Important acquisitions

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Rare Book Collections works to build up the national collections through purchases (through dealers or at auction) and donations. This directory gives details of 840 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 31 to 45 of 840:

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AuthorAndrew Aird
TitleAutobiography.
ImprintGlasgow: [A. Aird]
Date of Publication1899
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a privately printed autobiography of the Glasgow master printer Andrew Aird (1819-1899), printed in the year of his death and presumably for distribution to family and friends. In the brief "Autobiography" Aird gives information on his humble origins, on his beginnings in the fields of printing and literary production, with sections on his times as apprentice and as journeyman, and he writes on the books he authored, such as "Letterpress printing in Glasgow during the last fifty years", and "Reminiscences of editors, reporters, and printers, during the last sixty years". He also discusses his much longer work "Glimpses of Old Glasgow". Several of his religious works are also detailed.
ShelfmarkAP.1.216.31
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on13/05/16
AuthorAnon.
TitleThe moving market or cries of London.
ImprintEdinburgh: G. Ross
Date of Publication1815
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an unrecorded Scottish printing a popular London chapbook/children's book "Cries of various city tradespeople". It features 25 woodcut illustrations of various kinds of street vendors with the cries they made when selling their wares. This printing is for Ross's juvenile library", the work was also printed in Glasgow by James Lumsden.
ShelfmarkAP.1.216.28
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on13/05/16
AuthorArthur Sinclair
TitleHow I lost my wattie, or, Life in Ceylon: and the coffee-planting experience of an auld Scotchman.
ImprintColombo: A. M. & J. Ferguson
Date of Publication1878
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a rare example of printing in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) written in Scots by an "auld Scotchman", namely Arthur Sinclair (b. 1832. No other copies have been traced in the UK. Arthur Sinclair appears to have a had long and varied career working on tea and coffee plantations in Ceylon, the West Indies and South America, as well researching botany for commercial purposes. The "Melbourne Argus" newspaper for 28 March 1893 records Sinclair "paying a flying visit to Australasia in order to prime himself on the spot with the latest information as to the suitability of coloured labour for plantation work in a tropical climate." Sinclair spoke in Melbourne of his attempt to establish a colony in a remote area of Peru in 1891. In another work published in Colombo in 1900 "Planter and visiting agent in Ceylon", he reveals that he came from humble origins in Aberdeenshire with his parents being descended "from an old Jacobite stock," and that he was a prodigious reader from an early age. Sinclair is probably best known for his work "In tropical lands: recent travels to the sources of the Amazon, the West Indian Islands, and Ceylon" (Aberdeen, 1895). The author Iain Sinclair, in his 2002 work "London Orbital", revealed that Arthur Sinclair was his great-grandfather.
ShelfmarkAP.1.216.29
Acquired on13/05/16
AuthorWilliam Keith
TitleCase of lodgment, for four months of the breeching of a fowling-piece in the face.
ImprintAberdeen: Printed by G. Cornwall & Sons
Date of Publication1858
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a case study of James Scott, a 19-year-old draper's apprentice, whose gun exploded while he was shooting, resulting in a large piece of metal from the gun penetrating his face, destroying his left eyeball and smashing his nasal bones. After some very basic medical treatment, he consulted the author of this study, William Keith (1802 or 1803-1871), senior surgeon at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, who was able to extract the metal from Scott's skull and repair much of the damage to his face, including fitting an artificial eyeball. Keith first published his case study as an article in the "Medical Times & Gazette" for October 1858, but then republished it as a pamphlet, this time with two albumen print photographs of the unfortunate Scott, one taken before the operation and the other after, to show the efficacy of his surgical work.
ShelfmarkAP.1.216.34
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on22/04/16
AuthorClaude-Francois-Xavier Mercier de Compiegne
TitleHistoire de Marie Stuart, reine de France et d'Ecosse. Nouvelle edition.
ImprintParis: Mercier
Date of Publication1795
LanguageFrench
NotesA rare edition of a French biography of Mary Queen of Scots, the author Mercier de Compiegne (1763-1800) originally published the work in 1793 with the longer and somewhat racier title "La vie, les amours, le proces, et la mort de Marie Stuart, reine de France et d'Ecosse". This later edition was divided into two parts and with two plates depicting scenes from Mary's life rather the portrait of her in the earlier edition. The source material of this work appears to have been Nicolas Caussin's (1583-1651) work "La cour saincte" although there may have been other sources used as well.
ShelfmarkAB.1.216.24
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on22/04/16
AuthorJames Connolly
TitleErin's hope. The end and the means.
