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 727 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 631 to 645 of 727:

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AuthorTaylor, Elizabeth
TitleThe lady's, housewife's, and cookmaid's assistant: or, the art of cookery, explained and adapted to the meanest capacity
ImprintBerwick: Printed and sold by R. Taylor
Date of Publication1778
LanguageEnglish
NotesElizabeth, née Nealson, was a Berwick resident who married the printer and bookbinder Robert Taylor. She drew extensively on Hannah Glasse's Art of Cookery made plain and simple (London, 1747), adapting it for the tastes of Northumberland and southern Scotland. There are many more recipes for fish than in Glasse, reflecting Berwick's status as a fishing port. Taylor also tells her readers how to boil an egg, which Glasse did not, perhaps assuming that her metropolitan audience would already be familiar with this technique. (Taylor, p. 185) There are a number of recipes for using birds of the upland moors and wetlands, such as dotterels and ruffs. As is common with early cookery books, there are a number of interesting stains suggesting that it was put to practical use. For example, on p. 241 the section on how 'To preserve Apricots' has some colourful smears that may come from the fruit. This second edition is very rare and not recorded in the English Short Title Catalogue. There is a copy at the Brotherton Library in Leeds University. Although there are few changes from the first edition, it is a useful acquisition showing how the work was a commercial success. There was also a 1795 edition. With this copy we have purchased a facsimile of the 1769 edition of the Art of Cookery published by the Berwick History Society in 2002, with a useful introduction by David Brenchley about Elizabeth Taylor.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2665
Reference SourcesMaclean, Virginia. A short-title catalogue of household and cookery books published in the English tongue 1701-1800, London: 1981, p. 140.
Acquired on14/06/07
TitleThe last speech, confession and dying declaration of Robert Watt, wine merchant in Edinburgh ...; A full true and particular account of the most dreadful apparition. Of Robert Watt wine-merchant in Edinr, who appeared to James Macdonald plaisterer in Lieth-walk [sic] ...
ImprintEdinburgh
Date of Publication1794
LanguageEnglish
NotesThese broadsides relate to Robert Watt who was executed in Edinburgh in October 1794 for high treason. Watt was a local wine merchant who, along with his associate David Downie (later reprieved), was tried for being a member of a seditious organisation - The Friends of the People - and for forming 'a distinct and deliberate plan to overturn the existing government of the country'. This organisation, inspired in part by recent events in France, had been formed in London in 1792 to campaign for parliamentary reform. Watt, Downie and their fellow conspirators had put together quite detailed plans to take over public offices, storm Edinburgh Castle and seize the judiciary. The plotters also planned to send an address to King George III, commanding him to put an end to the war with France. Over 40 pikes had been made, though none were distributed. These alarming projects were discussed by seven obscure individuals in Edinburgh of whom Watt, acting as a spy, was the leader, and David Downie, a mechanic, the treasurer. Two of the seven soon got 'cold feet' and four became witnesses for the crown. One broadside contains Watt's last speech. Like many such works, it is unlikely to have been written by the criminal himself. It follows the usual pattern of pious expressions of repentance and appeals for forgiveness. Watt describes himself as 'uncommonly wicked as a boy', stating that he continued on the road to perdition when he went to London to attend plays and 'other places of virtuous amusement'. At the end of the work the publisher A. Robertson advertises that he will be publishing an account of the trial of Watt for three pence. The second work, of which no other copy has been traced, is somewhat more intriguing. James MacDonald, a plasterer, was coming back from Leith to Edinburgh when he encountered a ghostly figure with his head under his arm and accompanied by a black dog. This apparently was Watt. The incident took place just a few weeks after his execution. Watt is also supposed to have appeared to his co-conspirator David Downie.
ShelfmarkS.Sh.S.1.205.08; S.Sh.S.1.205.09
Reference SourcesYoung, Alex F. The encyclopaedia of Scottish executions 1750 to 1963. (1998)
Acquired on05/09/05
Title[The last words of James, El. Of Derwentwater]
Imprint[Sl.l, s.n.]
