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 email@example.com
Important Acquisitions 421 to 435 of 818:
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|Title||Life and character of Robert Watt, who was executed for high treason at Edinburgh, the 15th October, 1794|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: A. Shirrefs|
|Date of Publication||1795|
|Notes||A rare edition (only 3 copies on ESTC, all in U.S.) of this unsympathetic life of Robert Watt, a government spy amongst the political reform societies who underwent an extraordinary conversion to the cause of revolution. Described as the 'natural son of a respectable gentleman in Scotland', he spent his formative years in Perth before working as a 'much respected' clerk in Edinburgh. However it was all downhill from there - Watt got involved in smuggling and when his offer to provide information on the revolutionary Society of the Friends of the People, for the princely sum of £1000, was spurned, he joined that Society with some enthusiasm. He was arrested in possession of a large amount weaponry, some of which is illustrated in the frontispiece, and executed for high treason in October 1794.
This issue includes the name of William Lane, the London publisher and distributor, in the imprint. The other issue (copy at 3.855(3)) does not have Lane's name in the imprint. Both issues contain 'Verses written on seeing the execution of Robert Watt' which are frequently lacking in editions of this text.|
|Title||Life and explorations of Dr. Livingstone|
|Date of Publication||c. 1880|
|Notes||John S. Roberts's biography of David Livingstone first appeared in the 1870s and was immediate success, contributing to the image of the Scots explorer as a saintly and indefatigable figure, a true Victorian hero whose exploits were studied by schoolchildren all over the Empire. The work was published by Adam & Co. of London and Newcastle-upon-Tyne and contained colour lithographic plates depicting in vivid detail scenes from Livingstone's life. It appears to have been reissued by provincial booksellers, who inserted an additional title page. This large-format copy was published by Haslam of Nottingham presumably for the local market.|
|Title||Life of Arthur Lord Balmerino & to which are added, some memoirs of the lives of the two other lords, the Earls of Kilmarnock and Cromertie [sic].|
|Imprint||London: C. Whitefield|
|Date of Publication||1746|
|Notes||After the failure of the rebellion of 1745/46, the leading Jacobites, who had been captured or had turned themselves in, were taken to London and tried for treason. The trials of these men and subsequent fate of these men excited a lot of public interest in 1746, in particular the fate of four Scottish aristocrats: Lord Balmerino, the earls of Kilmarnock and Cromarty, and Lord Lovat. Balmerino and Kilmarnock were publicly beheaded on 18 August for their roles in the rebellion. Cromarty was also sentenced to death but the sentence was commuted to imprisonment nine days before the planned execution; Lovat had been captured in the Highlands and was now awaiting trial in the Tower of London (he would be tried in December and executed the following year). A number of 'hack' biographies of these eminent rebels were quickly published to meet the demand for information, including the ones printed in this book. The initial title page of this particular edition was clearly issued before the final contents had been decided, as it does not mention the final two biographies, which cover Jenny Cameron, 'the reputed mistress of the deputy Pretender', and Lord Lovat. The tone of the whole book is strongly anti-Jacobite as can be seen in the inclusion of a biography of Jenny or "Bonnie Jeannie" Cameron, who is depicted as an amoral gold-digger. Little is known of the real Jean Cameron, but her life almost certainly bore no relation to the account published here. Despite the sensational tone of the biographies, in the detailed description of their conduct leading up to their executions the anonymous author shows respect for the brave and dignified manner in which Balmerino and Kilmarnock met their deaths. This particular edition was published in fifteen parts and has five portraits engraved by William Parr. A later edition was published by Whitefield in the same year with a general title page that mentions all five biographies, but this earlier edition appears to be very rare, with only three known UK locations listed in ESTC.|
|Reference Sources||ESTC; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. |
|Imprint||Edinburgh: William Blackwood|
|Date of Publication||[1880?]|
|Notes||This 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.|
|Title||List of all the streets, wynds, squares and closes, of the city of Edinburgh and Canongate.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Peter Williamson|
|Date of Publication||1779|
