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 765 of the most important items we have acquired since 2000. We update it regularly as new material comes in. The description gives information about why it was chosen and what makes it particularly interesting. You can order the list by date of acquisition, author or title.

Please let us know what you think of this resource, if you have information to add about an acquisition, or if you have rare Scottish books that you would like to donate or sell. Email us at rarebooks@nls.uk

      

Important Acquisitions 496 to 510 of 765:

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AuthorAnnan, Thomas.
TitlePhotographic views of Loch Katrine and of some of the principal works constructed for introducing the water of Loch Katrine into the city of Glasgow.
ImprintGlasgow: [Glasgow Corporation Water Works],
Date of Publication1889
LanguageEnglish
NotesLoch Katrine, a freshwater loch in the Trossach hills north of Glasgow, was identified in 1853 by John Frederick Bateman, a civil engineer employed by the Glasgow Corporation, as a potential source of clean drinking water for the city. Glasgow had in the previous fifty years suffered major cholera and typhus epidemics due to overcrowding, poor sanitation and a lack of reliable water supply for the majority of its inhabitants. Despite strong opposition, a bill was passed in the House of Lords in 1855 authorising work to go ahead on the construction of a waterworks on the loch. Four years later the works was opened by Queen Victoria; they made a substantial difference to the health of the city. They cost around £1.5 million, a huge sum for those days, but were a major source of civic pride for Glasgow. The Glasgow Corporation Water Works engaged the Glasgow-based photographer, Thomas Annan (1829-1887) to provide a photographic record of the waterworks and the various aqueduct bridges and reservoirs built to facilitate the supply of water to Glasgow, 34 miles away. "Photographic views of Loch Katrine", which consisted of 28 albumen prints by Annan, with accompanying text and in a special binding, was first published in 1877. The book was presumably a limited edition as each copy appears to have been presented by the Lord Provost and members of the Water Committee to local worthies. This is a second issue of the book, dated 1889, with a new title page and five additional prints, which are all group photographs of the Glasgow Corporation Water Commissioners on visits to the Gorbals Water Works and Loch Katrine between 1880 and 1886. As with the 1877 issue it appears to have been produced for presentation by the Lord Provost to prominent individuals. This particular copy was presented to one 'Robert Anderson', probably the local businessman and one-time bailie of Glasgow, Robert Anderson (b. 1846).
ShelfmarkPhot.med.117
Reference SourcesA. Aird, Glimpses of Old Glasgow, Glasgow, 1894 (http://gdl.cdlr.strath.ac.uk/airgli/index.html)
Acquired on30/04/10
AuthorAnnan, John.
TitlePhotographs of excavations at the Roman fort of Castlecary.
ImprintGlasgow
Date of Publication1902
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a well-preserved album of 16 photographs of excavations along part of the Antonine Wall at Castlecary in Stirlingshire. John Annan (1862-1947) was the older son of Thomas Annan (1829-1887) and a member of the family firm of photographers. John specialized in architectural photography and was known for his photographs of Glasgow slums. These photographs were taken during the excavation of Castlecary fort between March and November 1902. It appears that Annan took these photographs for the article published in volume 37 of the Proceedings of the Scottish Society of Antiquaries (1902-1903). This album was owned by the Glasgow Archaeological Society, who conducted excavations along the Antonine Wall from 1890. The fort at Castlecary was one of only two defences (from a total of 15), along the 37 mile-long wall, enclosed by stone walls as distinct from ramparts of stone or clay. The archaeological evidence suggests it was built while Agricola was governor between 77 and 84 A.D., prior to the construction of the wall during the middle of the second century. The earliest notice of the fort is probably in an anonymous letter of 1697 describing an excursion to the west of Edinburgh. Castlecary fort was plundered for stone during the construction of the Forth-Clyde Canal in 1770 and was dissected by the Edinburgh-Glasgow railway around 1840. The outer boundary has been further damaged by the main Glasgow to Stirling road (A80).
