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 835 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 835:
Ordered by title |
Order by author
| Order by date
|Title||[Street traders' silhouettes]|
|Imprint||[s.l. : s.n.]|
|Date of Publication||c. 1840s?|
|Notes||This is a collection of 25 woodcut engravings of silhouettes of street traders, ten of which are Scottish. The woodcuts have been removed from other publications and mounted on bigger sheets.
Three of the street traders are well-known Glasgow characters: The blind fiddler and poet Alexander MacDonald called Blind Alick, the ballad singer and speech crier James McIndoe called Jamie Blue, and The Major, a street singer and kind of dancer who performed together with Coal Mary. The silhouette of the Glasgow Bellman may well be a likeness of the Glaswegian Bell Geordie. The other Scottish street traders depicted are Jemmy the showman, Billy Bain (Bill Porter) and Geordie Moore from Edinburgh, Willie Collie (Buttery Willie) from Aberdeen, Jamie Stephen from Montrose and the carter Willie Harrow from Dundee.
From the 1820 onwards silhouettes tended to be full-length rather than just portrait size. The ones we have acquired are a mix of both kinds, although the portrait depictions outnumber the full length ones.
We have not been able to establish which publications the silhouttes were taken from originally.|
|Reference Sources||D. Whitaker: Auld Hawkie and other Glasgow characters. Glasgow, 1988 [HP4.88.1771]
[Collection of press-cuttings on pedlars and chap-books]. Dundee, c. 1900-1920 [RB.m.141]
R. Collison: The story of street literature. London, 1973 [NG.1195.f.9]
L. Shepard: The history of street literature. Newton Abbot, 1973.
P. Hickman: National Portrait gallery silhouettes. London, 1972.
|Title||[The Seasons] With sympathy inscribed to all who love flowers and their emblems|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: T. Alexander Hill|
|Date of Publication||c.1855-80|
|Notes||This is a fine example of de luxe book production in mid-Victorian Edinburgh. Bound in dark green cloth with the top board decorated in a black and gilt design repeated in blind in the lower cover, and with watered silk endpapers and gilt edges, the book is a meditation on the seasons designed primarily to feast the eye. The title page is decorated in gold and colours, and each season begins on a page with lithographed illuminated heading and colour illustration, enclosed with the text in a decorative border. The text, anonymously compiled, consists of a prose meditation on each season followed by an appropriate poem by a contemporary poet - Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Jean Ingelow, Richard Chevenix Trench and Edward Bulwer Lytton. The book was the work of two significant figures involved in the production of artistic books in mid-19th century Edinburgh: the lithographer W. H. McFarlane or M'Farlane, and T. Alexander Hill (1800-66), brother of David Octavius Hill and 'printseller to the Queen' as he describes himself on the title page. Praised in his obituary for his work in improving the print selling and publishing trade, Hill was involved with the then-recently established Royal Scottish Academy as supplier and dealer. This item is therefore not only interesting as a book, but also gives valuable background to the material context surrounding Scottish 19th-century art.|
|Reference Sources||SBTI; National Portrait Gallery directory of British artists' suppliers, 1650-1950 (http://www.npg.org.uk/research/programmes/directory-of-suppliers/h.php); bookseller's catalogue|
|Title||[Theatre programme for two plays: 1. My son-in law 2: The frogs]|
|Imprint||[Edinburgh: privately printed]|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||This is a rare theatre programme specially printed for the performance of two plays at the home of (Henry Charles) Fleeming Jenkin (1833-1885) on May 3,5 and 6 1873. In 1868 Jenkin had become Professor of Engineering at Edinburgh University, where he encountered and befriended the young student Robert Louis Stevenson, then studying engineering. Jenkin was a man of great learning and wide interests. His home theatricals at 5 Fettes Row in Edinburgh's New Town became events in the Edinburgh social calendar. This programme was for a performance of a French comedy ("Le gendre de M. Poirier" by Emile Augier), specially translated for the occasion, followed by an English-language version of the ancient Greek comedy "The frogs". Among the cast of actors for the two plays were Jenkin, Robert Louis Stevenson and the Edinburgh-based artist/illustrator William Hole who later illustrated many of Stevenson's works. In his "Memoir of Fleeming Jenkin", first published in 1887, two years after Jenkin's death, Stevenson reminisced fondly about his amateur dramatics as part of Jenkin's company.|
