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 755 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 421 to 435 of 755:

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TitleHoly Bible
ImprintLondon: Eyre & Spottiswoode
Date of Publication1850
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an outstanding example of Victorian Scottish craftsmanship. The binding was specially commissioned for the 50th wedding anniversary of William and Agnes Renton on 7 July 1852. We know quite a bit about this couple, thanks to a book entitled 'Memorial of Mrs. Agnes Renton', privately printed in Kelso in 1866 for their family (NLS shelfmark OO.8/2). Agnes Renton was born into a merchant family in Edinburgh on 16 February 1781. William Renton was born in Edinburgh on 7 January 1774 and was also a merchant; he married Agnes on 7 July 1802, and their marriage seems to be have been particularly happy and fruitful. Agnes is portrayed in the Memorial as a strong, intelligent and devout woman, and extracts from her letters confirm this impression. The Memorial describes the anniversary celebrations, which culminated in the presentation of this Bible (pp.26-9): 'On the completion of the fiftieth year of her married life an interesting celebration of it took place, at which all the members of her family in this country were present, including four sons, two daughters, three sons-in-law, two daughters-in-law...and twenty-three grandchildren... About noon on the Jubilee Anniversary, Wednesday, July 7, 1852, the different branches of the family met in their common home, the house of our venerable parents, 22 Buccleuch Place. On entering, all, old and young, received wedding favours and gloves, according to old Scotch fashion. The seniors were ushered into the drawing-room, where father and mother awaited them; and when they were all assembled and had taken their places - the aged couple in arm chairs about the middle of the room - the youngsters entered in procession, two and two, according to age, and, ranged in a beautiful group in front of their grandparents, presented, by the hands of John Robson, as eldest grandson, though not eldest grandchild, the gift of the united grandchildren. It consisted of a magnificent quarto Bible, richly bound and clasped. In the interior of the board fronting the title-page a silver shield is inserted, of ten inches by six, within which is an oval tablet, six inches by four and a-half, containing an embossed genealogical tree of gold. On the base of the trunk are engraved the names of the grandparents, with a plaited lock of the hair incased beneath each. On the successive branches are the names of their children, and where married those also of their partners, with a number of twigs attached, corresponding to that of the grandchildren, and affixed to each a lock of the child's hair with a number indicating the name on the margin of the shield. Surrounding the tablet is a space of about an inch, between the gold rim inclosing it and the border of the shield, which is occupied at the top and bottom with the inscription, and on either side with the names of the donors, in the order of their families, to the number of thirty-one. In making the presentation the speaker delivered a pretty and appropriate address, expressive of the love and reverence and good wishes of the donors, and of their desire to follow the example which had been set by their grandparents, and to gladden their hearts by walking in the fear of the Lord. "Grandpapa" replied with not a little emotion, giving vent to his feelings of gratitude, interest, and affection. We then engaged in worship.' This detailed description leaves no room for doubt that this is the very Bible which is now being offered to NLS. It is a most remarkable object. As well as the extraordinary family tree inside the front board, the Bible is finely bound with gold tooling all over, gilt gauffered leaf edges, fine brass clasps and a velvet lining inside the boards. It is housed in a purpose-built box, also lined with velvet. The book measures 340 x 260 x 112 mm., and the box 345 x 405 x 195 mm. The combined weight is significant. The box also contains two small envelopes containing the hair of two further grandchildren (born after the event?) and a rather moth-eaten pamphlet 'The Rentons of Renton' (about 1950). NLS does not have a copy of this pamphlet, although we have an earlier history of the family, 'Renton', at shelfmark S.120.i. What is particularly noteworthy is that this binding is the work of Colin Frame of Glasgow, according to the lettering on the inner edge of the joint of the front board. This is a binder who is recorded in the Scottish Book Trade Index, but about whom little seems to be known. We do not appear to have any other examples of his work - but he was clearly a highly skilled and innovative craftsman. There is clearly much to discover about 19th-century Glasgow binders, if work of this quality has remained unknown to this day. NLS has only an imperfect copy of this Bible at shelfmark NF.715.b.6.
