club: he was also one of the committee established in 1832 to raise money for a commemoration to Scott. The Rev. Edward Simms was certainly living in Malvern at around this time: his name is on several subscription lists for scholarly theological works of about 1840. He is very likely the man who was born around 1803 and matriculated at Wadham College Oxford in 1822, and was later vicar of Escot, Devon, in 1870-77.
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on16/10/15
Author[William Sotheby]
TitleTo His Majesty's ship Barham, appointed by the King to convey Sir Walter Scott to Naples.
Imprint[London : s.n.]
Date of Publication1831
NotesThis single sheet poem of 42 lines is by 'W.S.', William Sotheby (1757-1833), a poet and translator. The poem is dated 18 November 1831 at the end, with the address of Fair Mead Lodge, Epping Forest, which had been Sotheby's home since the early 1790s. Sotheby had been in the army in his youth and had been stationed in Edinburgh in the 1770s, where he came to know Walter Scott, then only a boy. The two remained friends; Scott may not have greatly esteemed Sotheby's talents as a poet but he had a sincere respect for the elder man. By the summer of 1831 Scott had suffered three strokes and reluctantly agreed to go on a tour of the Mediterranean to improve his declining health. In the poem Sotheby addresses the man-of-war HMS Barham, which had been provided at the command of William IV to take Scott to Malta and Naples rather than have him undergo an arduous overland journey. The ship had set sail in October, and Sotheby anticipates its return with its precious cargo, hoping, in vain, that the famous author will return restored to full fitness. In fact, Scott had a fourth stroke on the return journey, which was overland, and by the time he reached London in June 1832 he was dying, surviving long enough to return to Scotland and to die in his beloved Abbotsford. Only one other copy of this printing is recorded, in the British Library.
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on16/10/15
Author[David Whyte]
Imprint[Inverness: D. Whyte]
Date of Publication1890?
NotesUnrecorded commercially-produced album by the Inverness photographer David Whyte, containing 9 mounted albumen prints of the Glenfinnan and Loch Shiel area before the construction of the famous railway viaduct.
Acquired on25/09/15
TitleThe business man's note-book for the year 1856.
ImprintEdinburgh: James Hogg
Date of Publication1855
NotesA proof copy of an elaborate forerunner of the 'Filofax', printed for the publisher James Hogg (1806-1888), the son of James Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd. It contains folding coloured maps and metal volvelle on the inside board which is a perpetual calendar. The proof copy was probably produced to attract orders and as a form of advertising. Hogg jnr. in his preface states that "the aim of this work is to produce in one volume at once a kalender [sic], diary, and commercial directory, specially adapted to the wants of business men." Only one copy of the final version for 1856 is recorded, in the 1874 Advocates Library catalogue, but that is now recorded as missing. This particular copy is described as 'incomplete' at the head of the title page, as it has blank space left for advertisements and two fewer maps than listed in the contents. Moreover, the concluding paragraph mentions that an additional 60 pages were planned as a continuation of the statistical notices of the governments of the world; as a fellow of the Statistical Society of London, this was no doubt a subject close to Hogg's heart. A notebook for 1857 was published but in 1858 Hogg closed his Edinburgh firm down and re-located to London and the "Business man's note-book" was not revived by him there.
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on25/09/15
AuthorJakob Spiegel
TitleLexicon iuris ciuilis, ex uarijs probatorum autorum commentarijs congestum.
ImprintLugduni [Lyon] : Apud Sebastianum Gryphium,
Date of Publication1541
NotesThis is work on civil law by the German humanist and scholar, Spiegel (b. 1483). Spiegel served Emperor Maximilian I as his secretary and was also a confidant of Charles V, being influential in imperial and papal politics in the 1510s. This is perhaps his most important work, first published at Strasbourg in 1538 and here revised by the author. There are no recorded editions of this Lyon printing in the UK. The book has been acquired as it bears on the title page the ownership inscription of Adam Bothwell (1529?-1593) bishop of Orkney. Bothwell, son of a prominent Edinburgh family with links to government, had perhaps studied abroad - possibly, like his father, at the University of Orleans - and had already taken holy orders by 1552 when he became a minister. His links with Orkney began in the mid-1550s, and he was appointed to his see when he was only thirty. He played a major role in Scottish politics, and was a member of the privy council to Mary Queen of Scots, officiating at her marriage to the fourth Earl of Bothwell (no relation) in May 1567, and later the same year he anointed the infant King James VI at his coronation. Bothwell was a keen book collector, his library has been described as "impressively large and wide-ranging" (ODNB). It was listed not long after his death (the inventory is reprinted in volume II of The Warrender Papers published by the Scottish History Society in 1931), but this book does not seem to be amongst those listed in 1593, and it may have left the library before that date. The Library already has four books owned by Bothwell in its collections and this book is an important addition to the Library's collection of books printed before the Reformation and owned by Scots. As well as Bothwell's signature, this copy also has the 19th-century bookplate of Robert Graham. This is probably Robert Graham (d. 1815), 12th laird of Fintry, whose son Colonel John Graham (1778-1821) was the founder of Grahamstown, in the Eastern Cape.