|Reference Sources||DNB; RL Stevenson "Memoir of Fleeming Jenkin"|
|Author||Dickson & Mann Ltd.|
|Title||[Trade catalogue advertising coal cleaning and sorting machinery etc.]|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Morrison & Gibb|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||This is an early illustrated trade catalogue, which includes photographic illustrations of products produced by the firm Dickson & Mann at their Bathville steel works in Armadale, West Lothian. Dickson & Mann introduced the steel industry to the area and became specialist manufacturers of surface conveying and coal-handling equipment to the coalmines in the Armadale area, as well as other parts of Britain. Conveniently situated near to the railway level crossing on the Bathville and Bathgate Road, the steel works was electrified in 1893 to keep pace with the demands of the coal industry. This fourth edition of the firm's catalogue also includes illustrations of the works itself. Founded in 1876, Dickson & Mann became an incorporated company in 1892 and continued in business until 1969; their business records are now housed in the National Archives of Scotland.|
|Title||[Two Scotland vs England international football programmes]|
|Date of Publication||1928, 1940|
|Notes||The earlier of the two football programmes featured here is the rare match programme of the England-Scotland football international of 1928, and is in fact the earliest international programme in the National Library's collections. The match in question was the final one of the Home Championship at Wembley Stadium and unusually it decided not who would win the competition, but who would get the 'wooden spoon'. In the event Scotland's team immortalized as the 'Wembley Wizards' unexpectedly thrashed the 'Auld Enemy' 5-1 to win for the first time at Wembley before an attendance of over 80,000. Going into the game the Scots were not expected to do well. They had lost the previous year to England at Hampden, and had drawn against Wales and lost to Northern Ireland in the other Home Championship fixtures. The team selected did not inspire much confidence either - one of the forwards Hughie Gallacher of Newcastle United had not played for a couple of months - and overall it was felt that the smaller and lighter Scots would be no match for their stronger English counterparts. However, a heavy pitch greatly helped the smaller Scottish forwards who ran rings around the lumbering English defenders. Alex James from Preston North End and Huddersfield's Alex Jackson shared the five goals, sparking great celebrations among the Scottish fans there to witness the famous victory and also among the passionate footballing public back in Scotland. The victory was also a major factor in establishing the tradition of the mass Scottish pilgrimage to Wembley every two years.
The second programme relates to a less memorable England-Scotland wartime international, but the match, according to contemporary reports, was keenly contested on the day. During the Second World War full internationals were suspended; charity matches were held instead to raise funds for worthy war-related causes. The proceeds, over £5,000, of this Scotland-England match in 1940 went to the Red Cross. A film of the match was made by Pathé News for showing to the troops at home and abroad.
The game played at Hampden in front of a crowd of 62,000 ended in a 1-1 draw. The most interesting feature of this programme is that it has been signed by most of the players. For Scotland some of the noteworthy signatures were those of Bill Shankly, then playing at Preston North End and later to become a great Liverpool manager, and Tom Walker of Hearts,later a Hearts manager in the 1950s. For England there are the autographs of Stanley Matthews of Stoke, one of the all time greats, as well as those of Stan Cullis of Wolves and the captain Bert Sproston of Manchester City. A sign of the times was that the English goalkeeper named in the programme, Sam Bartram was not allowed to travel by the RAF.
