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 818 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 391 to 405 of 818:

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ImprintGlasgow, David Bryce
Date of Publicationca. 1900
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.
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
AuthorBarclay, John.
TitleL' Argenide di Giovanni Barclaio.
ImprintVenetia [Venice]: Pietro Maria Bertano,
Date of Publication1636
NotesThe Library has recently acquired a number of early editions of the Franco-Scottish author John Barclay to increase its holdings of one of the most widely-read and influential literary figures of 17th-century Europe. This Italian translation of Barclay's political romance "Argenis" was made by Carl' Antonio Cocastello and edited by Christoforo Tomasini. First published in Turin in 1630, it followed another Italian translation made by Francesco Pona that was originally published in Venice in 1629. "Argenis" was Barclay's last work, completed only days before his death, and his greatest one. Composed in Rome as Barclay was working at the papal court at the time, but printed in Paris in 1621, Barclay's novel, describing the story of Princess Argenis and her suitors, offered an allegorical presentation of European history in transition from the 16th to the 17th centuries.
Reference SourcesShaaber B144
Acquired on29/05/10
TitleL.R.B. [Lloyd Royal Belge]
ImprintGlasgow]: Maclure & Macdonald
Date of Publication[1919-1920]
NotesThis appears to be a specially prepared album recording a Glasgow shipyard in 1919/1920 at the time of it's take-over and during the political upheavals of Red Clydeside. Clearly the photographs were taken at the time the company became incorporated into Lloyd Royal Belge in 1919, one photograph of the Managers Office helpfully has Henry Gylsen seated with a fellow director under a calendar which reads May 14 Friday [1920]. The bulk of the album contains a good series of photographs showing the entire shipyard during a working day. Beginning with a photographic reproduction of a drawn bird's eye view of the works, it also includes views of the entrance, the office areas, electric crane, smithy and hydraulic riveting station. Three plates show the S.S. Londonier on the stock, being launched and and being pulled by a tug boat and two plates of one of the owners, Senator Brys attending to King Albert on a visit to a steamer. The boat was sold off in 1939 and later became a a war ship under the Japanese flag only to be sunk in 1943 in the East China Sea. Lloyd Royal Belge began life in 1895 as the Compagnie Maritime Belge du Congo to operate passenger and cargo services to the Belgian Congo. Until 1930 routes were confined to the Belgium-Congo service but being taken over that year the company name changed to Compagnie Maritime Belge (Lloyd Royal) and new services were started to North and South America and the Far East.
Acquired on04/08/08
TitleLa Bible qui est toute la saincte escriture du Vieil & du Nouveau Testament
ImprintLa Rochelle: Imprimerie de H. Haultin par Corneille Hertman
Date of Publication1616
NotesThis is a rare, finely printed and illustrated French Protestant bible from La Rochelle with an interesting early Scottish provenance. The bible, printed in small Roman type, imitates the great Estienne folio Bibles of the previous century. All Protestant printing of this period in France is rare as it was expressly forbidden by the edict of Nantes except in those provincial towns where Protestantism was allowed. After the siege of La Rochelle in 1627-28 during the Protestant revolt Protestant bibles were preserved in France clandestinely. This bible is bound in a contemporary red morocco which may be in a French binding style but the somewhat cruder material and execution may point to it being Scottish. The marks of provenance indicate that it belonged to the Wemyss family in Scotland and in particular to one or two women in the family. There are three inscriptions in two 17th-century hands: "Jean Wemyss" on front free end-paper, "Janna Wemyss" in the same hand on the following leaf, "Forfar" on verso of title page in different hand. "L I W" is blind-stamped at centre of front and back boards of the binding. The Jean/Janna Wemyss inscribed on the free endpapers is either Jean Gray (d. 1640), the wife of John Wemyss, 1st Earl of Wemyss (1586-1649), or her granddaughter, Lady Jean Wemyss (d. 1715), eldest daughter of David Wemyss, second earl of Wemyss. Lady Jean Wemyss' eldest son was Archibald Douglas, who became 1st Earl of Forfar in 1661, which could explain the "Forfar" inscription on the verso of the title page.
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on16/05/14
AuthorFabre, Jean Raymond Auguste
TitleLa Caledonie, ou, La guerre nationale.