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography; Durkan and A. Ross, Early Scottish Libraries (1961), p. 29; D. Shaw, 'Adam Bothwell: a conserver of the Renaissance in Scotland' in I.B. Cowan and D. Shaw, "The Renaissance and Reformation in Scotland" (1983), pp. 141-169.
Acquired on04/09/15
AuthorNiel Douglas
TitleSlander retorted or L-r's thanks
ImprintGreenock: N. Douglas
Date of Publication1803
NotesAn early, unrecorded, example of Greenock printing. The work is a polemic by Niel Douglas (1750-1823), an outspoken poet and minister of the Relief church, defending himself against his critics, in particular Kenneth Bayne (d. 1821), minister of the Gaelic chapel in Greenock (Douglas himself was a fluent speaker of Gaelic). The work which was printed by and for Douglas ends with a poem "A whip for the bigot". It is not surprising that Douglas moved to Glasgow in 1805, having outstayed his welcome in Greenock.
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on28/08/15
AuthorJohn Newton
TitleLetters and Sermons
ImprintEdinburgh: Murray & Cochrane
Date of Publication1798
NotesThis is a 9-volume set, printed in Edinburgh, of the works of John Newton (1725-1807), a slave trader who became a Church of England clergyman. Newton left the slave trade in 1755, and, having already found religion, he became a leading figure in the evangelical wing of the CofE. He is best known now for his collection of 'Olney Hymns' written in collaboration with William Cowper, which included the famous hymn "Amazing Grace". In his latter years he became an important ally of William Wilberforce and the abolitionist movement. This particular set has a Scottish provenance, having belonged to the Harray and Sandwick Free Church library on Orkney.
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on31/07/15
TitleAddress by the principal native gentlemen and other inhabitants of Bombay to Sir Charles Forbes, Baronet, on the occasion of erecting a statue of him at Bombay.
ImprintLondon: James Madden
Date of Publication1840?
NotesSir Charles Forbes (1773-1849) was a Scottish politician who had worked in his youth in India in the family firm of Forbes & Co. in Bombay, ending up as head of the firm. On returning Britain he continued to take an interest in India as a member of Parliament. He sponsored charitable work in India, especially improving the Bengal water supply. A statue of him was placed in the town hall of Bombay in 1839, paid for by public subscription. This work commemorates his services to the commercial development of the country and the improvement in the living standards of the local people. Bound with the work is an unrecorded Gaelic pamphlet by Donald Macpherson, "Marb-Rann air Sir Tearlach Foirbeis Jar-Bharan" London, [1849] [An elegy on the death of Sir Charles Forbes, Baronet, paraphrased from the Gaelic, by the author].
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on26/06/15
AuthorJohn Wilson
TitleMusalmani din ka Raddi: or Refutation of Muhammadism, in Hindustani. 2nd edition.
ImprintBombay : [Bombay] Tract and Book Society
Date of Publication1840
NotesJohn Wilson (1804-1875), Scottish missionary and orientalist, studied linguistics, medicine and theology in Edinburgh in preparation for missionary life and mastered the Gujarati, Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Hindi, Persion, Arabic and Zend languages. In 1829, a year after graduating, he and his wife went to Bombay as missionaries. There they established a series of successful schools for both boys and girls, secured a printing press by an arrangement with the Bombay Tract and Book Society, and entered into public discussions with Hindu Brahmans, and with Muslims and Parsees. This controversialist work, lithographically printed in the Urdu language, was part of his attempts to convert local people to Christianity. It was first published in 1834 by the Bombay Tract and Book Society and an edition in Persian was also printed, presumably aimed at the Parsee community. Despite his proselytising mission Wilson was also indefatigable collector of oriental manuscripts who sought to preserve Indian historical monuments.
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on19/06/15
AuthorDaniel Ritchie ed.
TitleThe voice of our exiles or Stray leaves from a convict ship.
ImprintEdinburgh: John Menzies ; London W. S. Orr & Co.