ShelfmarkPhot.la.24
Reference SourcesRobertson, Anne. The Antonine Wall. (Glasgow: Glasgow Archaeological Society, 1990) HP2.90.7857 Hanson, William S. and Maxwell, Gordon S. Rome's north west frontier: the Antonine Wall. (Edinburgh: Edinburgh Press, 1983) H3.83.2259 Christison, D., Buchanan, M. and Anderson, J. 'Excavation of Castlecary fort on the Antonine vallum' in Proceedings of the Scottish Society of Antiquaries 37 (1902-1903), p. 271-346. SCS.SASP.37
Acquired on04/04/02
Author[Morris, James Archibald]
TitlePhotographs of the auld brig of Ayr (built about fifteenth century)
Imprint[Ayr: s.n.]
Date of Publication1910
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis a rare privately-published photo album documenting, in a series of 28 numbered photographs, the restoration of Ayr's most famous landmark, the Auld Brig. Built in the 15th-century, the bridge featured in Robert Burns's poems "The Brigs o' Ayr" and "Tam o'Shanter". By the start of the 20th-century the bridge was in poor condition and was almost demolished. However, a campaign led by architect and local historian James Archibald Morris (1857-1942), and supported by the Earl of Rosebery, was successful in raising funds for restoring the Auld Brig to its former glory. As the cover of the album informs us, £11,000 was raised from subscribers around the world, with the restoration work taking place between 1907 and 1910. The Earl of Rosebery re-opened the bridge on 29 July 1910. All bar three of the 28 gelatine prints were taken by Morris, who was a keen amateur photographer. Morris presumably arranged for the photographs to be bound in albums (with a leaf of explanatory notes for each photograph) and distributed, presumably to members of the executive committee of the Ayr Auld Brig preservation campaign whose names appear on the back cover.
ShelfmarkPhot.sm.152
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on16/11/12
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
AuthorDuncan, William
TitlePhysiologia Guillelmi Duncani philosophiae professoris veterani
ImprintToulouse: Arnaldum Colomerium
Date of Publication1651
NotesThis is a rare copy of this work on physiology by the Scot William Duncan and an important addition to the library's collection of books by Scots working abroad. Copies have been traced in the Bibliotheque Nationale, Bibliotheque Municipale (Toulouse), Yale and the National Library of Medicine, but there are no copies in British libraries. Some of the copies appear to have an added engraved title page which is lacking in this copy. Little is known about William Duncan except that he was a teacher in Montauban in the south of France before 1606 when he became a Professor of Philosophy there. He died in 1636. His brother Mark who was born in Roxburghshire c.1570, also worked as an academic in France. He was Professor of Philosophy in Saumur and died in France in 1640. Lynn Thorndike in The history of magic and experimental science (vol.7) describes it as 'a very backward book' which propounded a 'distinctly Aristotelian' view of the universe. For example Duncan regarded comets as portents of drought, failure of crops, pestilence and the death of leading men. He also believed that most of the water on earth came from the sea via hidden underground channels.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2293
Reference SourcesThorndike, Lynn. The history of magic and experimental science. v.7 (New York, Columbia University Press, 1958) X.81.c Baxter, J.H. and Fordyce, C.J. 'Books published abroad by Scotmen before 1700' in Records of the Glasgow Bibliographical Society, XI, 1933.