Date of Publication[1716]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a remarkable broadside (68 x 50 cm) probably produced shortly after the execution in 1716 of the Jacobite leaders. It is engraved throughout and consists of the oval portraits of eight of the leaders and the last words of six of them. The British Museum Catalogue of Prints and Drawings lists a much smaller print (without any text) depicting 7 oval portraits - James III in the centre surrounded by Kenmure, Bruce, Collingwood, Paul, Hall and Gascoigne. One can only speculate on who produced this grand work and why. Presumably it was to keep alive the memory of the Jacobite leaders among their supporters in Scotland or abroad. It is however, likely that the proceeds from the sale of such a print were devoted to the relief of the executed mens' families. After the 'Old Pretender' scuttled back to France in early February 1716, the rebellion collapsed. Most of the Jacobite noblemen made their way to the continent and of those noblemen condemned to death, only Derwentwater and Kenmure actually paid the penalty. Both had been captured in the course of the skirmish at Preston. The original sentence involved them being hanged but before they died they were to be disembowelled (with the bowels burned before their faces) then beheaded and quartered. But because of their social status a mere beheading, which took place on Tower Hill in February 1716, sufficed. The fact that there was considerable sympathy, though not active support, for the Jacobite cause in Scotland, meant that the rebels were dealt with relatively leniently with many being 'allowed' to escape. The only other known copy is held by the Drambuie Liqueur Company, Edinburgh.
ShelfmarkRB.case.1(15)
Reference SourcesKemp, Hilary. Jacobite rebellion. (London, 1975) H3.76.379 Sharp, Richard. The engraved record of the Jacobite movement. Scolar Press, 1996. H4.97.202
Acquired on12/05/03
AuthorBarbour, John, d.1395
TitleThe life and acts of the most victorious conquerour Robert Bruce King of Scotland.
ImprintEdinburgh: Gedeon Lithgow
Date of Publication1648
LanguageEnglish
NotesJohn Barbour, the fourteenth century poet, churchman and scholar wrote this famous poem probably during the 1370s. In 1377 King Robert II awarded Barbour the princely sum of £10 for writing this stirring and patriotic work. Only two intact copies of the poem on Robert the Bruce are known.Barbour was probably born in Aberdeen and spent most of his life there. He was Archdeacon of Aberdeen from 1357 until his death in 1395. He did spend some time outside of Scotland - studying in Oxford and Paris. In 1372 he was appointed Clerk of Audit in the household of Robert II.The work was first printed by Robert Lekprevik in Edinburgh in 1571. This edition was printed by Gedeon (or Gideon) Lithgow who was appointed printer to Edinburgh University in 1648 in succession to J. Lindesay.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2570
Reference SourcesAldis 1307, Wing B712
Acquired on04/04/05
AuthorJebb, Samuel
TitleThe life of Robert Earl of Leicester, the favourite of Queen Elizabeth: drawn from original writers and records
ImprintLondon: Woodman and Lyon
Date of Publication1727
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis book comes from the library of Gordon Castle, home of the Dukes of Gordon, and contains that library's booklabel, shelf label and armorial bookplate. However originally it belonged to one particular member of the Gordon family, as revealed by a flyleaf inscription: 'Lord Lewis Gordon his Book given to him by his Mamma Janry 17th 1733'. Lord Lewis Gordon (c.1725-54) would be one of Bonnie Prince Charlie's members of council in 1745, and end his life in exile in France. This life of a prominent Elizabethan courtier at first glance does not seem a likely present for the Jacobite Henrietta Gordon to give to her 8-year-old fatherless son, and one wonders if he in fact ever read the book, or if it made its way into the family library because it failed to hold his interest.
ShelfmarkAB.2.209.09
Reference SourcesOxford DNB
Acquired on21/05/09
AuthorMackenzie, Henry.
TitleThe life of William Annesly.
ImprintBennington, Vermont: Anthony Haswell
Date of Publication1796
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a very rare printing (ESTC records one other copy in the American Antiquarian Society) of a work compiled from parts of Scottish author Henry Mackenzie's novel "The man of the world". Mackenzie's second novel was first published in 1773, parts of it dealing with the character William Annesly are set in North America. Annesly is a victim of the machinations of the anti-hero of the novel, Sindall, and, after being found guilty of robbery, finds himself sentenced to transportation to the West Indies. Once there, after the death of his master, he is enlisted in the army and sent to North America. Annesly's adventures continue as he escapes from the army and lives with the Cherokees. This particular printing is done on blue paper by the second printer to operate a press in Vermont, English-born Anthony Haswell (1756-1816).
