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 753 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 email@example.com
Important Acquisitions 31 to 45 of 753:
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|Title||Queen's Arctic Theatre. H.M.S. Assistance ... Commander. G.H. Richards, of the Royal Arctic Navy ... has the honour to acquaint, the nobility, and gentry, of North Cornwall that he has ... engaged a highly select, and talented, corps dramatique, and has entirely rebuilt, and re-embellished, the Queens, Arctic Theatre, and that ... will be performed ... the inimitable comedy, of The Irish tutor …|
|Imprint||Northumberland Sound, 1852.|
|Date of Publication||1852|
|Notes||A rare and very attractive example of on-board silk printing from the Arctic. In an attempt to maintain crew morale during the long winter freeze, many of the naval expeditions searching for Rear Admiral Sir John Franklin, staged impromptu plays and music-hall type entertainments. Printed records of these amusements are extremely scarce particularly so when printed on the more demanding silk medium.|
|Title||Catalogue of books in quires, which will be offered to a select company of booksellers, at Hunter's Tavern, Edinburgh on Tuesday, October 21. 1794.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh, [William Creech],|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||An unrecorded catalogue of a book sale conducted by William Creech (1745-1815). The sale consisted of 348 lots arranged alphabetically by author or title, with each lot containing anything from a single copy for multi-volume works (e.g. Baronage of Scotland) to 50 copies (Ruddiman's Rudiments of the Latin tongue). All the books were offered unbound ('in quires'), a practice not unknown in the 18th century. The NLS also holds other catalogues of sales conducted by Creech 6.740(1) (1791) at Bdgs.89 (1793). The very large format of this catalogue is unusual and may account for its rarity.
Creech was known throughout his career for his disorganized finances; and this sale was perhaps intended as a method of reducing an overlarge inventory or improving cash flow. Successful bidders were offered extended payment terms, depending on the size of purchase. He was also known as being a sociable character - the sale was preceded by 'dinner on the table at three o'clock' with the sale beginning immediately afterwards.
William Creech was apprenticed to the Edinburgh booksellers Kincaid and Bell before learning more of the trade in London and on the continent. He established his own premises in the Luckenbooths in 1773 and remained in business there until his death in 1815. Creech was a member of the Town Council and served as Lord Provost from 1811-13.|
|Title||Catalogue of books belonging to the library of St. Andrew's Chapel, Aberdeen.|
|Imprint||Aberdeen: printed by George Cornwall|
|Date of Publication||1839|
|Notes||This pamphlet adds significantly to the Library's holdings of works providing information about the history of libraries and collecting in Scotland. St. Andrew's Chapel in Aberdeen was built in 1816 and opened in 1817 as a meeting-place for the Episcopalian congregation. It was raised to the dignity of a Cathedral church in 1914. The chapel library was apparently formed in 1831, and according to the preface in this work, several catalogues had already been issued before 1839. It would seem that the library was well-organised (at least on paper!): the preface discusses the collection development policy and notes that the holdings of serials are particularly strong. Detailed rules and regulations are given before the catalogue itself.
Naturally, the books are mainly theological, and particularly relate to the cause of the Episcopal Church. What is particularly notable is the number of early works, including several seventeenth-century Scottish books (Aldis items). There are also novels, biographies and collections of pamphlets. It would be interesting to know more about the ways in which this collection was formed (and, indeed, its eventual fate).|
|Title||Ode to hope|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Printed and sold by T. and J. Ruddiman|
|Date of Publication||1789|
|Notes||This is an anonymous and unrecorded poem printed in Edinburgh the early days of 1789. No copies have been traced anywhere nor is it mentioned in Jackson's 'Annals of English verse 1770-1835' or the 'English poetry full text database'. The only clue to the authorship is the dedication to Mr. Henry Erskine of Newhall possibly the one time Lord Advocate and Dean of the Faculty of Advocates who lived from 1746 to 1817. He also penned a few poems.
This rather gushing poem deals with the inspiring effects of hope amid scenes of poverty, starvation, death and despair. There seems also to be a political connotation with references to General Wolfe, 'Bourbon's legions', 'the plains of Cressy' and Britons being roused to arms.
