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 697 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 46 to 60 of 697:
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|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||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||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||Holy Bible [with Holy Bible. London, 1772 and Psalms. Edinburgh: b. Colin Macfarquhar, 1771]|
|Imprint||Oxford: b. Thomas Baskett|
|Date of Publication||1755|
|Notes||These nice examples of mid-eighteenth century Scottish binding come with significant Scottish provenance. The first Bible, bound in one volume, was owned by the Veitch family, who achieved prominence in the eighteenth century when the learned lawyer and MP James Eliock (1712-1793) was appointed judge, with the title Lord Eliock. This volume has Lord Eliock's bookplate, and manuscript notes on the front flyleaves record births, baptisms and deaths in the Veitch family into the nineteenth century. The actual binding is of very dark blue morocco, the boards decorated with a wheel design; the gold tooling in very good condition, as are the gilt green endpapers.
A rather unexpected feature of this Bible is the note on the last free blank, which reveals that this was held up as exhibit A in a trial at the High Court of Justice in 1876. This trial related to the estate of Ann Clementina Wilson, deceased, and it seems likely that the annotations in the Bible were used as evidence. A note reads 'This is the Bible marked A referred to in the affidavit of Harry Veitch Hunter sworn in this matter before me this 15th day of March 1877'.
The second Bible is bound in two volumes; although it lacks a title-page, the colophon gives the imprint as London, 1772, and the Psalms which follow the Bible has a title-page with the imprint Edinburgh, 1771. Both volumes are inscribed by 'G. Dundas Sept. 22nd. 1778.' This is a member of the famous Dundas family of Arniston. Further manuscript notes explain that the Bible was presented to Grace Dundas by Robert Colt at their wedding, and other notes record the fortunes of the Colt family into the twentieth century. Both volumes have the bookplate of Grace Colt. Various sentimental greetings cards are tipped in. The binding is of red morocco, with a design in the 'herring-bone' tradition, with some interesting stipple tooling and a fine border roll; our collections do not seem to have anything similar from this period.|
|Reference Sources||DNB, Bindings rubbings|
|Title||Plan for Raising a Militia in that part of Great Britain called Scotland|
|Notes||Only three copies of this draft bill for regulating the militia in Scotland, by means of adapting the English Militia Acts, are recorded by ESTC (T42402). Interesting details include the fact that on page 9 the blanks relating to the number of privates to be raised for each county have been filled in manuscript (the city of Edinburgh was to raise 333 men). On the verso of the title-page is a full page of manuscript notes signed 'Richd Hewit. Clerk', which explains how the plan was drawn up by a committee of notables following a meeting in Edinburgh on 30 November 1759. The bill was rejected at its second reading in Westminster on 15 April 1760: although there was much sympathy for Scotland's vulnerability to French invasion, many still had doubts about giving arms to the Jacobites among the Highlanders. (John Robertson, Scottish Enlightenment and the Militia Issue, Edinburgh: John Donald, 1985).|
|Title||CL. Psalmes of David in Meeter. With an exact Kalendar, also morning & evening prayers.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh, Printed by James Bryson, and are to bee sold at his shop, a little above the Kirk-stile at the signe of the golden angel.|
|Date of Publication||1640|
|Notes||This is a beautiful and important book: both the text and the binding are new to our collections. It is an edition of the metrical Psalms printed in Edinburgh in 1640 and contained in a silver binding, decorated with a design of birds and flowers. The leaf edges are gilt and decorated with a stamped design of dots and crosses. The first blank pastedown has the pencil note 'Hamilton Bruce' (probably the collector some of whose books the Library already has). The recto of the following blank has a pasted-on slip with the ink inscription 'This Edition of the Psalms was sold at £4..4 plain binding / Lowndes' (William Thomas Lowndes the bibliographer?)
The text appears to be an unrecorded Aldis item, apparently in 32o. Aldis 975 (Cwn.651) is quarto; Aldis 976 (Cwn.483(2)) is duodecimo; Aldis 977 (Cwn.49) is printed by R. Bryson; Aldis 978 (Hall.191.k) has a variant title and is 16o. This edition is not mentioned in W. Cowan, 'Bibliography of the Book of Common Order', EBS X (1911-13). No examples have been traced in STC or ESTC.