ShelfmarkBdg.l.48
Acquired on21/11/05
AuthorCommissioners and Trustees for Improving Fisheries and Manufactures in Scotland
TitleInstructions given by the commissioners and trustees for improving the fisheries and manufactures of Scotland to [blank] wreck and cure-masters of herrings at [blank]
Imprint[Edinburgh?: S.n.]
Date of Publication[1728?]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThe Board of Trustees for Fisheries and Manufactures was established in 1727 by an Act of Parliament of 1727 in order to "encourage and promote the fisheries or such other manufactures and improvements in Scotland as may most conduce to the general good of the United Kingdom". This broadside printed for national distribution provides a fascinating glimpse into the early 18th-century Scottish herring fishery, a major and lucrative industry for Scotland right up until the mid-20th century. It gives instructions to the local officials responsible for supervising the curing and packing of herrings. As herring is a fatty fish, it has to be cured as quickly as possible, hence the need for tight regulations regarding curing and packing. The fifteen numbered instructions give specific guidelines for all stages of the curing process, in particular regarding the cleanliness and wholesomeness of the fish, packing methods, salting, pickling with wine, the number of hoops per barrel, the dumping of fish unfit for consumption, burn-marking each barrel with appropriate identifications, keeping ledgers for records of barrel-marks and the ships used to export herrings, and inspection of freshly-caught fish. The blank spaces in the title are meant to be annotated, presumably with the names of the relevant inspectors and the areas of Scotland in which they worked. This is an extremely rare work; there are only two other known copies listed in ESTC.
ShelfmarkRB.l.223
Reference SourcesESTC T37311
Acquired on28/09/05
AuthorForrester, Thomas.
TitleA review and consideration of two late pamphlets. The first entitled, Queries to the Presbyterians of Scotland, by a gentleman of that country. Bound with Causa episcopatus hierarchici Lucifuga.
ImprintEdinburgh: heirs and successors of Andrew Anderson
Date of Publication1706
LanguageEnglish
NotesThese two books by the Church of Scotland minister Thomas Forrester (c.1635-1706) were bound for Katherine Hamilton, the Duchess of Atholl (1662-1707). She has signed the book on the title page and her initials are tooled in gilt on the spine. By the standards of the early 18th century, this is quite a sober binding in terms of the design and decoration. Only the spine, divided into five compartments, is tooled in gilt with floral ornaments. Both covers are blind tooledwith rolls and fillets. This suggests that the binder's craftsmanship was not of the highest standard. The book was bound just prior to the period when the spectacular wheel and herringbone designs came into vogue in Scotland. Katherine Hamilton, the eldest daughter of the Duke of Hamilton, married John, Lord Murray, in 1683. Thirteen years later Murray became Secretary of State for Scotland, and his wife acted as his eyes and ears in Scotland while he was in London carrying out his official duties. In 1703, Murray was created Duke and Katherine became Duchess of Atholl. She was well known for her support of the Darien scheme and like her husband was strongly opposed to the Union with England. As well as taking an interest in politics, she was a staunch Presbyterian who kept a religious diary and observed the Sabbath to the extent that her husband thought she was overdoing it. Her interest in religious matters is reflected not only in her ownership of these polemical works, but by the fact that she had them especially bound. Forrester, the author of these works, was a radical field preacher who spent much of his time (when not on the run or in prison) 'converting' the people of central Scotland, mainly in Stirlingshire and Dumbartonshire. After the Revolution settlement of 1688, life became easier for him. He was appointed minister of St. Andrews in 1692, where he remained until his death in 1706.
ShelfmarkBdg.s.912(1-2)
Reference SourcesDNB
Acquired on21/09/05
AuthorBurnes, Alexander
TitleKabul. Schilderung einer Reise nach dieser Stadt und des Aufenthalts daselbst.