It was printed by the brothers Thomas and John Ruddiman, part of the Edinburgh family involved in the book trade during the 18th century. Thomas (1755-1825) who became a partner in his father's printing business in 1772, was a biographer of the poet Robert Fergusson, who died in 1774. The Ruddimans published many of Fergusson's poems in 'The Weekly Magazine'. Incidentally one of Fergusson's poems published in 1773 was entitled 'Ode to hope' but it is shorter and differs in content to the 1789 item. John Ker Ruddiman became a partner with his brother Thomas in 1789, and died in Fisherrow, near Musselburgh in 1816. The brother seem to have neglected their business, which was wound up in 1798.|
|Title||Montrose illustrated in five views with plan of the town and several vignettes, to which are added a few explanatory remarks.|
|Date of Publication||1840|
|Notes||This is a pristine set of exemplars of early lithographic printing in Scotland, of which only one other copy is recorded in Britain. According to David Schenck, this volume appears to have been a prototype for a series of views drawn by James Gordon Jun. and published by J. & D. Nichol of Montrose under the general title 'City & towns of Scotland illustrated'. Views of Aberdeen, Perth, Glasgow and Dumfries were subsequently published.
Lithography did not begin in Scotland until 1820, over two decades after its discovery in Germany. However Edinburgh and Glasgow soon developed into significant centres of lithographic printing in a British context. The lithographer responsible for this work is William Nichol, who was based in Hanover Street, Edinburgh, probably related to the Montrose publishers of this work. He wrote the entry for 'Lithography' in the seventh edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica, published in 1841.|
|Title||Holy Bible [with Holy Bible. London, 1772 and Psalms. Edinburgh: b. Colin Macfarquhar, 1771]|
|Imprint||Oxford: b. Thomas Baskett|
|Date of Publication||1755|
|Notes||These nice examples of mid-eighteenth century Scottish binding come with significant Scottish provenance. The first Bible, bound in one volume, was owned by the Veitch family, who achieved prominence in the eighteenth century when the learned lawyer and MP James Eliock (1712-1793) was appointed judge, with the title Lord Eliock. This volume has Lord Eliock's bookplate, and manuscript notes on the front flyleaves record births, baptisms and deaths in the Veitch family into the nineteenth century. The actual binding is of very dark blue morocco, the boards decorated with a wheel design; the gold tooling in very good condition, as are the gilt green endpapers.
A rather unexpected feature of this Bible is the note on the last free blank, which reveals that this was held up as exhibit A in a trial at the High Court of Justice in 1876. This trial related to the estate of Ann Clementina Wilson, deceased, and it seems likely that the annotations in the Bible were used as evidence. A note reads 'This is the Bible marked A referred to in the affidavit of Harry Veitch Hunter sworn in this matter before me this 15th day of March 1877'.
The second Bible is bound in two volumes; although it lacks a title-page, the colophon gives the imprint as London, 1772, and the Psalms which follow the Bible has a title-page with the imprint Edinburgh, 1771. Both volumes are inscribed by 'G. Dundas Sept. 22nd. 1778.' This is a member of the famous Dundas family of Arniston. Further manuscript notes explain that the Bible was presented to Grace Dundas by Robert Colt at their wedding, and other notes record the fortunes of the Colt family into the twentieth century. Both volumes have the bookplate of Grace Colt. Various sentimental greetings cards are tipped in. The binding is of red morocco, with a design in the 'herring-bone' tradition, with some interesting stipple tooling and a fine border roll; our collections do not seem to have anything similar from this period.|
|Reference Sources||DNB, Bindings rubbings|
|Title||Information for Ross of Auchlossin, against the possessors of the Temple-lands.|
|Date of Publication||1706?|
|Notes||This is a most curious document discussing the order of the Knights Templar in Scottish history, of which no other copies can be traced. The text is known from its appearance in 'Templaria', 1828 (shelfmark H.30.c.26): this edition seems to have used the copy we have just acquired, as the 1828 editor notes that the last page seems to be missing a few words of text. In 1828 it was stated that no other copies were known.
A dispute between Robert Ross of Auchlossin and his tenants on lands formerly held by the Templars led to the production of this document. It traces the fortunes of the order, in order to make the case that the Templars were not a religious order, and that therefore their lands were not directly annexed to the crown after the Reformation in 1587. The Lords of Session agreed that Auchlossin's case was correct.
