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 772 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 772:

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TitlePlan for Raising a Militia in that part of Great Britain called Scotland
NotesOnly three copies of this draft bill for regulating the militia in Scotland, by means of adapting the English Militia Acts, are recorded by ESTC (T42402). Interesting details include the fact that on page 9 the blanks relating to the number of privates to be raised for each county have been filled in manuscript (the city of Edinburgh was to raise 333 men). On the verso of the title-page is a full page of manuscript notes signed 'Richd Hewit. Clerk', which explains how the plan was drawn up by a committee of notables following a meeting in Edinburgh on 30 November 1759. The bill was rejected at its second reading in Westminster on 15 April 1760: although there was much sympathy for Scotland's vulnerability to French invasion, many still had doubts about giving arms to the Jacobites among the Highlanders. (John Robertson, Scottish Enlightenment and the Militia Issue, Edinburgh: John Donald, 1985).
ShelfmarkAPS.4.201.17
Acquired on26/06/01
Title25 miscellaneous Scottish legal petitions, 1724-1794
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis 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.
ShelfmarkABS.8.201.06(1-25)
Acquired on06/07/01
TitleSett of the City of Edinburgh
ImprintEdinburgh: b. Heir of Andrew Anderson
Date of Publication1683
LanguageEngllish
NotesAlthough the library has a copy of this edition at shelfmark H.Br.6, this copy is an interesting addition to the collections for several reasons. Firstly, the gold-tooled binding seems likely to be contemporary and is quite possibly Scottish. Secondly, the physical composition of the book is unusual. The marbled pastedowns have been left with their coloured stubs protruding, so one stub is found after the first two blank leaves, the second between pages 10 and 11. The stitching can be clearly seen, revealing the curious arrangement of the last six leaves (leaves are signed D, D2, [unsigned], E, E2, [unsigned] - conjugate leaves are D1 & [E3], D2 & [D3], E1 & E2). Most importantly, a comparison between this copy and our existing holding shows that our copy at shelfmark H.Br.6 has an additional title-page which has been removed from the newly acquired copy. This title-page, which was placed before sig.A2, was clearly an error as it speaks of 'the two acts of town council', when the text actually contains four acts. None of the other copies recorded by ESTC seem to have this title-page, but in the new copy, the stub where it was cut out can just be seen - presumably it was removed from the other copies too (so ESTC needs to be updated). The work is interesting in its own right, as a centenary printing of the 1583 agreement regarding the running of the burgh, and the place of the craftsmen, merchants, bailies and provost, with the addition of acts from the later seventeenth century. However, it is particularly useful to have these two copies, as they show how two copies of the 'same edition' can have important differences. Collation: 6 unsigned leaves, A8 (A1 cut out), B-C8, D3, E3. Octavo. Contents: 2 blank leaves, half-title, title-page, 'index', stub of cancelled title-page, 'Copy of the Decreet Arbitral' (pp. 1-34), 'Acts of the Town Council of Edinburgh' (title-page, pp. 1-16), 'Act anent the Town Clerks' (pp.[1]-4).
ShelfmarkABS.1.202.035
Reference SourcesWing S2647, Aldis 2426, ESTC R217074
Acquired on09/08/01
TitleTryal of Sr. Godfrey McCulloch, Vindicated, Edinburgh: 1697 (+10 other pamphlets bound in one volume)
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis volume of pamphlets was purchased primarily for the work whose title is given above. This title was entered in Aldis (3677) but no holdings information was provided: this work has not been traced in Wing, ESTC or in any library catalogue. It is therefore most pleasing that a copy of this elusive seventeenth-century Scottish work has finally been located. This work concerns the trial and execution of McCulloch, a hereditary baronet of Nova Scotia, for the murder of William Gordon in 1690. McCulloch had tried to claim the estate of the family of Cardiness as his own after a long feud. For an excellent account of the whole sordid affair, including the rumour that McCulloch was rescued by fairies, see http://www.chebucto.ns.ca/Heritage/FSCNS/Scots_NS/Clans/MacCulloch/Clansfolk_MacCulloch/EC_Sir_Godfrey.html This purchase complements the library's existing holding of