It seems that the binding is contemporary. The thin-gauge silver, which is not hallmarked, is overlapped by the old endpapers. One would expect a Victorian binding to have new endpapers, and, indeed, to be more artistically confident. The blackening of the silver where it has not been touched, and the loss of the clasps, also suggest an earlier binding. The Sotheby's sale of silver and enamel bindings of 10 May 1985 does not provide any definitive answers, nor does J. F. Hayward's Silver Bindings from the J. R. Abbey Collection. No. 38 in the Sotheby's catalogue shows a seventeenth-century English silver binding with a bird and flowers: evidently British craftsmen were doing work of this quality in the seventeenth century. Various silver experts were consulted about this work, and there are different opinions. Some suggest the binding is Dutch or German (perhaps a luxury binding for a member of the Scottish reformed communities in the Low Countries?), some suggest that the style is more likely to be British.|
|Reference Sources||W. Cowan, 'Bibliography of the Book of Common Order', EBS X (1911-13).
Sotheby's sale of silver and enamel bindings, 10 May 1985. J. F. Hayward, Silver Bindings from the J. R. Abbey Collection.|
|Title||Full Report of the Proceedings at the Meetings of Messrs. Thompson and Borthwick, at Dalkeith|
|Imprint||Glasgow: George Gallie & W. R. M'Phun|
|Date of Publication||1833|
|Notes||George Thompson and Peter Borthwick both gave lectures in Dalkeith on 22 March 1833, on the subject of the future of slavery. The anti-slavery movement was close to victory at this point, with the Emancipation Act which abolished slavery throughout the British colonies to be passed in August 1833. This small pamphlet recounts with unconcealed glee the hostile reception given to Borthwick's defence of the system and the applause for Thompson's appeal for emancipation. Borthwick's talk was given shortly after noon, and hissed by about 300 people. Thompson spoke at 7pm before about 1500 people, who seem to have cheered every other word. These antagonists seem to have confronted each other several times in the 1830s, and other publications containing their speeches and related discussions can be found. Thompson's speeches in 1833 led to the formation of the Edinburgh Society for the Abolition of Slavery; in 1834 he travelled to American to campaign against slavery, thereby placing his life in some danger. (DNB)|
|Title||Ode to hope|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Printed and sold by T. and J. Ruddiman|
|Date of Publication||1789|
|Notes||This is an anonymous and unrecorded poem printed in Edinburgh the early days of 1789. No copies have been traced anywhere nor is it mentioned in Jackson's 'Annals of English verse 1770-1835' or the 'English poetry full text database'. The only clue to the authorship is the dedication to Mr. Henry Erskine of Newhall possibly the one time Lord Advocate and Dean of the Faculty of Advocates who lived from 1746 to 1817. He also penned a few poems.
This rather gushing poem deals with the inspiring effects of hope amid scenes of poverty, starvation, death and despair. There seems also to be a political connotation with references to General Wolfe, 'Bourbon's legions', 'the plains of Cressy' and Britons being roused to arms.
It was printed by the brothers Thomas and John Ruddiman, part of the Edinburgh family involved in the book trade during the 18th century. Thomas (1755-1825) who became a partner in his father's printing business in 1772, was a biographer of the poet Robert Fergusson, who died in 1774. The Ruddimans published many of Fergusson's poems in 'The Weekly Magazine'. Incidentally one of Fergusson's poems published in 1773 was entitled 'Ode to hope' but it is shorter and differs in content to the 1789 item. John Ker Ruddiman became a partner with his brother Thomas in 1789, and died in Fisherrow, near Musselburgh in 1816. The brother seem to have neglected their business, which was wound up in 1798.|
|Title||Historia regalis divi Iacobi VI. regis semper augusti|
|Date of Publication||1626|
|Notes||This is an unusual rarity for which no extant copies could be found in RLIN, ESTC, OCLC, CURL, or the British Library, Library of Congress, Harvard University Library or the Bodleian. It is a 30-cm. tall folio, bound in calfskin vellum with the word/name 'Solon' written in manuscript at the head of the top board. There are 13 unnumbered preliminary leaves and 89 numbered pages of text. The text ends with the inscription 'Libri Primi Finis' although there is no bibliographic evidence that any additional volumes were ever published. The preliminary leaves close with the signature of Bernardinus ab Angelis. The identity of this person or his nationality has not been determined.
