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 752 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 556 to 570 of 752:

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AuthorNorth British Society (Halifax, Nova Scotia)
TitleRules and regulations of the North-British Society in Halifax, Nova-Scotia.
ImprintHalifax, Nova Scotia: John Howe
Date of Publication1791
LanguageEnglish
NotesThe Halifax North British Society was founded on 26 March 1768, making it the oldest Scottish charitable society formed in Canada. The Halifax society was the latest addition to a small number of ethnic Scottish associations established along the eastern seaboard of North America. The first one was the Charitable Society of Boston, which was set up as early as 1657 to provide relief for local Scottish people in need. By the mid-18th century St Andrew's Societies had been established in Charleston, South Carolina in 1729, in Philadelphia in 1747, and in New York in 1756. Canadian societies were slower to develop as Canada did not become the main destination of British emigrants until after the American Revolution. The town of Halifax in Nova Scotia had been founded in 1749 under the direction of the British Board of Trade and Plantations under the command of Governor Edward Cornwallis. The town was named after the British statesman the 2nd Earl of Halifax, who had played a major role in the founding of the settlement. The creation of the town was an attempt to bring European Protestant settlers to the region to counter-balance the presence of French Catholic settlers in Nova Scotia; it contravened existing treaties with the French and Native American tribes and subsequently triggered a war between the rival factions. Halifax in its early years was accordingly an important military and naval base for the British forces. As early as 1752 a local newspaper, The Halifax Gazette, was printed, the first newspaper to be printed in Canada, and only the third to be printed in North America. A measure of peace came to Nova Scotia in 1761, but life in this isolated frontier region was often a struggle for settlers due to the inhospitable environment and the long, harsh winters. The North British Society, also known as 'The Scots' and 'The Scots Club', was founded along the lines of the other Scottish societies in the American colonies. It was a national and patriotic association whose main objectives were to provide help to Scottish emigrants, to give financial and material assistance to those in distress, to maintain a patriotic, i.e. pro-British, sentiment among the Scottish emigre community, and to foster links between other similar societies elsewhere in North America. It also later helped to fund the passage home for Scots who wished to return to their homeland but could not afford to do so. A constitution was drawn up in 1768 and revised in 1786. In 1791, as the Society continued to grow in size and importance, a further revision was deemed necessary and a committee was appointed to improve the bye-laws. The result was captured in print in this small pamphlet, which was presumably distributed to all the members of the Society. The printer was the Boston-born John Howe (1754-1835), who had moved to Halifax during the American War of Independence because of his loyalist sympathies. He would later become the king's printer for Canada. The pamphlet provides some fascinating information about the operation of charitable societies in 18th century North America. It lists the entrance criteria for the Society  all members had to be Scottish or had to have Scottish parents or at least a Scottish father. An entrance fee of not less than four dollars had to be paid, followed by quarterly fees of three shillings. There were three categories of members: ordinary, perpetual and honorary; members who missed four consecutive quarterly meetings without a good excuse lost their membership. In addition to its other charitable functions, funds were made available through the various office holders for the care of sick members and also for the widows of deceased members. At the end is a list of current office bearers and of 100 members who had joined from the foundation of the Society onwards. In 1794, the Society had the honour of hosting Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent and Strathearn, at their annual St. Andrew's Day celebrations. Edward, the fourth son of George III, and father of Queen Victoria, was based in Canada between 1791 and 1800. From 1794 onwards he lived at the Royal Navy's base in Halifax and became a fixture of British North American society. Following on from the success of Halifax Scottish society, the St. Andrew's Society of St. John, New Brunswick, was established in 1798. However, other Scottish ethnic associations only emerged in Canada during the early 19th century, with the creation of major urban centres such as Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa, all of which had St. Andrew's Societies by the 1840s. The North British Society in Halifax continues to this day; NLS has a few publications from the 19th and 20th centuries relating to its commemoration of Scotland and Scottish figures such as Burns and Scott in its collections. There is no recorded copy of this pamphlet in major North American or British libraries. This copy survives in its original marbled paper wrappers; on the front free endpaper is an inscription "Allan" in an 18th-century hand, which could imply that the former owner was relative or descendant of William Allan, one of the members listed at the back of the pamphlet. William Allan may be identified with Major William Allan (1720-1790), a Scottish officer in the British Army who was one of the original settlers of Halifax. He lived there for 10 years before relocating to Fort Lawrence in Nova Scotia, where he worked as a farmer and merchant.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2881