The last speech of Sir Godfrey M'Culloch at L.C.Fol.76(23). There are some indications of provenance: on the title-page are practice notes apparently by one Thomas Heriot. On the final blank verso are other practice notes, including a passage which begins 'George Grant Cordiner'. The whole volume comes from the sale of the Birmingham Law Library, and the binding has the society's stamp and bookplate. The other pamphlets in the volume are also of much interest: as several of them relate to the radical writer and political leader John Lilburne, the Mary Robson Lilburn fund has been used to contribute 1200 towards this purchase. List as follows: (1) The Triall, of Lieut. Collonell John Lilburne, [imprint cropped, 1649], pp. 168 (not NLS) (2) The Triall of Mr. John Lilburn, London: Printed, 1653, pp. 44 (NLS) (3) The Exceptions of John Lilburne, London: f. Richard Moon, 1653, pp. 8 (NLS) (4) The Tryal of Lieutenant Colonel John Lilburn, London: f. & s.b. H[enry]. Hills, [colop: 1710], pp. 132 (NLS) (5) Vox Plebis, London: 1646, pp. 68 (not NLS) (6) The Cry of the Innocent for Justice, Printed, 1662, pp. 45 (not NLS) (7) A True and Exact Relation, London, Printed, 1662, pp. 22 (not NLS) (8) A Hellish Murder committed by a French Midwife, London: f. R. Sare, pub. b. Randal Taylor, 1688, pp. 39 (not NLS) (9) The Peoples Ancient and Just Liberties Asserted, in the Tryal of William Penn, and William Mead, Printed, 1670, pp. 62 (NLS) (10) The Tryal of Sr. Godfrey McCulloch, Vindicated, Edinburgh: Printed, 1697, pp. 22 (not NLS) (11) A True Relation of the Unjust Accusation of Certain French Gentlemen, London: b. J. Darby f. Richard Chiswel, 1671, pp. 44 (NLS) Conservation: this volume will need to be rebound and boxed. Some items discoloured as a consequence of being bound with others much larger or smaller.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2098(10)
Acquired on25/10/01
Title[Pamphlets relating to Nova Scotia, 1830s]
Date of Publication[1830s]
LanguageEnglish
NotesA most interesting collection of pamphlets, manuscript letters, maps and newspaper cuttings relating to the claims of one Alexander Humphrys that he was the legitimate Earl of Stirling, with extensive rights in Nova Scotia and Canada. These rights had first been granted to Sir William Alexander of Menstrie in 1621, who died without recognised male heirs. Alexander Humphrys attempted to claim the title in the 1830s, offering to create people baronets of Nova Scotia (for a fee). His lawyer, Thomas Banks, helped to prepare extensive documentation for the court cases which followed, and may well have prepared this very volume. The DNB gives an amusing account of Banks's attempts to further all kinds of spurious peerage claims. The Humphrys claim was ignominiously dismissed in 1839. Most of these items, particularly the ephemera, are not held by NLS, and as a collection this is a most valuable resource for anyone investigating the case. The maps, showing the extent of Humphrys' claims to vast tracts of North America, give a good indication of the ambition and imagination behind this audacious scheme.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2090(1-31)
Reference SourcesDNB
Acquired on18/12/01
Title[Album of photographs and newspaper cuttings belonging to John Winning]
Date of Publicationc.1930-1944
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an album of photographs and newpaper cuttings relating to the activities of Dr. John Winning during the 1930s and early 1940s. Included are group photographs of visits undertaken by members of the Scottish Socialist Party to Germany in 1930, Austria in 1931 and Denmark in 1936. Winning was a member of Glasgow Town Council between 1926 and 1932 and he led a number of visits to the continent. A cutting from 1936 notes that 'the number of countries which Socialists can visit with enthusiasm seems to be diminishing -- Germany is no longer on the visiting list'. Winning from Larkhall in Lanarkshire began his working life as an apprentice plumber. He became involved in local politics in the 1920s and unsuccessfully stood for election for Westminster. In 1932 he resigned his Council seat to take up medicine and he worked as a GP for a number of years before his appointment as Assistant Medical Officer of Health for Glasgow in 1940. Other cuttings and ephemera document Dr. Winning's involvement in the Scottish Vegetarian Society . There are also four copies of The two worlds: the weekly journal of spiritualism, religion and reform dating from 1938 to 1942. It appears that John Winning was also an active member of the Spiritualist Church.