|Notes||This is an unrecorded broadside printed by Peter Williamson, one of Scotland?s most colourful characters of the 18th century. 'Indian Peter' (1730-1799), was abducted from Aberdeenshire as a ten-year-old, and indentured/enslaved for seven years in colonial Virginia. He was later captured by Cherokees, but escaped to narrate his adventures in travelling performances and in print. Returning to Britain he trained to be a printer, becoming a celebrated bookseller and coffee-house keeper in Edinburgh. Williamson published the first Edinburgh street directory in 1773. The present example is a large broadside printing of Williamson's directory, with a more straightforward layout, that gives the names of over 400 places in the city. It was presumably intended to be pasted-up on the walls of offices, workshops and other public areas. In addition to the list of places, Williamson also includes a number of advertisements for his own services, these include his famous "Portable Printing Presses" which he explains, is so constructed, "that it will throw off one Folio Page, or four Quarto Pages, at a time, with great ease and exactness". The broadside also advertises Williamson's edition of the Psalms of David "printed upon a new type, and superfine paper, so calculated that it may be carried in a watch-pocket or in a snuff-box". In the imprint Williamson announces that he runs a penny postal service in Edinburgh; the first postal service in Edinburgh recorded in print.|
|Reference Sources||Bookseller's notes|
|Author||Royal Caledonian Curling Club|
|Title||List of skips for the Royal Caledonian Curling Club grand match to be played on Castlesemple Loch, Lochwinnoch + Railway arrangements for the Royal Caledonian Curling Club grand match.|
|Imprint||[Glasgow?: Royal Caledonian Curling Club]|
|Date of Publication||1876|
|Notes||These two pieces of ephemera are evidence of the popularity of curling in 19th-century Scotland. They relate to a Grand Match played between the North and South sides of the Clyde in the winter of 1876-77, on Castle Semple Loch, Lochwinnoch in Renfrewshire. The Grand Match was organised by The Royal Caledonian Curling Club (RCCC), which was originally founded in 1838 as The Grand Caledonian Curling Club for the purpose "of regulating the ancient Scottish game of Curling by general laws". By 1842 the new national club had obtained royal patronage, becoming the RCCC. The RCCC promoted the game by providing medals for play between member clubs, encouraging the formation of groups of clubs into provinces so that larger bonspiels could be played, and instituting Grand Matches whereby the North of Scotland could play the South. The first Grand Match took place in Penicuik in 1847. Castle Semple Loch was first used for bonspiels in 1850, as relatively small (1.5 miles long) inland loch with a train station in the vicinity it was a handy location. The list of skips for the Match of 1876-77 reveals that the clubs represented were from both the east and west of Scotland, players coming from as far away as Hawick and Dunblane. The date of the match was not included on the list as that could be only decided once there was enough ice and of sufficient thickness to enable it to take place. In addition to the list of skips to be played, there is a separate sheet outlining the railway arrangements to transport the large number of players and spectators to Lochwinnoch station (in 1848, 680 curlers arrived in Linlithgow to play in the Grand Match as well as 5,000 spectators). The most recent Grand Match took place in 1979 on the Lake of Menteith.|
|Reference Sources||Royal Caledonian Curling Club website (www.royalcaledoniancurlingclub.org)|
|Author||Alcott, Louisa M.|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||This is an uncommon edition of Louisa Alcott's classic children's book with a striking wrap-around
pictorial cover by Jessie M. King. The style of the illustration, which is typical of King with a solitary slender girl in a what appears to be a desert environment is at variance with both the story itself and the Edwardian-style colour frontispiece and title page by an unknown illustrator. Indeed, this design was used for twelve books in the Collins Bumper Reward Books series
Born in New Kilpatrick, Bearsden, King (1876-1949) studied at Glasgow School of Art between 1892 and 1899 - her style mirrors the angular art nouveau concepts of the Glasgow Style Her decorative work in books is often regarded as the counterpart to Charles Rennie Mackintosh's output in the field of applied arts. As early as 1902 she was regarded as the pre-eminent book illustrator in the Glasgow movement. She illustrated nearly 200 books between 1898 and 1949. It has been said that her myopic eyesight allowed her to work in fine detail in her book illustrations, as well as in her jewellery, ceramic and fabric designs, murals and watercolour painting.|
White, Colin. The enchanted world of Jessie M. King. (Edinburgh: Canongate, 1989) H8.90.6|
|Title||Living wonder! Never seen in this country before.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd|
|Date of Publication||c.1809-1814|
|Notes||This is a striking and unusual flyer advertising the exhibition of a 'great serpent or boa constrictor, alive' at Stephano Polito's menagerie, probably in Edinburgh in the early years of the 19th century. Stephano (or Stephen) Polito (1763/4-1814) was born in Italy but spent the bulk of his working life in England. He started his career by exhibiting supposedly exotic human beings at Bartolomew Fair, before establishing a menagerie of 'wild beasts' many of which had been collected from East India merchantmen. He travelled around the country showing elephants, kangaroos and rhinos. Lord Byron visited the collection at Exeter Change, London in 1813 where he remarked on a performing elephant that took off his hat.
