Rare Books - Important Acquisitions List All

Rare Book Collections works to build up the national collections through purchases (through dealers or at auction) and donations. This directory gives details of 765 of the most important items we have acquired since 2000. We update it regularly as new material comes in. The description gives information about why it was chosen and what makes it particularly interesting. You can order the list by date of acquisition, author or title.

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Important Acquisitions 61 to 75 of 765:

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TitleCatalogue of books in quires, which will be offered to a select company of booksellers, at Hunter's Tavern, Edinburgh on Tuesday, October 21. 1794.
ImprintEdinburgh, [William Creech],
Date of Publication[1794]
LanguageEnglish
NotesAn unrecorded catalogue of a book sale conducted by William Creech (1745-1815). The sale consisted of 348 lots arranged alphabetically by author or title, with each lot containing anything from a single copy for multi-volume works (e.g. Baronage of Scotland) to 50 copies (Ruddiman's Rudiments of the Latin tongue). All the books were offered unbound ('in quires'), a practice not unknown in the 18th century. The NLS also holds other catalogues of sales conducted by Creech 6.740(1) (1791) at Bdgs.89 (1793). The very large format of this catalogue is unusual and may account for its rarity. Creech was known throughout his career for his disorganized finances; and this sale was perhaps intended as a method of reducing an overlarge inventory or improving cash flow. Successful bidders were offered extended payment terms, depending on the size of purchase. He was also known as being a sociable character - the sale was preceded by 'dinner on the table at three o'clock' with the sale beginning immediately afterwards. William Creech was apprenticed to the Edinburgh booksellers Kincaid and Bell before learning more of the trade in London and on the continent. He established his own premises in the Luckenbooths in 1773 and remained in business there until his death in 1815. Creech was a member of the Town Council and served as Lord Provost from 1811-13.
ShelfmarkRB.l.133
Reference SourcesSBTI
Acquired on20/01/03
TitleEleanora, or a Tragical but true case of incest in Great Britain.
ImprintLondon: M. Cooper, 1751.
Date of Publication1751
LanguageEnglish
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).
ShelfmarkRB.s.2324
Reference SourcesJ. Raven "British Fiction 1750-1770" 69
Acquired on29/04/04
TitleHoly Bible, containing the old and new testaments
ImprintCambridge
Date of Publication1769
LanguageEnglish
NotesA contemporary Scottish binding in fine condition of brown morocco, gilt tooled with a herringbone design in the centre of both boards; this is contained within a rectangular panel displaying elaborate tooling in gilt of thistles, arabesque, annular and plain dots, and fleurons. With worn marbled endpapers and corners bumped. Otherwise a very good example of an 18th-century Scottish binding.
ShelfmarkBdg.s.863
Acquired on17/03/00
TitleQueen's Arctic Theatre. H.M.S. Assistance ... Commander. G.H. Richards, of the Royal Arctic Navy ... has the honour to acquaint, the nobility, and gentry, of North Cornwall that he has ... engaged a highly select, and talented, corps dramatique, and has entirely rebuilt, and re-embellished, the Queens, Arctic Theatre, and that ... will be performed ... the inimitable comedy, of The Irish tutor
ImprintNorthumberland Sound, 1852.
Date of Publication1852
LanguageEnglish
NotesA rare and very attractive example of on-board silk printing from the Arctic. In an attempt to maintain crew morale during the long winter freeze, many of the naval expeditions searching for Rear Admiral Sir John Franklin, staged impromptu plays and music-hall type entertainments. Printed records of these amusements are extremely scarce particularly so when printed on the more demanding silk medium.
