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 899 of the most important items we have acquired since 2000. We update it regularly as new material comes in. The description gives information about why it was chosen and what makes it particularly interesting. You can order the list by date of acquisition, author or title.

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Important Acquisitions 316 to 330 of 899:

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AuthorAnon.
TitleThe distillery of Scotland a national benefit; and the importation and use of foreign spirits, a national detriment.
ImprintAberdeen: J. Chalmers, R. Farquhar
Date of Publication1755
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis pamphlet, by an anonymous author, discusses the economics of Scottish production of spirits in the form of two letters to a friend, dated the 3rd and 22nd May. The author, who informs his friend that he was lately in Edinburgh, takes as his cue the topical theme: Whether the distillery of Scotland was a national profit or loss? He discusses the production of whisky in Scotland in relation to its annual use of 50,000 bolls of bear (i.e. barley). He also looks at the production other alcoholic spirits in England, Europe and the colonies, analysing the costs of the ingredients and profit margins of exports and imports. His argument is that cheap imports of foreign spirits are harming the production of locally-produced whisky, which was suffering from high levels of taxation, in particular after the Act of Union and the imposition of an English malt tax in 1725. The author's concerns were no doubt motivated by the fact that in Scotland there were very few licensed distilleries, prepared to pay the taxes, but hundreds of illicit stills supplying the domestic market. Only two other copies of the is pamphlet are recorded by ESTC (at the British library and Harvard).
ShelfmarkAB.2.215.06
Acquired on09/01/15
AuthorAnon.
TitleThe history of Netterville, a chance pedestrian.
ImprintLondon: J. Cundee
Date of Publication1802
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a rare copy of a sentimental novel set in the 1770s which relates the misadventures of the young hero Lewisham Netterville. Netterville's attempts to follow his late father's precepts and lead a virtuous life while at the same time pursuing the object of his affection, the beautiful Clara Walsingham, take him on a tour of Great Britain, from Bath to Bamborough (Bamburgh) Castle, in Northumberland, and so on to Scotland, where he visits the fictitious Clanrick Hall, Edinburgh, the hill of Moncreiff, Perth, and the islands of Mull, Staffa and Iona. The anonymous female author also includes a Scottish ballad of the her own composition, 'Ellen of Irvine; or, the Maid of Kirkonnel[sic], a ballad' (vol. II, pp. 57-65). The tragic tale of Ellen Irvine had appeared in Pennant's 'A tour in Scotland', (London 1774), and both Burns and Walter Scott wrote versions of the story. In the dedication (signed "the authoress"), the author apologises for her "untutored muse", claiming that the poetry was written at a different period. She describes this novel as "a second attempt in the region of fiction" and hopes that, given that it contains nothing immoral or irreligious, it may not fail to amuse a "candid and generous few, who condescend sometimes to stray awhile, amid the bowers of Fancy". The novel met with some praise from contemporary critics: "There is some novelty in the conduct of this novel and the characters and incidents are ingeniously varied. The plot is, perhaps, a little perplexed, but the interest, amid all the episodical interruptions which it meets with, suffers but little abatement" (The Monthly Mirror, XIII, London 1802, p. 251).
ShelfmarkRB.s.2903-2904
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on27/06/14
AuthorAnon.
TitleThe noble pedlar! Or the late chance-sellor & present broom seller!!