Acquired on22/11/02
AuthorScot, Michael
TitlePhysionomia. Laqual comilo e magistro Michiel Scotto
ImprintStampata n Venetia, per Bernardin Venetian di Vidali
Date of Publication1507
LanguageItalian
NotesThe birthplace of Michael Scot (1175?-1234?) is not certain. There are some suggestions that he was born in Durham of Borders parentage. Others believe that he was from Balwearie near Kirkcaldy. It is more likely that he was from the Scottish Borders as Scot is a traditionally Borders name, and legends and stories surrounding his magical powers are still common in Southeast Scotland. For example, the division of Eildon Hill into its present three peaks is traditionally credited to his wizardry. Scot studied successively at Oxford and at Paris (where he acquired the title of 'mathematicus'), moved to Bologna, and then to Palermo, where he entered the service of Don Philip, the clerk register of the court of Frederick II, in Sicily. Though Scot was a serious Aristotelian and one of the great scholars of the 13th century, his varied learning and involvement in alchemy, astrology and astronomy transformed his popular reputation from a man of science to that of a powerful wizard. His name was sufficiently well known to merit a mention in Canto xx of the Dante's Divine Comedy, and Boccaccio uses his name to introduce one of his novels. It is believed that Scot returned to the Scottish Borders for the last few years of his life and was buried in Melrose Abbey, a story that was later embellished by Sir Walter Scott. Scot's writings on astrology, alchemy and the occult sciences form a trilogy: Liber Introductorius, Liber Particularis and Physionomia (De secretis nature). The Liber Introductorius is a compendium of astrological, scientific and general knowledge and the Liber Particularis is a more advanced treatment of the same topics. The Physionomia is a treatise on human anatomy, physiology and reproduction, along with some zoology followed by an examination of how an individual's nature may be discerned from each part of the body. Much of the text is derived from Arabic and Egyptian authors. There is no record for this Venice 1507 edition of the Physionomia in COPAC, OCLC, RLIN, CURL or HPB.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2323
Reference SourcesHPB DNB
Acquired on10/05/04
AuthorByron, George Gordon, Lord
TitlePiec Poematów Lorda Birona przelozyl Franciszek Dzierzyrkraj Morawski [Five poems of Lord Byron translated by Morawski].
ImprintNakladem autora [Printed for the author]. Leszno. Drukiem Ernesta Günthera.
Date of Publication1853
LanguagePolish
NotesThese are translations of Byron's poems by the soldier and poet Franciszek Morawski (1783-1861), with the translator's notes. Translated here are Byron's Manfred, Mazeppa, The Siege of Corinth, Parisina, and The Prisoner of Chilon. Morawski was a patriot and was Minister for War during the 1830-1 uprising against Russian rule; when the revolt failed, he went into semi-retirement and composed verses and translations of Byron and Racine. There are other early Polish translations, such as those by Adam Mickiewicz and Anton i Odyniec, but this is the first edition of this particular translation. This is a good copy in a contemporary Polish binding. The Library's interest in developing its Byron collections was given new impetus by the arrival of the John Murray Archive in 2006, with its unrivalled Byron correspondence. Our collections of books in Polish have also taken on new prominence recently, with the arrival of many Polish people to work in Scotland. This is, apparently, the only example of a Polish translation of the works of Byron in our collections. Hopefully we will be able to acquire more.
ShelfmarkAB.2.207.07
Acquired on26/03/07
AuthorJohn Muir (ed.)
TitlePicturesque California and the region west of the Rocky Mountains, from Alaska to Mexico.
ImprintSan Francisco & New York: J. Dewing Company
Date of Publication1888
LanguageEnglish
Notes2014 marks the centenary of the death of Scottish-born naturalist and conservationist John Muir (1838-1914), who is regarded as the founder of national parks in the USA. He edited this great work of pictorial Western Americana. Among the famed artists who contributed to the work are Frederick Cozzens, Thomas Hill, Thomas Moran and Frederick Remington. Their work is reproduced here in engravings, etchings and photogravures, which fill 120 full-page plates (with printed tissue descriptions). The 35 separate articles are written by a variety of authors, with Muir contributing seven articles, three of them on the High Sierras and his beloved Yosemite Valley (two of them were written especially for this work, the others were edited from earlier publications). This edition includes his article on Alaska which is not included in later abridged editions. Publication was issued by subscription, and no subscription was accepted "for less than the entire work." The work was issued in a bewildering number of different formats and editions, initially between 1887 and 1890, the latest edition with this title being 1894. Muir wrote in a letter of 1889 that he had finished his contributions by shutting himself up in a room in the Old Grand hotel San Francisco for two weeks.