ShelfmarkGB/C.219
Acquired on17/02/03
TitleWild Roses
ImprintLondon: b. T. Maiden f. Ann Lemoine
Date of Publication[1806-9]
NotesHere are two finely-bound volumes of novellas and poems, most with a strong Gothic flavour. The titles give the game away ('The Tomb of Aurora', 'The Midnight Hour', 'The Mysterious Spaniard'). 'Gothic' literature in English includes some of the most important early novels, such as Matthew Lewis' 'The Monk' and Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein'. Gothic writing is characterised by a fascination with the medieval period from which it takes its name, an obsessive interest in the supernatural, an exploration of the emotions tending towards the sensual, and an appreciation of wild and romantic landscapes. There were many who had concerns about the influence of Gothic writing, such as Jane Austen who parodied the conventional Gothic narrative in 'Northanger Abbey'. 'Wild Roses' feels the need to open with a declaration that the editors have sought 'to prune from them every Luxuriance which might justly offend the Breast of Morality.' The blood-soaked pages which follow explain why such a disclaimer was felt necessary. Although many of the main 'Gothic writers' were English, the genre had a major impact on Scotland (part of 'Frankenstein' is actually set in Scotland), and on Scottish writers such as Burns, Hogg and Scott. Many of Walter Scott's 'historical' novels show traces of Gothic influence, and one of the most important features of 'Wild Roses' is the fact that it includes a poem by Scott. 'The Maid of Toro', which appears at the end of 'The Captive Prince' in vol. 2, presents the despair of a medieval maiden hiding in a wood, who learns of the slaughter of her champion in battle, despite her prayers to the Virgin. It is a highly appropriate inclusion. Intriguingly, this printing of the poem was not recorded by Todd and Bowden in their Scott bibliography, which notes the first printing of the poem in 1806 (Todd 21Aa). The works collected in these volumes seem to have been printed in 1806-1809, judging by the dates on the numerous engraved plates. The title-pages are undated. The items seem to have been printed as chapbooks in blue wrappers, a fragment of which adheres to the verso of the plate illustrating 'Livonia of Venice' in vol. 2. However, they were clearly intended to be bound up as a collection, as the signatures are continuous, and the final page in each volume gives the correct number of pages in each. The whole set is in excellent condition, bound in half red roan and red grained paper, with gilt-tooled spines bearing green leather labels. Both volumes have the bookplate of the Bibliotek Tido.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2284
Reference SourcesTodd & Bowden. Todd 21Aa http://www.cf.ac.uk/encap/corvey/articles/printer/cc09_n03.html
Acquired on18/03/03
TitleMontrose illustrated in five views with plan of the town and several vignettes, to which are added a few explanatory remarks.
ImprintMontrose
Date of Publication1840
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a pristine set of exemplars of early lithographic printing in Scotland, of which only one other copy is recorded in Britain. According to David Schenck, this volume appears to have been a prototype for a series of views drawn by James Gordon Jun. and published by J. & D. Nichol of Montrose under the general title 'City & towns of Scotland illustrated'. Views of Aberdeen, Perth, Glasgow and Dumfries were subsequently published. Lithography did not begin in Scotland until 1820, over two decades after its discovery in Germany. However Edinburgh and Glasgow soon developed into significant centres of lithographic printing in a British context. The lithographer responsible for this work is William Nichol, who was based in Hanover Street, Edinburgh, probably related to the Montrose publishers of this work. He wrote the entry for 'Lithography' in the seventh edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica, published in 1841.
ShelfmarkRB.el.4
Acquired on06/12/00
TitleNew Testament and Psalms (Unidentified copy, t.p. missing)
Date of Publicationca. 1867
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis small format Bible (16mo) belonged to Rev. John Baird, father of John Logie Baird, inventor of the television. It is heavily inscribed with Biblical notes by Rev. Baird on pastedowns and endpapers including his signature dated 'Jany: 1867'. It was in this year that Baird was awarded his B.D. from the University of Glasgow. He was ordained as minister of West Parish Church in Helensburgh on 19th August 1869 and became first minister of the parish in 1883, resigning on 23rd October 1918. After his ordination he remained in Helensburgh for the rest of his life though made occasional trips through Europe and Africa. Although devoting his life to the one congregation and holding fast to the strict tenets of the Church of Scotland he was also interested in German culture and eastern religion. John Logie Baird was born in Helensburgh on 13th August 1888. The Bible comes with; a port. of Rev. Baird pasted to an endpaper, a newspaper clipping reporting on a memorial window to John Logie Baird to be unveiled in Helensburgh to mark the centenary of his birth and a provenance note written by Mrs Edith Brown whose family was in possession of the Bible until a move from Helensburgh to the Moray Coast in the 1930s/40s.
ShelfmarkAB.1.201.15
Acquired on16/01/01
TitleCentral India photographs
Date of Publication1863
Notes19 albumen prints by an unknown photographer in a portfolio. From the collection of Victor Alexander Bruce, 9th Earl of Elgin. An important group of early photographs assembled between 1850 and 1867 by James Bruce, 8th Earl of Elgin, and his son Victor Alexander Bruce, the 9th Earl, providing a visual record of the distinguished careers of the two earls as diplomats, military strategists, and politicians in India and the Far East. The four albums form a valuable source for the study of colonial and imperialist expansion, global commercial travel, and, not least, the rapid growth of commercial photography. The purchase was made possible by generous contributions from the Heritage Lottery Fund (National Heritage Memorial Fund) and the National Art Collections Fund.
ShelfmarkPhot.med.28
Acquired on08/02/00
TitleAccount of the trial of Thomas Muir.
