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 782 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 631 to 645 of 782:
Ordered by date acquired |
Order by author
| Order by title
|Author||Alexander, Sir William, Earl of Stirling|
|Title||Recreations with the Muses|
|Imprint||London: b. Tho. Harper|
|Date of Publication||1637|
|Notes||This collection of the works of William Alexander is of central importance to the development of Scottish literature. Alexander was a member of the 'Castalian band' (named after the mythical spring on Mount Parnassus, a symbol of the inspiration of the muses) of poets at the court of King James VI, along with writers such as Alexander Montgomerie, William Fowler, Robert and Thomas Hudson, and the king himself. When the court moved to London in 1603 with the accession of James to the English throne, the 'Castalian band' was dispersed. Alexander, like other writers who moved to London with the king, began to modify his verse, expunging Scotticisms and adopting the southern English language, so that this publication of 1637 is substantially a book of poetry in English, not Scots. Alexander was highly regarded by James VI and I and by Charles I, and was chosen by James to help him produce a new translation of the Psalms; the translation was published under James's name although it was almost all the work of Alexander. Alexander, who died in 1640, was by 1637 Secretary of State for Scotland; more notable, perhaps, is the fact that he had been granted the colonial territories of Nova Scotia (and, indeed, much of what is now Canada and the USA!). This book is thus a collection of a major Scottish author's writings, and one of the last editions published during his lifetime.
Of enormous symbolic importance is the fact that this copy contains a fine impression of the extremely rare portrait of Alexander. On the portrait is the manuscript inscription 'Liber Fra: Kinaston ex dono Nobilissimi Authoris'. Sir Francis Kynaston (1587-1642) was an influential English poet of the court of Charles I, and an appropriate recipient for this collection of Anglicised works by a Scottish-born writer. The bookseller describes the portait as one of the 'black tulips' of early English print-making, and there does not seem to be another copy with the portrait in any UK public library. This copy is of some bibliographical importance, as the inscription indicates clearly that the portrait was issued with the book (it had been argued that the rarity of the portrait was a consequence of its having been issued separately). An eighteenth-century facsimile is also bound in this copy. Another interesting bibliographical feature of this and at least two other copies is that two leaves (X1 and X6) were missing due to an error in printing early copies of that sheet; here they have been supplied from another copy.
The book is attractively bound in early nineteenth-century green morocco with gold-tooled decoration and lettering on the spine; the edges of the leaves are gilt. A note on a front flyleaf signed 'H.C.' probably indicates the ownership of the nineteenth-century collector Henry Cunliffe.
The National Library of Scotland had two copies of this text already (H.29.a.3, H.29.a.4), but the additional features of this copy enable us to claim that our holdings of this important book now approach bibliographical completeness. This will enhance further our standing as a centre for studies of early Scottish literature.|
|Title||Jolly Jump-Ups: Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses|
|Imprint||[Springfield, USA] : McLoughlin Bros|
|Date of Publication||1946|
|Notes||Robert Louis Stevenson comes to life in pop-up form in this delightful and highly coloured children's book. Stevenson's classic text, A Child's Garden of Verses, had proved very popular in North America and appeared in many attractive illustrated editions. This is a rather different adaptation which shows how Stevenson's influence had reached quite different genres of children's books. This copy is in nice condition, particularly for a pop-up, a form which often attracts the investigation of curious fingers to the detriment of the book. The 'Jolly Jump-Ups' was a well-established series of pop-ups, mostly nursery rhymes and learning books: as the bookseller remarks, it is 'somewhat unusual to have real literature as the basis for a pop-up'. Stevenson and children's books are two popular themes in the Library's collections which have been highlighted in recent exhibitions, and this pop-up brings both themes together.|
|Author||[Erskine, Andrew and Ross, Walter.]|
|Title||To the revolution club|
|Date of Publication||c. 1788|
|Notes||This unrecorded pamphlet is a tory satire against the Scottish whigs enthusiasm for the Glorious Revolution. The authors (see below) leave the reader in no doubt at the their unease at proposals that a monument be erected in honour of William III. They sarcastically suggest that it should be located in the Valley of Glencoe! The signature at the end is 'Gibbie Burnet' a very unveiled reference to the historian Gilbert Burnet, one of the key supporters of the Glorious Revolution.
