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.
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Important Acquisitions 616 to 630 of 735:
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|Title||History of the horrid and unnatural murders, lately committed by John Smith in the parish of Roseneath, and shire of Dumbarton|
|Date of Publication||1727|
|Notes||This is an 8-page pamphlet bearing the stamp of the Birmingham Law Society. No bibliographic record for it can be found in ESTC or in other bibliographic databases. It details the pathetic life of John Smith who was hung in 1727 at the age of 29 for the murder of both his sister and his wife. He was born in Greenock and had an early prosperous career running clandestine goods to Ireland. He later left this for the more honest life of a tenant farmer on land adjacent to that owned by his step-father John Campbell. Campbell was an honest and prosperous gentleman who had married Smith's mother upon the death of her husband, John's father.
In order to secure a more prosperous and secure future, Smith proposed to marry John Campbell's daughter Margaret. He anticipated inheriting a portion of Campbell's estate, as Campbell had no children by his mother. The marriage took place even though Smith had been secretly courting a young woman called Janet Wilson. Smith and Janet Wilson kept up a clandestine correspondence during Smith's marriage and Smith also made promises to Janet Wilson that if his wife were dead he would surely marry her. He had also promised Janet Smith the sum of 1000 merks if she would refuse to marry a particular suitor.
Smith's financial situation became such that he could not give the 1000 merks to Janet Wilson as promised and so he murdered his sister Katherine in order that the bulk of Campbell's estate would revert to himself. About a year later Smith murdered his wife Margaret so that he could then keep his promise of marriage to Janet Wilson. Smith later confessed to the murders as suspicions mounted against him and he was hung in Dumbarton on the 20th of January 1727.|
|Reference Sources||Not in ESTC|
|Title||Ainmeanna cliuteach Chriosd. [Christ's famous titles].|
|Imprint||Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island|
|Date of Publication||1832|
|Notes||This is an important addition to the National Library's collection of books in Scots Gaelic printed in Canada. Only one other copy is recorded of this Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island imprint. The National Library holds eight imprints by the printer S. Haszard, all dating from the period 1890-1902. This work is a translation of William Dyer's work 'Christ's famous titles' first published in 1663 which ran through seveal editions through into the nineteenth century. Dyer, who died in 1696, was a Non-Conformist minister with Quaker sympathies, who was minister at Chesham and Cholesbury, Buckinghamshire. The text was first translated by C. Maclauruinn for a Glasgow 1817 edition. It was clearly a popular work - five Gaelic editions were also published in Edinburgh between 1845 and 1894. Maclauruinn in his English preface opines that 'it is neither a popular nor an elegant publication … but an evangelical one'.
Ownership inscriptions on the free endpapers indicate that this book belonged to one Fergus Ferguson of New Gairloch, Pictou County, Nova Scotia. The last leaf contains an advertisement for the bookseller James Dawson of Pictou, Nova Scotia, which lists 39 Gaelic titles. This is evidence of the market for books in Gaelic among the emigrant population in Nova Scotia in the mid-nineteenth century.
Scots first settled in Prince Edward Island in 1768, but the majority of the migrations, primarily from the the Western Isles, Argyll and Invernesshire, took place between 1771 and 1803. One of the largest migrations was that of 1803. It was organized by Thomas Douglas the fifh Earl of Selkirk and resulted in the arrival of 800 people from the Isle of Skye, Raasay, North Uist and Mull, most of whom were Gaelic speakers.|
|Reference Sources||Hornby, Susan. Celts and ceilidhs: a history of Scottish societies on Prince Edward Island. (Charlottetown, 1981). HP2.201.04699
Craig, David. On the crofters' trail. (London, 1990) H4.90.1632|
|Date of Publication||1807|
|Notes||A presentation copy, with the note in the author's hand, of the 1807 printing of this important work. This copy is in good condition and complete with both large folding tables. The Library currently holds only an imperfect copy (wanting tables) of the 1808 printing, the first which was actually published. Bentham, the political philosopher who has come to be known as one of the founders of utilitarianism, wrote this work in favour of reforming the Scottish legal system as a series of letters. Clearly written and full of detail and practical examples, his proposals relate in particular to the workings of juries and appeal courts.|
|Reference Sources||Chuo University Library, Bibliographical Catalogue of the Works of Jeremy Bentham, Tokyo: 1989, S1-1
The Bentham Project http://www.ucl.ac.uk/Bentham-Project/index.htm|
|Author||Isham, Charles Edmund, Sir|
|Title||Tyrant of the Cuchullin Hills|
|Date of Publication||c. 1860?|
|Notes||This poem about a ferocious golden eagle terrorising the Cuillin mountains of Skye appears here in what seems to be a brightly-coloured, even garish lithograph. The borders of the text are attractive, and the elaborate initial letters are executed with some success. The Library has a photocopy of what is probably an earlier version of the work, which has different ornamentation (XP.461). As an artist's book, this is a work of some quality. Its poetic merits are another matter. As a sample, here is the eagle's dream of lamb-killing:
'He dream't he first tore out their eyes,
Enjoying much the feeble cries.