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on22/11/13
Author[Fettercairn Cricket Club]
TitleRules of the Fettercairn Cricket Club 1865
ImprintMontrose: [Fettercairn Cricket Club]
Date of Publication1865
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis appears to be the earliest surviving printed rule book of a Scottish cricket club; indeed it may well be the earliest known surviving printed item relating to cricket in Scotland. It is a small four-page pamphlet printed in Montrose at the press of the local newspaper, the "Montrose Standard", for the cricket club of the nearby village of Fettercairn in Kincardineshire. Among the rules listed here is bye-law 4 which states that 'no spirituous liquors shall be brought on to the ground at any time; and no profane language shall be permitted.' Although the population of Fettercairn was relatively small (only 339 inhabitants were recorded in 1861), in the "Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland" published in 1882-85 the village is recorded as having quoit, cricket, and curling clubs. The patronage of nearby landowners such as the Gladstones at Fasque may have played a role in the establishment of cricket in the area, indeed this particular copy was originally part of the library at Fasque; but organised cricket matches were being played in Scotland long before the national game, association football, was established. The first cricket match for which records are available was played in September 1785 at Schaw Park, Alloa. The game was introduced to Scotland by English soldiers garrisoned here in the 18th century after the Jacobite uprisings. The influence of English workers in the textile, iron and paper industries led to clubs being established in places such as Kelso in 1820, and Penicuik in 1844. By the middle of the 19th century the game was firmly established in certain regions of in the south and east of Scotland, particularly in Aberdeenshire and Kincardineshire. Teams representing Scotland have played matches since 1865, the same year as this rule book was printed.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2742
Acquired on09/03/09
AuthorKelly, Isabella.
TitleRuthinglenne; or the critical moment. A novel.
ImprintDublin: G. Burnet [et al],
Date of Publication1802
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is the very rare Dublin edition of a gothic novel by the Scottish poet and novelist Isabella Kelly (1759-1857). First published at the Minerva Press in London in 1801, the book is a horrifying saga of the House of Ruthinglenne set in the north of England. Isabella Kelly (née Fordyce) was born at Cairnburgh Castle, Aberdeenshire in 1759. She was married twice - firstly to Robert Hawke Kelly in 1789, who died in Madras in 1807. Her second husband was Joseph Hedgeland, whom she married in 1816. However he had died by 1820, possibly having lost money in speculation. Kelly wrote 10 gothic novels, primarily to support her children, between 1794 and 1811. They were moderately successful, receiving cautiously approving reviews in 'The Critical Review'. She also compiled a French grammar and a collection of miscellaneous information, 'Instructive Anecdotes for Youth'.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2671
Reference SourcesOxford DNB
Acquired on02/07/07
TitleSaga: the magazine of Eastbank Hospital. No.1, Summer 1953.
Imprint[Kirkwall: Eastbank Hospital]
Date of Publication1953
LanguageEnglish
NotesGeorge Mackay Brown was the editor of this short-lived periodical published by and for the patients and staff of Eastbank Hospital in Kirkwall. A total of 5 issues were published during 1953 and 1954 and Brown contributed 23 of the 58 pieces including poetry, prose and editorials. Brown was in Eastbank being treated for tuberculosis. The title of the magazine was suggested as he said in his editorial by 'the long and bitter struggle of men' against TB. He had previously been hospitalized as a result of TB in 1940. At the time of this spell at Eastbank Brown was teaching at Newbattle Abbey College, near Dalkeith, Midlothian. His time there, where fellow Orcadian, Edwin Muir was the warden, gave Brown 'a sense of purpose and direction'. This cover illustration drawn by Ernest Marwick shows the view of Kirkwall from the hospital verandah. It is unlikely that many copies of this home-produced magazine have survived and this is therefore a very welcome edition to the Library's holdings of material by George Mackay Brown.
