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 775 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 631 to 645 of 775:

Ordered by date acquired
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AuthorDalhousie, James Andrew Broun Ramsay, Marquis of
TitleCopy of a minute by the Marquis of Dalhousie, dated February 28, 1856 reviewing his administration in India, from January 1848, to March 1856
ImprintPrinted by J. & H. Cox
Date of Publication1856
NotesThis 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.
Acquired on23/09/02
TitleEdinburgh Calotype Club Album, Volume 1
Date of Publicationc. 1848
NotesBy 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 http://www.nls.uk/pencilsoflight/
Acquired on06/09/02
TitleHoly Bible [with Psalms, 1726]
ImprintEdinburgh: b. John Baskett
Date of Publication1726
NotesThis 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 SourcesMaggs catalogue 1075 / 1212 Henry Davis Gift Sommerlad, Scottish 'wheel' and 'herring-bone' bindings in the Bodleian Library Nixon, Five centuries of English bookbinding
Acquired on28/08/02
AuthorDavies, C. Langdon (ed.)
TitleChina magazine. Christmas volume
ImprintHong Kong
Date of Publication1868
NotesThis 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 SourcesStephen White, John Thomson, 1985. Richard Ovenden, John Thomson, 1997.
Acquired on05/07/02
AuthorRushbrook, Alfred Henry
TitleCollection of photographs of the south side of Edinburgh
Date of Publication1929
NotesThese 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.
Acquired on02/07/02
TitleHoly Bible. With Psalms. Edinburgh, 1744.
Date of Publication1743 [1744]
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.
Acquired on19/06/02
AuthorFordun, John of
Date of Publication1722
NotesScotichronicon, 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 SourcesHoward 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)
Acquired on19/06/02
AuthorJosephus, Flavius
TitleGenuine Works
Imprint6 vols., Edinburgh: for William Coke
Date of Publication1777
NotesThis 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.
Acquired on12/06/02
TitleSelection of blocks from the collection of John A. Birkbeck
ImprintAlan Anderson and Alex M. Frizzell
Date of Publication1971
NotesThis is a most attractive selection of examples of printing from the ornamental blocks in the collection of the Scottish printer John A. Birkbeck. Many of Birkbeck's manuscripts and books are now held by the Library, including those in the Birkbeck special collection. This acquisition complements these existing holdings. It is also notable that this is printed by the Edinburgh-based Tragara Press, whose publications we have been collecting over the years. This work was printed by Alan Anderson and Alex M. Frizzell on 15 June 1971, in a run of 25 copies only. It is in fine condition, loose in blue wrappers as issued.
Reference SourcesAnderson, Alan. The Tragara Press 1954-1979. Edinburgh, 1979.
Acquired on31/05/02
TitleCopy of verses on the Tay Bridge Disaster
Date of Publication[1880]
NotesThe Tay Bridge Disaster of 28 December 1879, in which some 75 people died when the bridge collapsed as their train was crossing, inspired many outpourings of verse. The bookseller here felt impelled to state 'NOT BY McGONAGALL', as William McGonagall's poem beginning 'Beautiful railway bridge of the Silv'ry Tay!' is one of his most notorious compositions. This broadside poem perhaps scans better than McGonagall's efforts, but it is still essentially sentimental doggerel. Incredible though it may seem, the writer thought that this was an appropriate composition to be sung, and suggests that this be done to the air known as 'Rock me to sleep'. There is even a chorus: 'Down 'neath the waters, down in the deep, / With the train for their coffin, in the river they sleep, / The Tay was the grave that received their last breath - / Near 100 poor souls went from pleasure to Death.' If this seems in rather poor taste, it compares quite well with the lurid media reporting of modern-day tragedies.
Acquired on30/05/02
AuthorReid, Thomas
TitleInquiry into the Human Mind
Imprint3rd edition, Dublin
Date of Publication1779
NotesThis is a useful edition to the Library's holdings of Scottish Enlightenment texts. Thomas Reid (1710-1796) is known as one of the founders of the 'common sense' school of philosophy. As a minister and traditionalist, he argued that our senses give us valid and trustworthy information about a real existent world, in opposition to other, more sceptical philosophers like David Hume. The Inquiry, written while Reid was Regent at King's College, Aberdeen, and first published in 1764, is perhaps Reid's most important work. In it Reid discusses all the five senses, but pays most attention to the faculty of sight, which had been at the centre of so many philosophical and scientific debates involving Berkeley, Locke and Newton. This 'third edition' printed at Dublin is a smaller, presumably cheaper reprint of the third edition printed in London in 1769. This copy was clearly read, as there are occasional pencil markings, and the title-page shows that it had at least two owners, thus providing more evidence for the importance of Irish publishing in promoting the Scottish Enlightenment. Jessop did not see a copy while compiling his bibliography of Scottish philosophers.