ShelfmarkPhot.la.22
Acquired on22/02/02
TitleHistory of the horrid and unnatural murders, lately committed by John Smith in the parish of Roseneath, and shire of Dumbarton
ImprintEdinburgh
Date of Publication1727
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an 8-page pamphlet bearing the stamp of the Birmingham Law Society. No bibliographic record for it can be found in ESTC or in other bibliographic databases. It details the pathetic life of John Smith who was hung in 1727 at the age of 29 for the murder of both his sister and his wife. He was born in Greenock and had an early prosperous career running clandestine goods to Ireland. He later left this for the more honest life of a tenant farmer on land adjacent to that owned by his step-father John Campbell. Campbell was an honest and prosperous gentleman who had married Smith's mother upon the death of her husband, John's father. In order to secure a more prosperous and secure future, Smith proposed to marry John Campbell's daughter Margaret. He anticipated inheriting a portion of Campbell's estate, as Campbell had no children by his mother. The marriage took place even though Smith had been secretly courting a young woman called Janet Wilson. Smith and Janet Wilson kept up a clandestine correspondence during Smith's marriage and Smith also made promises to Janet Wilson that if his wife were dead he would surely marry her. He had also promised Janet Smith the sum of 1000 merks if she would refuse to marry a particular suitor. Smith's financial situation became such that he could not give the 1000 merks to Janet Wilson as promised and so he murdered his sister Katherine in order that the bulk of Campbell's estate would revert to himself. About a year later Smith murdered his wife Margaret so that he could then keep his promise of marriage to Janet Wilson. Smith later confessed to the murders as suspicions mounted against him and he was hung in Dumbarton on the 20th of January 1727.
ShelfmarkAPS.3.202.11
Reference SourcesNot in ESTC
Acquired on04/04/02
TitleAesop's fables.
ImprintEdinburgh
Date of Publicationc. 1837
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a rare and unrecorded edition of the ever-popular Aesop's fables. It was published in Edinburgh by William Darling who is recorded in Gray's annual directory as having an address on South Bridge in 1837. Darling published a number of children's books in a similar format of which the NLS holds four titles. A bookseller and printer of the same name was working at various addresses in Edinburgh between 1765 and 1796 but the illustrative style and typographic layout suggest a later date. The cover is printed on yellow paper with a very fine copper engraving of a family looking out of a window at an old man (presumably Aesop) writing surrounded by a group of animals. The book is composed of 12 fables, each one superbly illustrated with a half page wood-engraving with the text beneath.
ShelfmarkAPS.1.202.074
Reference SourcesSBTI
Acquired on06/04/02
TitleDavington Library catalogue of books, 1905
ImprintLangholm
Date of Publication1905
LanguageEnglish
NotesA rare catalogue from the library in the hamlet of Davington, between Ettrick and Eskdalemuir, Dumfriesshire, which indicates the spread of the community library in rural Scotland. It is not known when exactly this library was established - the entry in the New Statistical Account of Scotland (1845) written by Rev. William Brown mentions the growing popularity of a library lately established in Eskdalemuir parish and the 'moderate' terms of admission. However a copy of The Christian Monitor was presented to 'Eskdalemuir Library by the Rev. William Brown' in January 1831, which may indicate that a library was in the parish from the 1830s or earlier. Until then 'those fond of reading were subscribers to Westerkirk parish library', which was first established in 1792. Three years later Thomas Telford, the distinguished local and famous engineer had endowed this library and subequently that at Langholm with 1000 each. In 1868 a gift of 104 volumes was made to Davington Library by Westerkirk Parish Library. It is clear that in Eskadale there was a considerable demand for the printed word. There was a Free Church and a school in Davington , so it is possible that the library may have been funded by the church in some way. This is the second printed catalogue of Davington library ? the first, listing 755 items, dates from 1858. A total of 332 books are listed in alphabetical order by title with the press numbers and shelf letters. The stock ranged from popular periodicals such as Chambers's Journal, Good Words, Leisure Hour and Sunday at home to novels like Adam Bede, Vanity Fair, Barnaby Rudge, and The Heart of Midlothian, intriguing titles such as Abominations of modern society, How to be happy though married, Sports that kill as well as biographical and historical works. It appears that the library at Davington (housed in the school) was in existence until c.1935; manuscript additions to the 1858 catalogue (now at Westerkirk) end with vol. 40 of the Border magazine (1935). When the school closed, possibly during the 1950s, many of the books came into the possession of Westerkirk Parish Library, others were dispersed throughout the parish and to the book trade. The remainder, c.100 volumes, were purchased by Mr. Cutteridge, Billholm, Westerkirk for 25 and the money was used to buy an encyclopedia of Eskdalemuir School.