ShelfmarkAB.10.214.07-09
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes; Oxford DNB; W.F. Kimes & M.B. Kimes 'John Muir: a reading bibliography' (Palo Alto, 1977) (no. 175); L.G. Currey & D.G. Kruska "Bibliography of Yosemite, the Central and the Southern High Sierra" (Palo Alto, 1992) (no. 257)
Acquired on16/05/14
AuthorRoberts, David
TitlePicturesque sketches in Spain taken during ye years 1832 & 1833
ImprintLondon
Date of Publication1837
NotesThis volume of tinted lithographs was David Roberts's first published set of views. After working as a house painter in Edinburgh he became a scene painter at theatres in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Carlisle and London. He began travelling on the continent in the 1820s and visited Spain and Tangier on the recommendation of his fellow Scottish artist David Wilkie. Roberts's skill as a draughtsman and his love of architecture are clearly to be seen in this work. Though not as well-known as his later sketches of the Holy Land and Egypt, these lithographs helped to establish Roberts as a topographical artist and aided his election as a Royal Academician in 1841. Roberts being dissatisfied with the quality of many of the lithographs, worked on many of the lithographic stones himself, erasing some of the original engravings. Instead of taking two months, this work took seven months. It is perhaps significant that Roberts's later work was lithographed by Louis Haghe and printed by Day and Haghe, rather than Charles Hullmandel, who printed 'Picturesque sketches'. Although Roberts received £350 for the drawings, he felt he had been cheated by Hodgson and Graves, the publishers. They sold the drawings to Colnaghi for £300 and sold the book of the prints for four guineas. According to James Ballantine, Roberts's first biographer, 'the views … when they were published had an enormous sale, and since then the work has gone through more printings than any work in lithography ever published'. Within 2 months they had sold 1,200 copies and reprints were still selling twenty years later. Only copies in UK at BL and V&A (imperfect).
ShelfmarkRB.l.113
Acquired on22/05/01
AuthorFraser, John
TitlePlain directions for raising potatoes on the lazy bed
ImprintEdinburgh : Printed for the author, and sold by him at his house in Leith, and by the booksellers in Edinburgh,
Date of Publication1757
NotesA rare work (not in ESTC or OCLC) by an unknown author who was 'Collector of Shore-dues in the Port of Leith' (t.p.) He appears not to have been a major writer on agricultural matters as he doesn't appear in either; Early Scottish agricultural writers (1697-1790) by Watson and Amery. Oxford : School of Rural Economy, 1931 or Agricultural writers ... 1200 to 1800 by Donald McDonald. London : Horace Cox, 1908. The earliest accounts of potato cultivation in Scotland date from the latter 17th century but it seems that it was not widely grown until around 1725. The lazy bed system is used to aid cultivation on damp soils. The potatoes are planted on the surface with trenches either side. As the plant grows more soil is taken from the trenches to earth them up.
ShelfmarkAPS.1.201.010
Acquired on01/02/01
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
AuthorKinniburgh, Robert
TitlePlates for the deaf and dumb
ImprintEdinburgh: Printed by J. Ritchie, published by William Oliphant
Date of Publication1820
LanguageEnglish
NotesThe Institution for the Education of Deaf and Dumb Children in Edinburgh was established in June 1810. One of the teachers, Robert Kinniburgh, designed illustrated educational materials for the school. We already have a copy of his book 'The manual alphabet', which has a title-page with illustrations showing a kind of sign language, followed by 55 numbered plates with woodcuts of important objects, animals and scenes of work. The book we have just purchased appears to be an earlier edition, with the illustrations ordered differently. There are some changes in the states of the woodcuts; for example, on p. 9 in 'Plates for the deaf and dumb', the top woodcut is of an agricultural scene with a gardener surrounded by tools and a cold-frame; the same woodcut appears on p. 30 of 'The manual alphabet', but without the cold-frame. Perhaps the woodcut had become damaged. It is interesting to speculate about the use of these books. Perhaps the illustrations were shown first and the students were expected to then learn the relevant word. In the new copy of 'Plates for the deaf and dumb', someone has added captions in pencil to several illustrations. The order of the plates in the two editions may be significant; in 'Plates for the deaf and dumb', the book starts with people in different clothing engaged in different tasks, and moves on to animals and then household objects. In 'The manual alphabet', however, the animals come first, followed by the household objects, and the people last. Only one other copy of 'Plates for the deaf and dumb' has been traced, at the John Rylands library in Manchester. This acquisition complements some of our special collections such as the Royal Blind School Collection.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2637
Acquired on27/11/06
AuthorScott, Walter.
