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 745 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 745:

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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
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
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
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
AuthorMackenzie, William Lyon
TitleMackenzie's own narrative of the late rebellion, with illustrations and notes, critical and explanatory: exhibiting the only true account of what took place at the memorable seige of Toronto, in the month of December, 1837.
ImprintToronto: Printed and sold at The Palladium Office, York Street, 1838.
Date of Publication1838
LanguageEnglish
NotesWilliam Lyon Mackenzie (1795-1861) was born near Dundee. When he was less than a month old, his father died, leaving the family in poverty. He obtained a meager business education in Dundee, and after some six years' work in a shop at Alyth he emigrated with his mother to Canada in 1820 at the age of 25. It was in North America that Mackenzie made a name for himself as a politician, journalist and insurgent leader. In 1824 he published 'The Colonial Advocate', a newspaper that was strongly in favour of governmental reform. In 1828 he was elected to the legislative assembly of Upper Canada for the county of York. Mackenzie's oratory was often inflammatory and he was five times expelled for libel and five times reelected by his constituency. As a leader of the Reform party of Upper Canada he went to London in 1832 to obtain a redress of grievances. After his return to Canada, Mackenzie was chosen as the first mayor of Toronto in May 1834. In 1837, frustrated by Britain's refusal to begin democratic changes, he gathered supporters in an effort to overthrow the government. Mackenzie's ideal at this time was an American-style democracy. The attempt by the rebels was a fiasco and after being defeated at Montgomery's Tavern north of Toronto, Mackenzie fled to the United States, setting up a provisional government on Navy island in the Niagara River. It was there that he wrote his 'Narrative' , addressing it to the editor of the 'Jeffersonian', a newspaper published at Watertown, New York. In 1849 Mackenzie was granted an amnesty and returned to Canada. He later sat as a member of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada from 1851 to 1858. Mackenzie was the grandfather of the Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King (1874-1950) The Canadian editor of this rare first edition -clearly a Loyalist - has provided numerous critical annotations to the text and an introduction where he refers to Mackenzie as the 'Arch-Traitor'. Also included is an 'Appendix containing further particulars obtained from conversations with John Powell, Esquire, Mayor of the City of Toronto'.
ShelfmarkRB.m.511
Reference SourcesDNB Booksellers Catalogue (D & E Lake Bulletin 219) Various Internet biographical sites
Acquired on30/06/04
AuthorMackie, Charles
TitleOriginal history of the abbey, palace and chapel royal of Holyroodhouse
ImprintEdinburgh
Date of Publication1829
LanguageEnglish
NotesNote: This is a rare edition of a highly popular book on Holyrood, with a fascinating provenance. It ran to at least nine editions from 1819 to 1832 and was one of a series of works which the author Charles Mackie (d. 1864) wrote on the castles and abbeys of Scotland. It seems that this volume may have been bound as a gift to the exiled king Charles X (1757-1836) of France, when he took up residence at Holyrood in October 1830. Charles as Comte d'Artois had previously stayed in Holyrood from 1796 to 1799, (and periodically until 1803) following an abortive attempt to regain the French throne. He had abdicated from the French throne in August 1830, when Louis Philippe had taken over in a bloodless revolution. Although this volume is ostensibly a copy of the edition of 1829, pasted onto the verso of the title page is a printed dedication of William IV, who did not become king until June 1830. The dedication first appeared in the 1830 8th edition. This indicates that this was a brand new copy of the book at the time when Charles took up residence in Holyrood, which was desribed by one of the emigrés, Baron de Damas, as a residence 'good enough for a private citizen', but not for an exiled monarch used to splendour of Versailles. The Bourbon court remained in Edinburgh for two years and it is probable that the book passed to Charles's grandson Henry V, Comte de Chambord (1820-1883). When he died, the book passed to Don Jaime de Bourbon, Duc de Madrid (1870-1931) a member of the Spanish branch of the Bourbons, whose ownership stamp marked Frohsdorf (near Salzburg) appears throughout the volume. A bookseller's label on the upper flyleaf verso indicates that the book was purchased by the London booksellers Maggs Bros. from Henry's library, probably at Frohsdorf, where he had spent much of his life from 1840. The only other known copy is in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2083
Reference SourcesMackenzie-Stuart, A.J. A French king at Holyrood. (Edinburgh, 1995) HP1.95.2496
Acquired on03/07/01
AuthorMaclean, Hector
TitleHistory and Travels
ImprintGlasgow
Date of Publication1769