The text was re-printed (APS.1.81.45; ESTC T108704) in 1792, at a time when it was feared that the unrest in France would spread across the Channel, as an appendix to a proclamation (ESTC T148691) by King George III warning against attempts at the 'subversion of all regular government'. The preface to this proclamation mentions that this pamphlet was first printed in 1788 with the aim of 'diverting the Northern part of this kingdom from joining in the popular enthusiasm' for the Revolution of 1688. The motives behind the re-printing of this pamphlet are difficult to unravel: the author of the preface seems to favour both the revolutions of 1688 and 1789 and implies that any attempts to suppress them were futile.
The pamphlet comes from the collection of Alexander Fraser Tytler (1747-1813), Lord Woodhouselee, Professor of History at the University of Edinburgh, sold at Bonhams, Edinburgh in August 2002. Fixed to the final blank page is a sheet of manuscript possibly with annotations partly in the hand of Tytler, listing 'The King's Advocates since the institution of the Court of Session', from 1537 to 1725. The inscription on the title page, presumably in Tytler's hand, reads 'written by Walter Ross and the honble Andrew Erskine'. The latter, who committed suicide in 1793 was one the closest friends of the young James Boswell and they collaborated on 'Critical strictures on the new tragedy of Elvira' and 'Letters between the honourable Andrew Erskine and James Boswell', both published in 1763. Walter Ross was probably the Writer to the Signet of the same name (1738-1789) who wrote a number of legal works in the 1780s.|
|Title||Maçonnerie pratique: cours d'enseignement supérieur de la franc-maçonnerie rite écossais ancien et accepté... Publiée par un profane|
|Imprint||2 vols., Paris: Édouard Baltenweck|
|Date of Publication||1885|
|Notes||This 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.|
|Title||Thorn tree clique, a new analysis of Mathieson's poem The Goff|
|Imprint||Kilmacolm: Partick PressStandard edition 60/28Deluxe edition 36/50|
|Date of Publication||2001|
|Notes||David Hamilton operates one of the few private presses surviving in Scotland. He uses a Vandercook proofing press and does all of the research, writing, and most of the presswork himself. All in limited editions and printed to a high standard, the books are about or relating to golf. Since 1985 the press has published nine books. The present volume is a fine example of the careful attention to detail that has become a mark of the press. The work contains a well written introduction to Mathieson's The Goff 1743, the first complete book about golf, followed by a reprinting of the text with supporting footnotes. Mathieson's text is also illustrated with a suite of elegant wood engravings by Kathleen Lindsley of the Isle of Skye. The book is printed on Zerkall paper and bound in quarter leather. A high quality facsimile of the original 1743 edition of The Goff is secured in a pocket attached to the lower board.
The standard edition was supplied by David Hamilton for Copyright; the deluxe edition, with a specially commissioned binding showing inlay themes from the book (the Links, the Tree, the long-nosed-club, and a feather ball) was purchased.|
|Title||Historia regalis divi Iacobi VI. regis semper augusti|
|Date of Publication||1626|
|Notes||This is an unusual rarity for which no extant copies could be found in RLIN, ESTC, OCLC, CURL, or the British Library, Library of Congress, Harvard University Library or the Bodleian. It is a 30-cm. tall folio, bound in calfskin vellum with the word/name 'Solon' written in manuscript at the head of the top board. There are 13 unnumbered preliminary leaves and 89 numbered pages of text. The text ends with the inscription 'Libri Primi Finis' although there is no bibliographic evidence that any additional volumes were ever published. The preliminary leaves close with the signature of Bernardinus ab Angelis. The identity of this person or his nationality has not been determined.
There is an emblem on the title page of a woman's head with cornucopias, which resembles devices used by both the publishers Vautrollier in London and Andro Hart in Edinburgh. However, the emblem incorporated by both these publishers does not match precisely the emblem appearing this book. There are indications in the Latin text that the book may be Parisian in origin although no record for it could be located in the Bibliothèque nationale de France.
The work has a number of interesting textual and bibliographic anomalies. For example, on the recto of leaf e2 a slip of paper with the words 'Inclitissime Princeps Pietatis & Sanctitatis' has been pasted in to complete this missing line of text. Later, on page 36 a larger compositor's error was corrected by pasting in a new sheet of text over the existing erroneous text. There is a blank space at the beginning of the text on page 1 caused by the omission of the initial capital letter. The fourth leaf has been excised, as it was presumably blank. Lastly, the stub of the back pastedown and the stub of what would have been Z2 have been folded before signature Y. These occurrences suggest that the volume may have been a proof copy for a work that was never taken further to the publication stage.