ShelfmarkFB.m.830
Reference SourcesRoyle, Trevor. The Mainstream companion to Scottish literature. (Edinburgh, 1993)
Acquired on08/12/08
AuthorAdam Ferguson
TitleSaggio sopra la storia delle societa civile [Essay on the history of civil society]
ImprintVicenza: nella stamperia Turra
Date of Publication1791-92
LanguageItalian
NotesThis is the rare (no copies recorded outside Italy) first Italian translation of Adam Ferguson's "Essay on the History of Civil Society", one of the main works of the Scottish Enlightenment, and regarded as the first work of empirical sociology in English. The work was first published in English in 1767 and made Ferguson famous as a philosopher and historian throughout Europe. The present translation, by the Vicenza-based lawyer Tomasso Cerato, is taken from the French translation of 1783. A further Italian translation was published in Venice in 1807.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2862
Acquired on21/06/13
TitleSailm Dhaibhidh
ImprintEdinburgh: C. Elliot
Date of Publication1787
LanguageGaelic
NotesThis book of psalms in Gaelic has been bound in the style of William Scott, probably not long after it was published in 1787. The ornament at foot of the spine is identical to that reproduced by W.S. Loudon as W.12 in his work on the Edinburgh binders William and James Scott. As a binder William was not as prolific as his father James. It is known that William was binding books in Edinburgh from 1785-1787 and possibly into the early 1790s. A larger version of this particular design can be seen on the spine of Samuel Charter's Sermons, published in Edinburgh in 1786. Another piece of evidence pointing to the possibility of this having been bound by William Scott is the fact that this book was printed for Charles Elliot. Scott printed bound at least 3 works printed for Elliot. However it has to be said that evidence linking Scott with this binding is somewhat tenuous. Most of Scott's bindings were far more elaborate - the covers were usually of tree calf and none of them have this simple border. The text is John Smith's revision of the Gaelic Psalter, published by the Synod of Argyll. Smith was assistant minister of the parish of Kilbrandon and Kilchatten and subsequently minister at Campbeltown. The front flyleaf is signed 'Duncan Campbell' which may be Duncan Campbell, the clerk of the Synod of Argyll.
ShelfmarkBdg.s.915
Reference SourcesLoudon, J.H. James and William Scott, bookbinders. London : Scolar Press, 1980.
Acquired on01/05/06
TitleSailm Dhaibhidh a meadar dhana Gaoidheilg
ImprintDun Edin [Edinburgh]: Aindra Ainderson
Date of Publication1707
LanguageGaelic
NotesThis is a fine copy of the very rare fifth edition of the Psalms in Gaelic. Only one other copy in recorded in public collections and Donald Maclean in 'Typographia Scoto-Gadelica' described this edition as 'excessively rare'. The Psalms were first translated into Gaelic by the Synod of Argyle in 1659. Also printed as part of the book was an edition of the Westminster Shorter Catechism 'Foirceadul aithghear cheasnuighe'. This book formed part of the library of the Earls of Macclesfield at Shirburn Castle, Oxfordshire. The first Earl of Macclesfield, Thomas Parker (1666-1732) was deeply interested in theological works and it is likely that he purchased this item in the early 18th century. The Macclesfield bookplate is on the front pastedown with a library label dating from 1860 on the front free endpaper.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2619
Reference SourcesScottish Gaelic Union Catalogue (Edinburgh, 1984) Maclean, Donald. Typographia Scoto-Gadelica (Edinburgh, 1915)
Acquired on26/06/06
AuthorGeddes, William
TitleSaints recreation, third part, upon the estate of grace
ImprintEdinburgh
Date of Publication1683