TitlePoema posledniago barda. [Lay of the last minstrel]
ImprintMoscow: V Universitetskoi Tipografii
Date of Publication1823
LanguageRussian
NotesThis is the rare first edition in Russian of "The Lay of the Last Minstrel", first published in English in 1805. Only one other copy has been located in western European libraries at the National Library of Finland. The publisher/translator of the prose translation was Mikhail Kachenovsky (1775-1842), professor at Moscow University and editor of the journal "Vestnik Evropy" (Herald of Europe).
ShelfmarkRB.s.2828
Acquired on07/10/11
AuthorDrummond, William, 1585-1649
TitlePoems
ImprintLondon: for Richard Tomlins
Date of Publication1656
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a rare copy of one of the two editions of Drummond’s works published in London in 1656, seven years after the poet’s death. Two other copies of this work are held in public institutions in Scotland – at Edinburgh University Library and at Innerpeffray Library, near Crieff. The only difference between the two editions is the imprint – this edition was ‘Printed for Richard Tomlins, at the Sun and Bible…’ whereas the other edition was ‘Printed by W.H. and are to be sold at the Company of Stationers’. Both copies have the fine frontispiece portrait by Richard Gaywood (1630-1680).The binding – calf, blind tooled - probably dates from the 18th century. Drummond spent most of his life on his estate at Hawthornden near Edinburgh. Most of his poems were written in the Petrarchan tradition and he was thus considered to be out of tune with metaphysical poets of his day. He wrote in English rather than Scots. In political terms he supported the Royalists and wrote a pamphlet attacking the Covenanters, but his isolation cut him off from the main events of his lifetime. His death was apparently hastened by news of the execution of Charles I in London.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2571
Reference SourcesWing D2202
Acquired on04/04/05
AuthorBurns, Robert [et al.] + Armstrong, John.
TitlePoems chiefly by Robert Burns, and Peter Pindar, &c. &c. To which is added the Life of Robert Burns. + The Oeconomy of love [by John Armstrong]
ImprintLondon: Printed for the booksellers,
Date of Publication1798
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis small volume contains two unrecorded editions bound together; the first is an anthology which contains nine of Robert Burns's most famous poems, as well as works from other poets including John Wolcot 'Peter Pindar'; the second is an Oxford printing of Scottish poet John Armstrong's erotic poem "The oeconomy of love", a bestseller in the 18th century. The Burns edition is probably a piracy, appearing under the convenient, catch-all imprint "Printed for the booksellers". The composition of the book suggests that it was hastily put together. The contents page lists a 'Life of Robert Burns' on pp. 3-4 but in fact on pp. [v]-xx there is an unacknowledged reprint of Robert Heron's "A memoir of the life of the late Robert Burns" which had first appeared the previous year, 1797, the earliest printed biography of the poet. In addition to the Burns poems there are the following: four poems by 'Peter Pindar'; an unacknowledged printing of Matthew Lewis's "Alonzo the brave"; Thomas Holcroft's satirical song "Gaffer Gray" which first appeared in print in 1794; two Border ballads "Lord Gregory/The lass of Loch Royan" (which both Burns and Wolcot produced versions of) and "The battle of Otterburn"; four anonymous poems "Saint Genevieve of the Woods" (which was first printed in Warrington, c. 1780, under the title "The saint of the woods, or the loves of Siffred, and the maid of Brabant"), "The contented cottager", "Poem translated from the Persian" and "The blind boy".
ShelfmarkAB.1.212.02(1-2)
Acquired on05/08/11
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