Both the title page and the recto of the opening free flyleaf have the manuscript signature of Georg Rodolph Weckherlin (1584 -1653). Weckherlin is widely regarded as the greatest German poet of the period preceding the stylistic reforms later introduced by Martin Opitz (1597-1637). Weckherlin was born in Stuttgart, studied law at the University of Tübingen and later immigrated to England where he married Elizabeth Raworth in 1616. He entered the royal service shortly before the accession of Charles I in 1625 and served as secretary to all of Charles's Secretaries of State prior to the Civil War as well as serving as Under-Secretary for the German, Latin and French Tongues. His diary also shows that he was often called upon to act as personal secretary to the King himself. Weckherlin broke with the King around 1642 and was in Parliamentary service by 1643. In February 1644 he was officially appointed to the important position of Secretary for the Foreign Tongues. He retired at the end of 1648 and was replaced by Milton although he was later recalled and served as Milton's assistant during his blindness.
In March 2003 one of our readers read the text and concluded that it is indeed likely to be French, as there are many references to contacts between Scotland and France, including a story that Henri III tried to kidnap James. The text holds up James as the ideal example of kingship to the new King Charles. It is possible to speculate that Weckherlin is the author. He is known as a Rosicrucian, and much of the symbolic language in the text may stem from this; even the name Bernardinus ab Angelis could be a code-word of this cult movement.
It might be useful to compare this with a work in the John Rylands library:
James, I, King of England, 1566-1625. - Kurtze Summarische / vnd Wahrhafftige Beschreibung / der Geburt / Lebens vnd. - [S.l.], 1625, shelfmark R19122.|
|Reference Sources||Sotheby's London Thursday 14th December, 1989. The Trumbull Papers, the property of the Most Honourable the Marquis of Downshire.|
|Author||Lizars, W[illiam]. H[ome].|
|Title||[Specimen book of lithographs, engravings, copper plate and letterpress]|
|Date of Publication||[1851?]|
|Notes||This is a sample book of engravings produced in Edinburgh ca. 1851 by William Home Lizars (1788-1859). W. H. Lizars was first apprenticed to his father, the publisher and engraver Daniel Lizars, from whom he first learned engraving. He then entered as a student under John Graham (1754-1817) in the Trustees' Academy at Edinburgh, where he was a fellow-student with Sir David Wilkie. From 1808 to 1815 he was a frequent exhibitor of portraits, or of sacred and domestic subjects, at exhibitions in Edinburgh. In 1812, on the death of his father, Lizars was compelled to carry on the business of engraving and copperplate printing in order to support his mother and family. Lizars perfected a method of etching which performed all the functions of wood-engraving in connection with the illustration of books. He died in Edinburgh on 30 March 1859, leaving a widow and family. Lizars took an active part in the foundation of the Royal Scottish Academy.
This sample specimen book gives an excellent idea of the wide range of products produced by W. H. Lizars in his Edinburgh studio: business receipts, company letterheads, picturesque scenes of Scotland, bankers' notes, cheques, maps, portraits, reproductions of charters and seals, book illustrations and examples of typefaces and fonts.|
|Author||Dalhousie, James Andrew Broun Ramsay, Marquis of|
|Title||Copy of a minute by the Marquis of Dalhousie, dated February 28, 1856 reviewing his administration in India, from January 1848, to March 1856|
|Imprint||Printed by J. & H. Cox|
|Date of Publication||1856|
|Notes||This volume contains a presentation inscription on the title page to the Caledonian United Service Club by Colonel W. Geddes, C.B. It is one of the only examples extant of a review of a Governor-General's period in office from the East-India Company Period. Later reviews appear for succeeding Viceroys although their scope is often limited to the Home Department. This report covers both Foreign and Home Departments. Dalhousie's introduction suggests that this is the first example of such a report on administration, perhaps inspired because of his longer than usual tenure in India. A vast range of subjects are covered: Thuggees, tea, vaccination, female education, natural resources, the port of Singapore, the Burma war and the Sikh war.|
|Title||Edinburgh Calotype Club Album, Volume 1|
|Date of Publication||c. 1848|
|Notes||By an extraordinary sequence of events, the Library, in partnership with Edinburgh City Council, purchased the 'lost' Edinburgh Calotype Album at auction on 12 December 2001. The sister album (volume 2) was acquired by Edinburgh Central Library in 1952. Having the output of the club, acknowledged as the first photographic society in the world, reunited in Edinburgh is a remarkable coup. The Edinburgh Calotype Club was formed in the early 1840s after a group of Edinburgh gentlemen, mostly advocates, doctors and academics, were introduced to the process by Sir David Brewster (1781-1868). The photographs in the album are a mixture of portraits, landscapes, buildings and sculptures, most of them showing locations in Scotland such as Edinburgh, Newhaven, St Andrews, Fairlie and Inverness. These invaluable images enable the researcher to discover a wealth of information about Scotland and its people in the mid-19th Century. As part of the project, both albums have been digitised and mounted on a specially designed website www.nls.uk/pencilsoflight to enable the widest possible access to this resource.