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis copy of Geddes's volume of pious verse can perhaps be described as a bibliographical conundrum. It was published in at least two variant forms. The first (of which the NLS holds two copies Cwn.699, H.29.b) contains dedications to Anna, Duchess of Hamilton, Dame Lilias Drummond wife of Lord James Drummond, Earl of Perth and Dame Anna Sinclair, Lady Tarbat. These dedications are dated September and November 1683. This second variant does not include any of the above dedications, but only a dedication to Margaret Lesley, Countess-Dowager of Weems (Wemyss) (d.1688), dated June 1683. This along with 'A summary view of the substance and method of the book' have been clearly inserted as cancellans in this copy and at least one other (Henry E. Huntington Library) which have been identified. It is unclear as to why the book was published with separate dedications and also why the Weems dedication is dated earlier than the publication with the cancellanda. Geddes (1600?-1694) was a Presbyterian minister at Wick and also at Urquhart, Elginshire. Prior to becoming a minister he was a schoolmaster at Keith and a governor to Hugh Rose of Kilravock. At the time the book was published he had resigned from the ministry on refusing to take the test of 1682. In the imprimatur at the beginning of the volume he mentions a number of books - on history, Hebrew and Latin -for which he had received some financial support towards their publication. However 'The saints recreation' appears to be his only published work. According to the dedication, the Countess-Dowager of Weems clearly assisted Geddes financially in the printing of this book. He praises fulsomely her 'Christian moderation, prudence and sobrietie' 'in this cold, Laodicean-like and backslyding age'. The volume is bound unusually in pink/red stained deerskin, decorated with gilt tooling on the borders. This material had been used primarily by medieval monastic binders, but was rarely used as late as the 17th century.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2076
Reference SourcesAldis 2381/ESTC R37394
Acquired on22/02/01
AuthorCharles Buick & Sons
TitleSanitary Appliances
Imprint[Edinburgh: W & A.K. Johnston, Ltd]
Date of Publication1907
LanguageEnglish
NotesTrade catalogues often contain fascinating insights into aspects of social and industrial history which would otherwise be hard to recover. This catalogue of 'sanitary appliances' from the firm of Charles Buick and Sons of Alloa documents the range of 'fireclay baths, lavatories, sinks, wash tubs, urinals, closets, hospital appliances, channels and every other description of enamelled goods' the firm manufactured and made available to 'architects, sanitary engineers, plumbers and builders' in 1907, with details of the designs, materials and costs involved. Many of the items illustrated in this catalogue, such as the 'range of 4 independent school closets' and hospital 'slop sinks' would have remained in use throughout the twentieth century. The occasional handwritten notes on this catalogue suggest that it was used by a French speaker.
ShelfmarkHB6.207.4.75
Reference SourcesBookseller's catalogue
Acquired on11/04/07
Author'Staffa'
TitleSaturday Feb. 18th. For the St. James's Chronicle. Sketch of a comparison between the two late writers of travels in Scotland.
Imprint[London?]
Date of Publication[1775?]
LanguageEnglish
NotesBound at the end of a copy of the first edition of Samuel Johnson's 'Journey to the Western Islands' of 1775 is this 3-page comparison between the traveller writers Thomas Pennant and Samuel Johnson. The author, who simply signs himself 'Staffa', seems to be a Scot who feels that Johnson has insulted his country. With plenty of satirical humour, he compares the way they approach Scotland, much to Johnson's disadvantage. Pennant looked for interesting landscapes and places, whereas Johnson looked for things to grumble about. Prejudice is the problem: 'Whence can proceed this wide difference between these two travellers, as to their objects, pursuits, reception, and accounts of the same country in the same year? Is it because Mr. Pennant is a gentleman and a scholar, and Dr. Johnson only a scholar? Or is it because Mr. Pennant is a Welchman, and Dr. Johnson an Englishman, and the subject of discourse, Scotland?' This is a good addition to the Library's holdings of Johnsoniana and books about travellers in Scotland.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2306(2)
Reference SourcesESTC N46421
Acquired on21/07/03
AuthorMurray, W., Leut.-Col., of Ochtertyre
TitleScenery of the Highlands and islands of Scotland, lithographed by S. Leith, Banff, from drawings in outline, by Lieut. Colonel W. Murray, Younger of Ochtertyre
ImprintPerth : D. Morison, Junr. & Co.