|Title||[Victorian 'Newspaper Cuttings' album containing numerous theatre programmes, playbills, clippings and other items]|
|Date of Publication||[1881-1883]|
|Notes||This 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 Sources||Bookseller's notes|
|Title||[Volume containing 5 works by Voltaire formerly in the library of David Hume]|
|Imprint||Amsterdam etc.: s.n.|
|Date of Publication||1766-69|
|Notes||This volume contains five works by the French writer, historian and philosopher Voltaire (François-Marie Arouet) (1694-1778) printed between 1766 and 1769. The volume was formerly in the library of the eminent Scottish philosopher David Hume (1711-1776). It contains Hume's armorial bookplate (in the correct 'A' state) on the front pastedown, and a list of contents on the front free endpaper in his handwriting. The five works of Voltaire are: "La guerre civile de Geneve", "Le philosophe ignorant", "Le diner du Comte de Boulainvilliers", "Lettres a son altesse monseigneur le prince de ****" and "La defense de mon oncle". There are four minor annotations in the volume but none of these can be attributed with any certainty to Hume. The presence of works by the Frenchman in Hume's library is hardly surprising. Both men were key figures of the Enlightenment in Europe, whose works were hugely influential. Although Voltaire entertained the likes of James Boswell, Adam Smith and Edward Gibbon in his home in Ferney near the Swiss Border, he never met Hume. During Hume's stay in Paris between 1763 and 1765 plans were made by Voltaire's friends for him to visit the 'patriarch of Ferney'. Hume, however, chose not to go, explaining that his work as personal secretary to the British ambassador prevented him from leaving the French capital for any lengthy periods of time. His reluctance to travel to Ferney is probably accounted for by the fact that he did not really rate Voltaire as a philosopher and historian. Whereas Voltaire publicly expressed his admiration of Hume, the Scot was not willing to reciprocate. While in Paris Hume even tried, in vain, to suppress an article by Voltaire ridiculing fellow-Scot Lord Kames's "Elements of Criticism". No precise listing of Hume's book collection exists; however, some idea of its contents can be ascertained from a catalogue produced by the Edinburgh bookseller Thomas Stevenson in 1840. Most of the philosopher's books had ended up with his nephew, David, Baron Hume, and, after Baron Hume's death in 1838, his library was catalogued by Stevenson. There are over 200 French-language works in the Stevenson catalogue, including works by Voltaire. Number 937 on Stevenson's list refers to a collection of miscellaneous pamphlets on various subjects. Stevenson noted that "several of the pamphlets in his collection have got manuscript notes in the handwriting of David Hume, and others. For the contents, vide the flyleaves prefixed to each volume". It is very likely that this particular volume belongs to this collection of pamphlets. Stevenson went on to sell Baron Hume's books in the 1850s and the collection was thus dispersed. The acquisition of this volume is a welcome addition to our knowledge of Hume as book collector.
|Reference Sources||E.C.Mossner, "The life of David Hume", Oxford, 1970;
David Fate Norton & Mary J. Norton, "The David Hume Library" (Edinburgh, 1996)
|Author||Lund, John [et al.]|
|Title||[Volume containing 10 18th-century plays]|
|Imprint||London, Glasgow, Dublin & Hawick|
|Date of Publication||1760-1787|
|Notes||This 'sammelband' contains 10 short plays printed in a variety of locations in the British Isles in the second half of the 18th-century. The volume contains a hitherto unrecorded 1786 printing from Hawick of a one act play "Ducks and green pease". The imprint gives no details of printer or publisher but there was only one printer known to be working in Hawick at the time, George Caw, who had started printing there in the 1780s (the first recorded book from his press dating from 1783). "Ducks and green pease", first printed in the 1770s, was the best-known work written by John Lund (1726-1786) from Pontefract in Yorkshire. Lund was a barber, wig maker and political satirist; the mildy subversive content of his play is in contrast to the largely religious works Caw was printing at the time. The volume also has an early Scottish provenance, there are inscriptions on the front pastedown "Andrew Rattray" and "Dundee 1791".|
|Title||[Volume of 16 early 19th-century Scottish chapbooks, mostly printed in Kilmarnock]|
|Date of Publication||[1815-1820]|
|Notes||This volume contains 16 rare Scottish chapbooks, 15 of which are printed in Kilmarnock and one in Ayr (no. 16). It includes 4 unrecorded Kilmarnock printings (nos 3, 6, 7 and 12 in the volume). The chapbooks all contain versions of popular ballads and songs of the period. The volume is in a 19th-century half-leather binding by Henderson and Bisset of Edinburgh and all the chapbooks have been interleaved with laid paper. There are no visible marks of provenance in the volume.|
|Title||[Works ed. Franciscus Puteolanus]|
|Imprint||[Milan: Antonius Zarotus]|
|Date of Publication||1487|
