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 727 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 727:

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TitleBibbia
ImprintGeneva
Date of Publication1607
LanguageItalian
NotesA striking Scottish binding with a long and impressive Scottish military provenance. It was the first edition of Giovanni Diodati's Protestant translation of the Bible into Italian. Diodati (1576-1649) was Professor of Theology and Professor of Hebrew at Geneva. The book was bound around 1680 by an unknown binder who was probably part of an Edinburgh workshop which bound at least six copies of Sir Thomas Murray's 'Laws and acts of parliament', Edinburgh, 1681 (copy at L.193.a). Although the designs differ in some ways, it is clear that the same set of tools (thistles and wild strawberry arrow-heads) have been used. It is notable also for the designs of circles, ovals and thistles on the gilt edges. It was probably bound originally for James Ogilvy, 3rd Earl of Findlater (d.1711), which accounts for the gilt initial 'F' beneath an earl's coronet on the covers. Ogilvy was a Justice of the Peace for Banff, who voted for the Union. Later owners include John Macfarlane, Writer to the Signet (mid-18th century), Charles Hope-Weir, (1710-1791), second son of the first Earl of Hopetoun and Lt. General Sir Whiteford Dalrymple (d. 1830),Colonel of the 57th Regiment and his descendants, who all served in the military.
ShelfmarkBdg.m.147
Acquired on22/02/01
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
TitleCollection of Petitions, Informations and Answers to the Lords of Council and Sessions
ImprintEdinburgh
Date of Publication1721-45
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a made-up title (nineteenth-century title page) for a volume containing a rich collection of rare eighteenth-century legal publications in generally excellent condition. These petitions, answers, bills and informations all concern the citizens of Edinburgh. Property developers are reported for building tenements higher than their neighbours', merchants seek to recover debts, barbers and wig-makers try to strengthen their guilds against competition. Contemporary manuscript notes frequently describe the outcome of a case, which adds to the human interest and gives the documents a useful context. A particularly fascinating item is Answers for Francis Duke of Buccleugh (12 June 1744), in which the matter under dispute is the rental value of the farmland around Dalkeith, in particular relation to the cost of manure. The final deposition concludes that 'the Dung of the said Town is kept for the Use of the Vassals and Tenants within the Lordship of Dalkeith, and always was so... frequently the said Dung is considerably increased by a Troop or two of Dragoons frequently quartering in the said Town from time to time.' In all there are some 150 individual works, mostly two-leaf items, many of which are not recorded in ESTC. Imperfections: a very few stained pages, edges discoloured, pages near beginning of volume wormed. Provenance: inside front board is note 'The Gift of John Cadwalader Esquire, Dec. 1846; and since rebound, and a printed title added.' Below is the bookplate of Edward D. Ingraham. The binding is nineteenth-century marbled boards with calf back and corners, slightly worn but overall in good condition. Possible digitisation interest: Copy Bill of Suspension, 6 November 1721 (woodcut head-piece & initial); Information for James Hog, 1 November 1742 (initial); Case of the Double Return for the Shire of Berwick (head-piece & initial); Answers for William Cramond, 27 January 1743 (initial & interesting remarks on gaming); Petition of George Fordyce, 24 February 1743 (striking initial); Information for John Jamieson in Cirencester, 28 January 1744 (initial).
ShelfmarkABS.10.202.03
Acquired on31/01/01
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
Title1759 : Burns' Centenary : 1859
Imprint[n.p.]
Date of Publication[n.d.]