And when he'd finished all the flock,
He watched from some convenient rock,
Exhibiting intense delight
When heartrent mothers came in sight.
He then returned and tortured more
The lambs which still remained in store
At dawn of day we will suppose
The tyrant from his bed arose
Quite vexed at finding but a dream
All that reality would seem.'
It is one thing to project human emotions onto a bird, but to describe it getting out of bed after a pleasant dream opens up new possibilities for (unintentionally) comic verse.|
|Title||[Album of photographs and newspaper cuttings belonging to John Winning]|
|Date of Publication||c.1930-1944|
|Notes||This is an album of photographs and newpaper cuttings relating to the activities of Dr. John Winning during the 1930s and early 1940s. Included are group photographs of visits undertaken by members of the Scottish Socialist Party to Germany in 1930, Austria in 1931 and Denmark in 1936. Winning was a member of Glasgow Town Council between 1926 and 1932 and he led a number of visits to the continent. A cutting from 1936 notes that 'the number of countries which Socialists can visit with enthusiasm seems to be diminishing -- Germany is no longer on the visiting list'.
Winning from Larkhall in Lanarkshire began his working life as an apprentice plumber. He became involved in local politics in the 1920s and unsuccessfully stood for election for Westminster. In 1932 he resigned his Council seat to take up medicine and he worked as a GP for a number of years before his appointment as Assistant Medical Officer of Health for Glasgow in 1940.
Other cuttings and ephemera document Dr. Winning's involvement in the Scottish Vegetarian Society . There are also four copies of The two worlds: the weekly journal of spiritualism, religion and reform dating from 1938 to 1942. It appears that John Winning was also an active member of the Spiritualist Church.|
|Author||Alcott, Louisa M.|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||This is an uncommon edition of Louisa Alcott's classic children's book with a striking wrap-around
pictorial cover by Jessie M. King. The style of the illustration, which is typical of King with a solitary slender girl in a what appears to be a desert environment is at variance with both the story itself and the Edwardian-style colour frontispiece and title page by an unknown illustrator. Indeed, this design was used for twelve books in the Collins Bumper Reward Books series
Born in New Kilpatrick, Bearsden, King (1876-1949) studied at Glasgow School of Art between 1892 and 1899 - her style mirrors the angular art nouveau concepts of the Glasgow Style Her decorative work in books is often regarded as the counterpart to Charles Rennie Mackintosh's output in the field of applied arts. As early as 1902 she was regarded as the pre-eminent book illustrator in the Glasgow movement. She illustrated nearly 200 books between 1898 and 1949. It has been said that her myopic eyesight allowed her to work in fine detail in her book illustrations, as well as in her jewellery, ceramic and fabric designs, murals and watercolour painting.|
White, Colin. The enchanted world of Jessie M. King. (Edinburgh: Canongate, 1989) H8.90.6|
|Date of Publication||1728|
|Notes||This is a fine thesis binding in black morocco, with gold tooling on boards, spine, board edges and turn-ins. Fine green and gilt Dutch endpapers, with the attractive label of Kerr & Richardson, book makers of Glasgow, on the front pastedown. Curiously, Kerr & Richardson do not appear in SBTI. The actual text is ESTC T188177, the only other known copy of which is in the Advocates' Library. The textblock in this new copy is untrimmed and in superior condition. The binding complements that of Bdg.s.13, which may well have come from the same workshop: the structure of the design is similar, but different tools are used. The new copy is particularly distinguished by the stars in the panels on the spine, and the 'chain' design of the diagonals. The floral roll which makes up the central rectangle and which is repeated on the turn-ins is mostly crisp and clear, although there are a couple of slips on the front board where it can be seen how the craftsman ran on slightly too far.|
|Title||Collection of Poems|
|Date of Publication||1823|
|Notes||Bought with [Walter Scott, Letter on Landscape, 1831], $600.00. This item transferred to MSS.
