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 763 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Important Acquisitions 631 to 645 of 763:
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|Title||Exact abridgement of all the public acts of assembly of Virginia.|
|Date of Publication||1759|
|Notes||This 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.|
|Author||Korb, Johann Georg.|
|Title||Diarium itineris in Moscoviam.|
|Imprint||Vienna: Leopold Voigt|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||An 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 Sources||Gordon, 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.|
|Author||Gibb, J. Taylor.|
|Title||Land of Burns: Mauchline town and district.|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||This 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 Sources||Baker, John. Mauchline ware and associated Scottish souvenir ware. (Shire Album 140) 1985. HP2.85.3149|
|Title||Negotiations of Sir Thomas Roe, in his embassy to the Ottoman Porte, from the year 1621 to 1628 inclusive|
|Imprint||Printed by Samuel Richardson at the expence of the Society for the Encouragement of Learning|
|Date of Publication||1740|
|Notes||This is the diplomatic correspondence of Thomas Roe (1581?-1644) during the time that he was ambassador to the Ottoman Porte between the years 1621 and 1628. Roe was one of the most distinguished and successful diplomats of his day as well as being an accomplished scholar and a patron of learning. He was knighted in 1605 and was made an MP for Tamworth in 1614 and later for Cirencester in 1621.
His permanent reputation was mainly secured by the success that attended his embassy in 1615 - 1618 to the court at Agra of the Great Mogul, JahangIr, the principal object of the mission being to obtain protection for an English factory at Surat. Upon becoming ambassador to the Porte in 1621 he distinguished himself with further successes. He obtained an extension of the privileges of the English merchants, concluded a treaty with Algiers in 1624, by which he secured the liberation of several hundred English captives, and gained the support, by an English subsidy, of the Transylvanian Prince Bethien Gabor for the European Protestant alliance and the cause of the Palatinate.
The volume is bound in plain leather covers with an elaborately decorated spine featuring gilt floral patterns and gilt depictions of small garden animals such as bees, flies, spiders, snails and worms. Although the preface indicates that this is the first volume of the letters and negotiations of Sir Thomas Roe, no more volumes were actually published. An armorial bookplate on the verso of the t.p. indicates that it belonged to the Right Honourable Charles Viscount Bruce of Ampthill who was the son and heir of Thomas Earl of Ailesbury (1655? - 1741).|
|Reference Sources||ESTC T33247|
|Imprint||Glasgow, David Bryce|
|Date of Publication||ca. 1900|
|Notes||This is a miniature copy of The Koran, in Arabic, published by David Bryce of Glasgow around the turn of the 19th century. The book measures 19 x 27 mm. and is accompanied by a metal locket with an inset magnifying glass to help facilitate reading the tiny script. The edges of the book are gilt and it is bound in red morocco with a gilt pattern very reminiscent of that which was used on Bryce's miniature version of the Bible published in 1896. According to Louis W. Bondy's 'Miniature Books: their History from the Beginnings to the Present Day', many copies of Bryce's Koran were issued to during World War I to Muslim soldiers fighting with allied troops.|
|Reference Sources||Bondy, Louis W. Miniature books, their history from the beginnings to the present day (London: Sheppard Press, 1981) pp. 111-112.|
|Author||Scott, Walter, Sir.|
|Title||Character of Lord Byron|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||Sir Walter Scott's Character of Lord Byron is bound with William Parry's Last days of Lord Byron with His Lordship's Opinions on Various Subjects Particularly on the State and Prospects of Greece. Scott's tribute to Byron first appeared in the May 19, 1824 issue of the 'Edinburgh Weekly Journal' and was later reprinted in 'The Pamphleteer', vol. 24, 1824.
This copy of the Character of Lord Byron does not incorporate the same typeface, or follow the same layout as the edition of Scott's article published in the 'The Pamphleteer.' No bibliographic record for this copy can be found in NSTC, RLIN, CURL, or the catalogues of the British Library, Library of Congress, Harvard, Yale, Oxford, Cambridge or the University of Edinburgh. Neither does it appear in William B. Todd's Sir Walter Scott : a bibliographical history, 1796-1832.
A footnote on p. 197, vol. VII, in John Gibson Lockhart's Life of Sir Walter Scott (Edinburgh: Constable, 1902) presents some relevant background information. According to a recollection in 1839 by Andrew Shortrede, an apprentice in the Edinburgh printing trade in 1824: 'Sir Walter came down from the Court of Session to the printing-office the day the intelligence of Byron's death reached Edinburgh and there dictated to James Ballantyne the article which appeared in the Weekly Journal. I think it was inserted without correction, or revisal, except by Ballantyne. From these circumstances, I with others imagined James had himself produced it in some moment of inspiration; but when I afterwards told him how I had been misled, he detailed suo more the full, true, and particular history of the article. Separate copies, I remember, were thrown off for some of Byron's friends.'