Reference SourcesT. E. Jessop, Bibliography of David Hume, p. 164
Acquired on29/05/02
AuthorFawkes, Francis
TitleWorks of Anacreon
Date of Publication1760
NotesThe importance of James Scott in the history of Scottish bookbinding is very great, and through J.H.Loudon's book on Scott the National Library of Scotland is widely recognised as having the pre-eminent collection of Scott bindings. This addition to the collection is notable for the gilt roll-tool border to the covers, with a crisp and attractive floral design, which seems to be wholly unrecorded. The spine is heavily tooled with gilt compartments separated by bars and enclosing a design which is almost identical to that produced by the tool recorded by Loudon as pallet Ro2.7 (here, the diamond has a dotted outline, as in pallet Ro2.14). There is also a red morocco spine label and marbled endpapers. Although there is no binder's label, it seems overwhelmingly likely that this is a new Scott binding. The text, of which we already have a copy, is in good condition, with a manuscript note 'The gift of Doctor Brody 1776'. Most of Scott's binding seems to have been carried out in the 1770s, and it seems unlikely that he bound the book in the year it was printed, 1760. Presumably the generous Dr. Brody had the gift specially bound in 1776.
Reference SourcesJ.H.Loudon, James Scott and William Scott, Bookbinders, 1980.
Acquired on24/05/02
Author[Mercer, John]
TitleExact abridgement of all the public acts of assembly of Virginia.
Date of Publication1759
NotesThis collection of early acts passed by the assembly of colonial Virginia covers legislation from 1660 to 1758. Chronological tables give summary information, but the bulk of the text is taken up with an abridgement of the acts under alphabetical headings such as 'Deer', 'Duty on Slaves', 'Executions', 'Madeira Wine', 'Runaways' etc. A detailed index ensures that this is a highly practical reference work. Mercer had produced his first collection of acts in 1737, which was printed in Williamsburg, Virginia. Presumably this edition was printed in Glasgow in order to give Scottish traders information about the community with which they were making commercial transactions. However, most copies seem to have found their way to North America, with the result that this is a rare book in the British Isles; no copy is found in the Advocates' Library.
Acquired on21/05/02
AuthorKorb, Johann Georg.
TitleDiarium itineris in Moscoviam.
ImprintVienna: Leopold Voigt
Date of Publication[1700]
NotesAn account of the Austrian diplomatic mission to Russia in 1698 to discuss an alliance against the Turkish Empire does not sound particularly thrilling, but this unexpectedly shocking book seems to have caused something of a diplomatic incident. While describing the progress of the embassy, Korb, the secretary to the embassy, described at length the turmoil of Russian internal politics. In the summer of 1698, the Tsar, Peter the Great, was on his famous incognito tour of western Europe, when the streltsy, the musketeer troops based in Moscow, rose up in rebellion. Curiously, the rebels were defeated by a Scottish general, Patrick Gordon. Gordon, born in 1635 at Auchleuchries in Aberdeenshire, had served in Russia since the 1660s, and rose to great eminence under Peter. As a Catholic, he was greatly distrusted by some in the Russian establishment (just as he would have been in Britain), but the Tsar's liking for Gordon extended so far that he was actually permitted to erect a stone-built Roman Catholic church in Moscow, in which Gordon was eventually buried. Gordon is mentioned repeatedly in this text, and some of the plates depict Gordon's fortifications at the town of Azov. Peter hastily returned to Russia at the news of the rebellion, and proceeded to carry out a ferocious retaliatory campaign involving torture, mass executions and the punishment of the rebels' wives and children. Korb records all this in gruesome detail, and the large plates with which this volume is illustrated depict Moscow festooned with gallows, people being burned and buried alive, and rows of prisoners waiting to be beheaded. All in all, this was not a book conducive to better Austro-Russian relations, and it seems that the Austrian government had it suppressed. This is consequently a scarce book, and this is an excellent copy, from the library and bearing the bookplate of Archibald, 5th earl of Rosebery, one of the greatest early benefactors of the National Library of Scotland.
Reference SourcesGordon, Patrick. Passages from the Diary. Aberdeen, 1859. MacDonnell transl.. Diary of an Austrian secretary of legation at the court of Czar Peter the Great. London, 1863.
Acquired on13/05/02
AuthorGibb, J. Taylor.
TitleLand of Burns: Mauchline town and district.
Date of Publication[1911]
NotesThis is a rare Mauchline-ware book signed by the author J. Taylor Gibb. The binding is 'made of wood from the old United Presbyterian Church, Mauchline' which was built in 1793 and demolished in 1884. Mauchline was one of a number of Ayrshire towns where during the nineteenth century, snuff boxes, tea-caddies, napkin rings and cigar cases were made of wood - sycamore or oak. Because of the dominant position of W. and A. Smith in Mauchline in the trade, these wooden objects were referred to as Mauchline ware. The beautifully-crafted sold in vast quantities not only in Britain but throughout Europe and the British Empire until the 1930s. Robert Burns's association with the town - he lived there with Jean Armour and composed some of his most famous poems locally - meant that many objects were decorated with portraits of the poet. From the 1860s photographs were applied as a decoration to many items of Mauchline ware. It is possible that this binding was made at the Caledonian Box Works founded in Lanark in 1866 by Alexander Brown a keen photographer and an acquaintance of George Washington Wilson.
Reference SourcesBaker, John. Mauchline ware and associated Scottish souvenir ware. (Shire Album 140) 1985. HP2.85.3149
Acquired on08/05/02
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