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 721 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 721:
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|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||Third Part of the Bible ... Containing Five Excellent Books, Edinburgh: by Robert Young, 1637|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: by Robert Young, 1637|
|Date of Publication||1637|
|Notes||Bound with: The New Testament, London: Robert Barker & Assigns of John Bill, 1638; and: The whole booke of Psalmes, London: I. L[egat]. F. the Company of Stationers, 1640.
The first work in this volume is not found in STC, apparently an Edinburgh edition of STC 2334.5. Details: 24o, [288 pp.], sig. A-M12, slightly stained. Sig. H4 missigned G2. The two following works are STC 2954.3 and STC 2698. The main interest of this volume is, however, the elaborate embroidered binding. The design on front and rear boards is a silver wirework crown above a lily executed in green, pink and gold silks, enclosed within an oval surrounded by foliage. The spine is heavily decorated with formal designs of foliage within six panels. The binding has been restored by a V&A conservator and remounted; the new pink silk ties are dyed to match the originals. The page edges are gilt; the endpapers are Old Dutch marbled. See Cyril Davenport, English Embroidered Bookbindings, London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & co., 1899, p. 2. for the claim that embroidered binding is a particularly English art. Davenport provides several useful photographs of seventeenth-century embroidered Bibles and Psalms in chapter IV, 'Books bound in Satin', pp. -110. This acquisition complements the library's existing holdings of embroidered Bibles printed in Scotland, such as the 1626 Aberdeen Psalms at PDP.10/18, the 1638 Edinburgh Bible at Cwn.483 and the fine 1646 Edinburgh Bible at Bdg.m.73.|
|Title||Genuine copy of a letter from a merchant in Stockholm to his correspondent in London. Containing an impartial account of Doctor Alexander Blackwell, his plot, trial, character, and behaviour, both under examination, and at the place of execution|
|Date of Publication||1747|
|Notes||This rare and probably spurious pamphlet, describes the involvement of 'Doctor' Blackwell in the machinations of Swedish politics in the 1740s. It also contains a scaffold speech, which seems also to be a fabrication.
Sweden was divided between a dominant French and a smaller English faction. The pamphlet, written ostensibly by a supporter of Blackwell's, describes the sequence of events leading to his execution. Blackwell 'a petty doctor of physick' was accused of plotting to poison the heir in an effort to alter the succession to the Swedish crown. If the alleged plot had succeeded the Duke of Cumberland would have ascended the throne. The unfortunate doctor 'endured for several days the torture of the pill with great resolution and constancy of mind, but upon the rack he confessed some intercourse with foreign courts'. He managed to put his head on the wrong side of the executioner's block, remarking that 'it was the first experiment he had made in that way'.
Blackwell was born in Aberdeen, and studied medicine at the University of Leyden, though it is doubtful if he ever completed his degree. He spent some time in the Hague and Sweden before working as a printer in Aberdeen and London. On becoming bankrupt in 1730 he spent two years in a debtors prison. Blackwell also worked for the Duke of Chandos as director of his agricultural improvements at Canons, Middlesex and published a pamphlet on 'A new method of improving cold, wet and barren lands' in 1741. He collaborated with his wife Elizabeth in producing 'A curious herbal' in two volumes in 1737. Clearly, a man of many parts, Blackwell was employed as a physician by the Swedish king and involved himself in further agricultural projects in Sweden prior to his demise.|
|Date of Publication||1999|
|Notes||2 vols. 1 of 400 copies
Over the years the Library has been building an impressive collection of Private Press books produced throughout the world. Many have been donated, for example, the Paterson and Gregynog Press collections, and others have arrived through legal deposit and purchase. In this area recently, and due to funding constraints, the Library has reduced its purchasing but has tried to acquire 'landmark' publications as well as works by Scottish authors published abroad. The present work falls into the former category, and has been described as the last great private press book of the 20th Century. It is an illustrated folio edition of the King James Bible on Zerkall paper (Germany) and printed in GALLIARD type, on a vellum spine binding with handmade paper over the boards. The 235 engravings by Barry Moser were done using a new medium called Resingrave, a white polymer resin, that has been championed by Mr Moser. The design, layout and feel of the publication recalls the famous Doves Press Bible of 1903-1905. The Pennyroyal Caxton Press is a partnership between Barry Moser and Bruce Kovner, a patron of the arts living in New York.|
|Title||Engineer and machinist's assistant: being a series of plans, sections, and elevations, of steam engines, spinning machines, mills for grinding, tools, etc., etc., taken from machines of approved construction at present in operation.|
|Date of Publication||1856|
|Notes||This is a 'new and improved edition' of a book first published by Blackie in 1847. Lavishly illustrated with 138 engravings, it was intended to provide a broad range of information and practical examples for the instruction of the many aspiring mechanical engineers and millwrights to extend what they had learned in theory during their arduous apprenticeships. The scale of the engravings are sufficiently large 'to render them available as working drawings for the reproduction of similar machines' (preface). The plates, with very detailed accompanying explanatory text, are preceded by essays on the steam engine, mill gearing, machine tools and water wheels.