|Notes||This is the second collected edition of the works of the Roman historian Tacitus (AD 56-AD117) containing the 'Annals', and 'Histories', the 'Germania', and the first printing of the 'Agricola'. The text was edited by the famous Italian Renaissance scholar Francesco Dal Pozzo (Franciscus Puteolanus) (d. 1490), who was professor of rhetoric and poetry at the University of Bologna. Dal Pozzo edited the texts of several classical authors for publication and his edition of Tacitus was praised by later editors for its textual emendations. This copy of the book has a notable provenance: it is from the library of the Scottish patriot Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun (1655-1716), with his distinctive "Fletcher" signature on the final blank leaf and on the rear paste-down. The 'Agricola' is Tacitus' biography of his father-in-law, the Roman general and governor of Britain who extended Roman occupation northwards into Scotland. The introductory chapters of the 'Agricola' include an account of Britain and its tribes, its geography (Tacitus is rather vague, but for the first time it was possible to state with confidence that Britain was indeed an island); there is even a mention of the "objectionable climate with its frequent rains and mists". It contains the first substantial historical account of events in what is now Scotland, in particular the first printing of the first published account of a battle on Scottish soil (Mons Graupius). After conquering what is now Wales in AD 77, Agricola advanced northwards and overran the lowlands of what is now Scotland. In his seventh campaign, in AD 83, Agricola faced a pitched battle against the Highlanders at "mons Graupius" (the precise location is uncertain, antiquaries, historians and archaeologists have been searching for the battlefield for centuries). The Britons had, according to Tacitus, rallied more than 30,000 men from all their states in an determined attempt to defeat the powerful invaders. Despite their superior numbers the Britons were soon put to flight, breaking formation "into small groups to reach their far and trackless retreats. Only night and exhaustion ended the pursuit". The Roman victory was total but the campaigning season was almost over so Agricola moved his army to their winter quarters. The next year he was recalled to Rome, thus ending Roman military campaigns in northern Scotland. It is not surprising that a well-educated member of the Scottish aristocracy, who quotes widely from ancient historians in his own political writings, would have owned a text of Tacitus. However, Tacitus' works appear to have been particularly important for Fletcher - he also owned fifteen later editions, presumably because of the 'Agricola' and its coverage of Scotland. From the early 1670s onwards, Fletcher built up a huge library of c. 5,500-6000 books, thanks to his regular travels on the continent, where he hunted for bargains and rarities in bookshops. His collection included some 20 incunables, including this edition of Tacitus. The books were kept in the family home of Saltoun Hall in East Lothian and the library appears to have survived intact until the 1940s when a few of the more valuable items in the library appeared on the London market. The rest of the library was sold off in the 1960s. The family archive was deposited in NLS (now MSS.16501-17900) in 1957 and it includes Fletcher's MS catalogues of the collection, MS 17863-17864), where this particular copy is listed. |
|Reference Sources||P. J. Willems, "Bibliotheca Fletcheriana, or the extraordinary Library of Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun, reconstructed and systematically arranged" (Wassenaar, 1999) |
|Title||100 years of guttapercha|
|Imprint||R.&J. Dick, Ltd|
|Date of Publication||1946|
|Notes||This book was published by the firm of R.&J. Dick of Glasgow to celebrate the centenary of the company, and is a fascinating document of Scotland's industrial history.
Robert and James Dick were born in Kilmarnock and in the 1840s were apprentices in Glasgow. In 1843 the first samples of guttapercha (latex gum) arrived in Scotland, and in 1846 the brothers saw the possibilities of this product and formed a partnership for the manufacture of cheap rubber shoes. The 'Dick cheap shoe', the book tells us, was a 'byword in the vocabulary of the working classes'. A factory was built at Greenhead, and the firm prospered. The shoe market declined, but guttapercha was discovered to be good insulation for electrical cables, and the firm's product was used in the laying of transatlantic cables.
Robert Dick also used Balata, another form of latex, to produce the 'Dickbelt' - industrial-strength belting used around the world. He was a scientific experimenter and friend of Lord Kelvin, while his brother was the financial wizard - James died a millionaire, and left his fortune to charity.
The book still has its dustjacket, illustrating the 'Dickbelt' and guttapercha footwear, and still contains the original compliments slip from the firm.|
|Reference Sources||The book itself|
|Title||1759 : Burns' Centenary : 1859|
|Date of Publication||[n.d.]|
|Notes||A most unusual Robert Burns item, which seems to have belonged to Burns' descendants. This volume contains an ode to the poet ('Ye beauteous stars, which ever shine above us'), which is bound up with a variety of photographic and manuscript material. At the head of the title-page is the manuscript note 'Presented to the sons of the Poet by the author, Washington Moon.' This may be the minor poet George Washington Moon (1823-1909). There are manuscript corrections to the poem which appear to be in the same hand. Many poems were produced to commemorate the centenary of Burns' birth, but there does not seem to be any record of this work as an independent publication. Perhaps it was printed privately, or extracted from a larger anthology as a presentation copy.