Two very unusual Scott items, both from the collections of the Scott bibliographers William B. Todd and Ann Bowden: in the bibliography, these are items 166A and 256A.1 respectively. Baillie encouraged many poets to submit original unpublished works for inclusion in her volume, among whom were Scott, Wordsworth, Southey and Campbell. This copy has been purchased because it was apparently given as a present by Scott (see the publisher's note on title-page), and it is finely bound with Scott's personal portcullis device in gilt on the spine. No other examples of such a binding are known outside Scott's own library at Abbotsford.
The second item is a curious facsimile of a Scott letter. At some point this copy has been included in a collection of forgeries, but it seems unlikely that anyone would be fooled for long: although the postmark is dated 1830, the paper is watermarked 1831! The National Library holds what is probably the original of this letter, MS.23141.f.9. A comparision of the two suggests that great labour went into the production of the facsimile, for no very obvious reason.|
|Reference Sources||William B. Todd & Ann Bowden, Sir Walter Scott – a bibliographical history, 1998.|
|Author||SMT Magazine and Scottish Country Life|
|Title||Calendar for 1940.|
|Date of Publication||1940|
|Notes||An unusual survival, this calendar was found in an attic in reasonably good condition, with its original metal hanger. The different months are illustrated by good-quality prints of paintings of various Scottish landscapes. The artists include W. M. Cuthill, Healey Hislop, Alastair Dallas and George Melvin Rennie. The front cover is a martial scene of armed highlanders gathering around Bonnie Prince Charlie, which was presumably chosen in view of the recent outbreak of war with Germany. The calendar has not been covered with scribble as is the usual fate of such ephemeral items, and would still look good on the wall. One of the few pencil notes is curious: by 'September', someone has written 'Septembre'. Was the calendar sent as a present to someone in France, or was it owned by a French resident in Scotland? SMT [Scottish Motor Traction] magazine was despite its title a wide-ranging and colourful magazine with stories, letters, descriptions of Scottish towns and landscapes; very much the kind of thing one could find in dentists' waiting rooms. The 1940 volume of the magazine, which NLS holds, is full of a breezy optimism with regard to the war, and a strong current of Scottish nationalism. The magazine is quite happy to discuss the question of Scotland's future status within the union, and includes a letter asking whether federalism should actually be a war aim. This sits well with the cover of the calendar, which recalls Scotland's separate military traditions. Together, the magazine and calendar present a much more colourful image of 1940 than the conventional stereotype.|
|Author||Spence, Elizabeth Isabella|
|Title||Wedding Day, a Novel.