ImprintNew York
Date of Publication1794
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is the only known copy in Britain of the first American edition of a book describing the trial of Thomas Muir for sedition in 1793. It is one of very few eighteenth-century American publications of Australian interest. Two other editions were published by Samuel Campbell and another by W. Durrell, also in New York, which is indicative of a high level of interest in the case in the United States. The book is a detailed account of the trial, published with the approval of Muir. It also contains an appendix with copies of documents used as evidence against the accused during the trial. Thomas Muir, born in Glasgow in 1765, was a lawyer inspired by the French Revolution and by Thomas Paine's 'The rights of man'. He was one of the prime movers in the Society of the Friends of the People, which advocated moderate parliamentary reforms. For his involvement with this organization and for his associations with the authorities in France and the United Irishmen in Ireland, Muir was arrested in August 1793. Following his trial he was sentenced with four of his compatriots (who later became known as the Scottish Martyrs) to 14 years transportation to New South Wales. In effect, they were the first 'political prisoners' sent to the colony. Muir managed to escape in 1796 and made his way across the Pacific via Mexico and eventually to France, where he died in 1799.
ShelfmarkABS.3.201.017
Acquired on04/01/01
TitleSett of the City of Edinburgh
ImprintEdinburgh: b. Heir of Andrew Anderson
Date of Publication1683
LanguageEngllish
NotesAlthough the library has a copy of this edition at shelfmark H.Br.6, this copy is an interesting addition to the collections for several reasons. Firstly, the gold-tooled binding seems likely to be contemporary and is quite possibly Scottish. Secondly, the physical composition of the book is unusual. The marbled pastedowns have been left with their coloured stubs protruding, so one stub is found after the first two blank leaves, the second between pages 10 and 11. The stitching can be clearly seen, revealing the curious arrangement of the last six leaves (leaves are signed D, D2, [unsigned], E, E2, [unsigned] - conjugate leaves are D1 & [E3], D2 & [D3], E1 & E2). Most importantly, a comparison between this copy and our existing holding shows that our copy at shelfmark H.Br.6 has an additional title-page which has been removed from the newly acquired copy. This title-page, which was placed before sig.A2, was clearly an error as it speaks of 'the two acts of town council', when the text actually contains four acts. None of the other copies recorded by ESTC seem to have this title-page, but in the new copy, the stub where it was cut out can just be seen - presumably it was removed from the other copies too (so ESTC needs to be updated). The work is interesting in its own right, as a centenary printing of the 1583 agreement regarding the running of the burgh, and the place of the craftsmen, merchants, bailies and provost, with the addition of acts from the later seventeenth century. However, it is particularly useful to have these two copies, as they show how two copies of the 'same edition' can have important differences. Collation: 6 unsigned leaves, A8 (A1 cut out), B-C8, D3, E3. Octavo. Contents: 2 blank leaves, half-title, title-page, 'index', stub of cancelled title-page, 'Copy of the Decreet Arbitral' (pp. 1-34), 'Acts of the Town Council of Edinburgh' (title-page, pp. 1-16), 'Act anent the Town Clerks' (pp.[1]-4).
ShelfmarkABS.1.202.035
Reference SourcesWing S2647, Aldis 2426, ESTC R217074
Acquired on09/08/01
Title25 miscellaneous Scottish legal petitions, 1724-1794
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis volume of eighteenth-century petitions and memorials connected with legal disputes over land and inheritance contains many items otherwise unknown. A significant proportion of the items relate to estates in south-west Scotland, particularly Ayrshire. Manuscript notes record the outcome of many cases. The final item, Bill of Suspension and Interdict, Hugh Crawford... against John Patrick, is rather different, giving details of a dispute over who should be responsible for quartering soldiers in Beith in 1794, the innkeepers alone or private citizens generally. The description of the illegal distilling and endemic smuggling which had made it necessary to have a military presence in the town is quite fascinating. Physical condition: bound in a late nineteenth-century (?) red clothing binding in poor condition, with boards warped and spine lettering mostly erased; many of the petitions are too large for the binding and have been folded; some creases, darkening and tears.
ShelfmarkABS.8.201.06(1-25)
Acquired on06/07/01
TitleShort address to the weavers of Paisley and the neighbourhood : (suggesting a plan for their relief.) by an Inhabitant. An answer to the address (lately sold at three-pence) "by a Burgess," (on the road to preferment) to the feuars and burgesses of Paisley by "Shifty". Paisley, 1817. And 3 others
ImprintAir
Date of Publication1819
LanguageEnglish
NotesA collection of five rare tracts published variously in Ayr, Paisley and Glasgow between 1817 and 1819 and bound in one volume. The tone is radical and reforming reflecting the appetite for electoral and civic reform in the industrial west in the years after Waterloo.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2029(1-5)
Acquired on03/02/00
TitleNarrative of the loss of the Abeona, which was destroyed by fire, on the 25th of November, 1820 ... Compiled by some of the survivors.