Polito travelled regularly to Scotland as well as to Ireland. It is assumed that he went to the same place in Edinburgh every year as no exact location is mentioned. Polito also claims to be the first to exhibit this species in Britain. He reassures the public by claiming that his specimen is perfectly secure and that even 'the most timorous may approach it with safety'.
|Reference Sources||Frost, Thomas. The old showmen and the London fairs. London, 1874; Oxford DNB|
|Author||Byron, George Gordon Byron, Baron, 1788-1824.|
|Title||Lord Byron's Poesien.|
|Imprint||Zwickau: Gebrueder Schumann|
|Date of Publication||1821-1828|
|Notes||This is the rare first collected German edition of Byron's complete works and is a welcome addition to the Library's extensive holdings of early translations of the poet's work. The edition was translated by a team of writers, among them August Schumann and Elise von Hohenhausen, and began to appear in print when the author was still alive. The firm Brothers Schumann had been founded by Alexander Schumann (1773-1826), the father of the romantic composers Clara and Robert Schumann, and began publishing a huge series of translations of foreign literature. Byron's works are part of their Pocket Library of Foreign Classics in New German Translations (Taschenbibliothek der auslaendischen Klassiker, in neuen Verdeutschungen) which apeared between 1819 and 1831. There are in total 31 volumes/parts to this edition, which in this set have been bound into seven volumes.
|Reference Sources||Bookseller's notes|
|Author||Byron, George Gordon |
|Title||Lord Byron's saemmtliche lyrische Gedichte. Uebersetzt von Ernst Ortlepp.|
|Imprint||Stuttgart: Hoffman'sche Verlags-Buchhandlung.|
|Date of Publication||1839|
|Notes||This edition of the German poet Ernst Ortlepp's translations of Byron's lyric poems seems to be unrecorded in Byron bibliographies. Ortlepp produced the first complete translation of Byron's works into German, also published by Hoffman in 1839-40; this volume may have been incorporated into that edition. The copy is still in its original paper wrapper.|
|Author||King, Kennedy [i.e. George Douglas Brown]|
|Title||Love and a sword: a tale of the Afridi War.|
|Imprint||London: John Macqueen|
|Date of Publication||1899|
|Notes||The Scottish author George Douglas Brown (1869-1902) is best known for his work "The House with the Green Shutters", which was published in autumn 1901 in both Britain and the United States under the pseudonym 'George Douglas'. That work has long been regarded as a milestone in Scottish literature; a decisive move away from the sentimental, 'kailyard', Scottish novels of the 19th century. Before his ground-breaking novel appeared, Brown had moved, after leaving Oxford University in 1895, to London, with the intention of forging a literary career. However, in order to make ends meet he had to work as a hack author, writing poetry, reviews, and short stories for a number of periodicals, as well adventure books for boys. "Love and a sword" published under the pseudonym 'Kennedy King', was his first published book, an adventure story set in India and the North-West Frontier, with a Scottish hero, Roderick Gordon, as the protagonist.|
|Reference Sources||Oxford Dictionary of National Biography|
|Author||Cicero, Marcus Tullius|
|Title||M. Tullii Ciceronis opera philosophica ex editione Jo. Aug. Ernesti cum notis et interpretatione in usum Delphini variis lectionibus notis variorum recensu editionum et codicum et indicibus locupletissimis accurate recensita.[vol.II only]|
|Imprint||Londini : Curante et imprimente A. J. Valpy|
|Date of Publication||1830|
|Notes||This is volume two taken from an eighteen volume edition of the collected works of Marcus Tullius Cicero. The book features a grand fore-edge painting of Edinburgh Castle as viewed from the Grassmarket. The painting may have been based upon the title-page vignette of the same scene in T. H. Shepherd's 'Modern Athens Displayed in a Series of Views, or, Edinburgh in the Nineteenth Century' which was published in London in 1829, a year prior to the present volume. However, this painting shows significantly more detail and a wider panorama. The artwork shows only a little fading and a couple of spots of minute wear.|
|Imprint||New York and Rochester, NY|
|Date of Publication||1838-39|
|Notes||The Dundonian William Lyon Mackenzie (1795-1861) ran a circulating library with his mother before emigrating to the province of Upper Canada in 1820. He became a politician and journalist, starting with the publication of the "Colonial Advocate" in 1824. Politically he supported the critics of the local ruling class of Tory politicians and colonial administrators. He was elected to the assembly of the new provincial capital York in 1828 but was ejected three years later by the Tories. In 1834, when York became incorporated as the City of Toronto, Mackenzie became its first mayor. He later pushed for greater Canadian autonomy, which led to the armed Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837-8; the revolt was quickly put down by British troops and Mackenzie and his allies fled to the USA. He settled in New York and on 12 May 1838 launched "Mackenzie's Gazette", asserting that the newspaper would defend the cause of Canadian patriots, who, although now based the USA, were still determined to overthrow the Upper Canadian government and remove the British presence in the province. In January 1839 Mackenzie moved to Rochester, New York state, continuing to publish the newspaper from there, but financial support for him and his cause began to dry up; moreover, in June of that year Mackenzie was found guilty of violating America's neutrality laws. He served almost a year in prison, but still managed to publish his newspaper, although issues appeared only sporadically. The last issue was published in December 1840, six months after MacKenzie received a pardon by the US President, Martin Van Buren. Mackenzie later became an American citizen, but he returned to Canada in 1850 when an amnesty for those who took part in the 1837-8 Rebellion was announced. He remained active in politics and journalism for the rest of his life.