Perhaps it was Burns' sons who had the volume made up as it currently stands: Moon's poem was bound in gilt maroon morocco, and had a number of blank leaves bound in after it which were used to attach various items relating to Burns. First is a photograph of a portrait of Burns, produced by John Ross, an Edinburgh photographer, with manuscript notes on the back and on the page indicating that it was presented by the poet's grand-daughter Mrs. Hutchinson in 1870. There is a photograph of the Burns' monument in Edinburgh, and another of a picture, possibly a scene of the 'Cottar's Saturday Night' produced by a Cheltenham photographer, G. Bartlett. Below this last photograph is a manuscript note dated 'Aug 14 / 08' [1808?]. Then follows a letter from one of the Hutchinsons to a Mrs Lamb about the 'Cottar's Saturday Night'. Next is a copy of a letter apparently given in Lockhart's Life of Burns, and a fragment of another Hutchinson letter. Finally is what purports to be an actual example of Burns' wax seal.
A clue to the construction of the volume is given by a note on the recto of the flyleaf before the title-page: 'To Mrs Kershaw Lamb, as a small remembrance of her friends Col. William Nicol Burns, and Lt. Col. James Glencairn Burns.' This is dated 'April 18th 1872', from '3 Berkeley Street, Cheltenham'. These are both recorded as sons of the poet, and both are known to have lived in Cheltenham. Below this inscription, in a different hand, is the statement 'Presented by Mrs. Hutchinson Grandaughter of the Poet the same who as a child is represented in the Portrait of Mrs. Burns as her favourite grandchild.' Mrs. Hutchinson is presumably Sarah Hutchinson, (1821-1909), the daughter of James Glencairn Burns, who also lived in Cheltenham.
A possible explanation, therefore, is that the poet George Washington Moon presented his verses to Burns' sons William and James; they added the photographs and letters with help from Sarah Hutchinson. The volume was presented to Mrs. Kershaw Lamb: does the final inscription on the flyleaf indicate that it was presented by Mrs. Hutchinson as well as Burns' sons, or that the volume passed from Mrs. Lamb back to Mrs. Hutchinson, who then passed it to someone else? There is plenty of material here to keep Burns researchers happy for some time.|
|Title||1951 Exhibition of Industrial Power - Kelvin Hall, Glasgow - Festival of Britain. |
|Date of Publication||1951|
|Notes||This striking catalogue marks one of Scotland's contributions to the celebrations for the Festival of Britain. The 1951 festival marked a moment of national self-confidence as the austerity of the war years started to come to an end. As the text makes clear, this is not a commercial trade fair, but a celebration of Britain's technical and economic development, and its contribution to civilisation. However, many of the firms involved have included colourful advertisements for tools, heavy machinery, power generation and financial services. One of the most interesting features is the emphasis on the generation of electricity from renewable resources: hydro-electricity and wind power are discussed and promoted. The hope is expressed that engineers 'will be able to produce in Scotland by wind-power alone as much electricity as is being produced in the country at present by any other means'. The publication suggests an optimistic and ambitious society looking to a prosperous future: unfortunately, not all the hopes expressed in 1951 have yet been fulfilled.|
|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||[3 Dutch translations: De kabinetten der Evangelische beloften; De zwangere belofte in hare vrucht; Blidje boodschap in zware tijden|
|Date of Publication||Various|
|Notes||These three translations into Dutch of the writings of Ralph Erskine (sermons and expositions of pieces of scripture)
demonstrate the popularity of his work in Holland well into the 20th century. They may also demonstrate the closeness in doctrinal terms between the modern Dutch Protestant Church and the 18th century Scottish Secession Church.
Erskine (1685-1752) was one of the key figures in the Secession Church. This church was formed in 1733 when a number of ministers led by Ebenezer Erskine (Ralph's brother) broke away from the Church of Scotland when the General Assembly decreed that elders and heritors only should elect ministers. Ralph Erskine did not join until 1737. In 1744 the Secession Church itself split over the Burgess Oath - the Erskines aligning themselves to the Burgher faction in opposition to the conservative anti-Burghers.
Ralph Erskine was born in Northumberland and educated at Edinburgh University. He spent most of his ministry in Dunfermline, where he was regarded as an excellent preacher. He was proficient on the violin and wrote a number of hymns.|