This is a striking example of early Scottish interest in the medieval religious order, often associated with Freemasonry.
The conjectural date of 1706 is taken from a manuscript annotation on the first page.|
|Reference Sources||Fountainhall, 'Decisions', v. 2, 1761, shelfmark Nha.L74, pp. 94-5|
|Title||My Bible. Embellished with engravings|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: John Elder|
|Notes||This is a rare edition of a chapbook where the leaves are printed on one side only, although the pagination is continuous. It contains four-line verses, all ending with the line "My Bible" and paraphrasing different passages from the Bible. It was published between 1837 and 1844 by John Elder, who is also known for printing a slip ballad called "Alice Grey".
The chapbook contains 8 wood-engraved illustrations which are hand-coloured in green and yellow. It is in its original printed wrappers with wood engravings to both covers.|
|Title||Collection of Petitions, Informations and Answers to the Lords of Council and Sessions|
|Date of Publication||1721-45|
|Notes||This is a made-up title (nineteenth-century title page) for a volume containing a rich collection of rare eighteenth-century legal publications in generally excellent condition. These petitions, answers, bills and informations all concern the citizens of Edinburgh. Property developers are reported for building tenements higher than their neighbours', merchants seek to recover debts, barbers and wig-makers try to strengthen their guilds against competition. Contemporary manuscript notes frequently describe the outcome of a case, which adds to the human interest and gives the documents a useful context. A particularly fascinating item is Answers for Francis Duke of Buccleugh (12 June 1744), in which the matter under dispute is the rental value of the farmland around Dalkeith, in particular relation to the cost of manure. The final deposition concludes that 'the Dung of the said Town is kept for the Use of the Vassals and Tenants within the Lordship of Dalkeith, and always was so... frequently the said Dung is considerably increased by a Troop or two of Dragoons frequently quartering in the said Town from time to time.' In all there are some 150 individual works, mostly two-leaf items, many of which are not recorded in ESTC. Imperfections: a very few stained pages, edges discoloured, pages near beginning of volume wormed. Provenance: inside front board is note 'The Gift of John Cadwalader Esquire, Dec. 1846; and since rebound, and a printed title added.' Below is the bookplate of Edward D. Ingraham. The binding is nineteenth-century marbled boards with calf back and corners, slightly worn but overall in good condition. Possible digitisation interest: Copy Bill of Suspension, 6 November 1721 (woodcut head-piece & initial); Information for James Hog, 1 November 1742 (initial); Case of the Double Return for the Shire of Berwick (head-piece & initial); Answers for William Cramond, 27 January 1743 (initial & interesting remarks on gaming); Petition of George Fordyce, 24 February 1743 (striking initial); Information for John Jamieson in Cirencester, 28 January 1744 (initial).|
|Title||New South Wales calendar and General Post Office Directory, 1836|
|Date of Publication||1835|
|Notes||This copy of the short-lived New South Wales calendar, published from 1832 to 1837 has an notweworthy Scottish provenance. The upper flyleaf has the signature of one Alexander Imlay (1801-1847), surgeon, landowner and speculator. He was one of a trio of Aberdeenshire brothers, all surgeons, who arrived in Sydney in the early 1830s, a time when the colonies were expanding beyond the south-east corner of the continent. In 1832 Alexander toured the southern coast with Governor Bourke and six years later made a pioneering journey in South Australia across the Mount Lofty Ranges to the Murray river. At the peak of their land speculation the Imlays owned some 1500 sq. miles of southern territory. They remained in the area and in 1839 Alexander, described by 'The South Australian' as an 'eminent and enterprising colonist' arrived in Adelaide with a cargo of cattle and sheep.
The volume contains some useful information about the development of the burgeoning colony in the 1830s. Included are 'regulations for the assignment of male convict servants' and a 'Report on the epidemic catarrh, or influenza, prevailing among the sheep in this colony' which resulted in the loss of 2,500 animals. There are also lists of ministers of the Church of Scotland, (p.325) and arrivals (some from Leith) and departures of ships in Sydney harbour (p. 378-p.397) The Post Office Directory at the back of the volume reveals many Scottish surnames, as well as a number of finely engraved advertisements.