No publication details can be found anywhere on this copy of Scott's article. As Shortrede's recollection suggests, this is most probably one of the very few surviving separate copies, which James Ballantyne and Company had printed for the friends of Byron.|
|Reference Sources||Not in NSTC, RLIN or CURL|
|Date of Publication||1580-1581|
|Notes||This is a pleasing volume of three Duns Scotus works, bound in vellum and with gauffered floral designs on all edges. The works are Quaestiones Quolibetales, Disputationes Collationales, and Syllabus generalis (this last is a concordance to the Scripti Oxoniensis super Sententias). All are edited by Salvatore Bartolucio of Assisi, and published in Venice in 1580-1581. These editions seem to be quite rare; the third item is not found in the Bibliothèque Nationale or Adams. The printer 'Haeredes Melchioris Sessae' has a rather striking device of a cat carrying a mouse in its jaws. The only indication of provenance is the manuscript note on the first title-page, 'Cornelio Francescucci'. John Duns Scotus, the Franciscan theologian, Scholastic philosopher and commentator, is believed to have been born in about 1265-1270. His name is not conclusive proof that he was born in Scotland. Some have argued that he came from Ireland, and he certainly taught in England, at Oxford. On the basis of tradition, the Library treats him as a Scottish writer.|
|Title||Bicentenary edition of Pitman's extra illustrated Boswell's Johnson|
|Imprint||Isaac Pitman & Sons|
|Date of Publication||1909|
|Notes||This edition of Boswell's Johnson was published in twenty weekly instalments beginning on Saturday September 18, 1909 and finishing on Saturday January 29th, 1910. The text is supplemented by the inclusion of over 560 illustrations offering information on people, places, documents and events associated with the narrative. The National Library's copy of this edition is notable for two reasons. Firstly, all twenty of the individually published parts are accounted for. Secondly, all of the front and back paper wrappers are present and in excellent condition.|
|Title||Remarks upon an essay on government by James Mill|
|Imprint||London: James Ridgway|
|Date of Publication||1827|
|Notes||The Scottish Utilitarian philosopher James Mill, who was father of John Stuart Mill, was an important writer on politics and economics in his own right. His article in the Encyclopaedia Britannica on government, which was strongly influenced by the ideas of Jeremy Bentham, provoked this critical response from the young writer Leveson Smith. Smith dislikes Mill's style, ideas and beliefs, and is strongly hostile to democratisation; he is also critical of David Hume. Smith's essay was published posthumously in this volume, edited by his mother. Also included are notes on the contemporary debates over Catholic emancipation (Smith was in favour) and a selection of poems. There is an attractive portrait of Smith included. The book is bound in red cloth and half-morocco, with marbled endpapers. There is a bookplate of Sidney Edward Bouverie Bouverie-Pusey. On the title-page is the manuscript note 'With Mr Vernon Smith's compliments'.|
|Reference Sources||DNB, Encyclopaedia Britannica|
|Title||Davington Library catalogue of books, 1905|
|Date of Publication||1905|
|Notes||A rare catalogue from the library in the hamlet of Davington, between Ettrick and Eskdalemuir, Dumfriesshire, which indicates the spread of the community library in rural Scotland. It is not known when exactly this library was established - the entry in the New Statistical Account of Scotland (1845) written by Rev. William Brown mentions the growing popularity of a library lately established in Eskdalemuir parish and the 'moderate' terms of admission. However a copy of The Christian Monitor was presented to 'Eskdalemuir Library by the Rev. William Brown' in January 1831, which may indicate that a library was in the parish from the 1830s or earlier. Until then 'those fond of reading were subscribers to Westerkirk parish library', which was first established in 1792. Three years later Thomas Telford, the distinguished local and famous engineer had endowed this library and subequently that at Langholm with £1000 each. In 1868 a gift of 104 volumes was made to Davington Library by Westerkirk Parish Library. It is clear that in Eskadale there was a considerable demand for the printed word. There was a Free Church and a school in Davington , so it is possible that the library may have been funded by the church in some way.
This is the second printed catalogue of Davington library – the first, listing 755 items, dates from 1858. A total of 332 books are listed in alphabetical order by title with the press numbers and shelf letters. The stock ranged from popular periodicals such as Chambers's Journal, Good Words, Leisure Hour and Sunday at home to novels like Adam Bede, Vanity Fair, Barnaby Rudge, and The Heart of Midlothian, intriguing titles such as Abominations of modern society, How to be happy though married, Sports that kill as well as biographical and historical works.
