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.

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Important Acquisitions 46 to 60 of 755:

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TitlePhotographs 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 Publication1860s
NotesThese 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.
ShelfmarkPhot.la.20
Acquired on04/06/01
TitleTryal of Sr. Godfrey McCulloch, Vindicated, Edinburgh: 1697 (+10 other pamphlets bound in one volume)
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis volume of pamphlets was purchased primarily for the work whose title is given above. This title was entered in Aldis (3677) but no holdings information was provided: this work has not been traced in Wing, ESTC or in any library catalogue. It is therefore most pleasing that a copy of this elusive seventeenth-century Scottish work has finally been located. This work concerns the trial and execution of McCulloch, a hereditary baronet of Nova Scotia, for the murder of William Gordon in 1690. McCulloch had tried to claim the estate of the family of Cardiness as his own after a long feud. For an excellent account of the whole sordid affair, including the rumour that McCulloch was rescued by fairies, see http://www.chebucto.ns.ca/Heritage/FSCNS/Scots_NS/Clans/MacCulloch/Clansfolk_MacCulloch/EC_Sir_Godfrey.html This purchase complements the library's existing holding of The last speech of Sir Godfrey M'Culloch at L.C.Fol.76(23). There are some indications of provenance: on the title-page are practice notes apparently by one Thomas Heriot. On the final blank verso are other practice notes, including a passage which begins 'George Grant Cordiner'. The whole volume comes from the sale of the Birmingham Law Library, and the binding has the society's stamp and bookplate. The other pamphlets in the volume are also of much interest: as several of them relate to the radical writer and political leader John Lilburne, the Mary Robson Lilburn fund has been used to contribute £1200 towards this purchase. List as follows: (1) The Triall, of Lieut. Collonell John Lilburne, [imprint cropped, 1649], pp. 168 (not NLS) (2) The Triall of Mr. John Lilburn, London: Printed, 1653, pp. 44 (NLS) (3) The Exceptions of John Lilburne, London: f. Richard Moon, 1653, pp. 8 (NLS) (4) The Tryal of Lieutenant Colonel John Lilburn, London: f. & s.b. H[enry]. Hills, [colop: 1710], pp. 132 (NLS) (5) Vox Plebis, London: 1646, pp. 68 (not NLS) (6) The Cry of the Innocent for Justice, Printed, 1662, pp. 45 (not NLS) (7) A True and Exact Relation, London, Printed, 1662, pp. 22 (not NLS) (8) A Hellish Murder committed by a French Midwife, London: f. R. Sare, pub. b. Randal Taylor, 1688, pp. 39 (not NLS) (9) The Peoples Ancient and Just Liberties Asserted, in the Tryal of William Penn, and William Mead, Printed, 1670, pp. 62 (NLS) (10) The Tryal of Sr. Godfrey McCulloch, Vindicated, Edinburgh: Printed, 1697, pp. 22 (not NLS) (11) A True Relation of the Unjust Accusation of Certain French Gentlemen, London: b. J. Darby f. Richard Chiswel, 1671, pp. 44 (NLS) Conservation: this volume will need to be rebound and boxed. Some items discoloured as a consequence of being bound with others much larger or smaller.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2098(10)
Acquired on25/10/01
TitleFull Report of the Proceedings at the Meetings of Messrs. Thompson and Borthwick, at Dalkeith
ImprintGlasgow: George Gallie & W. R. M'Phun
Date of Publication1833
LanguageEnglish
NotesGeorge 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)
ShelfmarkAPS.1.201.027
Acquired on26/06/01
TitlePlan for Raising a Militia in that part of Great Britain called Scotland
NotesOnly 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).
ShelfmarkAPS.4.201.17
Acquired on26/06/01
TitleSett of the City of Edinburgh
ImprintEdinburgh: b. Heir of Andrew Anderson
Date of Publication1683
LanguageEngllish
NotesAlthough the library has a copy of this edition at shelfmark H.Br.6, this copy is an interesting addition to the collections for several reasons. Firstly, the gold-tooled binding seems likely to be contemporary and is quite possibly Scottish. Secondly, the physical composition of the book is unusual. The marbled pastedowns have been left with their coloured stubs protruding, so one stub is found after the first two blank leaves, the second between pages 10 and 11. The stitching can be clearly seen, revealing the curious arrangement of the last six leaves (leaves are signed D, D2, [unsigned], E, E2, [unsigned] - conjugate leaves are D1 & [E3], D2 & [D3], E1 & E2). Most importantly, a comparison between this copy and our existing holding shows that our copy at shelfmark H.Br.6 has an additional title-page which has been removed from the newly acquired copy. This title-page, which was placed before sig.A2, was clearly an error as it speaks of 'the two acts of town council', when the text actually contains four acts. None of the other copies recorded by ESTC seem to have this title-page, but in the new copy, the stub where it was cut out can just be seen - presumably it was removed from the other copies too (so ESTC needs to be updated). The work is interesting in its own right, as a centenary printing of the 1583 agreement regarding the running of the burgh, and the place of the craftsmen, merchants, bailies and provost, with the addition of acts from the later seventeenth century. However, it is particularly useful to have these two copies, as they show how two copies of the 'same edition' can have important differences. Collation: 6 unsigned leaves, A8 (A1 cut out), B-C8, D3, E3. Octavo. Contents: 2 blank leaves, half-title, title-page, 'index', stub of cancelled title-page, 'Copy of the Decreet Arbitral' (pp. 1-34), 'Acts of the Town Council of Edinburgh' (title-page, pp. 1-16), 'Act anent the Town Clerks' (pp.[1]-4).
