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 753 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 541 to 555 of 753:

Ordered by author
Order by title | Order by date acquired
AuthorLloyd Osbourne [et al.]
TitleA letter to Mr. Stevenson's friends.
Imprint[Apia, Samoa: For private circulation]
Date of Publication1894
LanguageEnglish
NotesShortly after Robert Louis Stevenson's death in Samoa in December in 1894, his stepson, Lloyd Osbourne, organised the printing of this small pamphlet in honour of the late author. The printing was done in the town of Apia, at the office of the local newspaper, "The Samoa times". The pamphlet gives accounts of Stevenson's life on Samoa, his death and funeral, and includes items written by Osbourne, Bazett M. Haggard (the British Special Commissioner in Samoa and brother of author Henry Rider Haggard), James H. Mulligan, A.W. Mackay, and William E. Clarke. It also includes Edmund Gosse's poem "To Tusitala in Vailima", which reached Stevenson three days before his death; at the end are some verses in Samoan. The pamphlet was then sent out to various friends and acquaintances. This particular copy was sent to the Edinburgh-based advocate and writer Sir John Skelton (1831-1897). It also has the envelope in which the book was posted to Skelton from Apia, complete with Samoan stamp, and with "via San Francisco" written on it. The address is in the hand of Margaret Stevenson, Robert Louis Stevenson's mother, who was part of his extended household at the time of his death.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2870
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on13/09/13
AuthorLondon and North Western Railway
TitleBroadsides relating to Queen Victoria's journey by train from Ballater to Windsor.
ImprintLondon : London and North Western Railway
Date of Publication1876
LanguageEnglish
NotesNote: 9 broadsides showing the details of the Queen's journey on the 22nd and 23rd of November 1876. Includes; itinery of stations en route and times of arrival and departure, arrangements for telegraphing the train, arrangement of carriages, and precautions to be taken in the event of fog. Also included is a special notice announcing the postponment of the journey until the afternoon of the 23rd. The Queen returned to Windsor amid the rising tension between the great powers over the Eastern Question of the Ottoman Empire. In a letter to the Marquis of Salisbury dated Balmoral, 18th Nov. 1876 it is stated that the Queen had at one time thought of leaving on the 17th but floods below Perth had washed away bridges. The time to repair the tracks may account for the subsequent delaying of the journey.
ShelfmarkAPS.5.201.12
Reference SourcesBuckle, George Earle (editor). The letters of Queen Victoria. Second series. (London, 1926) (X.190.d)
Acquired on01/08/01
AuthorLord Byron
TitleEnglish Bards and Scotch reviewers. A satire.
ImprintLondon: William Benbow,
Date of Publication1821
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is one of several pirated editions of Byron's famous satirical poem "English Bards and Scotch reviewers" printed in England after 1816, when Byron had left the country, never to return. "English Bards" was first published in 1809 as a riposte from Byron to a stinging review in The Edinburgh Review of his first published volume of poetry "Hours of Idleness". Four official editions of the poem were printed by his publisher Cawthorn, between 1809 and 1811, to meet the large popular demand for it. However, by 1812, after contemplating but rejecting the publication of a fifth edition, Byron decided to remove the poem from circulation. He then decided to switch his patronage to the publisher John Murray, which led to Cawthorn continuing to print "English Bards" in defiance of his instructions, all without payment to the author. In 1816 Byron was granted an injunction preventing Cawthorn from continuing to print the work. The injunction, however, failed to stop piracies by other printers, such as this one by William Benbow, subsequently appearing on the market. Benbow (1784-c. 1852) was a political radical, who had set up in business in London in 1820 as a bookseller and publisher of pornography. During his relatively brief, but eventful, career as a bookseller and publisher, he regularly found himself in trouble with the law due to his relaxed attitude towards the laws of libel and copyright. Between 1821 and 1825 he published piracies of a number of Byron's works, including another printing of "English Bards" in 1823. In 1822 he was prosecuted, unsuccessfully, for a pirated edition of Byron's "Cain". This particular copy of Benbow's 1821 edition, of which only three copies are recorded in COPAC, also contains two MS letters connected with a former owner of it, J. Aitken. One is a letter dated August 1922 by John Murray (IV), the publisher, thanking Aitken for alerting him to the existence of the 1821 Benbow edition, which is not listed Ernest Hartley Coleridge's bibliography of the works of Byron despite Coleridge taking "infinite pains to make that bibliography complete". The other letter, from 1938, is a copy of one sent to the American librarian and bibliographer Gilbert H. Doane (1897-1980) at the University of Wisconsin. Aitken writes to Doane having been informed that the latter was preparing a bibliography of Byron (there is no record of a published bibliography by Doane). He gives details of the 1821 edition, pointing out that it has different pagination and contents to the 1823 Benbow edition (which is recorded in Coleridge's bibliography), and offers to send it to Doane to help him with the bibliography. He concludes his copy letter by announcing his intention, ultimately, to present his book to the National Library of Scotland; over 73 years later the book has finally made it to NLS.
