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 775 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 61 to 75 of 775:

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TitleComplete Glossary for Sir W. Scott's Novels and Romances.
ImprintParis: Baudry's European Library
Date of Publication1833
NotesThis volume contains three works which were published in Paris, in English, in the nineteenth century. All have been annotated, most likely by a French owner, whose notes provide a fascinating insight into how much, or how little, the Scots dialect was understood abroad in the period. The third item is Thomas Moore's poem The Loves of the Angels (1823), and the second is a collection called Tales for the Fireside or the Road, by Popular Living Authors (1854). These tales include Mrs Norton's 'The Ruined Laird', and James Hogg's 'Extraordinary History of a Border Beauty', in both of which the Scots dialect is glossed by the annotator. But the most interesting item is the Glossary to Scott, where the annotator has written in many additional entries, presumably representing words encountered in his reading of the Waverley novels. These include 'Plaid, a worsted mantle' ; 'Claymore, epee avec garde en osier'; 'Quhom, whom'; 'Sonsy, merry'; 'Yoursell, yourself'. Scott was hugely popular in Europe: this book shows how one contintental reader coped with the language in which he wrote.
Acquired on16/04/03
TitleWeekly miscellany [of instruction and entertainment]
ImprintGlasgow: William Bell
Date of Publication1791
NotesThe Weekly Miscellany was published from 1789-1792, but few copies of its later years seem to survive. The NLS already has No. 1 (25th June 1789)-no. 26 (16th Dec. 1789) (NG.1588.b.5); this is a rare copy of the issues for 1791: No. 85 (2nd Feb) to No. 131 (21st Dec). The journal contains articles covering a wide range of subjects - contemporary politics, the anti-slavery debate, and historical articles are mixed with essays, poetry and fiction. While the subjects are world-ranging, there is a special interest in Scottish affairs, such as recollections of the Jacobite rebellion (including an 'Imitation of Psalm CXXVII. by a Scots Gentleman upon his arrival in France, summer 1746' (p. 142). More notably, this particular volume contains what is probably the first appearance in print of Robert Burns' poem 'Written in Friars Carse Hermitage' (p. 382, 31 Nov 1791). (Certainly it is the first surviving appearance, though Egerer conjectures that this poem may have been printed in 1789). It also contains Burns' Address to the Shade of Thomson (p.319, 2 Nov 1791), which had already appeared in the Edinburgh Advertiser. This particular copy is not perfect, lacking some numbers and with some torn pages, but these imperfections are greatly outweighed by the rarity of the volume.
Reference SourcesESTC P2351 J.W. Egerer: A bibliography of Robert Burns. London, 1964. Item 1260, p.344. (Friars Carse) Item 24, p. 37 (Thomson)
Acquired on01/05/03
TitleEdinburgh the twenty day of May
ImprintEdinburgh: by John Moncur
Date of Publication1726
NotesThis broadside announces the annual Edinburgh archery competition, founded in 1709, for which the prize was a silver arrow. The contest was to take place at Leith Links, in July 1726. Only members of the Royal Company of Archers, a patriotic society with strong Jacobite leanings, were eligible to take part. The winner was to keep the silver arrow for a year, and have his badge fixed to it with the badges of previous winners. When he returned the arrow at the end of that year, he was to receive five pounds. It seems that John Earl of Wigtown was the winner in 1726. The woodcut headpiece shows the arms and motto of the City of Edinburgh, with the doe and maiden supporters (but not the coronet and anchor). Together with the large historiated initial, this adds to the attraction of a most interesting single-sheet item. Only one other copy of this broadside has been traced.
Reference SourcesESTC T32423 http://www.xs4all.nl/~marcelo/archery/library/books/book_of_archery/chapter07/chapter7_5.html Old Leith at leisure, James Scott Marshall (1976) HP1.77.865 Sports and pastimes of Cotland, Fittis (1975). H2.88.473
Acquired on20/05/03
TitleBunch o' gatherings glean'd from the two past generations consisting of eight-page ballads, songs, tales, elegies, executions, &c., mostly poetical ?