ShelfmarkRB.s.2835
Acquired on16/12/11
AuthorStevenson, Robert Louis
TitleThe misadventures of John Nicholson
ImprintNew York: George Munro
Date of Publication1887
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is the first edition, first issue of a Christmas story written by Stevenson, which he began writing in November 1885 but quickly put aside, not starting work on it again until December of the following year. In a letter to his friend Sidney Colvin he complained that he was writing 'a damn tale to order & I don't love it, but some of it is passable in its mouldy way', and would later refer to it in a letter to Henry James as 'a silly Xmas story'. The story was published in "Cassell's Christmas Annual" in December 1887, and no sooner had it appeared in print than this pirate edition was produced by 'dime novel' publisher George Munro of New York. Munro had already produced a pirated version of "Jekyll and Hyde" in 1886 for the US market in his 'Seaside Library (Pocket Edition)' series of cheap, 25-cent, paperbacks, and he now printed Stevenson's story as part of the same series. Such was Stevenson's popularity on both sides of the Atlantic that even his silly Xmas stories could sell. The work was, however, quickly forgotten and was nearly overlooked for the Edinburgh Edition of Stevenson's works, the first collected edition, which was printed between 1894 and 1898.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2744
Reference SourcesR.G. Swearingen "The prose writings of Robert Louis Stevenson" (London, 1980)
Acquired on19/01/09
AuthorTodd, John.
TitleThe mountain cottage.
ImprintPittsfield, Mass. : E.P. Little
Date of Publication1844
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis short work is a rare and virtually unknown American children's story about a Scottish immigrant, James Orwell, which perpetuates stereotypes of Scottish greed and melancholy. The anti-hero had been in the U.S. for over 50 years, losing his livelihood when his shop was burnt down during the revolutionary wars. He retreated from society to this mountain cottage and cut a forlorn and repulsive figure. There is a moral and uplifting aspect to the tale relating to Orwell's children. The daughter dies after a long illness while the son returns in the manner of the prodigal son. The author, John Todd (1800-1873) was an American Congregationalist who wrote a number of books for children. Only three copies of this work are recorded, all in North America.
ShelfmarkAB.1.209.019
Acquired on20/04/09
AuthorGerrond, John
TitleThe new poetical works of John Gerrond, the Galloway poet.
ImprintDumfries: Printed for the author
Date of Publication1818
LanguageEnglish
NotesJohn Gerrond was born near Gateside in Galloway in 1765. In 1776 his family moved to what is now Castle Douglas. He eventually trained as a blacksmith under his father and in 1783 he opened a smithy at Clarebrand, Galloway. He spent some time travelling through the United States and after returning from America, he set up as a grocer and spirit merchant in Castle Douglas, displaying the sign, 'John Gerrond, from Boston.' In 1802, he published the first edition of his poems entitled: 'Poems on Several Occasions'. A second edition was issued in 1808; and a third, for which he obtained fourteen hundred subscribers, was printed in 1811. This 1818 edition is extremely rare with the only other extant copy being held in the collection of the Broughton House Library in Kirkcudbright. John Mactaggart (1791-1830), author of 'The Scottish Gallovidian Encyclopedia' did not hold John Gerrond in high regard. He states that Gerrond "published at various times stuff he termed poems; shameless trash ..." However, he goes on to state that "if he had had ten times more industry than what he has, he would have wrote some tolerable verses, as his madness is ratherly that of a poet's."
ShelfmarkAP.1.208.012
Acquired on15/02/08
AuthorDouglas, Gavin
TitleThe palis of honour
ImprintLondon: William Copland
Date of Publication[1553]
LanguageMiddle Scots
NotesThis is a rare copy of the earliest known edition of one of Gavin Douglas's (1474-1522) best known works. The first Edinburgh edition was published in 1579. Other Scottish editions may have been printed prior to 1543, when Florence Wilson imitated the 'Palice of Honour' in his 'De Tranquillitate Animi', but they cannot now be traced. An article in the Transactions of the Edinburgh Bibliographical Society, vol.III, part I, 1948-9, describes fragments of an Edinburgh edition printed prior to 1540 by Thomas Davidson (Aldis 20) which is held in Edinburgh University Library. This copy lacks the final two gatherings and contains contemporary scribbles, though not annotations. 'The palis (or palice) of honour' which was written in 1501 was dedicated by the poet, Gavin Douglas to James IV. It is his earliest known work and presents a mirror for princes, spelling out princely duties and ideals. This poem is very much in the European tradition of courtly allegory and reflects Douglas's knowledge of Latin and Italian poetry and his preoccupations with the themes of love, poetry and honour. It also shows influences of Chaucer and Langland. Around this time Douglas became Provost of the Collegiate Church of St. Giles in Edinburgh. It is not improbable that Douglas's address to James IV at the end of this poem induced the latter to appoint him to St. Giles. He held this position until 1515 when he became Bishop of Dunkeld. Douglas is best known for his translation of the Aeneid, also into Scots, which is still praised as an excellent work which shows the potential of the Scots language as a literary medium.