During the period in which this calendar was published, the number of 'unassisted' immigrants from Scotland, mainly from the Lowlands, increased noticeably. Of the 110,000 assisted immigrants who arrived in Australia between 1832 and 1850, about 16,000 (14.5%) were Scots. Although Scots settled throughout the colonies, they tended to favour New South Wales (which then included Queensland and Victoria) as opposed to South Australia, Van Diemen's Land or Western Australia.|
|Title||25 miscellaneous Scottish legal petitions, 1724-1794|
|Notes||This volume of eighteenth-century petitions and memorials connected with legal disputes over land and inheritance contains many items otherwise unknown. A significant proportion of the items relate to estates in south-west Scotland, particularly Ayrshire. Manuscript notes record the outcome of many cases. The final item, Bill of Suspension and Interdict, Hugh Crawford... against John Patrick, is rather different, giving details of a dispute over who should be responsible for quartering soldiers in Beith in 1794, the innkeepers alone or private citizens generally. The description of the illegal distilling and endemic smuggling which had made it necessary to have a military presence in the town is quite fascinating. Physical condition: bound in a late nineteenth-century (?) red clothing binding in poor condition, with boards warped and spine lettering mostly erased; many of the petitions are too large for the binding and have been folded; some creases, darkening and tears.|
|Title||Wounds o' the Kirk o' Scotland|
|Imprint||Dublin: b. James Carson|
|Date of Publication||1730|
|Notes||This is a rare edition of a popular and remarkable sermon (ESTC T14610 records only one other copy). In 1638, James Row preached in St. Giles's to persuade the congregation to sign the National Covenant. Row's use of broad Scots and homely expressions seem to have made the sermon famous; in particular, his adaptation of the tale of Balaam's ass includes a colourful description of Balaam's 'Pock-mantle' (travelling bag) which was full of detestable books like the Book of Common Prayer. Several of the editions in the National Library use the term 'Pockmanty preaching' as a generic term on the title-page. It is interesting that the first printed edition, which appeared in 1642 (NLS copy at Ry.1.7.109), was a considerably more English text: it has been argued that the colourful Scots vernacular of the later editions is really an exaggerated adaptation for satirical purposes. See Memorials of the Family of Row (Edinburgh, 1828). Certainly, it seems likely that the popularity of the work in the eighteenth century had more to do with the remarkable language than the reforming doctrinal content. The theory that the sermon was adapted for humourous purposes is supported by the fact that it includes the 'Elegy on the Reverend Mess Sawney Sinkler', a pseudo-Scots satirical poem. Both this sermon and the 'elegy' are included in primarily comic publications such as An appeal to the publick; or, the humble remonstrance of the five-foot-highians (1733, copy of one edition in NLS at Ry.1.5.171). Collation: 8o, unsigned, pp. 16.|
|Title||De' costumi e della morte di Maria Clementina Regina d'Inghilterra, di Francia, e d'Irlanda|
|Imprint||In Roma ed in Bologna|
|Date of Publication||1737|
|Notes||This is a biography of Princess Clementina, the wife of the Old Pretender. She was the granddaughter of John Sobieski, the warrior king of Poland. Her marriage took place in 1719, under the protection of Pope Clement XI, who proclaimed the pair King and Queen of England. The alliance had been vehemently opposed by the Holy Roman Emperor, who had imprisoned the young woman. She was later dramatically rescued by a band of Jacobite adventurers led by Charles Wogan. The marriage proved turbulent, and unhappy with the princess leaving her husband for a time. A reconciliation was eventually arranged, although she did not long survive it as she died in 1731. This is a very good copy of a rare edition complete with portrait, and a final leaf containing an engraved coat of arms.|
|Reference Sources||Booksellers catalogue|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Printed by Alexander Kincaid.|
|Date of Publication||1772|
|Notes||This is a handsome copy of an Edinburgh bible in a contemporary binding of straight-grained red leather, with elaborate gilt tooling which suggests the influence of James Scott. The central panel includes architectural motifs such as columns and urns, as well as birds and various items of foliage. This panel is enclosed by different border rolls; the board edges are tooled as well. The spine has a black leather title label and more tooling, including a laurel-crowned head, and a greek-key design which seems to be Scott's (see Loudon - Ro.19).
The binding is in good condition, the colours bright and clear.|
|Reference Sources||J. H. Loudon, 'James Scott and William Scott', 1980|
|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.|