The project received financial support from:
The Heritage Lottery Fund
The National Art Collections Fund
The Gordon Fraser Charitable Trust
Edinburgh City Council
|Title||Holy Bible [with Psalms, 1726]|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: b. John Baskett|
|Date of Publication||1726|
|Notes||This is a binding of black goatskin, gilt tooled all over in the distinctive eighteenth-century Scottish style, with border rolls, a central panel, and various 'herring-bone' designs radiating like spokes from the centre. The spine is tooled to a saltire design, the turn-ins and board edges are also tooled, and there are gilt endpapers signed 'Apolonia Maiestderin', possibly the name of the German workshop where they were manufactured. Inside the front board is a leather label indicating that the book was a wedding present on the marriage of Sarah Thomson to Robert Cross in Glasgow in 1738. Manuscript notes record the fortunes of Sarah's family.
Eighteenth-century Scotland made a unique contribution to the art of book-binding through the development of the 'wheel' and 'herring-bone' bindings. This large, elegant and balanced binding in excellent condition contains design elements from both styles. In terms of the overall aesthetic quality, nothing equivalent is to be found in our existing binding collections. There are also individual tools which we have not been able to trace elsewhere, such as that used to make the 'filling' of the half-pear shapes. The sheer variety of tools used is extraordinary: stars, flowers, roundels, leaves and spear-heads. This acquisition will be central to our binding collections as an example of Scottish work at its very best.
We have a copy of this edition at Bdg.m.46, which is also heavily tooled, although there are no notable tools in common. A variant of this edition recorded in Maggs 1212, no. 92, shows some of the same spine tools and the overall design is comparable.
Tools found on bindings we already have:
The floral tool used to make the 'bones' of the central and radiating herring-bone patterns, and the tool which makes the 'spear-point' at the head of the herring-bone pattern, are also found in Ry.II.d.31 (Historical and Genealogical Essay, Glasgow, 1723). The 'spear-point' tool and some of the spine tools are also found on Bdg.s.584 (Bible, Oxford, 1729). The roll forming the border of the central panel is found on NG.1534.c.16 (Phaedrus, London, 1745). The outer roll of the border at the edge of the covers, as well as some spine tools, is found on Bdg.s.759 (Bible, London, 1735).
Tools not found elsewhere:
The 'filling' of the half-pear shapes.
The six floral / herring-bone patterns with curved lines.
The two horizontal herring-bone patterns, at either side of the central panel.
No other examples of this design or these tools have been found in Davis, Sommerlad, Nixon, or in the digital library, or in our bindings files.
A generous contribution of £500.00 towards the cost was received from the Friends of the National Libraries.|
|Reference Sources||Maggs catalogue 1075 / 1212
Henry Davis Gift
Sommerlad, Scottish 'wheel' and 'herring-bone' bindings in the Bodleian Library
Nixon, Five centuries of English bookbinding|
|Author||Davies, C. Langdon (ed.)|
|Title||China magazine. Christmas volume|
|Date of Publication||1868|
|Notes||This is a rich source of information about the early activities of the Scottish-born pioneering photographer John Thomson. Thomson is known to have played an important role in the development of the China Magazine, an interesting periodical, which gives valuable information about Chinese literature, British perceptions of the colonial environment, and, in particular, photographic images of China and other Asian countries. Two articles and three of the twenty-four original albumen prints in the Christmas volume of 1868 are clearly identified as Thomson's, and Thomson's contributions are acknowledged in the 'Envoi' at the end of the volume. The first article, 'The Cambodian Ruins' (pp.17-19), gives valuable information about Thomson's photographic explorations in 1866. With Mr. K[ennedy]., Thomson set out from Bangkok towards the Cambodian frontier, armed with a letter from the King of Siam. He describes the photograph which illustrates the article as 'the only good photograph out of six, the others having been spoiled by the violent efforts of a tribe of black monkeys, who persisted in shaking the branches of the trees every time they saw me emerge from my tent to expose the plate'. The second article (pp.80-2) is illustrated by a striking photograph of a stone carving of an elephant. The third photograph definitely by Thomson is of a cup presented to the retiring governor of Macao (p.82). It is, of course, possible that other prints in this volume are by Thomson. The 'Envoi' concludes by announcing that 'new photographic apparatus, additional type and ornamentation are either on their way out from England or already to hand', and appeals for more subscribers to help them foot the bill. The Christmas volume is a substantial publication, which evidently includes articles from earlier issues of the magazine: both the periodical and this special volume are quite uncommon.|
|Reference Sources||Stephen White, John Thomson, 1985.