ImprintLeipzig: T.D. Weigel
Date of Publication1843
LanguageGerman
NotesThis is a German translation of Alexander Burnes's 'Cabool: being a personal narrative of a journey to, and residence in that city in the years 1836-38', published posthumously in 1842. Burnes was born in Montrose in 1805 and educated at Montrose Academy. He had extraordinary linguistic abilities, learning Hindustani and Persian within one year in Bombay. At the end of 1836 Burnes was dispatched by the British government on a mission to Kabul, where he stayed until 1838. During these two years he collected the material for his book. In 1839 he returned as an officer with the British Army and acted as second political officer in Kabul. Towards the end of 1841 the political situation deteriorated but Burnes was unprepared for the ferocity of the Afghan revenge. On 2 November 1841 an infuriated crowd besieged his house in Kabul and murdered him. This event marked the beginning of Britain's disastrous retreat from Afghanistan.
ShelfmarkABS.2.206.001
Reference SourcesDNB
Acquired on15/09/05
AuthorWestminster Assembly
TitleFoirceadul aith-ghearr cheasnuighe [The shorter catechism]
ImprintGlas-gho: Anna Orr
Date of Publication1776
LanguageScottish Gaelic
NotesBooks in Scottish Gaelic are a key part of the National Library's collections, and we acquire such items wherever possible. This is a good copy of an eighteenth-century catechism, which also includes the alphabet, the Ten Commandments, various prayers, and a guide to numbers in arabic and roman. It was clearly designed for educational purposes. The book is particularly interesting as it was printed for a woman publisher, Anna Orr.
ShelfmarkABS.1.205.031
Reference SourcesSBTI Scottish Gaelic Union Catalogue 2769
Acquired on13/09/05
AuthorSmith, Thomas.
TitleA narrative of an unfortunate voyage to the coast of Africa.
Imprint[Arbroath?]
Date of Publication1813
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis remarkable book was written by Thomas Smith, a sailor from Arbroath. It tells of his adventures on board a number of slave ships in the 1760s. At first he got a place on board the Ann Galley in London, not realizing the nature of the journey. When the ship arrived off the West African (Guinea) coast, the captain purchased 140 slaves. However, the ship was taken over by the captives and Smith made his way on another slave ship to the West Indies. Destitute and ill he eventually returned across the Atlantic to Amsterdam and later back home to Arbroath. No other copy of this work has been traced, but it appears to be a genuine account of life on board slave ships in the mid-18th century. The Board of Trade and Lloyds of London recorded the loss of the Ann Galley as a result of a slave insurrection in November 1762. No other account of this adventure has been published and until now naval and slavery historians have been unaware of it. It may be that it was published as a form of anti-slavery propaganda. The author ends his narrative with some 'Remarks on the slave trade' and mentions how he was asked by supporters of the anti-slavery crusader, William Wilberforce, to provide them with information on the buying and selling of slaves. At the beginning of the work the editor apologises for the 'rude and rustic state of the copy'. It seems that the author was in poor health and couldn't assist the editor - 'a poor scholar' - to produce a better work. The book also carries an inscription (dated April 1904) on the front pastedown from Caroline Frazer of Dublin, granddaughter of John Findlay, Arbroath's first printer and publisher'.
ShelfmarkABS.1.206.001
Acquired on12/09/05
AuthorEbel, Johann Gottfried
TitleAnleitung auf die nützlichste und genussvollste Art in der Schweitz zu reisen.
ImprintZürich. Bey Orell, Gessner, Füssli und Compagnie.
Date of Publication1793
LanguageGerman
NotesThis guide by Johann Ebel (1764-1830) is a rare first edition of one of the earliest and most famous handbooks for travellers in Switzerland.
ShelfmarkGB/A.3883
Acquired on05/09/05
AuthorGmelin, Johann Georg, (1709-1755)
TitleVoyage en Sibérie, contenant la description des moeurs & usages des peuples de ce pays, le cours des rivieres considérables, la situation des chaînes de montagnes, des grandes forêts, des mines, avec tous les faits d'histoire naturelle qui sont particuliers à cette contrée.