|Imprint||London, printed by C. Stower for Longman etc., .|
|Date of Publication||1807|
|Notes||This work by the Scottish-born writer Elizabeth Spence is extremely rare. Spence (1768-1832) was born at Dunkeld, and produced several sentimental novels and travel books from 1799 onwards. Niece of the Aberdeen-born preacher James Fordyce, Spence ended up orphaned and poor in London, and seems to have written to support herself. The Wedding Day enjoyed little critical success, but does not seem wholly devoid of merit. It is deeply Scottish, full of descriptions of landscapes and buildings from Roslin Chapel to Calton Hill, although most of the action takes place in England. Literary quotations abound; suffering aristocrats write wordy letters; the heroine endures everything from shipwrecks to romantic catastrophe with the same moral resolution.|
|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.|
|Date of Publication||1726|
|Notes||Acquired for the fine contemporary binding, which appears to be an early example of a Scottish wheel binding. Red-brown goatskin, gold-tooled wheel design surrounded by semi-circles, flowers and stars, all within a fillet and wave roll border. The spine is also tooled, with panels containing saltires. The board edges and turn-ins are tooled as well. The endpapers are marbled, and there are bookplates of John Hely-Hutchinson and W.A. Foyle. The book was apparently seen by NLS when it was sold at Sotheby's in 1956, as a rubbing was taken and is held in the Rare Books bindings folders. NLS did not bid and the book was bought by Maggs for £16. The National Library already has a copy of the text, ESTC T138471, at shelfmark Saltoun 522.|
|Title||New and Easy Method of Cookery. Edinburgh, 1755.|
|Date of Publication||1755|
|Notes||Elizabeth Cleland taught cookery in Edinburgh, apparently at her house in the Luckenbooths, the now-demolished medieval street formerly at the centre of commercial Edinburgh. Cleland provides short, pithy recipes for standard dishes such as soups, pies and cakes, with many entries for fish and meat. There are no fine measurements or Delia-style explanations. For example, under the heading 'To roast a Leg of Mutton with Cockles', Cleland gives the following advice: 'Stuff it all over with Cockles and roast it. Put Gravy under it.' Cleland's book seems to have been popular and the National Library has copies of the expanded second and third editions. Early cookery books are often difficult to obtain and in poor condition due to use. Only two other copies of this first edition of Cleland's important publication are known, and it is not recorded in ESTC. Although in this copy the binding has largely disintegrated, the textblock is basically sound: it could even be argued that the interesting stains count as evidence for usage (e.g. see the recipe for saffron cakes!).|
|Reference Sources||Virginia Maclean, A short-title catalogue of household and cookery books published in the English tongue 1701-1800, London, 1981, p.27.
Olive Geddes, The Laird's Kitchen, Edinburgh, 1994, esp. pp. 59+|
|Title||Short Apology for Apostacy|
|Date of Publication||1797|
|Notes||This provocative title introduces a scathing and witty attack on established religion in Scotland by a former minister. Mitchell describes how he had come to detest the task of using the pulpit to uphold the policies of the political establishment. He goes further, however, arguing that heresy should be considered as a positive term as it simply means individuals are free to follow their own religious opinions. Clearly a humanist free-thinker, Mitchell denounces the practice of churches praying for the success of their country's armies in war. Towards the end of the work, he gives a long list of the various Christian doctrines which he finds incomprehensible. This first edition is a rare work, and only two other copies have been located. One can imagine that the reaction of many readers would have been unfavourable: indeed, this copy has a contemporary manuscript note on the title-page which includes the irritated remark that this work is 'nothing to do with religion'. (ESTC T117542)|
|Reference Sources|| ESTC T117542|
|Author||Stevenson, Robert Louis|
|Title||Child's garden of verses|
|Date of Publication||1905.|
|Notes|| See entry for Philadelphia 1919 edition.
These two illustrated American editions of Robert Louis Stevenson's popular collection of 64 poems for children, add to the library's collection of Stevenson's works. A child's garden of verses has been described as 'the most notable collection of serious poems written for children since Original poems for infant minds (1804-1805) by Anne and Jane Taylor' (Oxford companion to children's literature). The poems were composed by Stevenson in the early 1880's, inspired in part by Kate Greenaway's Birthday book for children (1880) and was published, without illustrations, in 1885. The first illustrated edition (by Charles Robinson) appeared in 1896.
Both editions have been illustrated by American women American illustrators; Bessie Collins Pease Gutmann and Maria Louisa Kirk. Stevenson's work was the first book illustrated by Gutmann (1876-1960). She was a popular illustrator during the first quarter of the twentieth century, best known for her drawings of 'innocent' children during the so-called golden age of illustration. Maria Kirk (1860-193-?) illustrated over fifty children's classics also during the early decades of the century. This edition is not listed in Beinecke.|