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.

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 752:

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TitleHoly Bible. With Psalms. Edinburgh, 1744.
ImprintEdinburgh
Date of Publication1743 [1744]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThese two volumes of the Bible and metrical Psalms are bound in black goatskin with gold-tooling in outstanding condition. The design is unusual: each board has a central column of eight roundels with dotted centres, which are flanked by elegant floral tooling, all within a dog-tooth roll border. The design was clearly considered thoughtfully, and the blind guide-lines around which it is structured are still visible. The style is comparable to that of the binding on our copy of a 1720 Book of Common Prayer at Bdg.s.768, but there the tools are quite different and the overall impression is graceful but less substantial. This new acquisition has a highly demonstrative binding, and it seems to have been commissioned as a celebratory wedding gift. Inside each volume is a red goatskin label with gold tooling, which reads 'Helen Scott 6th March 1765'. On the first blank leaf of the first volume is an ink list of births, Isobell in 1766, Marion in 1768, and John in 1770. Additionally, there are green and gilt endpapers with a floral design. The spines are finely tooled with five panels separated by raised bands; the second gilt compartment contains the volume number, the other compartments have a saltire design. There is gilt roll tooling to the board edges, and an attractive floral roll on the turn-ins. The textblock is complete and in good condition, the leaf edges are gilt. The second volume is perhaps very slightly more worn (at head and foot of spine) as a possible indication of the fact that this volume contained the metrical Psalms and was hence more likely to be carried to church or used for family worship. This is a bright and appealing addition to the bindings collection, with a human story in it. The bookseller has donated with this purchase an imperfect copy of a Bible printed in Edinburgh by Alexander Kincaid in 1778. Although this is only the first volume, without the title-page, it is attractively bound in red goatskin with a deep floral border. The spine is tooled with five compartments, each containing an oval green leather label, the second with the volume number, the others containing the image of an urn. There are marbled endpapers and the edges are gilt. A very different item to the acquisition described above, but also highly attractive and, again, showing some unusual tooling.
ShelfmarkBdg.s.416(1)
Acquired on19/06/02
TitleMaçonnerie pratique: cours d'enseignement supérieur de la franc-maçonnerie rite écossais ancien et accepté... Publiée par un profane
Imprint2 vols., Paris: Édouard Baltenweck
Date of Publication1885
LanguageFrench
NotesThis is an important addition to the Library's holdings of literature relating to Freemasonry, dealing as it does with the 'Scottish Rite'. The work is produced from a fiercely anti-masonic standpoint, and the introduction denounces masonry as an anti-Catholic heresy, an epidemic which spreads blasphemy and corruption. The editor makes his case by devoting most of the work to the publication of a text which purports to have been drawn up as a guide to the secrets of masonry by a leading mason at a council at Lausanne in 1875. The magnificent folding plates depict the rites and symbols of the masons, and large folding tables give details of the supposed ranks of the masonic hierarchy. This two-volume work is handsomely bound in half navy calf by Maclehose of Glasgow, whose stamp is found on the verso of the first free endpaper in volume one. The spines have gilt tooling and leather labels in red and brown with gilt lettering; the endpapers and the edges of the leaves are marbled. From the library of Fort Augustus, with bookplates in both volumes.
ShelfmarkAB.2.202.16
Acquired on30/09/02
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
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
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
TitleCatalogue of books belonging to the library of St. Andrew's Chapel, Aberdeen.
ImprintAberdeen: printed by George Cornwall
Date of Publication1839
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis pamphlet adds significantly to the Library's holdings of works providing information about the history of libraries and collecting in Scotland. St. Andrew's Chapel in Aberdeen was built in 1816 and opened in 1817 as a meeting-place for the Episcopalian congregation. It was raised to the dignity of a Cathedral church in 1914. The chapel library was apparently formed in 1831, and according to the preface in this work, several catalogues had already been issued before 1839. It would seem that the library was well-organised (at least on paper!): the preface discusses the collection development policy and notes that the holdings of serials are particularly strong. Detailed rules and regulations are given before the catalogue itself. Naturally, the books are mainly theological, and particularly relate to the cause of the Episcopal Church. What is particularly notable is the number of early works, including several seventeenth-century Scottish books (Aldis items). There are also novels, biographies and collections of pamphlets. It would be interesting to know more about the ways in which this collection was formed (and, indeed, its eventual fate).