ImprintA Paris, Desaint, Libraire, rue du foin Saint Jacques.
Date of Publication1767
LanguageFrench
NotesThis is a French translation of a German edition of one of the earliest accounts of Bering's second voyage. It contains some of the earliest material on the discovery and exploration of the Bering Strait and Alaska.
ShelfmarkGB/A.3884
Acquired on05/09/05
TitleThe last speech, confession and dying declaration of Robert Watt, wine merchant in Edinburgh ...; A full true and particular account of the most dreadful apparition. Of Robert Watt wine-merchant in Edinr, who appeared to James Macdonald plaisterer in Lieth-walk [sic] ...
ImprintEdinburgh
Date of Publication1794
LanguageEnglish
NotesThese broadsides relate to Robert Watt who was executed in Edinburgh in October 1794 for high treason. Watt was a local wine merchant who, along with his associate David Downie (later reprieved), was tried for being a member of a seditious organisation - The Friends of the People - and for forming 'a distinct and deliberate plan to overturn the existing government of the country'. This organisation, inspired in part by recent events in France, had been formed in London in 1792 to campaign for parliamentary reform. Watt, Downie and their fellow conspirators had put together quite detailed plans to take over public offices, storm Edinburgh Castle and seize the judiciary. The plotters also planned to send an address to King George III, commanding him to put an end to the war with France. Over 40 pikes had been made, though none were distributed. These alarming projects were discussed by seven obscure individuals in Edinburgh of whom Watt, acting as a spy, was the leader, and David Downie, a mechanic, the treasurer. Two of the seven soon got 'cold feet' and four became witnesses for the crown. One broadside contains Watt's last speech. Like many such works, it is unlikely to have been written by the criminal himself. It follows the usual pattern of pious expressions of repentance and appeals for forgiveness. Watt describes himself as 'uncommonly wicked as a boy', stating that he continued on the road to perdition when he went to London to attend plays and 'other places of virtuous amusement'. At the end of the work the publisher A. Robertson advertises that he will be publishing an account of the trial of Watt for three pence. The second work, of which no other copy has been traced, is somewhat more intriguing. James MacDonald, a plasterer, was coming back from Leith to Edinburgh when he encountered a ghostly figure with his head under his arm and accompanied by a black dog. This apparently was Watt. The incident took place just a few weeks after his execution. Watt is also supposed to have appeared to his co-conspirator David Downie.
ShelfmarkS.Sh.S.1.205.08; S.Sh.S.1.205.09
Reference SourcesYoung, Alex F. The encyclopaedia of Scottish executions 1750 to 1963. (1998)
Acquired on05/09/05
AuthorScott, Walter
TitlePoetical works
ImprintEdinburgh: Adam and Charles Black
Date of Publication1882
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a fine Scottish publisher's binding in red cloth, with the arms of Sir Walter Scott stamped in gilt on the front board. The black and gold decoration is striking and in good condition. Scott's initials are at the upper right of the front board, and at the foot of the board are various flowers and moths. The overall impression is striking. The Library has a copy of the text at SP.94, in a plain binding of polished calf.
ShelfmarkBdg.m.165
Acquired on17/08/05
AuthorRamsay, Andrew Michael
TitleDes Ritters Ramsay reisender Cyrus
ImprintHamburg: heirs of Thomas von Wiering
Date of Publication1728
LanguageGerman
NotesThis is the first German edition of this important novel by a Scottish-born writer. Andrew Michael Ramsay (1686-1743) was a philosopher and mystic who converted to Catholicism but continued to argue for the underlying unity of all religions. Spending much of his adult life in Paris, he served the exiled Jacobite court and befriended David Hume; he also gave hospitality to the Glasgow printers Andrew and Robert Foulis. In 1727 he published 'Les voyages de Cyrus', and an English translation entitled 'The travels of Cyrus'appeared the same year. Based on the life of the first Persian emperor known as Cyrus the Great, this work anticipates the development of the novel during the later 18th century. The hero travels around the Mediterranean, learning about religion and morality in preparation for becoming ruler over many nations.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2608
Reference SourcesG. D. Henderson, 'Chevalier Ramsay', 1952
Acquired on17/08/05
AuthorMacvicar, Symers Macdonald
TitleThe distribution of hepaticae in Scotland
Imprint[Edinburgh]
Date of Publication[1910]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an annotated proof copy of Macvicar's (1857-1932) work on Scottish non-vascular plants known as liverworts. The text is complete although there are no preliminaries. The inkstamp "Neill & Co. Edinburgh First Proof" appears on a number of pages and there are numerous manuscript corrections and annotations by Macvicar throughout the text. An inscription on the front pastedown indicates that the book was bound during Christmas 1945 and presented to Mr. A. D. Banwell by the bryologist P. W. Richards (b. 1908).