Date of Publication1864
NotesThis work is based on a journal set up on board a convict ship the 'Peston Bomanjee' on a journey to Van Diemen's land (Tasmania) in 1852. The journal ran for 14 weekly issues between 25 April to 28 July and was edited by the Scottish naval surgeon Daniel Ritchie (1816-1865), who had been appointed surgeon superintendent to the 'Peston Bomajee' in that year. Ritchie was a strong believer in the rehabilitation of convicts through discipline and tutoring so that they could eventually become useful members of society, pointing out the financial and social benefits of educating convicts in the introduction to "Voice of our exiles". The long voyage to Van Diemen's Land gave him an opportunity to put his principles into practice by getting the convicts to contribute essays, poems and articles for his ad hoc journal. The articles covered a wide range of topic, including moral ones 'On sin', 'On Swearing' and 'Our gratitude to our Creator' as well as practical tips for surviving life 'down under' with some accounts of travel in Tasmania itself. Each issue was concluded with a weekly record by Ritchie which summarised the events of the previous week on board the ship. The journal no doubt helped to alleviate the tedium of the journey for the officers and 291 convicts on the ship and Ritchie felt its content was of sufficient interest to turn into a publication two years later, presumably to send to friends and fellow advocates of rehabilitation of convicts. This particular copy is a presentation copy from Ritchie to Sir Baldwin Wake Walker (1802-1876), a distinguished naval commander, who in 1854 was serving as Surveyor of the Navy. Ritchie would go on to serve in another convict ship before settling in Australia in 1857. He died in Edinburgh, while on a visit back to his native Scotland.
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on15/05/15
AuthorEdinburgh (Scotland) Town Council
TitleNotice. The Magistrates, in consequence of a complaint by the possessors of shops between the North Bridge and the Stamp Office Close ? hereby give notice ... Given at Edinburgh, this 4th day of March 1814 years.
Imprint[Edinburgh] : Alex Smellie
Date of Publication[1814]
NotesThis broadside outlines the regulations affecting street sellers and casual vendors in Edinburgh in response to complaints from shopkeepers in Edinburgh's Old Town. The shopkeepers on the High Street in the area between the North Bridge and the Stamp Office Close were concerned that the pavement in front of their shops was being obstructed by "the number of carts, creels, stands, &c. placed there without any authority". The Edinburgh magistrates therefore decreed that "from and after this date, no stands or creels will be allowed to be placed on the street ... No carts bringing in vegetables, or fish of any kind, will be permitted to remain there after eight o'clock in the morning ... Nor will those exposing gingerbread for sale be allowed to stand on that part of the pavement between the South Bridge and the head of Niddry Street". The broadside warns those flouting these regulations that they would have their goods seized by police officers. Despite this attempt to gentrify part of the High Street, street vendors would continue to be a major presence in Edinburgh's Old Town throughout the 19th century and early 20th century. Gingerbread was a popular street food, particularly at Halloween and during the winter months. William Tennant's mock-heroic poem "Anster fair", first published in 1812, which describes the annual fair held in Anstruther in Fife in 16th-century Scotland, mentions the "market-maids, and apron'd wives that bring their gingerbread in baskets to the fair".
Acquired on15/05/15
TitleItinerary of the Lord Chancellor Broggam and Broomstick.
ImprintEdinburgh: Andrew Shortrede
Date of Publication[1834?]
NotesThis is a spoof diary making fun of the prominent whig politician Lord Brougham 'Lord Chancellor Broggam' (1778-1868) and his five-week tour of Scotland in the summer of 1834 when he made speeches in Edinburgh, Inverness, Perth, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee. Written as a first-person account of Brougham's stay in his native Scotland, the anonymous author mocks the politics of the Scottish lawyer turned Westminster-fixer Brougham and his overbearing manner. A typical diary entry reads: "September 6. Met the lang-tongued clam'rous fouk o'Aberdeen-awa, and eat of their fine finnan haddocks. It was here that I displayed one of the completest specimens of my noted knack at eating my own words with unmoved impunity. I put out all my strength to convince the burghers of Aberdeen of my republican bias; because, it is well known, that the landholders of the county are amongst the most attached in Scotland to the monarchical form of government ...". Brougham's tour was part a campaign to preserve his political career and status as kingmaker within the whig party, but his efforts were to have the opposite effect, with his career as a politician effectively over by the end of 1834. "His behaviour throughout 1834 was in many ways bizarre. In the summer he went on a tour of Scotland, where he played to the gallery in a series of speeches which enhanced his popularity but offended his political peers (particularly when he upstaged [Earl] Grey and insulted [the Earl of] Durham at a dinner in Edinburgh) and outraged the king, who was not amused by reports of high jinks with the great seal, nor with the chancellor's portraying himself as the king's representative. Many began to comment that the often dishevelled-looking Brougham was not entirely of sound mind" (ODNB). This pamphlet is perhaps an offshoot of a newspaper campaign in the summer and autumn of that year, led by The Times and supported by King William IV's advisers, against Brougham. The campaign sought to discredit him and to imply that he was unfit for the office of Lord Chancellor by having chosen to leave London for five weeks.
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on15/05/15
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