ShelfmarkAPS.3.203.06
Reference Sourceshttp://www.ifb.net/webit/standys.htm http://www.aberdeen.anglican.org/Cathedral.htm http://www.cathedral.aberdeen.anglican.org/
Acquired on07/01/03
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
TitleFull Report of the Proceedings at the Meetings of Messrs. Thompson and Borthwick, at Dalkeith
ImprintGlasgow: George Gallie & W. R. M'Phun
Date of Publication1833
LanguageEnglish
NotesGeorge Thompson and Peter Borthwick both gave lectures in Dalkeith on 22 March 1833, on the subject of the future of slavery. The anti-slavery movement was close to victory at this point, with the Emancipation Act which abolished slavery throughout the British colonies to be passed in August 1833. This small pamphlet recounts with unconcealed glee the hostile reception given to Borthwick's defence of the system and the applause for Thompson's appeal for emancipation. Borthwick's talk was given shortly after noon, and hissed by about 300 people. Thompson spoke at 7pm before about 1500 people, who seem to have cheered every other word. These antagonists seem to have confronted each other several times in the 1830s, and other publications containing their speeches and related discussions can be found. Thompson's speeches in 1833 led to the formation of the Edinburgh Society for the Abolition of Slavery; in 1834 he travelled to American to campaign against slavery, thereby placing his life in some danger. (DNB)
ShelfmarkAPS.1.201.027
Acquired on26/06/01
TitlePlan for Raising a Militia in that part of Great Britain called Scotland
NotesOnly three copies of this draft bill for regulating the militia in Scotland, by means of adapting the English Militia Acts, are recorded by ESTC (T42402). Interesting details include the fact that on page 9 the blanks relating to the number of privates to be raised for each county have been filled in manuscript (the city of Edinburgh was to raise 333 men). On the verso of the title-page is a full page of manuscript notes signed 'Richd Hewit. Clerk', which explains how the plan was drawn up by a committee of notables following a meeting in Edinburgh on 30 November 1759. The bill was rejected at its second reading in Westminster on 15 April 1760: although there was much sympathy for Scotland's vulnerability to French invasion, many still had doubts about giving arms to the Jacobites among the Highlanders. (John Robertson, Scottish Enlightenment and the Militia Issue, Edinburgh: John Donald, 1985).
ShelfmarkAPS.4.201.17
Acquired on26/06/01
TitleOde to hope
ImprintEdinburgh: Printed and sold by T. and J. Ruddiman
Date of Publication1789
NotesThis is an anonymous and unrecorded poem printed in Edinburgh the early days of 1789. No copies have been traced anywhere nor is it mentioned in Jackson's 'Annals of English verse 1770-1835' or the 'English poetry full text database'. The only clue to the authorship is the dedication to Mr. Henry Erskine of Newhall possibly the one time Lord Advocate and Dean of the Faculty of Advocates who lived from 1746 to 1817. He also penned a few poems. This rather gushing poem deals with the inspiring effects of hope amid scenes of poverty, starvation, death and despair. There seems also to be a political connotation with references to General Wolfe, 'Bourbon's legions', 'the plains of Cressy' and Britons being roused to arms. It was printed by the brothers Thomas and John Ruddiman, part of the Edinburgh family involved in the book trade during the 18th century. Thomas (1755-1825) who became a partner in his father's printing business in 1772, was a biographer of the poet Robert Fergusson, who died in 1774. The Ruddimans published many of Fergusson's poems in 'The Weekly Magazine'. Incidentally one of Fergusson's poems published in 1773 was entitled 'Ode to hope' but it is shorter and differs in content to the 1789 item. John Ker Ruddiman became a partner with his brother Thomas in 1789, and died in Fisherrow, near Musselburgh in 1816. The brother seem to have neglected their business, which was wound up in 1798.
ShelfmarkRB.m.506
Reference SourcesSBTI
Acquired on13/12/02
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
TitleCL. Psalmes of David in Meeter. With an exact Kalendar, also morning & evening prayers.
ImprintEdinburgh, Printed by James Bryson, and are to bee sold at his shop, a little above the Kirk-stile at the signe of the golden angel.