ImprintRutherglen: P. Walsh
Date of Publication[1900?]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis was the first separate publication of the Irish socialist and revolutionary James Connolly (1868-1916), who was born and brought up in Edinburgh. "Erin's hope" was first published in 1896 in Dublin by the Irish Socialist Republican party, which Connolly had founded that year after moving to Ireland. The pamphlet was Connolly's first major attempt to express in print his views on the Irish question and the future of socialism. The work was republished in serial form in the "Worker's Republic", and the text reprinted several times in the USA. This cheap (2d.) Scottish printing was done by Patrick Walsh, who was working in Rutherglen, a town in South Lanarkshire, in the 1890s and early 1900s and who appears to have specialised in selling and publishing cheap reprints of pro-socialist, Irish texts. A surviving letter of his of 1911 to the famous naturalist Alfred Russell Wallace, asks permission to reprint Wallace's work "Land nationalisation" for its account of the Highland clearances and Irish land evictions. Walsh reveals that he has been selling socialist literature for the last 18 years.
ShelfmarkAP.2.216.20
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on22/04/16
AuthorJohn Shier
TitlePreliminary report, or Outline of the principal duties of the agricultural chemist to the colony of British Guiana.
ImprintDemerara: Royal Gazette Office
Date of Publication1847
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a rare British Guiana printing of a report by the Scottish agricultural chemist John Shier (1807-1854), who was the first Fordyce lecturer on agriculture at Aberdeen University (1840-45). Shier had recently emigrated to the British colony of Guiana where he was employed as Consulting Agricultural Chemist, tasked with improving agriculture, in particular cultivation of sugar cane. This copy is a presentation copy from the author to the Royal Agricultural Society of England.
ShelfmarkAP.2.216.04
Acquired on18/03/16
Author'Florio'
TitleThe tale of Edward & Anna, a fragment.
ImprintEdinburgh :Printed by William Blair
Date of Publication1816
LanguageEnglish
NotesAn unrecorded Regency novella in its original printed boards. The work by the pseudonymous "Florio" begins with an introduction stating that that manuscript was rescued from a pair of schoolgirls, the elder of the two being in the process of cutting up the paper for "patterns and ringlets". The work itself was subject to harsh criticism in "The Monthly Review" LXXXIII (1817), the reviewer noting that "a turgid and disjointed style marks the composition of this tale, and some Scoticisms and inaccuracies are perceivable ... but the latter part of the story is pathetic ['pathetic' here presumably in the sense of arousing pity]."
ShelfmarkAB.1.216.15
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on18/03/16
Author[Nicholas Breton]
TitleCrossing of proverbs, or A book divided into two parts.
ImprintEdinburgh: Re-printed by A.S.
Date of Publication1710
LanguageEnglish
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.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2921
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on18/03/16
AuthorWalter Scott
TitleCarle, now the King's come: a song: on His Majesty's visit to Scotland.
ImprintLondon : Hebert
Date of Publication1822
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an unrecorded London edition of a song Walter Scott wrote to commemorate King George IV's visit to Edinburgh in August 1822, the first visit of a reigning monarch to Scotland in nearly two centuries. Scott was in charge of the organising of the festivities surrounding the visit, "Carle, now the King's come" was inspired by the 17th-century song "Carle an the King come" which expressed loyalists' longing for the restoration of the monarchy during the period of the Commonwealth. Scott's song was set to music and published in 1822. It also inspired an anti-monarchy version "Sawney now the King's come" by Alexander Rodger of Paisley. Little is known of the publisher George Hebert and the BBTI does not record the printer, Cox, working at the address given in the colophon "Little Carter Lane, St. Paul's", which would indicate that this was an unauthorised version cashing in on Scott's popularity. This copy has the bookplate of the Ohio industrialist William G. Mather (1857-1951) and has been housed in a silk folder inside a morocco solander case, with gilt tooling, probably by Zaehnsdorf of London, who bound other works of Scott for Mather.
ShelfmarkRB.m.760
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on18/03/16
AuthorAgnes Bowie Shanks
TitleThe colonel's mistake
ImprintGlasgow: Nisbet
Date of Publication1883
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a privately-printed novella by Agnes Bowie Shanks (d. 1920), wife of the Rev. David Shanks (1828-1887), Minister of Craigrownie Church, near Helensburgh. Agnes would go on to have her diary of her trip to the Middle East with her husband printed in 1887 ("Diary of a trip to Egypt and Jerusalem, 1886"). This is one of only two recorded copies, this one being a presentation copy from the author to her son Alfred in 1888.
ShelfmarkAB.1.216.12
Acquired on19/02/16
AuthorNiel Douglas
TitleProbable consequences of a successful invasion; and the most effectual means of defeating it.