"Mackenzie's Gazette" was an important, if rather short-lived, literary expression of radical, anti-colonial feeling among Canadians and American sympathisers and contains much valuable historical information for the period. The set acquired by NLS comprises Vol. 1, numbers 27 to 52, covering November 1838 to May 1839; there are no recorded original copies of the newspaper in the UK.
|Author||Mackenzie, William Lyon|
|Title||Mackenzie's own narrative of the late rebellion, with illustrations and notes, critical and explanatory: exhibiting the only true account of what took place at the memorable seige of Toronto, in the month of December, 1837.|
|Imprint||Toronto: Printed and sold at The Palladium Office, York Street, 1838.|
|Date of Publication||1838|
|Notes||William Lyon Mackenzie (1795-1861) was born near Dundee. When he was less than a month old, his father died, leaving the family in poverty. He obtained a meager business education in Dundee, and after some six years' work in a shop at Alyth he emigrated with his mother to Canada in 1820 at the age of 25.
It was in North America that Mackenzie made a name for himself as a politician, journalist and insurgent leader. In 1824 he published 'The Colonial Advocate', a newspaper that was strongly in favour of governmental reform. In 1828 he was elected to the legislative assembly of Upper Canada for the county of York.
Mackenzie's oratory was often inflammatory and he was five times expelled for libel and five times reelected by his constituency. As a leader of the Reform party of Upper Canada he went to London in 1832 to obtain a redress of grievances. After his return to Canada, Mackenzie was chosen as the first mayor of Toronto in May 1834.
In 1837, frustrated by Britain's refusal to begin democratic changes, he gathered supporters in an effort to overthrow the government. Mackenzie's ideal at this time was an American-style democracy. The attempt by the rebels was a fiasco and after being defeated at Montgomery's Tavern north of Toronto, Mackenzie fled to the United States, setting up a provisional government on Navy island in the Niagara River. It was there that he wrote his 'Narrative' , addressing it to the editor of the 'Jeffersonian', a newspaper published at Watertown, New York.
In 1849 Mackenzie was granted an amnesty and returned to Canada. He later sat as a member of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada from 1851 to 1858. Mackenzie was the grandfather of the Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King (1874-1950)
The Canadian editor of this rare first edition -clearly a Loyalist - has provided numerous critical annotations to the text and an introduction where he refers to Mackenzie as the 'Arch-Traitor'. Also included is an 'Appendix containing further particulars obtained from conversations with John Powell, Esquire, Mayor of the City of Toronto'.|
Booksellers Catalogue (D & E Lake Bulletin 219)
Various Internet biographical sites|
|Title||Maçonnerie pratique: cours d'enseignement supérieur de la franc-maçonnerie rite écossais ancien et accepté... Publiée par un profane|
|Imprint||2 vols., Paris: Édouard Baltenweck|
|Date of Publication||1885|
|Notes||This is an important addition to the Library's holdings of literature relating to Freemasonry, dealing as it does with the 'Scottish Rite'. The work is produced from a fiercely anti-masonic standpoint, and the introduction denounces masonry as an anti-Catholic heresy, an epidemic which spreads blasphemy and corruption. The editor makes his case by devoting most of the work to the publication of a text which purports to have been drawn up as a guide to the secrets of masonry by a leading mason at a council at Lausanne in 1875. The magnificent folding plates depict the rites and symbols of the masons, and large folding tables give details of the supposed ranks of the masonic hierarchy. This two-volume work is handsomely bound in half navy calf by Maclehose of Glasgow, whose stamp is found on the verso of the first free endpaper in volume one. The spines have gilt tooling and leather labels in red and brown with gilt lettering; the endpapers and the edges of the leaves are marbled. From the library of Fort Augustus, with bookplates in both volumes.|