ImprintPaisley: William Anderson
Date of Publication1860
NotesThese two volumes of chapbooks were compiled by the Paisley 'broker and bookseller' William Anderson. Apparently he had come across a pile of undistributed chapbooks languishing in a Paisley warehouse. He then had them bound up into collections and issued them in volumes of between 30-100 chapbooks as is stated on the title page. Both these volumes containing 53 and 56 items were issued with a frontispiece of Robert Tannahill the Paisley poet/song-writer. Only one other copy - in Cleveland Public Library - has been traced. Most of the chapbooks date from the 1820s and were printed in towns throughout Scotland including Glasgow, Edinburgh, Stirling, Falkirk and Paisley. Most of them are already included in the National Library's collections, but there are a number of additions to the collection including 'The news to which is added, the humours of Glasgow Fair' printed by R. Hutchison at the Saltmarket, Glasgow and the wonderfully titled Paisley chapbook 'The wonderful advantages of drunkenness' Included in the second volume are a number of issues of the Paisley Repository published in the early decades of the 19th century. Anderson had published issues of a penny periodical called the 'New Paisley Repository' between 1852 and 1853.
Reference SourcesSBTI
Acquired on28/05/03
TitleMy Bible. Embellished with engravings
ImprintEdinburgh: John Elder
NotesThis is a rare edition of a chapbook where the leaves are printed on one side only, although the pagination is continuous. It contains four-line verses, all ending with the line "My Bible" and paraphrasing different passages from the Bible. It was published between 1837 and 1844 by John Elder, who is also known for printing a slip ballad called "Alice Grey". The chapbook contains 8 wood-engraved illustrations which are hand-coloured in green and yellow. It is in its original printed wrappers with wood engravings to both covers.
Reference SourcesSBTI
Acquired on23/06/03
TitleHistory of Master Jackey and Miss Harriot
ImprintGlasgow: A. Paterson
NotesThis is a lovely chapbook in very good condition. It was published by Archibald Paterson, an engraver and copperplate printer in Glasgow. Between 1820 and 1825 he published a number of small children's books with high quality engravings. "The history of Master Jackey and Miss Harriot" contains 9 wood-engraved illustrations and is in its original printed wrappers with wood engravings to both covers.
Reference SourcesSBTI
Acquired on23/06/03
TitleHistory of King Pippin
ImprintGlasgow: A. Paterson
NotesThis is a delightful chapbook in very good condition. It was published by Archibald Paterson, an engraver and copperplate printer in Glasgow. Between 1820 and 1825 he published a number of small children's books with high quality engravings. "The history of King Pippin" contains 10 wood-engraved illustrations and is in its original printed wrappers with wood engravings to both covers.
ShelfmarkAPS 2.203.030
Reference SourcesSBTI
Acquired on23/06/03
TitleNewcastle Courant, giving an account of the most material occurrences, both foreign and domestick.
ImprintNewcastle upon Tyne: printed and sold by John White
Date of Publication1716
NotesThis bound volume contains of 20 of the tri-weekly issues of the Newcastle Courant for 1716. It brings together news of British affairs from places such as Gibraltar, Amsterdam, Cologne, Paris, Venice, Malta, Petersburg, Warsaw, London and Edinburgh. For instance, one news item reports the drowning at sea in a storm of the chief of Clanranald and 20 of his followers on 1 March. The Newcastle Courant is particularly interesting for its coverage of events relating to the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715 and its aftermath. It has numerous reports of executions, such as the "decollation" of the Jacobite rebels the Earl of Derwentwater and the Lord Viscount Kenmure on 25 February 1716. The escape via Caithness and Kirkwall to Sweden of 120 rebels, among them Lord Duffus, Sir George Stirling of Sinclair and Keith Seaton of Touch, appeared on 3 March. A journal of the proceedings of captured rebels from Edinburgh to London, written by a Scots prisoner in the Marshal Sea, was published in instalments. ESTC records 9 holdings of the Newcastle Courant in Britain, but none in Scotland.
Acquired on01/09/03
TitleInformation for Ross of Auchlossin, against the possessors of the Temple-lands.
Date of Publication1706?
NotesThis is a most curious document discussing the order of the Knights Templar in Scottish history, of which no other copies can be traced. The text is known from its appearance in 'Templaria', 1828 (shelfmark H.30.c.26): this edition seems to have used the copy we have just acquired, as the 1828 editor notes that the last page seems to be missing a few words of text. In 1828 it was stated that no other copies were known. A dispute between Robert Ross of Auchlossin and his tenants on lands formerly held by the Templars led to the production of this document. It traces the fortunes of the order, in order to make the case that the Templars were not a religious order, and that therefore their lands were not directly annexed to the crown after the Reformation in 1587. The Lords of Session agreed that Auchlossin's case was correct. This is a striking example of early Scottish interest in the medieval religious order, often associated with Freemasonry. The conjectural date of 1706 is taken from a manuscript annotation on the first page.