ImprintLondon: J. Sidebotham
Date of Publication1816
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a hand-coloured broadside satirising the Scottish politician Thomas Erskine, first baron Erskine (1750-1823). Starting off in the army, Erskine later became a successful barrister in England, moving into politics in the 1780s. As a supporter of the Whigs he championed the causes of parliamentary reform, the freedom of the press, and opposition to the growing reaction caused by fear of revolutionary France. In 1806 he finally achieved high political office, becoming lord chancellor, but resigned the following year. His latter years were marked by financial problems. He lost much of his fortune in failed American investments, and was forced to sell the bulk of his property in London. Having bought an estate, Holmbush, near Crawley in Sussex, he tried his hand at farming. The land, however, was infertile, and he suffered further financial losses when he tried to make money by growing and selling heath brooms. To add insult to injury, one of the men he employed to sell his brooms in London was taken to court in 1816 for selling the brooms without a hawker's license. Erskine was fined 10 and when, on entering the court, he was told by the magistrates of his conviction, he showed that he had lost none of his renowned wit by commenting "if you do, it must be under a sweeping clause." The broadside shows Erskine walking beside a cart selling brooms, crying "O the broom, the bonny, bonny broom! who'll buy my charming brooms". The verses at the foot, titled "The bonny brooms", are accordingly to be sung to the well-known Scottish ballad 'The broom o' the Cowdenknowes'.
ShelfmarkAP.7.214.17
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on27/06/14
AuthorAnon.
TitleA famous Fife trial: the Kirkcaldy duel case.
ImprintCork: Purcell and Company
Date of Publication1893
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis 16-page pamphlet records the basic details of one of the most famous murder trials in Scotland in the 19th century. David Landale, a linen merchant from Kirkcaldy in Fife, was tried for the murder of George Morgan in a duel which took place on 23 August, 1826. It was the last recorded fatal duel that took place in Scotland. The shooting of Morgan by Landale was the culmination of a dispute between the two men that had started the previous year. Landale's business was suffering major cash flow problems when his banker Morgan had suddenly and unexpectedly refused to help him pay his creditors. Morgan was a vindictive and irascible man, who took exception to Landale's subsequent decision to take his business elsewhere. He began to spread rumours in the town about the merchant's lack of creditworthiness. In June 1826 Landale complained bitterly in a letter to the Bank of Scotland headquarters in Edinburgh about Morgans conduct. The Bank took Landale's allegations seriously and admonished Morgan and his brother (and fellow-banker), David, for discussing bank matters and Landale's financial affairs in public, but chose not to punish them. George Morgan took this reprieve from the Bank as a green light to pursue his own personal grudge with the merchant. He was incensed that Landale had gone behind his back and had written to the Bank of Scotland directly; he demanded an immediate written apology for the allegations in the letter. Landale refused to apologise but did not rise to the bait of challenging Morgan to a duel, Morgan being reluctant to issue a challenge himself. There followed a tense stand-off between the two men, neither of them willing to back down and apologise, which was finally broken on the morning of 22 August when Morgan spotted Landale in Kirkcaldy's High Street and hit him across the shoulders with his umbrella while shouting "Take you that, sir!" Landale sought refuge in a shop only to be pursued in there by Morgan crying, "By God, sir, you shall have more of this yet!" Landale fled, briefly pursued by Morgan, only to return to the scene of the attack to find Morgan had also gone back there; his reaction was to call Morgan "a poor, silly coward". After being assaulted in public Landale now had no alternative but to write to Morgan and to demand "the satisfaction which as a gentleman I am entitled to". He challenged Morgan to a duel at seven o'clock the following morning with pistols, even though he later claimed that he had never fired a gun in his life and did not own any pistols; moreover, Morgan was a former army officer who was used to handling firearms. Despite one final attempt by Morgan's second, on the night of the 22nd, to resolve the dispute, the duel proceeded as planned on 23 August in a field just outside Kirkcaldy. Morgan fired and missed but Landale, having purchased a pair of pistols in Edinburgh the previous day, mortally wounded his adversary. Landale escaped to Cumbria to avoid arrest but returned to Scotland the following month to face trial for murder, confident he would be cleared. The trial took place in Perth on September 22 in a packed and boisterous courthouse. Landale was represented by two of the leading advocates of the day: Henry Cockburn (a record of the trial, kept his clerk, is now in the NLS's manuscript collections: Adv.MS.9.1.2) and Francis Jeffrey, best known today as a literary critic. Cockburn and Jeffrey argued convincingly that Landale had not acted out of malice, had been reluctant to challenge Morgan, and had been subject to sustained and intolerable provocation by Morgan. After a five-hour trial, the jury only need two minutes to acquit Landale. The judge dismissed him from the court room, commenting on his honourable and unsullied character. He returned to Kirkcaldy to carry on running his business, later becoming provost of Kirkcaldy. In an incredible twist of fate, one of his daughters, Ellen, married in 1851 Alexander Morgan, nephew of George Morgan, a sign that both families had long become reconciled. Another daughter, Eliza Gage Landale, married William Lane, an Irish landowner. He owned Mount Vernon in Cork, a Georgian mansion in the city, which is still there today. As Cork is the place of publication of this pamphlet, she must have been involved in getting this work privately printed. The text is largely based on an anonymous account of the trial published in 1826 'Report of the trial of David Landale Esq., before the Circuit Court of Justiciary at Perth'. Her motives for publication, nearly 70 years after the event, are unclear. The inscriptions in this copy show that Eliza presented this copy to her son, Samuel, and at the back she records basic details of her father's life and the fact that her sister had married the nephew of the man her father had "the misfortune to kill".