ShelfmarkRB.m.517
Reference SourcesMainstream companion to Scottish literature; DNB
Acquired on25/08/04
AuthorLa Baume le Blanc, Louise Francoise de, Duchesse de la Valliere.
TitleThe penitent lady, or reflections on the mercy of God. The third edition, corrected.
ImprintLondon: printed for H. N. and sold by W. Davis,
Date of Publication1703
LanguageEnglish
NotesThe author of this work, Louise Francoise de la Baume le Blanc, Duchesse de la Valliere (1644-1710), was a French noblewoman who made her debut at court in 1661. A woman of considerable charm and learning, Madame de la Valliere was soon the object of King Louis XIV's affection. She became his mistress, bearing him four children. However, by 1670 she had lost her places as Louis' principal mistress, and, after recovering from a serious illness and suffering a crisis of conscience, she decided to turn to God and renounce her former sinful existence. In 1671 she wrote a theological work "Reflexions sur la misericorde de Dieu [Reflections on the mercy of God]" from the perspective of a repentant sinner who had experienced the pleasures and hypocrisies of court life and found them to be unsatisfactory. In 1674 she entered a Carmelite convent in Paris and became a nun, remaining there for the rest of her life. "The penitent lady" an English version of "Reflexions sur la misericorde de Dieu", translated by a Church of England clergyman Lewis Atterbury, was first published in 1684. This third edition from 1703 is rare; only two other copies are recorded in ESTC. Moreover, this particular copy also has an interesting provenance. On the front free endpaper there is an inscription by a former owner, Maurice Paterson (1836-1917), the rector of Moray House (then a Free Church of Scotland teacher training college). Paterson notes that the book had once belonged to Mrs Scott, the mother of Sir Walter Scott, and had passed into his hands via a step-cousin who had formerly lived with his aunt Esther, the latter having been a companion of Mrs Scott. The role Esther Paterson played in the Scott family is revealed in Sir Herbert Grierson's edition of Sir Walter Scott's letters. 'Miss Paterson' nursed Scott's older brother John through his final illness and then became his mother's companion for the final years of her life. During, or shortly after, her time spent looking after Anne Scott (d. 1819), Esther Paterson presumably received this book as a token of gratitude for her work; it is tempting to think that she may have read aloud from it to the dying old lady who was preparing to meet her maker. Walter Scott was certainly grateful to Esther Paterson, describing her a person of 'uncommon good sense and civility', who was of 'inestimable comfort' to his dear mother. In 1826 he considered employing her to look after his wife, who was by then seriously ill, writing that, 'she is familarly know[n] to all of us and that sort of person who can take charge of keys or read aloud or make herself an assistant in many ways[,] uncommonly well bred besides[,] in short a useful and agreeable inmate".
ShelfmarkAB.1.211.014
Reference SourcesThe letters of Sir Walter Scott edited by H.J.C. Grierson, London, 1932-37. vols 6,7 and 9.
Acquired on15/01/11
Author[Anon]
TitleThe Poetical Works of the inimitable Don Carlos, commonly called the Young Chevalier.
ImprintLondon: J. Oldcastle,
Date of Publication1745
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is the first edition of a very rare and unusual attack on Bonnie Prince Charlie, which involved printing and attributing to him two salacious and immoral French poems. According to the anonymous author/editor of the introduction, the purpose of the publication was to show how very odious "our bold adventurer's character" must appear "in the eyes of all who have the least regard for religion and morality". The author goes on to express that the wish that the publication "will have a good effect, not only by preventing unthinking men from joining the Pretender's son, but likewise by opening the eyes of those deluded wretches who have already taken up arms in his cause". The dating of the introduction, 20 October 1745, shows that the publication was conceived at the height of the panic about the Jacobite uprising in Scotland. Charles's army had taken Edinburgh in September; he was now holding court at Holyrood and waiting for reinforcements for his expedition to England, which began at the end of the month. Charles was counting on receiving support from Jacobites in England and this pamphlet was an attempt to deter would be recruits to his cause. The two poems printed here, 'L' Ode Priapique' and 'Épitre à Uranie', are in fact not by Charles, as the anonymous author/editor must have known. The former is a famous piece of erotica by the French dramatist Alexis Piron (1689-1773), written in c. 1710, and which had circulated widely in manuscript. The version printed here is in 14 stanzas (other printings are in 17 or in an expurgated 11) and varies substantially from the more widely-known versions of the text. The latter poem is actually 'Le pour et le contre', an anti-religious poem by Voltaire probably written in 1722, first printed under a false "Londres" imprint in 1738 - this is its first true English printing. The author/editor concludes in a final paragraph that "as there is no living in this Protestant kingdom with such a religion and such morals as his, he had even best return from whence he came - ". ESTC records only two other copies of this work, both of them are in England.