Date of Publication[181-?]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a rare book of letterpress and lithographs by S. Leith from drawings by Lieut.-Colonel W. Murray, Younger of Ochtertyre. Although there is no publication date on the title page, there is a textual reference to a letter from Sir Walter Scott which was written in 1812. No biographical information was found for Lt.-Col. Murray. Although the title page indicates that this is "Part 1" there is no indication that any further volumes were published. There are 26 leaves of plates and also a variety of smaller engravings situated throughout the text. Scottish scenes featured include: Loch Maree; Scuir of Eigg; Loch Awe; Loch Alsh; Ben Venue and the Trossachs; North East coast of Skye; The Red Head, Angus; Dunottar Castle; Coir-Urchran; Perth; The Hebrides; Ben Arthur; Doune Castle; Dunblane Cathedral; St. Andrews; Dunsinnane and Abbotsford. Compare Murray, 'Sketches in Scotland', [1834], ABS.8.202.26. This appears to have some, but not all, of the same plates. The title-page with 'Scenery of the Highlands' is probably a survivor of the original title-pages that were issued with each part: most of the plates do not relate to the highlands. Perhaps this should be regarded as a different edition of 'Sketches in Scotland', lacking the main title page?
ShelfmarkABS.8.204.01
Reference SourcesSchenck, Directory of the Lithographic Printers of Scotland, p.66
Acquired on07/07/03
Author[Anon.]
TitleScotch gallantry display'd: or the life and adventures of the unparralel'd [sic] Col. Fr-nc-s Ch-rt-s, impartially related. With some remarks on other writers on this subject.
Imprint London: printed for, and sold by the booksellers in town and country,
Date of Publication1730
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is the rare first edition of a pamphlet which gives an account of the life of the infamous Francis Charteris (c.1665­-1732), gambler and rake, who was born in Edinburgh, and whose family were major landowners in Scotland. The work was published at the height of his notoriety; in December 1729 Charteris was charged with the attempted rape of Ann Bond, one of his maidservants, who had been in his employment for only a few days. After hearing testimony from the girl herself, as well as from fellow servants, Charteris was found guilty and in February 1730 was sentenced to death by hanging. It was unusual at the time for a gentleman to be punished for what many contemporaries considered an act of gallantry, and his conviction may have been secured by influential parties hostile to Charteris. The rape, however, was just one such in a long career of gambling, extortion, and serial seduction, usually of tall young lower class girls (Charteris was 6 feet tall), recently arrived in London, ensnared by one of his employees and brought to his houses in the West End. If unable to secure their favours by fair means, he would resort to force. Charteris, however, escaped the gallows. On the advice of judges, privy council, and his advocate, Duncan Forbes (another legatee of Charteris's will), George II granted him a full pardon on 10 April. The trial and its aftermath had incurred expenses amounting to £15,000, but Charteris's personal fortune was estimated at £200,000 so this was a sum he could well afford. He may have bought his freedom, but for the rest of his life Charteris was vilified, and was once physically attacked in his coach. He left London for good in 1730, retiring to his property in Lancashire before returning to Scotland in February 1732. He died the following month at his Stony Hill estate near Musselburgh, after using "Opiates in great Quantities" (The Country Journal, 4 March 1732. At his burial in the family vault at the Greyfriars churchyard, Edinburgh, the populace gave a "loud Huzza" (Fog's Weekly Journal, 11 March 1732). Only one copy (in the British Library) is recorded in ESTC.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2755
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on07/05/09
AuthorBentham, Jeremy
TitleScotch Reform
ImprintLondon
Date of Publication1807
LanguageEnglish
NotesA presentation copy, with the note in the author's hand, of the 1807 printing of this important work. This copy is in good condition and complete with both large folding tables. The Library currently holds only an imperfect copy (wanting tables) of the 1808 printing, the first which was actually published. Bentham, the political philosopher who has come to be known as one of the founders of utilitarianism, wrote this work in favour of reforming the Scottish legal system as a series of letters. Clearly written and full of detail and practical examples, his proposals relate in particular to the workings of juries and appeal courts.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2096