ShelfmarkAB.1.214.31
Reference SourcesJames Landale, 'Duel: a true story of death and honour', (Edinburgh: Canongate, 2005).
Acquired on28/03/14
AuthorAnon.
TitleThe balance of public favor [sic].
ImprintLondon: Thomas McLean
Date of Publication1827
LanguageEnglish
NotesA lithographic satirical print depicting Sir Walter Scott and Thomas Moore, two friends but also literary rivals, sitting on opposite ends of a giant set of scales. The scales are not balanced: Scott is seated on the higher scale, looking gloomy, clutching the nine volumes of his biography of Napoleon, while Moore, the Irish poet, is on the lower scale, looking pleased, and confidently holding up a single small volume for Scott to look at. The print refers to the fact that Scott's "The life of Napoleon Buonaparte" was due to be published on the same day in 1827 as Thomas Moore's prose romance, "The epicurean, a tale", based on his unfinished poem "Alciphron". However, Moore managed to beat Scott to the punch by getting his book published a day earlier. Scott's biography was subsequently a commercial success but met with a very mixed critical reception, whereas Moore's first novel was an immediate commercial and critical success, hence "the balance of public favo[u]r" falling in Moore's favour.
ShelfmarkAP.5.216.11
Acquired on22/07/16
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
AuthorAnonymous
TitleLe rapporteur de bonne-foi, ou Examen sans partialitie & sans pretention du differend survenu entre M. Hume & M. Rousseau de Geneve
ImprintParis?
Date of Publication1766
LanguageFrench
NotesConcerning the dispute between Hume and Rousseau. Included in Expose succinct de la contestation qui s'est elevee entre M. Hume. Et M. Rousseau, avec les pieces justificatives. (ESTC N31270). The ESTC record includes the following note: Pp.133-177 contain 'Le rapporteur de bonne-foi, ou examen ... du differend survenu entre M. Hume & M. Rousseau ... ', with a separate titlepage, and signed: T. Verax, i.e. Rousselot (probably).