NotesA most unusual Robert Burns item, which seems to have belonged to Burns' descendants. This volume contains an ode to the poet ('Ye beauteous stars, which ever shine above us'), which is bound up with a variety of photographic and manuscript material. At the head of the title-page is the manuscript note 'Presented to the sons of the Poet by the author, Washington Moon.' This may be the minor poet George Washington Moon (1823-1909). There are manuscript corrections to the poem which appear to be in the same hand. Many poems were produced to commemorate the centenary of Burns' birth, but there does not seem to be any record of this work as an independent publication. Perhaps it was printed privately, or extracted from a larger anthology as a presentation copy. Perhaps it was Burns' sons who had the volume made up as it currently stands: Moon's poem was bound in gilt maroon morocco, and had a number of blank leaves bound in after it which were used to attach various items relating to Burns. First is a photograph of a portrait of Burns, produced by John Ross, an Edinburgh photographer, with manuscript notes on the back and on the page indicating that it was presented by the poet's grand-daughter Mrs. Hutchinson in 1870. There is a photograph of the Burns' monument in Edinburgh, and another of a picture, possibly a scene of the 'Cottar's Saturday Night' produced by a Cheltenham photographer, G. Bartlett. Below this last photograph is a manuscript note dated 'Aug 14 / 08' [1808?]. Then follows a letter from one of the Hutchinsons to a Mrs Lamb about the 'Cottar's Saturday Night'. Next is a copy of a letter apparently given in Lockhart's Life of Burns, and a fragment of another Hutchinson letter. Finally is what purports to be an actual example of Burns' wax seal. A clue to the construction of the volume is given by a note on the recto of the flyleaf before the title-page: 'To Mrs Kershaw Lamb, as a small remembrance of her friends Col. William Nicol Burns, and Lt. Col. James Glencairn Burns.' This is dated 'April 18th 1872', from '3 Berkeley Street, Cheltenham'. These are both recorded as sons of the poet, and both are known to have lived in Cheltenham. Below this inscription, in a different hand, is the statement 'Presented by Mrs. Hutchinson Grandaughter of the Poet the same who as a child is represented in the Portrait of Mrs. Burns as her favourite grandchild.' Mrs. Hutchinson is presumably Sarah Hutchinson, (1821-1909), the daughter of James Glencairn Burns, who also lived in Cheltenham. A possible explanation, therefore, is that the poet George Washington Moon presented his verses to Burns' sons William and James; they added the photographs and letters with help from Sarah Hutchinson. The volume was presented to Mrs. Kershaw Lamb: does the final inscription on the flyleaf indicate that it was presented by Mrs. Hutchinson as well as Burns' sons, or that the volume passed from Mrs. Lamb back to Mrs. Hutchinson, who then passed it to someone else? There is plenty of material here to keep Burns researchers happy for some time.
ShelfmarkABS.8.203.01
Reference Sourceshttp://www.robertburns.org/
Acquired on20/11/02
TitleLife and character of Robert Watt, who was executed for high treason at Edinburgh, the 15th October, 1794
ImprintEdinburgh: A. Shirrefs
Date of Publication1795
LanguageEnglish
NotesA rare edition (only 3 copies on ESTC, all in U.S.) of this unsympathetic life of Robert Watt, a government spy amongst the political reform societies who underwent an extraordinary conversion to the cause of revolution. Described as the 'natural son of a respectable gentleman in Scotland', he spent his formative years in Perth before working as a 'much respected' clerk in Edinburgh. However it was all downhill from there - Watt got involved in smuggling and when his offer to provide information on the revolutionary Society of the Friends of the People, for the princely sum of 1000, was spurned, he joined that Society with some enthusiasm. He was arrested in possession of a large amount weaponry, some of which is illustrated in the frontispiece, and executed for high treason in October 1794. This issue includes the name of William Lane, the London publisher and distributor, in the imprint. The other issue (copy at 3.855(3)) does not have Lane's name in the imprint. Both issues contain 'Verses written on seeing the execution of Robert Watt' which are frequently lacking in editions of this text.