It appears that the library at Davington (housed in the school) was in existence until c.1935; manuscript additions to the 1858 catalogue (now at Westerkirk) end with vol. 40 of the Border magazine (1935). When the school closed, possibly during the 1950s, many of the books came into the possession of Westerkirk Parish Library, others were dispersed throughout the parish and to the book trade. The remainder, c.100 volumes, were purchased by Mr. Cutteridge, Billholm, Westerkirk for £25 and the money was used to buy an encyclopedia of Eskdalemuir School.|
|Reference Sources||Shirley, G.W. Dumfriesshire libraries. 1933. 5.478
Kaufman, Paul. 'The rise of community libraries in Scotland' in Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, vol. 59, 1965. HP1.201.1250
Crawford, John C. 'The rural community library in Scotland' in Library review, vol. 24, no.6, summer 1974. Y.183|
|Author||Clarendon, Edward Hyde, Earl of|
|Title||Miscellaneous works of the right honourable Edward Earl of Clarendon|
|Date of Publication||1751|
|Notes||This is a superb copy of the second edition of Clarendon's miscellaneous works from the library of Sir James Colquhoun of Luss (1741-1805). Although the book was printed in 1751, it was probably bound some decades later. The binding of tree calf is particularly striking and is in pristine condition with yellow stained edges and blind-tooled turn-in edges. Among booksellers the name Colquhoun has now become a byword for books beautifully bound, in 'mint' condition.
The bookplate of the second baronet of Luss, Sir James Colquhoun is on the upper pastedown, with a library shelfmark in ink. He was the sheriff-depute of Dumbartonshire and was one of the principal clerks of session. Little is known of his book collecting activities, though he was a friend and correspondent of Horace Walpole and a connoisseur and collector of paintings, engravings, ancient coins and china. The book was part of the library at Rossdhu until 1984, when it was sold as part of a lot (65 -with Clarendon's History of the rebellion and Civil Wars, 1732) at Christie's and Edmiston's sale. It is a significant addition to the library's collection of now some twenty volumes from this Scottish country house library.
Although the book is described as the 'second edition' on the title page, it is in fact the first edition of this work reissued from the original sheets of 1727 (which were also reissued in 1747), then titled A collection of several tracts. This edition is not in itself rare (31 libraries listed on ESTC), but there are no other copies of this edition recorded in Scotland. Edward Hyde, the first Earl of Clarendon (1609-1674) served as an adviser to Charles I and was until 1667 Charles II's chief minister. He is best remembered today for his monumental History of the rebellion (1702-1704), in which he consistently expressed his opposition to any compromise with the Scottish factions.|
|Reference Sources||Christie's & Edmiston, Glasgow, sale catalogue 22 March 1984: Important books from the library of Sir Ivar Colquhoun of Luss ... removed from Rossdhu. AZA.60d
Rossdhu: an illustrated guide to the home of the chiefs of the Clan Colquhoun since 12th century. HP3.92.8|
|Date of Publication||c. 1837|
|Notes||This is a rare and unrecorded edition of the ever-popular Aesop's fables. It was published in Edinburgh by William Darling who is recorded in Gray's annual directory as having an address on South Bridge in 1837. Darling published a number of children's books in a similar format of which the NLS holds four titles. A bookseller and printer of the same name was working at various addresses in Edinburgh between 1765 and 1796 but the illustrative style and typographic layout suggest a later date. The cover is printed on yellow paper with a very fine copper engraving of a family looking out of a window at an old man (presumably Aesop) writing surrounded by a group of animals. The book is composed of 12 fables, each one superbly illustrated with a half page wood-engraving with the text beneath.|
|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||Photographs of excavations at the Roman fort of Castlecary.|
|Date of Publication||1902|
|Notes||This is a well-preserved album of 16 photographs of excavations along part of the Antonine Wall at Castlecary in Stirlingshire. John Annan (1862-1947) was the older son of Thomas Annan (1829-1887) and a member of the family firm of photographers. John specialized in architectural photography and was known for his photographs of Glasgow slums. These photographs were taken during the excavation of Castlecary fort between March and November 1902. It appears that Annan took these photographs for the article published in volume 37 of the Proceedings of the Scottish Society of Antiquaries (1902-1903).
This album was owned by the Glasgow Archaeological Society, who conducted excavations along the Antonine Wall from 1890. The fort at Castlecary was one of only two defences (from a total of 15), along the 37 mile-long wall, enclosed by stone walls as distinct from ramparts of stone or clay. The archaeological evidence suggests it was built while Agricola was governor between 77 and 84 A.D., prior to the construction of the wall during the middle of the second century. The earliest notice of the fort is probably in an anonymous letter of 1697 describing an excursion to the west of Edinburgh. Castlecary fort was plundered for stone during the construction of the Forth-Clyde Canal in 1770 and was dissected by the Edinburgh-Glasgow railway around 1840. The outer boundary has been further damaged by the main Glasgow to Stirling road (A80).|
|Reference Sources||Robertson, Anne. The Antonine Wall. (Glasgow: Glasgow Archaeological Society, 1990) HP2.90.7857
Hanson, William S. and Maxwell, Gordon S. Rome's north west frontier: the Antonine Wall. (Edinburgh: Edinburgh Press, 1983) H3.83.2259
Christison, D., Buchanan, M. and Anderson, J. 'Excavation of Castlecary fort on the Antonine vallum' in Proceedings of the Scottish Society of Antiquaries 37 (1902-1903), p. 271-346. SCS.SASP.37|
|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|