ShelfmarkHP1.202.5568
Reference SourcesShirley, G.W. Dumfriesshire libraries. 1933. 5.478 Kaufman, Paul. 'The rise of community libraries in Scotland' in Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, vol. 59, 1965. HP1.201.1250 Crawford, John C. 'The rural community library in Scotland' in Library review, vol. 24, no.6, summer 1974. Y.183
Acquired on11/04/02
TitleKoran
ImprintGlasgow, David Bryce
Date of Publicationca. 1900
LanguageArabic
NotesThis is a miniature copy of The Koran, in Arabic, published by David Bryce of Glasgow around the turn of the 19th century. The book measures 19 x 27 mm. and is accompanied by a metal locket with an inset magnifying glass to help facilitate reading the tiny script. The edges of the book are gilt and it is bound in red morocco with a gilt pattern very reminiscent of that which was used on Bryce's miniature version of the Bible published in 1896. According to Louis W. Bondy's 'Miniature Books: their History from the Beginnings to the Present Day', many copies of Bryce's Koran were issued to during World War I to Muslim soldiers fighting with allied troops.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2279
Reference SourcesBondy, Louis W. Miniature books, their history from the beginnings to the present day (London: Sheppard Press, 1981) pp. 111-112.
Acquired on23/04/02
TitleCopy of verses on the Tay Bridge Disaster
Date of Publication[1880]
NotesThe Tay Bridge Disaster of 28 December 1879, in which some 75 people died when the bridge collapsed as their train was crossing, inspired many outpourings of verse. The bookseller here felt impelled to state 'NOT BY McGONAGALL', as William McGonagall's poem beginning 'Beautiful railway bridge of the Silv'ry Tay!' is one of his most notorious compositions. This broadside poem perhaps scans better than McGonagall's efforts, but it is still essentially sentimental doggerel. Incredible though it may seem, the writer thought that this was an appropriate composition to be sung, and suggests that this be done to the air known as 'Rock me to sleep'. There is even a chorus: 'Down 'neath the waters, down in the deep, / With the train for their coffin, in the river they sleep, / The Tay was the grave that received their last breath - / Near 100 poor souls went from pleasure to Death.' If this seems in rather poor taste, it compares quite well with the lurid media reporting of modern-day tragedies.
ShelfmarkAPS.4.202.37
Acquired on30/05/02
TitleSelection of blocks from the collection of John A. Birkbeck
ImprintAlan Anderson and Alex M. Frizzell
Date of Publication1971
NotesThis is a most attractive selection of examples of printing from the ornamental blocks in the collection of the Scottish printer John A. Birkbeck. Many of Birkbeck's manuscripts and books are now held by the Library, including those in the Birkbeck special collection. This acquisition complements these existing holdings. It is also notable that this is printed by the Edinburgh-based Tragara Press, whose publications we have been collecting over the years. This work was printed by Alan Anderson and Alex M. Frizzell on 15 June 1971, in a run of 25 copies only. It is in fine condition, loose in blue wrappers as issued.
ShelfmarkAPS.3.203.12
Reference SourcesAnderson, Alan. The Tragara Press 1954-1979. Edinburgh, 1979.
Acquired on31/05/02
TitleHoly Bible. With Psalms. Edinburgh, 1744.
ImprintEdinburgh
Date of Publication1743 [1744]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThese two volumes of the Bible and metrical Psalms are bound in black goatskin with gold-tooling in outstanding condition. The design is unusual: each board has a central column of eight roundels with dotted centres, which are flanked by elegant floral tooling, all within a dog-tooth roll border. The design was clearly considered thoughtfully, and the blind guide-lines around which it is structured are still visible. The style is comparable to that of the binding on our copy of a 1720 Book of Common Prayer at Bdg.s.768, but there the tools are quite different and the overall impression is graceful but less substantial. This new acquisition has a highly demonstrative binding, and it seems to have been commissioned as a celebratory wedding gift. Inside each volume is a red goatskin label with gold tooling, which reads 'Helen Scott 6th March 1765'. On the first blank leaf of the first volume is an ink list of births, Isobell in 1766, Marion in 1768, and John in 1770. Additionally, there are green and gilt endpapers with a floral design. The spines are finely tooled with five panels separated by raised bands; the second gilt compartment contains the volume number, the other compartments have a saltire design. There is gilt roll tooling to the board edges, and an attractive floral roll on the turn-ins. The textblock is complete and in good condition, the leaf edges are gilt. The second volume is perhaps very slightly more worn (at head and foot of spine) as a possible indication of the fact that this volume contained the metrical Psalms and was hence more likely to be carried to church or used for family worship. This is a bright and appealing addition to the bindings collection, with a human story in it. The bookseller has donated with this purchase an imperfect copy of a Bible printed in Edinburgh by Alexander Kincaid in 1778. Although this is only the first volume, without the title-page, it is attractively bound in red goatskin with a deep floral border. The spine is tooled with five compartments, each containing an oval green leather label, the second with the volume number, the others containing the image of an urn. There are marbled endpapers and the edges are gilt. A very different item to the acquisition described above, but also highly attractive and, again, showing some unusual tooling.