ShelfmarkABS.1.202.035
Reference SourcesWing S2647, Aldis 2426, ESTC R217074
Acquired on09/08/01
TitleNew South Wales calendar and General Post Office Directory, 1836
ImprintSydney
Date of Publication1835
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis copy of the short-lived New South Wales calendar, published from 1832 to 1837 has an notweworthy Scottish provenance. The upper flyleaf has the signature of one Alexander Imlay (1801-1847), surgeon, landowner and speculator. He was one of a trio of Aberdeenshire brothers, all surgeons, who arrived in Sydney in the early 1830s, a time when the colonies were expanding beyond the south-east corner of the continent. In 1832 Alexander toured the southern coast with Governor Bourke and six years later made a pioneering journey in South Australia across the Mount Lofty Ranges to the Murray river. At the peak of their land speculation the Imlays owned some 1500 sq. miles of southern territory. They remained in the area and in 1839 Alexander, described by 'The South Australian' as an 'eminent and enterprising colonist' arrived in Adelaide with a cargo of cattle and sheep. The volume contains some useful information about the development of the burgeoning colony in the 1830s. Included are 'regulations for the assignment of male convict servants' and a 'Report on the epidemic catarrh, or influenza, prevailing among the sheep in this colony' which resulted in the loss of 2,500 animals. There are also lists of ministers of the Church of Scotland, (p.325) and arrivals (some from Leith) and departures of ships in Sydney harbour (p. 378-p.397) The Post Office Directory at the back of the volume reveals many Scottish surnames, as well as a number of finely engraved advertisements. During the period in which this calendar was published, the number of 'unassisted' immigrants from Scotland, mainly from the Lowlands, increased noticeably. Of the 110,000 assisted immigrants who arrived in Australia between 1832 and 1850, about 16,000 (14.5%) were Scots. Although Scots settled throughout the colonies, they tended to favour New South Wales (which then included Queensland and Victoria) as opposed to South Australia, Van Diemen's Land or Western Australia.
ShelfmarkAB.3.201.017
Acquired on18/04/01
TitleAesop's fables.
ImprintEdinburgh
Date of Publicationc. 1837
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a rare and unrecorded edition of the ever-popular Aesop's fables. It was published in Edinburgh by William Darling who is recorded in Gray's annual directory as having an address on South Bridge in 1837. Darling published a number of children's books in a similar format of which the NLS holds four titles. A bookseller and printer of the same name was working at various addresses in Edinburgh between 1765 and 1796 but the illustrative style and typographic layout suggest a later date. The cover is printed on yellow paper with a very fine copper engraving of a family looking out of a window at an old man (presumably Aesop) writing surrounded by a group of animals. The book is composed of 12 fables, each one superbly illustrated with a half page wood-engraving with the text beneath.
ShelfmarkAPS.1.202.074
Reference SourcesSBTI
Acquired on06/04/02
TitleEngineer 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.
ImprintGlasgow
Date of Publication1856
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis 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.
ShelfmarkABS.10.201.01
Acquired on26/07/00
TitleGenuine 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
ImprintLondon
Date of Publication1747
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis 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.
ShelfmarkAB.2.201.01
Acquired on05/10/00
TitleKoran
ImprintGlasgow, David Bryce
Date of Publicationca. 1900
LanguageArabic
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.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2279
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
TitleThird Part of the Bible ... Containing Five Excellent Books, Edinburgh: by Robert Young, 1637
ImprintEdinburgh: by Robert Young, 1637
Date of Publication1637
LanguageEnglish
NotesBound 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. [80]-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.
ShelfmarkBdg.s.867(1)
Acquired on09/10/00
Title[Volume containing 25 items, mainly chapbooks, relating to William Wallace and Robert the Bruce]
Date of Publicationc.1800-1865
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis 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.
ShelfmarkABS.1.203.018(1-26)
Acquired on16/10/00
TitleInaugural ceremonies in honour of the opening of Fountain Gardens, Paisley ... Published under the patronage and by authority of the Provost, Magistrates and Town Council.