ShelfmarkAB.2.212.07
Reference SourcesG. Redgrave, "The first four editions of 'English Bards and Scotch Reviewers'" in The Library series 2, v.1 (December 1899), pp. 18-25. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on17/02/12
AuthorLord Byron
TitleMarino Faliero Doge of Venice
ImprintVienna and Leipzig: Avalun-Verlag
Date of Publication1922
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an extremely handsome early 1920s German edition of Lord Byron's historical drama about the medieval doge who carried out an unsuccessful coup d' etat against the Venetian nobility. It is one of an edition of 275 numbered copies, which contains twelve original black and white etchings and a title page vignette by the German artist Sepp Frank (1889-1970). Frank was a leading etcher and lithographer who became famous for his work in producing ex-libris bookplates, many of which are considered masterpieces of art deco design.
ShelfmarkFB.l.386
Acquired on24/10/08
AuthorLüder, August Ferdinand
TitleÜber die Industrie und Kultur der Portugiesen
ImprintBerlin: bei Duncker und Humblot
Date of Publication1808
LanguageGerman
NotesThis is the first and only edition of this study of the economic, political and social situation in Portugal by Lüder, who was among the earliest popularisers of Adam Smith in Germany. It is not one of Lüder's best known texts. Only two copies have been traced, neither of which are in Britain. In the introduction he states that he regards the book as an application of Smith's principles to the political history of Portugal. Lüder provides a summary of Portuguese history before focussing on the economic circumstances which shaped the political situation there in the early nineteenth century. The work is amply footnoted and the author supports his arguments with many statistics. August Ferdinand Lüder (1760-1819) was Professor of History in Brunswick subsequently became Professor of Philosophy at the University of Göttingen and later honorary Professor at Jena. In his most important work Über Nationalindustrie und Staatswirtschaft (1800-1804), Lüder shows how he was influenced by Smith's ideas. He later published widely in economics and statistics, where he exposed the superficiality and narrowness of many statistical treatises.
ShelfmarkAB.1.200.008
Acquired on18/08/00
AuthorLund, John [et al.]
Title[Volume containing 10 18th-century plays]
ImprintLondon, Glasgow, Dublin & Hawick
Date of Publication1760-1787
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis 'sammelband' contains 10 short plays printed in a variety of locations in the British Isles in the second half of the 18th-century. The volume contains a hitherto unrecorded 1786 printing from Hawick of a one act play "Ducks and green pease". The imprint gives no details of printer or publisher but there was only one printer known to be working in Hawick at the time, George Caw, who had started printing there in the 1780s (the first recorded book from his press dating from 1783). "Ducks and green pease", first printed in the 1770s, was the best-known work written by John Lund (1726-1786) from Pontefract in Yorkshire. Lund was a barber, wig maker and political satirist; the mildy subversive content of his play is in contrast to the largely religious works Caw was printing at the time. The volume also has an early Scottish provenance, there are inscriptions on the front pastedown "Andrew Rattray" and "Dundee 1791".