ImprintGreenock: W. Johnston
Date of Publication1803
LanguageEnglish
NotesIn 1803 and subsequent years, the Niel Douglas (1750-1823), Minister of the Relief Church in Greenock, poet and polemicist, issued several pamphlets or tracts expressing his displeasure over certain issues. The pamphlet "Probable consequences" was printed by William Johnston for the author, and resembles a sermon. The work is full of stark warnings addressed to the nation of the expected invasion of Napoleon. Douglas also uses the opportunity to mention the national sin of slavery, and advocates financial prudence, particularly in the article of gunpowder, which, he alleges, would go far to alleviate the burden of the national debt. He thus condemns the practice of discharging artillery on certain days, in saluting admirals and great men, which he thought might produce, in the course of a year, the amount of 3,000,000 at least, of the public revenue. No other UK copies of the pamphlet are recorded on COPAC.
ShelfmarkAP.2.216.08
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on05/02/16
AuthorAnon
TitleBiographical sketch of Mr. Morison, the hygeist.
Imprint[London]: G. Taylor
Date of Publication[1837?]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis 8-page pamphlet is about James Morison (1770-1840), pill manufacturer, originally Bognie, Aberdeenshire. Morison claimed to have suffered incessant poor health until his fifties, which doctors were unable to cure and which eventually led him to develop his "Universal Vegetable Pill" in the 1820s. He sold his pills through a network of agents and local retailers throughout Europe and the USA. After a series of sudden deaths attributed to his pills, Morison having advocated taking his pills in large doses, he moved to Paris in 1834. Despite this setback affecting sales of his pills he continued to market his product aggressively, this being one of a series of pamphlets he produced, which includes a portrait of the man himself.
ShelfmarkAP.1.216.21
Acquired on29/01/16
AuthorFabre, Jean Raymond Auguste
TitleLa Caledonie, ou, La guerre nationale.
ImprintParis: Didot
Date of Publication1823
LanguageFrench
NotesThis is an epic poem by French poet and journalist Jean-Raymond-Auguste Fabre (1792-1839), written, in 12 books, in the style of Homer and Virgil and with some Ossianic flavour. Fabre worked as editor of the periodical "La semaine" and "La tribune" in the 1820s and was an ardent republican who drew inspiration from peoples' struggles against monarchy and tyranny. "Caledonie" is loosely based on ancient legends and on the text of Roman author Tacitus' work "Agricola" which covers the conquest of Great Britain, including the invasion of the northern part of the island, later to become Scotland. The poem depicts brave Caledonian warriors, with suitably Ossianic names, Olgar, Olnir, Fergus etc. fighting against the Roman invaders. Fabre also wrote a poem in a similar vein based on contemporary events, namely the siege of Missolonghi in 1825-26, during the Greek war of independence from the Ottoman empire. This copy is bound in contemporary polished calf in gilt and blind by the firm of Bradel of Paris with their label, and has the gilt initials 'P.B.' on the covers. It was subsequently owned by two famous book collectors who added their book labels to the front pastedown. The first of these is Mortimer Loeb Schiff's red morocco gilt book label. Schiff (1877?1931), sometimes known as Mortimer Leo Schiff, was an American banker who assembled an important collection of decorative bindings, illustrated books and signed bindings. The book was sold at auction by Sotheby's on 5 July 1938 (lot 784) and purchased by the English bibliophile Major J.R. Abbey. He in turn added his own green morocco gilt book label. The book was sold again by Sotheby's in 1967 (June 20th, lot 1846).
ShelfmarkBdg.s.964
Reference SourcesSeymour de Ricci, British and miscellaneous signed bindings in the Mortimer L. Schiff collection, New York, 1935, vol. II, 152
Acquired on29/01/16
AuthorAgnes Bowie Shanks
TitleDiary of a trip to Egypt and Jerusalem, 1886.
ImprintGreenock: W. Hutchison
Date of Publication1887
LanguageEnglish
NotesUnrecorded private printing of the diary of Agnes Bowie Shanks (d. 1920), wife of the Rev. David Shanks (1828-1887), Minister of Craigrownie Church, near Helensburgh. Rev. Shanks undertook the trip to the Middle East to restore his failing health but died in 1887, the year after the trip. Accompanying the work are two letters, one from the Rev. James A. C. Murray, dated 14/06/1916, to Agnes Shanks, thanking her for lending him the volume, the other is a modern note concerning the loan of the book. The signature of the author is at the head of the title page and also the front wrapper.
ShelfmarkAP.2.216.07
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on22/01/16
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