ShelfmarkABS.2.204.004
Acquired on07/11/02
TitleWounds o' the Kirk o' Scotland
ImprintDublin: b. James Carson
Date of Publication1730
LanguageScots
NotesThis is a rare edition of a popular and remarkable sermon (ESTC T14610 records only one other copy). In 1638, James Row preached in St. Giles's to persuade the congregation to sign the National Covenant. Row's use of broad Scots and homely expressions seem to have made the sermon famous; in particular, his adaptation of the tale of Balaam's ass includes a colourful description of Balaam's 'Pock-mantle' (travelling bag) which was full of detestable books like the Book of Common Prayer. Several of the editions in the National Library use the term 'Pockmanty preaching' as a generic term on the title-page. It is interesting that the first printed edition, which appeared in 1642 (NLS copy at Ry.1.7.109), was a considerably more English text: it has been argued that the colourful Scots vernacular of the later editions is really an exaggerated adaptation for satirical purposes. See Memorials of the Family of Row (Edinburgh, 1828). Certainly, it seems likely that the popularity of the work in the eighteenth century had more to do with the remarkable language than the reforming doctrinal content. The theory that the sermon was adapted for humourous purposes is supported by the fact that it includes the 'Elegy on the Reverend Mess Sawney Sinkler', a pseudo-Scots satirical poem. Both this sermon and the 'elegy' are included in primarily comic publications such as An appeal to the publick; or, the humble remonstrance of the five-foot-highians (1733, copy of one edition in NLS at Ry.1.5.171). Collation: 8o, unsigned, pp. 16.
ShelfmarkAPS.1.202.026
Acquired on12/03/01
TitleHoly Bible
ImprintCambridge
Date of Publication1647
LanguageEnglish
NotesBound with New Testament, London, 1647 and Psalms of David in meeter, Edinburgh, 1647. An unspoilt example of a simple binding which is likely to have been produced in Scotland in the second quarter of the seventeenth century. The tool in the centrepiece, though it resembles a thistle, is more likely to be a carnation. The crudeness of this tool and the fact the volume includes Psalms printed in Edinburgh strengthens the plausability of it being a Scottish binding. The centrepiece is typical of the kinds of tools that developed towards the end of the centrepiece period, c.1640, which is quite late by London standards. This edition of the 'Psalms of David in meeter' printed by Robert Bryson is not recorded in Aldis or Wing. He was primarily a bookseller and he began printing in 1640. He was also a bookbinder, though definitive examples of his bindings have not been traced. Bryson died in 1645, so this imprint is somewhat erroneous. The business was taken over by his heirs in 1646.
ShelfmarkBdg.s.872(1)
Acquired on10/04/01
TitleAndrew Lammie, or, Mill of Tiftie's Annie
ImprintBanff: J. Davidson
Date of Publicationc.1790-1820
LanguageEnglish
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
ShelfmarkAPS.1.204.092
Reference SourcesESTC; SBTI; Bookseller's catalogue
Acquired on04/03/04
TitleCom. Civit. Limirick. The Information of the Right Honourable the Lord Forester
ImprintLimerick?
Date of Publication1714
LanguageEnglish
NotesAn apparently unique copy of a single-sheet item relating to the Pretender, James III, and the abortive uprising of 1715. This item is a curious account of a lawsuit which arose from a tavern brawl; Lord Forester had been drinking with other soldiers in a Limerick pub when one Richard Roche suggested that he was a Jacobite, 'which every honest Man, and every Scotch Man was for'. Forester demanded to know who had planted this impression in Roche's brain. A Lieutenant Barkly was called in, who denied ever having made such suggestions, at which point Roche seems to have started backtracking, leading an evidently enraged Forester to launch a prosecution. The impression of the damage that even an accusation of Jacobitism could cause to a public career is striking. This work, which provides an important Irish perspective on the rebellion, is not recorded in ESTC.
