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 735 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 email@example.com
Important Acquisitions 61 to 75 of 735:
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|Title||Montrose illustrated in five views with plan of the town and several vignettes, to which are added a few explanatory remarks.|
|Date of Publication||1840|
|Notes||This 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.|
|Title||Account of the trial of Thomas Muir.|
|Date of Publication||1794|
|Notes||This 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.|
|Title||[Pamphlets relating to Nova Scotia, 1830s]|
|Date of Publication||[1830s]|
|Notes||A most interesting collection of pamphlets, manuscript letters, maps and newspaper cuttings relating to the claims of one Alexander Humphrys that he was the legitimate Earl of Stirling, with extensive rights in Nova Scotia and Canada. These rights had first been granted to Sir William Alexander of Menstrie in 1621, who died without recognised male heirs. Alexander Humphrys attempted to claim the title in the 1830s, offering to create people baronets of Nova Scotia (for a fee). His lawyer, Thomas Banks, helped to prepare extensive documentation for the court cases which followed, and may well have prepared this very volume. The DNB gives an amusing account of Banks's attempts to further all kinds of spurious peerage claims. The Humphrys claim was ignominiously dismissed in 1839. Most of these items, particularly the ephemera, are not held by NLS, and as a collection this is a most valuable resource for anyone investigating the case. The maps, showing the extent of Humphrys' claims to vast tracts of North America, give a good indication of the ambition and imagination behind this audacious scheme.|
|Title||New Testament and Psalms
(Unidentified copy, t.p. missing)|
|Date of Publication||ca. 1867|
|Notes||This 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.|
|Date of Publication||1764|
|Notes||An 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).|
|Title||Donation 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|
|Notes||1. 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.|
|Title||[Volume containing 25 items, mainly chapbooks, relating to William Wallace and Robert the Bruce]|
|Date of Publication||c.1800-1865|
|Notes||This volume, which formerly belonged to the poet Sydney Goodsir Smith, includes 21 chapbooks telling the tales of the exploits of Sir William Wallace and King Robert the Bruce in prose, verse and song. These items date from 1801 to 1861 and include imprints from Glasgow, Edinburgh, Montrose, Dumfries, Kelso, Newcastle, London and Belfast. The publication and distribution of chapbooks in Scotland reached its height between 1775 and 1825. Subsequently the market for this kind of material was absorbed by commercial publishers, examples of whose output is contained in this volume.
With their simple wood-engravings and straightforward narratives, they would have been avidly read by children, at whom they were primarily aimed. It is interesting to note the similarities, and in some instances the exact copying of the text of the stories from one publisher to another.|
|Title||De' costumi e della morte di Maria Clementina Regina d'Inghilterra, di Francia, e d'Irlanda|
|Imprint||In Roma ed in Bologna|
|Date of Publication||1737|
|Notes||This 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 Sources||Booksellers catalogue|
|Title||Newcastle Courant, giving an account of the most material occurrences, both foreign and domestick.|
|Imprint||Newcastle upon Tyne: printed and sold by John White|
|Date of Publication||1716|
|Notes||This 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.|
|Title||Andrew Lammie, or, Mill of Tiftie's Annie|
|Imprint||Banff: J. Davidson|
|Date of Publication||c.1790-1820|
|Notes||This 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.
|Reference Sources||ESTC; SBTI; Bookseller's catalogue|
|Title||Eleanora, or a Tragical but true case of incest in Great Britain.|
|Imprint||London: M. Cooper, 1751.|
|Date of Publication||1751|
|Notes||A 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 Sources||J. Raven "British Fiction 1750-1770" 69|
|Imprint||London: John Field|
|Date of Publication||1653|
|Notes||This is a beautifully bound Bible in two volumes with the second volume also containing The Psalms of David in Meeter ... Allowed by the Authority of the General Assembly of the Kirk of Scotland. According to the British Library Catalogue 'a spurious edition, not printed by Field.' Field is designated Printer to the Parliament on the general title page and 'one of His Highness's Printers' on the New Testament title. An inscription on the flyleaf of the 2nd vol. Reads: Janet Mitchel/ hir Booke/ 1730 aged 13 the 30th/ of January.
The binding is early 18th century Scottish red morocco elegantly gilt in 'herring-bone' style featuring a variety of floral emblems. The spines are tooled in gilt between raised bands with green patterned pastedowns and free flyleaves. The library has a similar, though not identical, binding. This is excellent example of an early 18th century Scottish binding.|
|Reference Sources||Wing B2240|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Printed by Alexander Kincaid.|
|Date of Publication||1772|
|Notes||This 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 Sources||J. H. Loudon, 'James Scott and William Scott', 1980|
|Title||Stevensoniana: being a reprint of various literary and pictorial miscellany associated with Robert Louis Stevenson the man and his work|
|Imprint||New York: Bankside Press|
|Date of Publication||1900|
|Notes||This rare item is, indeed, a collection of miscellaneous items by and about Robert Louis Stevenson: it includes texts such as Stevenson's article on Beranger in the Encyclopaedia Britannica and a poem about Stevenson by W.E. Henley, and illustrations including facsimile title pages and reproductions from earlier editions. It is a fine example of American private press de luxe publication of the period, one of a series of such literary productions by the Bankside Press at this time, with M.F. Mansfield accredited as the publisher and Blanche McManus responsible for the illustrations. Originally published in 6 parts (12 are advertised in this volume, but only 6 were produced), the whole, including the original paper covers, has been rebound in contemporary maroon half morocco with black and pink marbled boards and endpapers.|
|Reference Sources||Beinicke Stevenson bibliography vol. 1 item 1425; bookseller's catalogue|
|Title||[Scottish War Emergency Cup Final programme]|
|Date of Publication||1940|
|Notes||The outbreak of the Second World War led to the suspension of normal competitive football in Scotland. The Scottish War Emergency Cup was a temporary competition held at the start of World War II, due to the suspension of the Scottish Cup by the SFA. It was held between February and May in 1940, the competition involved all sixteen League clubs still operating, Cowdenbeath later withdrew which meant Dunfermline Athletic received a bye in the first round. Rangers beat Dundee United 1 - 0 in the Final, thanks to a goal by James Smith. Although the venue, Hampden Park, Glasgow, in previous years had drawn crowds of over 100,000 for big games, the police limited attendance to 75,000 for this game.