Reference SourcesChuo University Library, Bibliographical Catalogue of the Works of Jeremy Bentham, Tokyo: 1989, S1-1 The Bentham Project http://www.ucl.ac.uk/Bentham-Project/index.htm
Acquired on12/03/02
AuthorFordun, John of
TitleScotichronicon
ImprintOxford
Date of Publication1722
LanguageLatin
NotesScotichronicon, the key text of early Scottish history, was written in the later 14th century, but was late in appearing in print: this appears to be the first printing of all five books with this title. Thomas Hearne worked from the manuscript sources to produce this impressive edition, which has in addition to the Latin text an extensive editorial preface, a list of subscribers, appendices, four engraved plates (one folding), and detailed indexes. This is a large-paper copy on thick, good quality paper in good condition: the advertisement of 25 April 1722 before the start of the main text in the first volume states that the subscribers were expected to make an initial payment of a guinea and a half for a large paper copy, as opposed to a guinea for the 'regular' version. It is also in an attractive calf binding by Thomas Elliott of London, who was one of the main binders of the Harleian Library. The covers have a gilt border with a double fillet, a floral roll and an ornamental roll, both recorded in Nixon, Five Centuries of English Bookbinding, no. 60. The spines are divided into seven panels separated by raised bands: the second and third panels have red goatskin labels with respectively the title and the volume number in gilt letters, the other panels and the raised bands are also gold-tooled. There is a gilt floral roll on the board edges and a blind-tooled roll on the turn-ins. It has marbled endleaves and the edges of the leaves are red sprinkled. From the library at Fort Augustus. This is an appropriate addition to the collections, particularly as our existing two small paper sets of this edition are both imperfect.
ShelfmarkBdg.m.155
Reference SourcesHoward Nixon & Mirjam Foot, History of Decorated Bookbinding in England, Oxford, 1992, p. 82-3 Howard Nixon, Five Centuries of English Bookbinding, London, 1978, p. 136 (no. 60) Maggs Bros., catalogue 1075, no. 135; catalogue 1212 (no. 87)
Acquired on19/06/02
AuthorRamsay, James.
TitleSea sermons: or, a series of discourses for the use of the Royal Navy.
ImprintLondon: J. Rivington
Date of Publication1781
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is collection of fourteen sermons by the Scottish surgeon and abolitionist James Ramsay (1733-1789), "which reveal a genuine affection for the sailor, an understanding of his character, and an appreciation of his contribution to the nation"(ODNB). Ramsay was born in Fraserburgh and educated at Aberdeen University. He joined the Navy in 1757, serving as ship's doctor on board "The Arundel". When his ship intercepted the British slave ship "Swift" in 1759, Ramsay found over 100 slaves suffering from dysentery, lying in their own blood and excreta, a scene which affected him so profoundly that, on returning to his ship, he fell and fractured his thigh bone. Made permanently lame by the fall, and facing the end of his naval career, Ramsay sought ordination in the Anglican church to enable him to work among slaves. He served as both clerk and surgeon in St. Kitts from 1761 to 1777, then rejoined the navy in 1778 as a chaplain in the West Indies station. "Sea sermons" address the perils and temptations of a life at sea, such as mutiny, desertion, drunkenness, and swearing. His phrase used in the book, "You and your fellow combattants[sic] were a band of brothers engaged in one cause", was a phrase later adopted by Nelson when seeking to inspire his crew. The same year as this book was published, Ramsay returned from the West Indies to live in London, where he was occupied with reform of the Navy Board, the recruitment of surgeons for the first colonising expedition to Australia in 1787 and promoting the abolitionist cause. Only 4 other copies of this book are recorded in ESTC.
ShelfmarkAB.2.213.17
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on30/11/12
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