ShelfmarkS3.205.0691
Acquired on09/08/05
AuthorByron, George Gordon Byron
TitleImpromptu Chanson
ImprintSantpoort [Netherlands]: Mercator
Date of Publication1985
LanguageDutch and English
NotesThe Chanson was originally written by Lord Byron (1788-1824) in Venice and sent to Thomas Moore in a letter dated 24 December 1816. It was first published posthumously in 1830. The present edition was produced on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the Netherlands Byron Genootschap. The poem is accompanied by a Dutch translation by Joop van Helmond and was hand-set in Garamond and printed on Zerkall-Bütten in October 1985. This is number 79 of a limited edition of 100 copies.
ShelfmarkPB6.208.559/2
Acquired on12/07/05
AuthorGray, John.
TitleThe essential principles of the wealth of nations.
ImprintLondon: T. Cadell
Date of Publication1797
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is one of the earliest critiques of Adam Smith's seminal economic text 'An inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations' (1776). Gray criticises Smith's work on a number of counts: he accuses Smith of misinterpreting the French economists' viewpoint on labour and productivity. Gray maintained that the French had in fact recognised that not all the so-called unproductive classes were barren to the same degree. Gray also argued that Smith was wrong to state that the manufacturing industry alone was responsible for contributing to Britain's real national wealth, saying that agriculture was the only true source of wealth. There is some Scottish content in the form of the appendix, which consists of a general plan of a lease by Henry Home, Lord Kaimes, "with remarks upon it by Dr. Anderson in his agricultural report for the county of Aberdeen". Coincidentally, Kaimes was Smith's literary patron. Very little is known about John Gray to whom this work, published anonymously in 1797, is attributed. He may have lived from 1724-1811 - obituary notices in contemporary periodicals merely state that he died in May 1811 in his 88th year and that he had been one of the Commissioners of the Lottery. John Gray may have been assistant private secretary to the Duke of Northumberland in Ireland in 1763 and 1764 and 'An essay concerning the establishment of a national bank in Ireland' (1774) may have been written by him. The Library of Congress catalogue attributes to Gray 'The right of the British legislature to tax the American colonies' (1775). However, Palgrave's 'Dictionary of economics' attributes 'The essential principles' to Simon Gray (fl.1795-1840).
ShelfmarkRB.s.2578
Reference SourcesThe New Palgrave: a dictionary of economics, vol.II, 1987. Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, vol.46, 1952, p.275-6.
Acquired on04/07/05
AuthorAesop
TitleAesop's fables
ImprintGlasgow: James Knox
Date of Publication1764
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis edition of Aesop's fables appears to be completely unrecorded. This is surprising as it is a rather attractive publication with numerous woodcuts. It is designed as an educational book: the words of the fables are broken up by hyphens, so that the beginner could read them a piece at a time. This does make the text look rather odd (for example, 'A Wea-sel run-ning in-to a bra-si-ers shop...'). Aesop's fables play an important part in Scottish culture. The fifteenth-century poet Robert Henryson did an excellent translation into Scots, and there are many other editions. This edition is particularly notable for the naive illustrations, which are more akin to those normally found in a chapbook.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2606
Acquired on27/06/05
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