Richard Ovenden, John Thomson, 1997.|
|Author||Rushbrook, Alfred Henry|
|Title||Collection of photographs of the south side of Edinburgh|
|Date of Publication||1929|
|Notes||These 138 silver gelatin prints form an invaluable record of the St. Leonards area of Edinburgh, largely swept away by slum clearance programmes. The photographer, Alfred Rushbrook, was commissioned by the City of Edinburgh Improvement Trust to record this area prior to its redevelopment. The photographs are part of the same photographic tradition as Thomas Annan and Archibald Burns, who both worked on similar civic projects in Glasgow and Edinburgh respectively during the late nineteenth century. Most of the images record the buildings and street life of the city and are fascinating for recording contemporary shop front design and advertising hoardings. Rushbrook worked as a photographer in Edinburgh from about 1900 to the late 1930s and when these pictures were taken he was working out of 92-96 Nicolson Street.|
|Title||Holy Bible. With Psalms. Edinburgh, 1744.|
|Date of Publication||1743 |
|Notes||These 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.|
|Author||Fordun, John of|
|Date of Publication||1722|
|Notes||Scotichronicon, the key text of early Scottish history, was written in the later 14th century, but was late in appearing in print: this appears to be the first printing of all five books with this title. Thomas Hearne worked from the manuscript sources to produce this impressive edition, which has in addition to the Latin text an extensive editorial preface, a list of subscribers, appendices, four engraved plates (one folding), and detailed indexes. This is a large-paper copy on thick, good quality paper in good condition: the advertisement of 25 April 1722 before the start of the main text in the first volume states that the subscribers were expected to make an initial payment of a guinea and a half for a large paper copy, as opposed to a guinea for the 'regular' version. It is also in an attractive calf binding by Thomas Elliott of London, who was one of the main binders of the Harleian Library. The covers have a gilt border with a double fillet, a floral roll and an ornamental roll, both recorded in Nixon, Five Centuries of English Bookbinding, no. 60. The spines are divided into seven panels separated by raised bands: the second and third panels have red goatskin labels with respectively the title and the volume number in gilt letters, the other panels and the raised bands are also gold-tooled. There is a gilt floral roll on the board edges and a blind-tooled roll on the turn-ins. It has marbled endleaves and the edges of the leaves are red sprinkled. From the library at Fort Augustus. This is an appropriate addition to the collections, particularly as our existing two small paper sets of this edition are both imperfect.|
|Reference Sources||Howard Nixon & Mirjam Foot, History of Decorated Bookbinding in England, Oxford, 1992, p. 82-3
Howard Nixon, Five Centuries of English Bookbinding, London, 1978, p. 136 (no. 60)
Maggs Bros., catalogue 1075, no. 135; catalogue 1212 (no. 87)|
|Imprint||6 vols., Edinburgh: for William Coke|
|Date of Publication||1777|
|Notes||This is a fine set of an interesting edition of William Whiston's translation of the works of Josephus. Whiston's famous translation of the Jewish historian's writings had its first Scottish publication in Scotland in 1777. There seem to have been two issues; the Library already has a copy of the issue printed for Alexander Donaldson. (VV.1/2). ESTC N64882 records only one copy of the issue printed for the Leith bookseller William Coke, which is at the University of Texas. According to SBTI, William Coke had fomerly been Alexander Donaldson's clerk, and was a witness in the case of Donaldson v John Reid in 1767. All six volumes are bound in contemporary polished calf; each spine has raised bands between gilt rules and a red morocco label, gilt lettered. Each volume has the attractive armorial bookplate of Thomas Lowndes.|