ShelfmarkRB.m.449
Acquired on30/01/01
TitleDonation of 4 items of ephemera, relating to bicentenary celebrations for Robert Burns on 25 January 1959, organised by the Scottish District of the Communist Party
Notes1. Single Sheet Flyer, for the event in St Andrew's Hall, Glasgow 2. Ticket for the event 3. Souvenir Programme of the event signed by J. F. Campbell, Hugh MacDiarmid and Alex McCrindle Three rare items of ephemera relating to bicententary celebrations for Robert Burns on 25 January 1959, organised by the Scottish District of the Communist Party. The programme is especially interesting as it lists the various contributors to the evening, including Hugh MacDiarmid and John Ross Campbell, editor of the Daily Worker.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2079
Acquired on29/01/01
TitleHoly Bible
ImprintEdinburgh
Date of Publication1764
LanguageEnglish
NotesAn unusual contemporary binding for a 1764 Edinburgh-printed edition of the Bible. It is the first of two (or possibly three) volumes. A small number of similar floral bindings were produced in the 1760s and 1770s usually in crimson or red morocco (F.4.e.17) but occasionally in green, as in this example. The library holds two similar, though not identical, bindings with this motif. It is noteworthy for a number of reasons: the spine does not have any raised bands or compartments; it has bold block-printed Dutch gilt endpapers and most strikingly the foredge is tooled in blind, with the petals decorated in red (now faded) in a complementary floral design. On the upper pastedown is the bookplate of James Drummond, possibly dating from the 1880s. (Bookplate also in RSM.23, acquired 1887).
ShelfmarkBdg.s.868
Acquired on23/01/01
TitleExpress from Scotland; with an Account of Defeating Two Thousand of the Rebels
ImprintDublin: b. J. Whalley
Date of Publication1715
LanguageEnglish
NotesAn apparently unique copy of a single-sheet item relating to the Pretender, James III, and the abortive uprising of 1715. This item is a Dublin newsletter printed by John Whalley in October 1715, reporting the defeat of forces sent by the Earl of Mar to capture Edinburgh, by the Duke of Argyle. The paper also reports an attempt to proclaim the Pretender in Dublin, and a verbal proclamation in County Galway. Whalley, whose newsletters appeared two or three times a week, seems to have been fiercely hostile to Ireland, being of English descent, and to Catholicism, the Pretender's religion, going so far as to petition the House of Lords in 1719 for the castration of priests (See M. Pollard, Dictionary of Members of the Dublin Book Trade 1550-1800, Bibliographical Society, 2000, pp. 603-4; R. L. Munter, Hand-List of Irish Newspapers 1685-1750, Cambridge Bibliographical Society, 1960, no. 57). This work, which provides an important Irish perspective on the rebellion, is not recorded in ESTC.
ShelfmarkRB.m.450
Acquired on30/01/01
TitleA new version of the Psalms of David , fitted to the tunes used in churches.
ImprintEdinburgh: Printed for William Gordon
Date of Publication1761
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis Edinburgh edition of the Psalms has been acquired because of the rarity of the edition, the sumptuous nature of the herrringbone binding and its provenance. Only one other copy - at Aberdeen University Library - is recorded. It appears to have been bound for Margaret, Countess of Dumfries, who married the 6th Earl of Dumfries in 1771; 'M. Dumfries' is inscribed in cut-out letters at the head of the title page. It was later owned by the Countess's grandson, Lord James Stuart, younger brother of the second Marquess of Bute and M.P. for Cardiff during the early 19th century. The binding, which retains the brightness of the original crimson morocco, is tooled in gilt. There are two sets of endpapers - one the original Dutch gilt and pasted onto them, 19th century marbled papers. William Gordon, who is named in the imprint, worked as a bookseller in Edinburgh from the 1750s until the 1780s. He also had the distinction of being sued on at least two occasions by other booksellers for selling pirated editions of other works.
ShelfmarkBdg.s.927
Reference SourcesESTC; Scottish Book Trade Index
Acquired on24/09/07
TitleDancing taught without a master. The ball-room companion containing all the fashionable dances of the day.
ImprintAberdeen : J. Daniel and Son and all booksellers
Date of Publication1879
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis little pocket manual contains instructions for over 18 of the most commonly performed dances at balls or assemblies in the late 19th century. It was intended as a reminder for people who had taken dancing lessons, rather than for those new to dancing. No pages in this copy have been opened. However, the contents of the entire work can be read as a single sheet which measures 28 cm. x 45 cm when unfolded.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2700
Acquired on01/04/08
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