Reference SourcesFountainhall, 'Decisions', v. 2, 1761, shelfmark Nha.L74, pp. 94-5
Acquired on12/08/03
TitleDe' costumi e della morte di Maria Clementina Regina d'Inghilterra, di Francia, e d'Irlanda
ImprintIn Roma ed in Bologna
Date of Publication1737
NotesThis is a biography of Princess Clementina, the wife of the Old Pretender. She was the granddaughter of John Sobieski, the warrior king of Poland. Her marriage took place in 1719, under the protection of Pope Clement XI, who proclaimed the pair King and Queen of England. The alliance had been vehemently opposed by the Holy Roman Emperor, who had imprisoned the young woman. She was later dramatically rescued by a band of Jacobite adventurers led by Charles Wogan. The marriage proved turbulent, and unhappy with the princess leaving her husband for a time. A reconciliation was eventually arranged, although she did not long survive it as she died in 1731. This is a very good copy of a rare edition complete with portrait, and a final leaf containing an engraved coat of arms.
Reference SourcesBooksellers catalogue
Acquired on03/01/04
TitleAndrew Lammie, or, Mill of Tiftie's Annie
ImprintBanff: J. Davidson
Date of Publicationc.1790-1820
NotesThis ballad, like many others, was reprinted around Scotland to be sold locally. However, this rare Banff edition is one of only seven Banff imprints listed in ESTC, and the third recorded example of Davidson's chapbook printing to be acquired by the Library. The only other recorded copy is in the Bodleian Library, Oxford. James Davidson, the 'Bookseller and Bookbinder', as he describes himself in this chapbook, is recorded in Pigot's _Commercial Directory for Scotland_ from 1820-1837 with an address at Bridge Street, but we do not know when he began printing, as all three of his chapbooks are undated. This item may, as ESTC conjectures, have been printed any time from 1790 until a few decades into the 19th century. ESTC T300367
Reference SourcesESTC; SBTI; Bookseller's catalogue
Acquired on04/03/04
TitleEleanora, or a Tragical but true case of incest in Great Britain.
ImprintLondon: M. Cooper, 1751.
Date of Publication1751
NotesA very rare (only 4 known copies of this edition, another being printed in Dublin in the same year) and very bizarre novella reportedly transcribed from a manuscript compiled by the anonymous author/editor's grandfather in 1685. The main action in the book takes place in Scotland, where the main pseudonymous protagonists, the widow Eleanora and her son Orestes, through an extraordinary and unbelievable chain of events 'enjoy' a night of passion - Orestes believing in the darkness that the woman he is bedding to be another, Arene. The Oedipal encounter results in the birth of a daughter, Cornelia, who when she reaches adulthood meets Orestes and marries him, much to the horror of Eleanora. A few years later Orestes encounters Arene, who tells him that she was not the one he slept with all those years ago. The truth is revealed, and Eleanora dies of shock as does Cornelia, a devastated Orestes commits suicide. The "Monthly Review" for September 1751 notes very sternly that this work is clearly a piece of fiction and that "the publication of cases of this sort ought never to be encouraged, even if proved to be fact; as the knowledge of such unnatural, and (happily) uncommon crimes, cannot possibly be attended with any good consequences: as examples, they will probably never deter others, but may inspire people with thoughts of such practices as otherwise might never have entered their imaginations."! There is little attempt to disguise the fictive nature of the torrid prose of "Eleanora", only a few specific events are mentioned: Orestes' father Eugenio dies at the siege of "Fort St. Martins in the Isle of Ree" (Lough Ree in Ireland?); Orestes, after studying at Glasgow University, serves on the Parliamentarian side at the battle of Naseby in 1645; he goes on to enjoy a career in the army which is ended by the Restoration of Charles II; about 7 years after the Restoration he helps a friend to get elected as MP for Pontefract [elections in Pontefract were held in 1661 then 1679). On the front pastedown of this copy is (a) an old bookseller's slip which notes that this story was used by Horace Walpole for his play "The Mysterious Mother" (1768) (this is unconfirmed) (b) a book label of Diana Maria Dowdeswell (possibly a daughter of the politician William Dowdeswell, a friend of Horace Walpole).
Reference SourcesJ. Raven "British Fiction 1750-1770" 69
Acquired on29/04/04
TitleHoly Bible
ImprintEdinburgh: Printed by Alexander Kincaid.