ImprintSecond edition. Glasgow.
Date of Publication1821
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis narrative follows in a long tradition of providing an 'eye witness' account of a disaster and publishing it in pamphlet form. In this case, it provides a vivid description of the horrendous consequences of a sailor drawing rum from a barrel using a candle to light his way and resulting in a conflagration that devoured the Abeona and killed 112 passengers, most of them settlers who had embarked at Greenock with the intention of establishing a settlement at Algoa Bay near the Cape of Good Hope. There seem to have been two substantially different versions published in 1821: the present version Narrative of the loss of the Abeona, which was destroyed by fire, on the 25th November, 1820 ... when one hundred and twelve individuals perished. Compiled by some of the survivors. Second edition. Glasgow: Printed by James Starke, for Chalmers and Collins, 1821 (APS.2.200.002) and A brief narrative of the loss of the Abeona. Written chiefly by one of the survivors, A Sabbath school teacher on Board. Glasgow: Printed by Young & Gaillie for Archibald Lang, Bookseller, 1821 (APS.1.78.132). The first edition is shorter than the second and is written by a single author 'a sabbath school teacher' while the second and longer version seems to be the work of the original author and other survivors. It is substantially different and takes a more secular approach whilst the first is laced with that author's ecclesiastical leanings and imagery. Both are fascinating accounts, and complementary, the second edition providing a completely revised, extended and fuller text.
ShelfmarkAPS.2.200.002
Acquired on06/01/00
Title[Theatre programme for two plays: 1. My son-in law 2: The frogs]
Imprint[Edinburgh: privately printed]
Date of Publication[1873]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a rare theatre programme specially printed for the performance of two plays at the home of (Henry Charles) Fleeming Jenkin (1833-1885) on May 3,5 and 6 1873. In 1868 Jenkin had become Professor of Engineering at Edinburgh University, where he encountered and befriended the young student Robert Louis Stevenson, then studying engineering. Jenkin was a man of great learning and wide interests. His home theatricals at 5 Fettes Row in Edinburgh's New Town became events in the Edinburgh social calendar. This programme was for a performance of a French comedy ("Le gendre de M. Poirier" by Emile Augier), specially translated for the occasion, followed by an English-language version of the ancient Greek comedy "The frogs". Among the cast of actors for the two plays were Jenkin, Robert Louis Stevenson and the Edinburgh-based artist/illustrator William Hole who later illustrated many of Stevenson's works. In his "Memoir of Fleeming Jenkin", first published in 1887, two years after Jenkin's death, Stevenson reminisced fondly about his amateur dramatics as part of Jenkin's company.
ShelfmarkAP.3.208.15
Reference SourcesDNB; RL Stevenson "Memoir of Fleeming Jenkin"
Acquired on18/07/08
TitleAct of council, regulating the manner of carrying chairs.
Imprint[Edinburgh]
Date of Publication1749
LanguageEnglish
NotesIn modern times, local government concerns itself with seemingly banal regulations concerning parking, litter or public lighting. There is nothing new in this - perceived 'over regulation' was alive and well in Edinburgh over 250 years ago, as this broadside demonstrates. The city authorities were forced into action to ask 'chairmen' - those who carried sedan chairs and their occupants around the city - to ensure their chairs had 'a light fixed upon one of the fore-poles of the chair'. This apparently followed a number of incidents resulting in 'many hurts and inconveniences that have happened to the inhabitants & by the chairmen carrying or resting their chairs without lights under cloud of night'. Furthermore all chairs had to be numbered. If these regulations were not followed, chairmen faced being fined a shilling, imprisonment, loss of hire and the chair impounded! The first sedan chairs for public hire were introduced into Edinburgh in 1687. Horse drawn coaches were often unsuited to the narrow closes and steep hills of Edinburgh's Old Town. In 1687 there were only 6 chairs available but by 1779 there were 180 hackney-chairs and 50 private chairs in Edinburgh. The table of fairs introduced in the regulation dated 1738, referred to in this broadside, specified 6d a trip within the city, 4s for a whole day's rental, and 1s 6d for a journey of half a mile outside town. The majority of the chairmen were Highlanders and this was reflected in the use of tartan for their uniforms.
ShelfmarkRB.m.672
Acquired on14/07/08
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