There is an emblem on the title page of a woman's head with cornucopias, which resembles devices used by both the publishers Vautrollier in London and Andro Hart in Edinburgh. However, the emblem incorporated by both these publishers does not match precisely the emblem appearing this book. There are indications in the Latin text that the book may be Parisian in origin although no record for it could be located in the Bibliothèque nationale de France.
The work has a number of interesting textual and bibliographic anomalies. For example, on the recto of leaf e2 a slip of paper with the words 'Inclitissime Princeps Pietatis & Sanctitatis' has been pasted in to complete this missing line of text. Later, on page 36 a larger compositor's error was corrected by pasting in a new sheet of text over the existing erroneous text. There is a blank space at the beginning of the text on page 1 caused by the omission of the initial capital letter. The fourth leaf has been excised, as it was presumably blank. Lastly, the stub of the back pastedown and the stub of what would have been Z2 have been folded before signature Y. These occurrences suggest that the volume may have been a proof copy for a work that was never taken further to the publication stage.
Both the title page and the recto of the opening free flyleaf have the manuscript signature of Georg Rodolph Weckherlin (1584 -1653). Weckherlin is widely regarded as the greatest German poet of the period preceding the stylistic reforms later introduced by Martin Opitz (1597-1637). Weckherlin was born in Stuttgart, studied law at the University of Tübingen and later immigrated to England where he married Elizabeth Raworth in 1616. He entered the royal service shortly before the accession of Charles I in 1625 and served as secretary to all of Charles's Secretaries of State prior to the Civil War as well as serving as Under-Secretary for the German, Latin and French Tongues. His diary also shows that he was often called upon to act as personal secretary to the King himself. Weckherlin broke with the King around 1642 and was in Parliamentary service by 1643. In February 1644 he was officially appointed to the important position of Secretary for the Foreign Tongues. He retired at the end of 1648 and was replaced by Milton although he was later recalled and served as Milton's assistant during his blindness.
In March 2003 one of our readers read the text and concluded that it is indeed likely to be French, as there are many references to contacts between Scotland and France, including a story that Henri III tried to kidnap James. The text holds up James as the ideal example of kingship to the new King Charles. It is possible to speculate that Weckherlin is the author. He is known as a Rosicrucian, and much of the symbolic language in the text may stem from this; even the name Bernardinus ab Angelis could be a code-word of this cult movement.
It might be useful to compare this with a work in the John Rylands library:
James, I, King of England, 1566-1625. - Kurtze Summarische / vnd Wahrhafftige Beschreibung / der Geburt / Lebens vnd. - [S.l.], 1625, shelfmark R19122.|
|Reference Sources||Sotheby's London Thursday 14th December, 1989. The Trumbull Papers, the property of the Most Honourable the Marquis of Downshire.|
|Title||Holy Bible, containing the old and new testaments|
|Date of Publication||1769|
|Notes||A contemporary Scottish binding in fine condition of brown morocco, gilt tooled with a herringbone design in the centre of both boards; this is contained within a rectangular panel displaying elaborate tooling in gilt of thistles, arabesque, annular and plain dots, and fleurons. With worn marbled endpapers and corners bumped. Otherwise a very good example of an 18th-century Scottish binding.|
|Title||Narrative of the loss of the Abeona, which was destroyed by fire, on the 25th of November, 1820 ... Compiled by some of the survivors.|
|Imprint||Second edition. Glasgow.|
|Date of Publication||1821|
|Notes||This narrative follows in a long tradition of providing an 'eye witness' account of a disaster and publishing it in pamphlet form. In this case, it provides a vivid description of the horrendous consequences of a sailor drawing rum from a barrel using a candle to light his way and resulting in a conflagration that devoured the Abeona and killed 112 passengers, most of them settlers who had embarked at Greenock with the intention of establishing a settlement at Algoa Bay near the Cape of Good Hope.