ShelfmarkRB.s.2839(1-10)
Acquired on23/03/12
AuthorLydgate, John
TitleComplaint of the Black Knight (Celebration edition 2008)
ImprintDundee: Visual Research Centre (University of Dundee), Dundee City Arts Centre
Date of Publication2008
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis portfolio commemorates the 500th anniversary of the first dated printed book in Scotland, Chepman and Myllar's edition of Lydgate's poem The Complaint of the Black Knight, which they entitled The Maying or Disport of Chaucer. On April 4th, 2008, 500 years to the day of the date in Chepman and Myllar's colophon, artists Paul Liam Harrison, Scott Hudson and Andy Rice reprinted the poem at the Visual Research Centre of the University of Dundee, Dundee City Arts Centre. However unlike Chepman and Myllar who produced their book on the then-conventional hand-press, these artists printed the text using the silkscreen method, using water-based acrylic inks, onto archival paper. The day's printing was accompanied by supporting events including a reading from the original text. NLS, whose curators supported the project from its inception, has now received number 4 of the limited edition of 18 prints, along with one of the artists' proofs produced on the day, in a cardboard portfolio. This handsome addition to our collections shows Scotland's 21st-century printers paying homage to the first printers 500 years ago.
ShelfmarkRB.el.13
Acquired on23/01/08
AuthorMacDiarmid, Hugh [C.M. Grieve]
TitleTo circumjack Cencrastus or The curly snake.
ImprintEdinburgh & London: William Blackwood,
Date of Publication1930
LanguageScots
NotesThe Library has a large collection of examples of fine Scottish bookbinding, from the 15th century down to the present day, and we continue to add to this collection wherever possible. We have acquired this particular copy of the first edition of Hugh MacDiarmid's epic poem because of its binding by renowned Scottish bookbinder Arthur W. Currie (b. 1922), who was overseer of bindings at the Edinburgh-based publishing firm of Oliver & Boyd before becoming a lecturer at Napier College (now Edinburgh Napier University). Currie's work is now regarded as being on a par with other major 20th-century British bookbinders such as Edgar Mansfield and Elizabeth Greenhill. He specialised in the use of coloured inks as well as gold leaf to produce his designs; this binding, dating from the 1950s?, is a blue goatskin with a serpent-like design of interlinked coils in black, blue, grey and tan morocco and with a gilt sunburst pattern. Currie's design of coils reflects the content of MacDiarmid's poem, in which the windings of a snake around the roots of the world are equalled by the tortuous windings of the poetic work. The struggle of the poet to complete a work, described in the poem, was informed by MacDiarmid's own difficulties in the 1920s in trying to produce creative work while trying to earn a living as a small town journalist in Montrose.
ShelfmarkBdg.s.942
Acquired on14/05/10
AuthorMacdonald, George
TitleCome and play with me
ImprintLondon: Alexadnra Publishing Company
Date of Publicationc.1860-1900
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis children's annual contains an unacknowledged abridged and simplified version of George Macdonald's classic children's fantasy story The Princess and the Goblin. Macdonald's story was first published in 1872, and the version here reprints Arthur Hughes' original illustrations. The annual is undated. It contains references to the Arica earthquake of 1868 and the Franco-Prussian war of 1871-2 as recent events, so was presumably first printed around this time, although the advertisements suggest this may be a later reprint. That an abridged, and presumably unauthorized version of Macdonald's novel appeared so soon after its first publication is a testimony to its contemporary appeal, and shows the wide audience for his works. The annual has a cheerful cover in coloured boards, but the inviting illustration of a girl saying 'Come and play with me' is rather undermined by the stark advertisements on the inside boards: 'DO NOT UNTIMELY DIE!' but take 'Fennings' Fever Curer' instead.