ImprintPaisley: J & J. Cook
Date of Publication1868
LanguageEnglish
NotesFolio, [2], 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.
ShelfmarkPhot.med.30
Acquired on27/11/00
TitleCollection of Petitions, Informations and Answers to the Lords of Council and Sessions
ImprintEdinburgh
Date of Publication1721-45
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a made-up title (nineteenth-century title page) for a volume containing a rich collection of rare eighteenth-century legal publications in generally excellent condition. These petitions, answers, bills and informations all concern the citizens of Edinburgh. Property developers are reported for building tenements higher than their neighbours', merchants seek to recover debts, barbers and wig-makers try to strengthen their guilds against competition. Contemporary manuscript notes frequently describe the outcome of a case, which adds to the human interest and gives the documents a useful context. A particularly fascinating item is Answers for Francis Duke of Buccleugh (12 June 1744), in which the matter under dispute is the rental value of the farmland around Dalkeith, in particular relation to the cost of manure. The final deposition concludes that 'the Dung of the said Town is kept for the Use of the Vassals and Tenants within the Lordship of Dalkeith, and always was so... frequently the said Dung is considerably increased by a Troop or two of Dragoons frequently quartering in the said Town from time to time.' In all there are some 150 individual works, mostly two-leaf items, many of which are not recorded in ESTC. Imperfections: a very few stained pages, edges discoloured, pages near beginning of volume wormed. Provenance: inside front board is note 'The Gift of John Cadwalader Esquire, Dec. 1846; and since rebound, and a printed title added.' Below is the bookplate of Edward D. Ingraham. The binding is nineteenth-century marbled boards with calf back and corners, slightly worn but overall in good condition. Possible digitisation interest: Copy Bill of Suspension, 6 November 1721 (woodcut head-piece & initial); Information for James Hog, 1 November 1742 (initial); Case of the Double Return for the Shire of Berwick (head-piece & initial); Answers for William Cramond, 27 January 1743 (initial & interesting remarks on gaming); Petition of George Fordyce, 24 February 1743 (striking initial); Information for John Jamieson in Cirencester, 28 January 1744 (initial).
ShelfmarkABS.10.202.03
Acquired on31/01/01
TitleDavington Library catalogue of books, 1905
ImprintLangholm
Date of Publication1905
LanguageEnglish
NotesA rare catalogue from the library in the hamlet of Davington, between Ettrick and Eskdalemuir, Dumfriesshire, which indicates the spread of the community library in rural Scotland. It is not known when exactly this library was established - the entry in the New Statistical Account of Scotland (1845) written by Rev. William Brown mentions the growing popularity of a library lately established in Eskdalemuir parish and the 'moderate' terms of admission. However a copy of The Christian Monitor was presented to 'Eskdalemuir Library by the Rev. William Brown' in January 1831, which may indicate that a library was in the parish from the 1830s or earlier. Until then 'those fond of reading were subscribers to Westerkirk parish library', which was first established in 1792. Three years later Thomas Telford, the distinguished local and famous engineer had endowed this library and subequently that at Langholm with £1000 each. In 1868 a gift of 104 volumes was made to Davington Library by Westerkirk Parish Library. It is clear that in Eskadale there was a considerable demand for the printed word. There was a Free Church and a school in Davington , so it is possible that the library may have been funded by the church in some way. This is the second printed catalogue of Davington library – the first, listing 755 items, dates from 1858. A total of 332 books are listed in alphabetical order by title with the press numbers and shelf letters. The stock ranged from popular periodicals such as Chambers's Journal, Good Words, Leisure Hour and Sunday at home to novels like Adam Bede, Vanity Fair, Barnaby Rudge, and The Heart of Midlothian, intriguing titles such as Abominations of modern society, How to be happy though married, Sports that kill as well as biographical and historical works. It appears that the library at Davington (housed in the school) was in existence until c.1935; manuscript additions to the 1858 catalogue (now at Westerkirk) end with vol. 40 of the Border magazine (1935). When the school closed, possibly during the 1950s, many of the books came into the possession of Westerkirk Parish Library, others were dispersed throughout the parish and to the book trade. The remainder, c.100 volumes, were purchased by Mr. Cutteridge, Billholm, Westerkirk for £25 and the money was used to buy an encyclopedia of Eskdalemuir School.
ShelfmarkHP1.202.5568
Reference SourcesShirley, G.W. Dumfriesshire libraries. 1933. 5.478 Kaufman, Paul. 'The rise of community libraries in Scotland' in Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, vol. 59, 1965. HP1.201.1250 Crawford, John C. 'The rural community library in Scotland' in Library review, vol. 24, no.6, summer 1974. Y.183
Acquired on11/04/02
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