There seem to have been two substantially different versions published in 1821: the present version Narrative of the loss of the Abeona, which was destroyed by fire, on the 25th November, 1820 ... when one hundred and twelve individuals perished. Compiled by some of the survivors. Second edition. Glasgow: Printed by James Starke, for Chalmers and Collins, 1821 (APS.2.200.002) and A brief narrative of the loss of the Abeona. Written chiefly by one of the survivors, A Sabbath school teacher on Board. Glasgow: Printed by Young & Gaillie for Archibald Lang, Bookseller, 1821 (APS.1.78.132). The first edition is shorter than the second and is written by a single author 'a sabbath school teacher' while the second and longer version seems to be the work of the original author and other survivors. It is substantially different and takes a more secular approach whilst the first is laced with that author's ecclesiastical leanings and imagery. Both are fascinating accounts, and complementary, the second edition providing a completely revised, extended and fuller text.|
|Title||Short address to the weavers of Paisley and the neighbourhood : (suggesting a plan for their relief.) by an Inhabitant.
An answer to the address (lately sold at three-pence) "by a Burgess," (on the road to preferment) to the feuars and burgesses of Paisley by "Shifty". Paisley, 1817.
And 3 others|
|Date of Publication||1819|
|Notes||A collection of five rare tracts published variously in Ayr, Paisley and Glasgow between 1817 and 1819 and bound in one volume. The tone is radical and reforming reflecting the appetite for electoral and civic reform in the industrial west in the years after Waterloo.|
|Title||Montrose illustrated in five views with plan of the town and several vignettes, to which are added a few explanatory remarks.|
|Date of Publication||1840|
|Notes||This is a pristine set of exemplars of early lithographic printing in Scotland, of which only one other copy is recorded in Britain. According to David Schenck, this volume appears to have been a prototype for a series of views drawn by James Gordon Jun. and published by J. & D. Nichol of Montrose under the general title 'City & towns of Scotland illustrated'. Views of Aberdeen, Perth, Glasgow and Dumfries were subsequently published.
Lithography did not begin in Scotland until 1820, over two decades after its discovery in Germany. However Edinburgh and Glasgow soon developed into significant centres of lithographic printing in a British context. The lithographer responsible for this work is William Nichol, who was based in Hanover Street, Edinburgh, probably related to the Montrose publishers of this work. He wrote the entry for 'Lithography' in the seventh edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica, published in 1841.|
|Title||[Volume containing 25 items, mainly chapbooks, relating to William Wallace and Robert the Bruce]|
|Date of Publication||c.1800-1865|
|Notes||This volume, which formerly belonged to the poet Sydney Goodsir Smith, includes 21 chapbooks telling the tales of the exploits of Sir William Wallace and King Robert the Bruce in prose, verse and song. These items date from 1801 to 1861 and include imprints from Glasgow, Edinburgh, Montrose, Dumfries, Kelso, Newcastle, London and Belfast. The publication and distribution of chapbooks in Scotland reached its height between 1775 and 1825. Subsequently the market for this kind of material was absorbed by commercial publishers, examples of whose output is contained in this volume.
With their simple wood-engravings and straightforward narratives, they would have been avidly read by children, at whom they were primarily aimed. It is interesting to note the similarities, and in some instances the exact copying of the text of the stories from one publisher to another.|
|Title||Central India photographs|
|Date of Publication||1863|
|Notes||19 albumen prints by an unknown photographer in a portfolio. From the collection of Victor Alexander Bruce, 9th Earl of Elgin.
An important group of early photographs assembled between 1850 and 1867 by James Bruce, 8th Earl of Elgin, and his son Victor Alexander Bruce, the 9th Earl, providing a visual record of the distinguished careers of the two earls as diplomats, military strategists, and politicians in India and the Far East. The four albums form a valuable source for the study of colonial and imperialist expansion, global commercial travel, and, not least, the rapid growth of commercial photography. The purchase was made possible by generous contributions from the Heritage Lottery Fund (National Heritage Memorial Fund) and the National Art Collections Fund.|