ImprintParis: Didot
Date of Publication1823
NotesThis is an epic poem by French poet and journalist Jean-Raymond-Auguste Fabre (1792-1839), written, in 12 books, in the style of Homer and Virgil and with some Ossianic flavour. Fabre worked as editor of the periodical "La semaine" and "La tribune" in the 1820s and was an ardent republican who drew inspiration from peoples' struggles against monarchy and tyranny. "Caledonie" is loosely based on ancient legends and on the text of Roman author Tacitus' work "Agricola" which covers the conquest of Great Britain, including the invasion of the northern part of the island, later to become Scotland. The poem depicts brave Caledonian warriors, with suitably Ossianic names, Olgar, Olnir, Fergus etc. fighting against the Roman invaders. Fabre also wrote a poem in a similar vein based on contemporary events, namely the siege of Missolonghi in 1825-26, during the Greek war of independence from the Ottoman empire. This copy is bound in contemporary polished calf in gilt and blind by the firm of Bradel of Paris with their label, and has the gilt initials 'P.B.' on the covers. It was subsequently owned by two famous book collectors who added their book labels to the front pastedown. The first of these is Mortimer Loeb Schiff's red morocco gilt book label. Schiff (1877?1931), sometimes known as Mortimer Leo Schiff, was an American banker who assembled an important collection of decorative bindings, illustrated books and signed bindings. The book was sold at auction by Sotheby's in 1938 and purchased by the English bibliophile Major J.R. Abbey. He in turn added his own green morocco gilt book label. The book was sold again by Sotheby's in 1967.
Reference SourcesSeymour de Ricci, British and miscellaneous signed bindings in the Mortimer L. Schiff collection, New York, 1935
Acquired on29/01/16
AuthorClaude, Jean
TitleLa Defense De La Reformation Contre Le Live Intitulé Prejugez Legitimes Contre Les Calvinistes
ImprintRouen: Jean Lucas, demeurant ŕ Rouen rue aux Juifs, proche lHotel de Ville
Date of Publication1673
NotesThe author, Jean Claude, was a French Protestant Minister who wrote fiercely against the persecution of Protestants in France. This work is aimed at Pierre Nicoles attack on the Calvinists. The item is particularly interesting because of its provenance. On the inside front board is the book-plate of the Earl of Kintore with the motto Quae Amissa Salva.On the verso of the inside flyleaf is the ownership inscription Veritas Vincit, Kintore 1703, written in a clear bold hand in black ink. The bookplate is that of a descendant of Sir John Keith, who was the first to hold the Earldom of Kintore. A hero of the civil wars, he held Dunnottar Castle against Cromwell in 1650 and had a principal hand in preserving the regalia of Scotland from falling into the hands of Cromwell. During Cromwells usurpation the regalia had been carried to Dunnottar Castle as a place of safety. During the siege of the castle 1651-52 Sir John Keith had the regalia safely conveyed away and deposited underground in the Church at Kinneff. Pretending that the Scottish Regalia were in his possession, he sailed to France. He was apprehended and examined on his return but declared that he had carried the regalia off. In consideration of his services saving the regalia he was he was appointed hereditary Knight Marischal of Scotland upon the Restoration in 1660. In 1677 he was raised to the dignity of the peerage by the title of Earl of Kintore, Lord Keith of Inverurie and Keith Hall. He was further admiited to a member of the Privy Council in 1689. Sir John Keith died in 1714, having supported the Treaty of Union in the Parliament of Scotland seven years earlier. He, and his descendants, were leading figures in Scotland throughout the eighteenth century and are reckoned to be the chiefs of the Keith Clan today.
Reference SourcesDNB, Debretts peerage, The Scots peerage, The peerage of Scotland.
Acquired on01/04/05
AuthorAndreini, Giovanni Battista.
TitleLa Florinda, Tragedia
ImprintMilan: Girolamo Bordone
Date of Publication1606
NotesRare first edition of this illustrated tragedy, the first work for the stage and the only tragedy by Giovanni Battista Andreini (1579-1654), regarded as the most important Italian dramatist of the 17th century. Andreini is considered especially important as a link between the Commedia dell' arte tradition, with its mixing of dialects and improvisational tendencies, and the emerging genre of opera. The tragedy is set in a Scottish forest (pictured on an illustrated plate), with the plot centering on a domestic tragedy concerning Ircano king of Scotland and his wife Florinda, countess of "Angusa" (Angus?). Tha play ends typically with a succession of suicides.