ShelfmarkBdg.s.416(1)
Acquired on19/06/02
TitleHoly Bible [with Psalms, 1726]
ImprintEdinburgh: b. John Baskett
Date of Publication1726
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a binding of black goatskin, gilt tooled all over in the distinctive eighteenth-century Scottish style, with border rolls, a central panel, and various 'herring-bone' designs radiating like spokes from the centre. The spine is tooled to a saltire design, the turn-ins and board edges are also tooled, and there are gilt endpapers signed 'Apolonia Maiestderin', possibly the name of the German workshop where they were manufactured. Inside the front board is a leather label indicating that the book was a wedding present on the marriage of Sarah Thomson to Robert Cross in Glasgow in 1738. Manuscript notes record the fortunes of Sarah's family. Eighteenth-century Scotland made a unique contribution to the art of book-binding through the development of the 'wheel' and 'herring-bone' bindings. This large, elegant and balanced binding in excellent condition contains design elements from both styles. In terms of the overall aesthetic quality, nothing equivalent is to be found in our existing binding collections. There are also individual tools which we have not been able to trace elsewhere, such as that used to make the 'filling' of the half-pear shapes. The sheer variety of tools used is extraordinary: stars, flowers, roundels, leaves and spear-heads. This acquisition will be central to our binding collections as an example of Scottish work at its very best. We have a copy of this edition at Bdg.m.46, which is also heavily tooled, although there are no notable tools in common. A variant of this edition recorded in Maggs 1212, no. 92, shows some of the same spine tools and the overall design is comparable. Tools found on bindings we already have: The floral tool used to make the 'bones' of the central and radiating herring-bone patterns, and the tool which makes the 'spear-point' at the head of the herring-bone pattern, are also found in Ry.II.d.31 (Historical and Genealogical Essay, Glasgow, 1723). The 'spear-point' tool and some of the spine tools are also found on Bdg.s.584 (Bible, Oxford, 1729). The roll forming the border of the central panel is found on NG.1534.c.16 (Phaedrus, London, 1745). The outer roll of the border at the edge of the covers, as well as some spine tools, is found on Bdg.s.759 (Bible, London, 1735). Tools not found elsewhere: The 'filling' of the half-pear shapes. The six floral / herring-bone patterns with curved lines. The two horizontal herring-bone patterns, at either side of the central panel. No other examples of this design or these tools have been found in Davis, Sommerlad, Nixon, or in the digital library, or in our bindings files. A generous contribution of 500.00 towards the cost was received from the Friends of the National Libraries.
ShelfmarkBdg.m.151(1-2)
Reference SourcesMaggs catalogue 1075 / 1212 Henry Davis Gift Sommerlad, Scottish 'wheel' and 'herring-bone' bindings in the Bodleian Library Nixon, Five centuries of English bookbinding
Acquired on28/08/02
TitleEdinburgh Calotype Club Album, Volume 1
Date of Publicationc. 1848
LanguageEnglish
NotesBy an extraordinary sequence of events, the Library, in partnership with Edinburgh City Council, purchased the 'lost' Edinburgh Calotype Album at auction on 12 December 2001. The sister album (volume 2) was acquired by Edinburgh Central Library in 1952. Having the output of the club, acknowledged as the first photographic society in the world, reunited in Edinburgh is a remarkable coup. The Edinburgh Calotype Club was formed in the early 1840s after a group of Edinburgh gentlemen, mostly advocates, doctors and academics, were introduced to the process by Sir David Brewster (1781-1868). The photographs in the album are a mixture of portraits, landscapes, buildings and sculptures, most of them showing locations in Scotland such as Edinburgh, Newhaven, St Andrews, Fairlie and Inverness. These invaluable images enable the researcher to discover a wealth of information about Scotland and its people in the mid-19th Century. As part of the project, both albums have been digitised and mounted on a specially designed website www.nls.uk/pencilsoflight to enable the widest possible access to this resource. The project received financial support from: The Heritage Lottery Fund The National Art Collections Fund The Gordon Fraser Charitable Trust Edinburgh City Council http://www.nls.uk/pencilsoflight/
ShelfmarkPhot.med.33
Acquired on06/09/02
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