Date of Publication1640
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a beautiful and important book: both the text and the binding are new to our collections. It is an edition of the metrical Psalms printed in Edinburgh in 1640 and contained in a silver binding, decorated with a design of birds and flowers. The leaf edges are gilt and decorated with a stamped design of dots and crosses. The first blank pastedown has the pencil note 'Hamilton Bruce' (probably the collector some of whose books the Library already has). The recto of the following blank has a pasted-on slip with the ink inscription 'This Edition of the Psalms was sold at £4..4 plain binding / Lowndes' (William Thomas Lowndes the bibliographer?) The text appears to be an unrecorded Aldis item, apparently in 32o. Aldis 975 (Cwn.651) is quarto; Aldis 976 (Cwn.483(2)) is duodecimo; Aldis 977 (Cwn.49) is printed by R. Bryson; Aldis 978 (Hall.191.k) has a variant title and is 16o. This edition is not mentioned in W. Cowan, 'Bibliography of the Book of Common Order', EBS X (1911-13). No examples have been traced in STC or ESTC. It seems that the binding is contemporary. The thin-gauge silver, which is not hallmarked, is overlapped by the old endpapers. One would expect a Victorian binding to have new endpapers, and, indeed, to be more artistically confident. The blackening of the silver where it has not been touched, and the loss of the clasps, also suggest an earlier binding. The Sotheby's sale of silver and enamel bindings of 10 May 1985 does not provide any definitive answers, nor does J. F. Hayward's Silver Bindings from the J. R. Abbey Collection. No. 38 in the Sotheby's catalogue shows a seventeenth-century English silver binding with a bird and flowers: evidently British craftsmen were doing work of this quality in the seventeenth century. Various silver experts were consulted about this work, and there are different opinions. Some suggest the binding is Dutch or German (perhaps a luxury binding for a member of the Scottish reformed communities in the Low Countries?), some suggest that the style is more likely to be British.
ShelfmarkBdg.s.888
Reference SourcesW. Cowan, 'Bibliography of the Book of Common Order', EBS X (1911-13). Sotheby's sale of silver and enamel bindings, 10 May 1985. J. F. Hayward, Silver Bindings from the J. R. Abbey Collection.
Acquired on09/12/02
TitleThe Holy Bible containing the Old Testament and the new &
ImprintCambridge: Printed by John Archdeacon &
Date of Publication1769
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis two volume set of the Holy Bible, printed in Cambridge in 1769, has been bound in red morocco, probably in imitation of the Edinburgh binder James Scott, who was active during the 1770s and 1780s. Also bound in with the New Testament are the Psalms of David in metre printed in Edinburgh in 1770 by Alexander Kincaid. The Psalms were also printed as part of a Holy Bible published by Kincaid in the same year.This binding is probably contemporary, and given the presence of the Psalms printed in Edinburgh, may have been bound in Scotland. Several of the ornaments used, particularly the scrolls and flourishes (Sc.7.1773 and Sc.13.1774 in Loudon), resemble those used by James Scott, though other prominent ornaments such as the fox and Cupid were not used by Scott. These bindings were part of the collection of Bibles belonging to Lord Wardington (1924-2005).
ShelfmarkBdg.s.916
Reference SourcesJ.H. Loudon, James and William Scott bookbinders. (London, 1980)
Acquired on31/07/06
TitleDescriptive sketch of the print of the death of Gen. Sir Ralph Abercrombie.
ImprintLondon: John P. Thompson
Date of Publication1804
LanguageEnglish and French
NotesThis broadside is a guide to a print depicting the death of General Sir Ralph Abercromby in Egypt in 1801. The death of Abercromby at the Battle of Alexandria was recorded by a number of painters including James Northcote, Philip de Loutherburg and Samuel James Arnold. It is likely that the print was based on the work of one of these painters. Abercromby was born in Menstrie, Clackmannanshire, in 1734. He was educated in Alloa and Rugby before studying law at the universities of Edinburgh and Leipzig. His military career began in 1758 during the Seven Years War. For a number of years in the 1770s he sat in Parliament as an MP for Clackmannanshire. The French Revolutionary Wars revived Abercromby's military career - he fought in Flanders and the West Indies, then served briefly in Ireland before the rebellion of 1798. In 1800 Abercromby was appointed as commander of the British forces in the Mediterranean. In the process of routing the French at Abu Qir Bay, near Alexandria in March 1801, he was fatally wounded. He was later buried on Malta. Abercromby was a popular figure in the British army and his death elevated him to hero-status among the general public. Curiously, although the imprint gives the date as 1804, the paper has a watermark dated 1809! The publisher was John Peter Thompson, who worked as an engraver, printer and printerseller in Great Newport Street, London from 1792 to 1813.
ShelfmarkRB.l.232
Reference SourcesDNB
Acquired on31/07/06
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