ShelfmarkRB.m.691
Acquired on19/09/09
TitleThe Poster: an illustrated monthly chronicle
ImprintLondon [various printers]
Date of Publication1898-1900
LanguageEnglish
NotesThe five volumes of this rare periodical contain numerous attractive plates of contemporary posters, some in colour. There are articles relating to artists and printers, reviews of exhibitions and movements in fashion, design and collecting. Writing on advertisements and other forms of ephemera is also included. Posters have traditionally been neglected in library collections: they are hard to store and conserve, inconvenient to issue to readers and difficult to catalogue using systems designed for books. With the advent of digitisation, however, poster collections are starting to become accessible in new ways. This is an important periodical to acquire, as it gives extensive information about the art of the poster during some of its golden years. Hopefully it will be useful to those researching the poster and the bibliography of related arts.
ShelfmarkDJ.s.906
Acquired on02/03/05
Author[Anon]
TitleThe puzzling cap: a choice collection of riddles
ImprintGlasgow : J. & M. Robertson
Date of Publication1784
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an unrecorded early Scottish childrens book in pocket-size format with original wrappers. Childrens books of this format and age are particularly rare. It consists of 18 riddles, with woodcut vignettes illustrating each one, which are as follows: The Miser, A Dark Lanthorn, Merry Andrew, A Ship, A Bear, A Parrot, A Cock, Robin Red Breast, A Cuckow, A Tree, A Wind-Mill, A Lark, A Doll, A Cuckold, Charity, Solomon's Temple, A Monkey, A Whale, A Watch. These were presumably popular verses of the time although the modern reader may find the inclusion of a riddle about a cuckold in a children's book to be curious to say the least. Various 18th-century printings of works entitled the "Puzzling cap", sometimes attributed to 'Billy Wiseman', survive; most of them being American imprints. NLS and UCLA have imperfect copies of 1786 printing of this work by Robertson of Glasgow; there is also a much longer version of the "Puzzling cap" printed by Newbery of London, also in 1786, but nothing as early as this copy, which makes it a remarkable early survival of a Scottish children's book.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2829
Acquired on18/11/11
TitleThe rudiments of architecture; or the young workman's instructor. In two parts ... with twenty-three elegant designs of building, the most of which have been actually executed in North Britain. To which is added. The Builder's Dictionary. Intended for those whose time will not allow them to attend teachers.
ImprintEdinburgh: Printed by William Auld, Turk's close, Lawn market
Date of Publication1773
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is one of the first books of architectural designs produced in Scotland. The first such publication was George Jameson, Thirty-three designs, Edinburgh: 1765, an extremely rare book of which no copies are known in Scotland. In 1772, the first edition of an anonymous book entitled The rudiments of architecture was printed in Edinburgh by Robert Mundell (NLS copy at RB.m.418). This work was based on William Salmon, Palladio Londinensis (1762) and Sebastien Le Clerc, Treatise (1723). Eileen Harris notes 'The success of the compilation is due more to the absence of other such works printed in Scotland and the efforts of the publishers than to the second-hand, second-rate contents' (Harris, p.401). In 1773 this second edition appeared, with an additional 12 plates showing 23 designs for houses in the Palladian manner, modelled on Jameson's work. Despite Harris' disparaging remarks, this book was clearly of use, as the copy we have now acquired has marginal notes and sketches that suggest it was owned by a working architect. This may have been the William Watson whose contemporary inscription appears at the head of the title-page. No other copies are recorded in public ownership in Scotland.
ShelfmarkRB.m.635
Reference SourcesESTC N13160; Eileen Harris, British Architectural Books and Writers 1556-1785, CUP, 1990
Acquired on29/09/06
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