ShelfmarkAB.1.214.44
Reference SourcesESTC
Acquired on13/07/14
AuthorAnonymous
TitleThomas Edwards, England's, and North-Britain's, Happiness
ImprintLondon
Date of Publication1709
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis rare pamphlet makes a unique contribution to the debates over the Union of 1707. The writer argues that the great happiness brought by the union can be easily demonstrated by comparing conditions in modern England to, for instance, the reign of Henry III (!). The writer claims that the settlement has clarified the workings of the constitution, particularly as regards the militia, and supports Thomas Orme's Former Prints for a Standing Army (1707). The text goes on to claim that the Church of England is now freer from popery than at any time since the reign of Henry VIII, and warns solemnly against tolerating the Dissenters. In order to make this point further, the editor goes on to reprint the epistle from Thomas Edwards' Gangraena (1646) in which toleration is denounced. The 'imprimatur' from James Cranford on p. 32, which precedes the extract from Edwards' work, is simply an imprimatur from an edition of Edwards. At p. 33 the writer continues to discourse on religion and the state of the church, quoting from other sources to suggest that the Kirk of Scotland should conform to the Church of England. The writer clearly feels that Scotland has failed to make a proper contribution to the Union, remarking on the last page that only divine intervention prevented the Pretender from successfully taking Scotland in 1708, when 'North-Britain was so out of capacity to resist an invading Foe'. As a political argument, this work is amusingly illogical and disordered, but its references to other pamphlets create an interesting picture of literary debates in Britain in the early eighteenth century. This copy is striking for its condition, being uncut, unopened and stitched as issued. ESTC records just eight other copies (ESTC T32653). Collation: 4o, A-D4, a-b4, E-G4
ShelfmarkRB.s.2074
Acquired on17/01/01
AuthorAnthony Trollope
TitleLinda Tressell
ImprintEdinburgh: William Blackwood
Date of Publication[1880?]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis novel written by Anthony Trollope (1815-1882) is a tale or star-crossed lovers and religious fanaticism set in the German city of Nuremberg. First serialized in Blackwood's Magazine in 1867-1868, a two-volume edition was published by Blackwood in 1868, but sold very poorly. The publishers bound up the unsold sheets of the first edition and reissued them as this single volume in c. 1879/1880, but again without any commercial success, making this issue something of a rarity.
ShelfmarkAB.1.215.79
Acquired on15/05/15
AuthorArchimedes
Title[Works]
Imprint[Foulis Press?]
Date of Publication[1743-1749?]
LanguageGreek
NotesThe exploits of the Foulis Press are always intriguing, and this latest discovery is no exception. Here is a single, uncut sheet consisting of two identical folio leaves. The text is the half-title and first page of a work by Archimedes, the ancient Greek scientist and mathematician, 'On the sphere and the cylinder'. Clearly the sheet was to be cut in half and then each leaf placed in a volume of Archimedes. But why was this extra leaf printed, and what has this got to do with Glasgow's Foulis Press? At shelfmark K.33.b, the Library has a copy of the first edition of Archimedes, printed at Basle in 1544. This edition was based on a defective manuscript, so the text at the start of 'On the sphere' was not included. At some point in the eighteenth century, an attempt was made to supply this lacuna, possibly by the mathematician and book-collector William Jones (1675-1749). This extra leaf was specially printed, probably by Glasgow's Foulis Press, using the Greek 'Great Primer' font cut for them by Alexander Wilson around 1743. It is not known how many copies were corrected in this way - the copy now at K.33.b. is among those corrected. It was received by the Advocates' Library some time between 1742 and 1776. Perhaps the correction was made for the 200th anniversary of the first printing of Archimedes?
ShelfmarkRB.l.143
Reference SourcesGaskell, Foulis Press Archimedes, Opera, ed. Heiberg DNB
Acquired on16/07/04
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
AuthorAssociation for Promoting the Discovery of the Interior Parts of Africa
TitleProposals for printing by subscription ... Travels in the interior parts of Africa
Imprint[London: G. Nicol]
Date of Publication1798
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an unrecorded single sheet, dated June 4th 1798, outlining the conditions for subscribing to the forthcoming publication of Mungo Park's "Travels in the interior districts of Africa". The young Scot (1771-1806) had been appointed by the Association for Promoting the Discovery of the Interior Parts of Africa (African Association) to lead an expedition to 'ascertain the course, and if possible, the rise and termination' of the river Niger. Park set out for Africa in 1795 and returned home two and a half years later, having survived a series of arduous adventures in which he was able to ascertain that the river flowed inland to the east. An abridged account of his expedition was privately printed for African Association members in 1798 while Park returned to his home town of Selkirk and wrote up his notes for his planned book, which was to be published by subscription. This sheet reveals the completed book would "form one handsome volume in quarto" and would be ready "early in the ensuing season". Subscribers would pay an initial guinea for which they were likely to get the book in boards along with the engravings, but may have to pay an extra half guinea for any additional expenses in printing and engraving. They would also have their names printed. Subscriptions were to be received by the London bookseller George Nicol, who was already exhibiting a map of Park's route in his shop (the map engraved by James Rennell showed the Niger flowing eastward, but, incorrectly, also showed it petering out into an inland swamp). Park's "Travels" was published the following year and would prove to be a bestseller, going through three editions in its first year of publication.