ShelfmarkAB.3.204.004
Reference SourcesBookseller's catalogue
Acquired on07/02/04
AuthorMacDonald, George
TitleWorks of fancy and imagination
ImprintLondon: Alexander Strahan
Date of Publication1884
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a ten-volume set of the second collected edition of George MacDonald's early prose and verse. It includes his first book, "Within and Without", and his long dramatic poem, "A Hidden Life", covering his upbringing in rural Aberdeenshire and his life at Aberdeen University. MacDonald (1824-1905) had by the 1880s "achieved an international reputation as a poet, novelist, lecturer, and preacher" (DNB). This set comes complete with a rare publisher's clamshell box of red cloth, designed to house the ten volumes, and also includes part of an autograph note signed by MacDonald himself.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2681
Reference SourcesDNB
Acquired on12/10/07
AuthorMacGregor, Walter William
Title[Photograph album covering the years 1897-1912, with photographs of the Gordon Highlanders, Calcutta Volunteer Rifles, and scenes of army life in India and South Africa]
Imprint[S.l., s.n.]
Date of Publication[1897-1912]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a photograph album compiled by Walter William MacGregor, an officer in the 2nd battalion of the Gordon Highlanders regiment of the British army. The album contains 66 captioned prints which depict military and civilian life of a Scottish army officer at the start of the 20th century. The album starts off at Malplaquet barracks Aldershot, where the battalion was taking part in military manoeuvres; it covers Queen Victorias Silver Jubilee of 1897, then MacGregor's move in September 1898 to Umballa in the Punjab. MacGregor, at this stage a lieutenant, left India in 1899 to travel to South Africa where the Boer War had broken out. The 2nd Gordons took part in the defence and siege of the town of Ladysmith, where MacGregor was wounded whilst repelling a Boer attack on 6th January 1900. By 1902 he was back in India, the Boer War having ended the previous year. He was promoted to the rank of captain and the rest of the album documents his life in India, including recreational pursuits such as polo and football; it also has views of Himalayan scenery. The photos from 1912 onwards show that MacGregor served as an officer in the Calcutta Volunteer Rifles. The album includes pictures of Lieutenant Colonel William Henry Dick-Cunyngham (the Library purchased an album belonging to him in 2008, shelfmark Phot.la.69) and J. K. Dick-Cunyngham, also a Gordon Highlander officer, who was presumably William Henry's brother and a good friend of MacGregor during his time in India. MacGregor served with the 2nd Gordons in the 1st World War where he earned a Distinguished Service Order (DSO) for conspicuous gallantry during the action at Loos on 26th September, 1915.
ShelfmarkPhot.la.74
Reference SourcesA.D. Greenhill-Gardyne, "Life of a Regiment: the history of the Gordon Highlanders" vols 2-3 (London, 1903 & 1939)
Acquired on19/02/09
AuthorMackenzie, Henry
TitleOeuvres Completes
ImprintParis: Chez Waree Oncle
Date of Publication1825
LanguageFrench
NotesThis first French translation of the complete works of Henry Mackenzie is extremely rare, with no other copies recorded on COPAC. Mackenzie (1745-1831) is most famous for his sentimental novel The Man of Feeling, which like other individual works had already been translated into French. He was an important figure in Scottish literary society: this edition also includes a translation of Sir Walter Scott's contemporary praise of Mackenzie from Lives of the Novelists.
ShelfmarkAB.3.207.009
Reference SourcesBookseller's catalogue; DNB; BOSLIT
Acquired on15/01/07
AuthorMackenzie, Henry.
TitleThe life of William Annesly.
ImprintBennington, Vermont: Anthony Haswell
Date of Publication1796
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a very rare printing (ESTC records one other copy in the American Antiquarian Society) of a work compiled from parts of Scottish author Henry Mackenzie's novel "The man of the world". Mackenzie's second novel was first published in 1773, parts of it dealing with the character William Annesly are set in North America. Annesly is a victim of the machinations of the anti-hero of the novel, Sindall, and, after being found guilty of robbery, finds himself sentenced to transportation to the West Indies. Once there, after the death of his master, he is enlisted in the army and sent to North America. Annesly's adventures continue as he escapes from the army and lives with the Cherokees. This particular printing is done on blue paper by the second printer to operate a press in Vermont, English-born Anthony Haswell (1756-1816).