Acquired on07/07/08
AuthorDavis, D.
TitleLadies and gentlemen, the contents of this bill are worthy your attention. Comfortable walking. D. Davis, (to be consulted at Mrs. Young's, No.5, College-street, Edinburgh,) the well known extractor of hard and soft corns, bunnions [sic] on the great toes, root and branch, without the least pain or drawing blood ....
Imprint[Edinburgh] : Schaw, printer, Lawnmarket,
Date of Publicationc. 1810
NotesPrinted ephemera from the hand-press era of printing are particularly scarce, so this Edinburgh-printed handbill from the early 19th century is a welcome addition to the Library's collections. It advertises the medical services of one D. Davis, "well-known extractor of hard and soft corns, bunnions on the great toes". For potential clients in Edinburgh he provides information on his success in rectifying all manner of foot complaints, rendering the patients "able to walk immediately, although they may have been afflicted many years & he has arrived from Hull, with great testimonials from several highly honourable ladies and gentleman, from the year 1796 to the present period, and is highly recommended in the town of Sunderland; also in the city of Lincoln, Louth, Boston, Gainsbro', Doncaster, Swansey, Carmarthen&"
Acquired on03/06/11
AuthorGibb, J. Taylor.
TitleLand of Burns: Mauchline town and district.
Date of Publication[1911]
NotesThis is a rare Mauchline-ware book signed by the author J. Taylor Gibb. The binding is 'made of wood from the old United Presbyterian Church, Mauchline' which was built in 1793 and demolished in 1884. Mauchline was one of a number of Ayrshire towns where during the nineteenth century, snuff boxes, tea-caddies, napkin rings and cigar cases were made of wood - sycamore or oak. Because of the dominant position of W. and A. Smith in Mauchline in the trade, these wooden objects were referred to as Mauchline ware. The beautifully-crafted sold in vast quantities not only in Britain but throughout Europe and the British Empire until the 1930s. Robert Burns's association with the town - he lived there with Jean Armour and composed some of his most famous poems locally - meant that many objects were decorated with portraits of the poet. From the 1860s photographs were applied as a decoration to many items of Mauchline ware. It is possible that this binding was made at the Caledonian Box Works founded in Lanark in 1866 by Alexander Brown a keen photographer and an acquaintance of George Washington Wilson.
Reference SourcesBaker, John. Mauchline ware and associated Scottish souvenir ware. (Shire Album 140) 1985. HP2.85.3149
Acquired on08/05/02
AuthorAnderson, William
TitleLandscape Lyrics
Date of Publication1838
NotesWilliam Anderson (1805-1866) was born at Edinburgh. His maternal grandfather was the author of the 'Natural History of the Mineral Kingdom' and his brother John was the historian of the house of Hamilton. Apart from newspaper contributions, his first publication was 'Poetical Sketches' in 1833. By 1838 he was living in London where he moved in literary circles. Later he returned to Scotland, continuing to publish and working for Scottish newspapers. The DNB characterizes Anderson's poetry as 'generally sweet and tuneful' but 'not characterized by much merit of a literary kind'. These 'Landscape Lyrics' are typical mid-19th century verse in their style and subject. This copy, however, is of particular interest, being the author's proof copy of the first edition, without title page or plates. As the bookseller's catalogue says, 'These pleasantly messy proofs were evidently corrected currente calamo as they came off the press'. As such, they are a good example of writing and publishing practices of the period, and complement the Library's holdings of publisher's archives in this regard. A copy of the publication in its final state is at AB.8.83.5, which would make an interesting comparison.
Reference SourcesDNB; Bookseller's catalogue.
Acquired on26/01/04
AuthorDe Monvel, Roger Boutet.
TitleLe Bon Anglais.