NotesThis is one of the most significant and interesting (not to mention expensive) chapbooks that the National Library of Scotland has purchased in recent years. Hector Maclean's autobiographical account of his sea-faring life is packed with extraordinary information about how one eighteenth-century Scot saw the world. Hector was born in Argyleshire in 1728, but the story really begins when he stowed away on his brother's ship at the age of eight. He ended up in Greenock, which struck him as such an amazing place that he wandered the town until it was dark, and got lost. Not speaking any English (presumably because his native tongue was Gaelic), Hector ended up being taken in by various families, who put him to work as a farm servant. After some years he managed to return to his family, and was taught to read and write: the urge to travel, however, was still strong, and he took ship for Virginia. The account of the North American coast which follows is full of keen observations, particularly of the wildlife. The curious behaviour of opossums, sharks, alligators and insects is presented to the Scottish reader. Maclean is also informative about the native Americans; he describes a group presenting a British Governor with the scalp of an enemy. The Portuguese, however, come in for the most scathing criticism, being described as violent thieves. This is apparently the second edition of the first installment of Maclean's account (there is a 1768 edition in the British Library). We already have a copy of the second installment, (L.C.2811(2)), published in 1771. Any other installments have not been traced. It sounds as though Maclean paid for the printing of these chapbooks himself, so the rarity of the surviving copies may be a result of their being printed in very small numbers. When placed together, the first and second installments of Maclean's History and Travels constitute a truly fascinating account of a Scottish traveller, with some genuine literary merit. The two pamphlets combined would be excellent candidates for a short publication.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2286
Reference SourcesLauriston Castle chapbook catalogue
Acquired on04/11/02
AuthorMacLeod, Fiona [William Sharp]
TitleRe-issue of the shorter stories of Fiona Macleod: rearranged, with additional tales.
ImprintEdinburgh: Patrick Geddes & Colleagues,
Date of Publication1897-1903
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a three-volume set of William Sharp's short stories, written under the pseudonym 'Fiona MacLeod', in original wrappers. Volume 1 was published in Edinburgh ca. 1897 by the publishing company founded by Patrick Geddes and Sharp to publish literature in support of the Celtic revival taking place in the British Isles. Volumes 2 and 3 have the imprint: 'London: David Nutt, at the sign of the Phoenix, Long Acre, 1903', but have the same overall layout as volume 1.
ShelfmarkFB.s.974
Acquired on15/12/09
AuthorMacpherson, Alistair
TitleTreubhantas na'n Gaidheal Albanach. The valour of the Scottish Gael
Imprint[Scotland?]
Date of Publicationc.1918
LanguageGaelic
NotesThis seems to be the only known copy of this book of Gaelic poems. Macpherson, a former soldier himself, wrote these poems 'in praise of the bravery of the Scottish Gael from time immemorial', in the language which he calls 'the most expressive in recording the actions of the bold, the valorous, and the true of any living language'. His preface criticizes those 'Highlanders into whose hands this volume may fall, and whose mother tongue is the Gaelic', who 'know less of the Gaelic than they do of the English language'. The volume is dedicated to Lady Macdonald of the Isles: Macpherson's only other known work is Welcome to Alexander Somerled Angus, the son of the Heir of MacDonald, Prince of the Western Isles, published in Gaelic with an English translation in 1918 (shelfmark NG.1526.a.11).
ShelfmarkHB1.208.8.74
Acquired on02/06/06
AuthorMacpherson, James
TitleTales of Ossian for use and entertainment. Ein Lesebuch für Anfänger im Englischen
ImprintNurnberg: Gabriel Nicolaus Raspe
Date of Publication1784
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a rare first edition of the English version of Macpherson's landmark work. It is probably based on the 1783 pirated reprint of Ossian prepared by Goethe and his friend Johann Heinrich Merck, (first ed. Darmstadt and Leipzig 1773-7). It contains an extensive German glossary, index of names, historical preface, and footnotes, all by Johann Balbach. The tales are taken exclusively from the epics of Fingal and Temora and have been made quite accessible and readable - obviously intended for quite young students of English. A second edition appeared in 1794 and a third in 1822. Only 3 other copies of this text have been recorded - none in Britain (copies at Harvard and Rice University in the United States and at Biblioteka Narodowa, Warsaw). This is also an unusual text as it is arguably the earliest adaptation published for children. It is an important addition to the National Library's corpus of Ossianic works.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2094
Reference SourcesGaskill, Howard. 'German Ossianism: a reappraisal', German life and letters, vol. 42, no.4, July 1989. HJ3.455 Stafford, Fiona and Gaskill, Howard (eds.). From Gaelic to Romantic: Ossianic translations (Amsterdam, 1998) HP2.99.8029 Tombo, Rudolf. Ossian in Germany. (New York, 1901). Oss.295 (p.25)
Acquired on05/06/01
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