ShelfmarkRB.s.2835
Acquired on16/12/11
AuthorMackenzie, Isobel
TitleCaberfeigh
Imprint[Gollanfield House, Invernessshire]
Date of Publication1874
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an extraordinary example of private printing. Isobel Mackenzie (1852-1880) was given a Berri's People's Printing Press by her parents - illustrated in the frontispiece sketch. She used it to print six issues of Caberfeigh: A Magazine of Polite Literature, while suffering from tuberculosis at Gollanfield House. Despite the subtitle, however, this is not a typical example of Victorian family literature; it is actually very entertaining and full of satirical humour. 'Cabear fèidh' is the Gaelic for 'deer antler' and it is the war cry of the Clan Mackenzie. Isobel was evidently determined to cheer herself and her family with stories, jokes, poems and quizzes. She describes visits to England with witty and precise language. The standard of the printing is good for a private family press. Additional interest is supplied by the fact that Isobel was the niece of the writer Robert Michael Ballantyne (1825-1924), best known today for his swashbuckling yarn The Coral Island (1858). He contributed two articles to Caberfeigh ("From our African correspondent" in issue 1 and "Buncle's experiences on the Continent" in issue 6). For this copy, he also supplied the water-colour volume title-page and two highly dramatic pen and ink drawings for Isobel's own story "R-R-R Remorse! A Tale of Love! Murder! and Death!!!" in issue 5. This bound set of the magazine was presented to Isobel as a Christmas present for 1874. As well as the Ballantyne illustrations, and another colour illustration of Isobel's cat Nixie, there are 14 tipped-in albumen photographs, mainly of family and friends; there are photographs of Isobel and her uncle Robert ('Bob'), as well as an image of Gollanfield House. In this copy there are manuscript additions, probably in Isobel's hand, which identify the writers of various anonymous articles (e.g. on p. 13 of issue 1, a poem is ascribed to 'Mamma'). This copy comes from the library of the Ballantyne bibliographer Eric Quayle, sold at auction in March 2006. There are a couple of imperfections; pp. 7-8 of issue 6 are missing, and pp. 16-18 may also be missing (although this may just be a numbering error  another copy also lacks pages 16-18). Two other sets of this magazine are currently known, one in private hands, one at the University of Texas at Austin, USA. This is, apparently, the only copy of Caberfeigh in public ownership in Scotland.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2669
Reference SourcesEric Quayle, R. M. Ballantyne: a bibliography of first editions, London: 1968, p. 122.
Acquired on19/06/07
AuthorMackenzie, James
TitleIstoria della Sanita o sia dell' arte di ben conservarla giusta gl'insegnanti li piu interessanti additati da medici e filosofi si antichi, che moderni.
ImprintVenice: Niccolo Pezzana
Date of Publication1765
LanguageItalian
NotesThis is the first known Italian translation of The History of Health by the Scottish physician James Mackenzie (1682? - 1761), a book today most notable for its advocacy of smallpox innoculation. However, this edition suggests that to a contemporary audience the book's interest lay in its advice to the general public for a healthy lifestyle. The foreword to the Italian translation by the printer mentions an unfavourable review of the work by a 'Sig. Vandermond' in a medical journal, saying that of course a doctor would speak ill of a book which enables anyone interested in their own health to learn about the subject and to live as healthily as possible - hence not needing a doctor. This Italian translation is rare - no other copy is recorded in COPAC - but perhaps it would be more common had the foreword begun with the explanation of how the book could be useful to all, and was praised in England and France, rather than with the details of how Signore Vandermond 'criticises and shows the book to be useless'.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2613
Reference SourcesDNB
Acquired on10/05/06
Important Acquisitions - page no. 1     2     3     4     5     6     7     8     9     10     11     12     13     14     15     16     17     18     19     20     21     22     23     24     25     26     27     28     29     30     31     32     33     34     35     36     37     38     39     40     41     42     43     44     45     46     47     48     49     50     51