Date of Publication1772
NotesThis is a handsome copy of an Edinburgh bible in a contemporary binding of straight-grained red leather, with elaborate gilt tooling which suggests the influence of James Scott. The central panel includes architectural motifs such as columns and urns, as well as birds and various items of foliage. This panel is enclosed by different border rolls; the board edges are tooled as well. The spine has a black leather title label and more tooling, including a laurel-crowned head, and a greek-key design which seems to be Scott's (see Loudon - Ro.19). The binding is in good condition, the colours bright and clear.
Reference SourcesJ. H. Loudon, 'James Scott and William Scott', 1980
Acquired on07/06/04
TitleRepresentation of the high-landers, who arrived at the camp of the confederated army, not far off the city of Mayence the 13th of August 1743.
ImprintNorimberga: Excudit Christoph: Weigely Vidua.
Date of Publication1743
LanguageEnglish / German / French
NotesThis is an important acquisition for several reasons. It consists of an engraved title-page and five leaves of plates with engravings of highland soldiers in various supposedly characteristic postures. The plates are signed ''V. G. del', which is believed to be John or Gerard van der Gucht. These brothers, both artists, were working in London in 1743, when the Black Watch regiment was sent to the English capital. At this date (two years before the 1745 Jacobite rebellion), highland dress and manners were unfamiliar to many southerners. Various prints were made of the Black Watch troops. In 1743, Britain was involved in the War of the Austrian Succession. The Black Watch, who had been told that they were simply going to London to see the King, realised that they might be sent to Flanders. A mutiny took place in May 1743 and a number of soldiers tried to return to Scotland. Three were eventually executed, causing much resentment and possibly contributing to the strength of the Jacobite rebellion. The regiment was indeed sent to Flanders where they distinguished themselves at the battle of Fontenoy. The Black Watch were the first kilted troops to be seen on the continent, and the interest created probably explains why this publication of plates based on the van der Gucht drawings is trilingual and printed in Nuremberg. (The English is rather unorthodox). These plates were the basis for several other publications, such as the plates engraved by John Sebastian Muller. This copy comes from the Library of the 17th Earl of Perth (lot 201 at the auction on 20 November 2003 by Christie's).
Reference SourcesEric and Andro Linklater, 'The Black Watch', 1977 John Telfer Dunbar, 'History of Highland Dress', 1979 Colas, 'Bibliographie generale du costume', 1933, 2543 Lipperheide, 'Kostumbibliothek', 1963, 2262
Acquired on22/04/04
TitleGreenock news-clout, no.31
ImprintGreenock: John Lennox
Date of Publication28 September 1850
NotesThis is the only known copy of this issue of a short-lived but remarkable Greenock newspaper, which was printed on calico - a coarse and light-weight form of cotton. The Watt Library in Greenock holds 5 other issues - all printed on the same material - dating from 1849-1850. According to the masthead this title was a successor to the 'Young Greenock',' Aurora' and 'Quilp's Budget'. These titles have not been traced. The masthead goes on to state that these titles were declared in January 1849 by the Solicitor of Stamps to be illegal. The printer/publisher John Lennox was summoned before the Court of the Exchequer, fined 100 and forced to pay the expenses of the case. Lennox had for a long time been a campaigner against this 'tax on knowledge' and it appears that he was not prosecuted for printing on calico. The printer and 'News-clout' were even mentioned in Parliament during a debate on the newspaper tax in March 1850. In order to circumvent the tax on newspapers (which saw the newspapers carry a red stamp showing the amount of tax levied), the publisher John Lennox decided to print this newspaper on calico. The contents of the paper itself are unremarkable reports of municipal election and court cases, letters on the Episcopal Church, advertisements and articles on female franchise and second sight. Lennox had been a newsagent in Dumbarton around 1822. He printed the 'Dumbarton Argus' from 1832 until 1834 and printed a number of monthly periodicals in Greenock additional to those mentioned above (The Second Precursor, Sam Slick, and The Ventilator) in the 1840s. He died in 1853 aged 59. Monthly papers were not subject to the tax, so publishers like Lennox published papers weekly, though using a different title every week to evade the tax. The tax on newspaper which had been enacted in 1712 was abolished in 1855.
Reference SourcesWilliam Stewart. John Lennox and the 'Greenock Newsclout' a fight against the taxes on knowledge. Glasgow, 1918 SBTI
Acquired on20/07/04
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