ShelfmarkAP.5.212.01
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on18/11/11
AuthorAudubon, John James
TitleOrnithological biography: or an account of the habits of the birds of the United States of America
ImprintEdinburgh: Adam & Charles Black,
Date of Publication1831-1849[i.e.1839]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a complete 5-volume set of Audubon's "Ornithological biography" in their original salmon-pink cloth bindings (the existing set in NLS is incomplete, lacking vol. 5). The work was written by Audubon in collaboration with the Scottish naturalist William MacGillivray; it was intended as a text companion to the elephant folio volumes comprising the plates of "Birds of America". Audubon's last three visits to Scotland in the 1830s were primarily devoted to working with MacGillivray in Edinburgh on the book. The text was published separately from the plates to circumvent the Copyright Act, which would have required that Audubon deposit sets of "Birds of America" with the UK legal deposit libraries.
ShelfmarkRB.m.741-745
Acquired on19/10/12
AuthorBaillie, Joanna
TitleCollection of Poems
Date of Publication1823
LanguageEnglish
NotesBought with [Walter Scott, Letter on Landscape, 1831], $600.00. This item transferred to MSS. Two very unusual Scott items, both from the collections of the Scott bibliographers William B. Todd and Ann Bowden: in the bibliography, these are items 166A and 256A.1 respectively. Baillie encouraged many poets to submit original unpublished works for inclusion in her volume, among whom were Scott, Wordsworth, Southey and Campbell. This copy has been purchased because it was apparently given as a present by Scott (see the publisher's note on title-page), and it is finely bound with Scott's personal portcullis device in gilt on the spine. No other examples of such a binding are known outside Scott's own library at Abbotsford. The second item is a curious facsimile of a Scott letter. At some point this copy has been included in a collection of forgeries, but it seems unlikely that anyone would be fooled for long: although the postmark is dated 1830, the paper is watermarked 1831! The National Library holds what is probably the original of this letter, MS.23141.f.9. A comparision of the two suggests that great labour went into the production of the facsimile, for no very obvious reason.
ShelfmarkBdg.s.879
Reference SourcesWilliam B. Todd & Ann Bowden, Sir Walter Scott ? a bibliographical history, 1998.
Acquired on24/01/02
AuthorBain, Alexander.
TitlePetition of Alexander Bain.
ImprintLondon: Chapman and Hall,
Date of Publication1846
LanguageEnglish
NotesAlexander Bain (1810-1877) was a clockmaker and inventor from Caithness who moved to London in 1837. He began to attend lectures, exhibitions, and demonstrations on the principles and practices of electrical science and was one of the first people to consider how clocks could be driven by electricity. As the 'father of electrical horology' he took out five patents in this field between 1841 and 1852, including one in 1846 on picture telegraphy which would enable copies of drawings to be sent electrically from one place to another. In 1845 a bill was proposed by Sir William Fothergill Cooke and John Lewis Ricardo, MP, for founding an Electric Telegraph Company in the UK, the world's first public telegraph company. Bain opposed the formation of the Company on the grounds that some of his patents would be infringed and took his case to Parliament. This book sets out his case for saving his patents, reproducing the evidence he gave to select committees in both Houses of Parliament. In the end an agreement was reached whereby the Electric Telegraph Company paid Bain 7500 for his patents.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2754
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on11/06/09
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