Examples of the designs of the foremost British (and some French) manufacturers are portrayed at a time when Britain, in the wake of the Great Exhibition of 1851 was very much regarded as the 'workshop of the world'. The designs of James Nasmyth's steam hammer and steam pile driver and William Fairbairn's corn mills, steam frigates and water wheels are among those of Scots engineers whose work features. Also included are designs by Caird & Co, Greenock, James Smith of Deanston, and Robert Napier, Archibald Mylne, Robert Sanderson & Co. from Glasgow. The book belonged to John Fowler, probably of John Fowler and Co., the Leeds based builder of railway and rolling stock.|
|Title||Inaugural ceremonies in honour of the opening of Fountain Gardens, Paisley ... Published under the patronage and by authority of the Provost, Magistrates and Town Council.|
|Imprint||Paisley: J & J. Cook|
|Date of Publication||1868|
|Notes||Folio, , 92
This limited, imperial edition of 40 copies was 'published by request of a few gentlemen who wished to have a special edition de luxe'. There was also an edition for the general public and a 'drawing room' edition for subscribers. The book is dedicated to Thomas Coats, a local cotton manufacturer, who purchased the grounds for £20,000 and donated them to the town of Paisley. The gardens were designed by the Glasgow landscape architect James Niven, former assistant to Joseph Paxton at Chatsworth, and the fountains were erected by George Smith & Co. of the Sun Foundry, Glasgow. The Coates Family is indelibly bound up in the industrial history of Paisley, through their domination of cotton manufacturing output with four large mills at each corner of the town. Following the Victorian spirit of charitable works, laced with a strong Baptist belief, they endowed many buildings and gardens in Paisley during their period of Economic hegemony including the construction of the largest Baptist church in Europe (Coates Memorial Church) and the Fountain Gardens.|
|Title||Collection of single-sheet items, mainly posters and advertisements relating to land and agriculture in Scotland, dated between 1805 and 1903|
|Notes||These items include descriptions and valuations of estates and commercial property up for sale or rent, lists of farming equipment to be sold at auction, and a sheet of regulations for containing an outbreak of swine fever. Most are in excellent condition, particularly considering their age and ephemeral nature. The marks where the sheet was fixed to the wall can be seen on at least one item. Further evidence that these were working documents is supplied by the numerous manuscript annotations, including calculations and additions to the lists of goods. The detailed information regarding the pricing of materials, credit arrangements and the quality of particular areas of land should interest anyone researching agriculture, trade or local history in Scotland. It is also of interest as containing examples of Scottish provincial printing, in Linlithgow, Beith and Paisley. Family historians could also make use of the collection; several of the sales or re-lettings clearly came about as a result of the tenant's death, and these advertisements provide useful inventories of the tenant's furniture, tools and livestock.|
|Title||Volume of Edinburgh newspapers, 1759-1770|
|Date of Publication||1759-1770|
|Notes||This volume of newspapers comes from the library of the Writers to the Signet, and also displays the bookplate of Steuart of Allanton. The papers are in generally good condition, with tax-stamps and occasional manuscript notes; there are a few tears and worm-holes. The run of the Edinburgh Weekly Journal is darkened and damaged at the edges, probably because it is notably larger than the other newspapers. It is this run which gives the volume its particular interest, as these editions (from 7 August 1765 to 11 October 1769, with many gaps), do not seem to be represented elsewhere in the National Library, or indeed in any other collections. Published on Wednesdays, the Edinburgh Weekly Journal was sold at the printing-house of William Auld & Co., later Auld, Smellie & Co., in the Lawnmarket at 2½d. Later editions give details of the price of subscription (10s10d a year for collection from the shop, 11s10d a year for delivery within Edinburgh, 14s a year for post to any town in Scotland). Typically for a journal of this period, it contains extensive foreign news, news from London, Edinburgh and America, and miscellaneous advertisements: for miracle cures, the sale of land and buildings, and for dramatic performances and new books. Storms, explosions, murders and 'remarkable occurrences' are described with gusto. There are also a number of poems and letters. See W.J.Couper, Edinburgh Periodical Press (1908), II. 93-6; M.E.Craig, Scottish Periodical Press (1931), 26.|
|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||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||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||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||Photographs of the streets and closes of Leith] 8 Albumen prints mounted on card, with the streetnames written in pencil by a later hand, bound in a contemporary [?] album|
|Date of Publication||1860s|
|Notes||These eight albumen prints probably date from the 1860s. They are of the backstreets and closes of Leith, according to internal evidence especially on print 8 showing 'Leith Funeral Establishment', and later annotations in pencil at the foot of the cardboard mounts. They are similar in subject matter to the photographs of Archibald Burns, who famously photographed the slum clearances in Edinburgh, but even more like the photographs in Thomas Annan's The Old Closes & Streets of Glasgow 1868-1877 (1900 edition). Research by historians of photography may reveal more about these important photographs, but it may be that they represent a bridge between the work of Hill and Adamson and the later work of Archibald Burns and Thomas Annan.|
|Title||Donation of 4 items of ephemera, relating to bicentenary celebrations for Robert Burns on 25 January 1959, organised by the Scottish District of the Communist Party|
|Notes||1. Single Sheet Flyer, for the event in St Andrew's Hall, Glasgow
2. Ticket for the event
3. Souvenir Programme of the event signed by J. F. Campbell, Hugh MacDiarmid and Alex McCrindle
Three rare items of ephemera relating to bicententary celebrations for Robert Burns on 25 January 1959, organised by the Scottish District of the Communist Party. The programme is especially interesting as it lists the various contributors to the evening, including Hugh MacDiarmid and John Ross Campbell, editor of the Daily Worker.|
|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.|