ImprintParis: Devambez
Date of Publicationc.1918
NotesThis is one of three works for children with text by Roger Boutet de Monvel and 'pochoir' (stencilled) illustrations by Guy Arnoux published during the later years of First World War. The other titles were 'Nos Freres d'Amerique' and 'Le Carnet d'un Permissionaire'. They were seemingly designed to create a positive impression of their allies among French children and show soldiers in a variety of peace-time settings. Included are two illustrations of Scots - one depicting the Black Watch, the second 'Le Bon Ecossais', which shows a kilted soldier surrounded by flag-waving children. Arnoux (1886-1951) illustrated some 80 books during his lifetime. He studied with the designer Paul Poiret and was a frequent contributer to the fashion magazine 'Gazette du Bon Ton'. In 1921 he was appointed official artist of the French Navy.
Acquired on25/09/06
AuthorJohn Gibson Lockhart
TitleLe Ministre Ecossais, ou le Veuvage d' Adam Blair
ImprintParis: Charles Gosselin
Date of Publication1822
NotesThis is an unrecorded French translation of Lockhart's controversial work "Some Passages in the Life of Mr. Adam Blair, Minister of the Gospel at Cross-Meikle". The first English edition was published in Edinburgh in the same year. The identity of the translator is unknown; he/she is referred to on the title page as the translator of "Edouard en Ecosse". This work is presumably the translation of David Carey's "Lochiel; or, the Field of Culloden" by 'baron Vel', which also appeared in 1822. "Le Ministre ecossais", published by Gosselin who also published translations of Walter Scott, was clearly aimed at enthusiastic French readers of Scott and all things Scottish. "Some Passages in the Life ..." was Lockhart's second novel and is generally regarded as his best. It was based on a true story that Lockhart heard from his father about a widowed minister who had an affair with a married woman. Lockhart was criticised for his immorality in recounting the tale; some of the disapproval may also have stemmed from the lack of a happy ending in the novel - the real 'Adam Blair' minister was deposed in 1746, but went on to marry his mistress and was eventually accepted back into the church. This three-volume set is from the library of a French noblewoman Diane-Adelaide Damas d' Antigny, madame de Simiane (1761-1835), former mistress of the marquis de Lafayette, which was housed in the Chateau de Cirey in Champagne.
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on31/05/13
AuthorSir Walter Scott
TitleLe miroir de la tante Marguerite et la chambre tapissee, contes.
ImprintParis: Charles Gosselin
Date of Publication1829
NotesThis volume contains the first edition in French of Scott's essay 'On the Supernatural in Fictitious Composition; and particularly on the works of Ernest Theodore William Hoffmann'. The essay was first published, unsigned, in "The Foreign Quarterly Review" (vol. I, no. 1 (1827)); in it Scott criticised the late German author (1776-1822), better known by his pen name E.T.A. Hoffmann, for his unbridled use of supernatural effects and his inability to separate fantasy from reality in fiction. The essay was hugely influential as a critique of the use of the supernatural in literature and a source used by Edgar Allen Poe in "Fall of the house of Usher". The volume also includes translations of three gothic short stories by Scott, translations of: My Aunt Margaret's Mirror and The Tapestried Chamber (both from the literary annual "The Keepsake" for 1828) and Clorinda: or the Necklace of Pearl (from "The Keepsake" for 1829, by 'Lord Normanby' but pseudonymous). The translator was Rosine Mame Gosselin (Lady Lattimore Clarke), wife of the editor and publisher of Scott's works in French, Charles Gosselin. The book is from the library of a French noblewoman Diane-Adelaide Damas d' Antigny, madame de Simiane (1761-1835), former mistress of the marquis de Lafayette, which was housed in the Chateau de Cirey in Champagne.
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on31/05/13
TitleLe rapporteur de bonne-foi, ou Examen sans partialitie & sans pretention du differend survenu entre M. Hume & M. Rousseau de Geneve
Date of Publication1766
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).
Reference SourcesESTC
Acquired on13/07/14
AuthorLamont, Sir James of Knockdow
TitleLecture on the Civil War in America, delivered at the Rothesay Mechanics' Institute
Date of Publication1864
NotesAn unrecorded (?) lecture stating the case for the Northern Government against the Southern States. The content is interesting for a number of reasons. The lecture begins "Ladies and Gentlemen, when I was crusing last winter in my yacht in the Mediterranean, I had the pleasure of passing an afternoon with the illustrious General Garibaldi." The venue and presumably the audience are interesting. No copy in GUL online cat.
Acquired on20/03/00
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