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 781 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 646 to 660 of 781:

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AuthorAnon.
TitleThe distillery of Scotland a national benefit; and the importation and use of foreign spirits, a national detriment.
ImprintAberdeen: J. Chalmers, R. Farquhar
Date of Publication1755
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis pamphlet, by an anonymous author, discusses the economics of Scottish production of spirits in the form of two letters to a friend, dated the 3rd and 22nd May. The author, who informs his friend that he was lately in Edinburgh, takes as his cue the topical theme: Whether the distillery of Scotland was a national profit or loss? He discusses the production of whisky in Scotland in relation to its annual use of 50,000 bolls of bear (i.e. barley). He also looks at the production other alcoholic spirits in England, Europe and the colonies, analysing the costs of the ingredients and profit margins of exports and imports. His argument is that cheap imports of foreign spirits are harming the production of locally-produced whisky, which was suffering from high levels of taxation, in particular after the Act of Union and the imposition of an English malt tax in 1725. The author's concerns were no doubt motivated by the fact that in Scotland there were very few licensed distilleries, prepared to pay the taxes, but hundreds of illicit stills supplying the domestic market. Only two other copies of the is pamphlet are recorded by ESTC (at the British library and Harvard).
ShelfmarkAB.2.215.06
Acquired on09/01/15
AuthorMacvicar, Symers Macdonald
TitleThe distribution of hepaticae in Scotland
Imprint[Edinburgh]
Date of Publication[1910]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an annotated proof copy of Macvicar's (1857-1932) work on Scottish non-vascular plants known as liverworts. The text is complete although there are no preliminaries. The inkstamp "Neill & Co. Edinburgh First Proof" appears on a number of pages and there are numerous manuscript corrections and annotations by Macvicar throughout the text. An inscription on the front pastedown indicates that the book was bound during Christmas 1945 and presented to Mr. A. D. Banwell by the bryologist P. W. Richards (b. 1908).
ShelfmarkS3.205.0691
Acquired on09/08/05
TitleThe Edinburgh Almanack and Scots Register for 1807
ImprintEdinburgh: David Ramsay & Son
Date of Publication1807
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis Edinburgh Almanack belonged to Fletcher Norton (1744-1820), second son of Fletcher Norton, first Baron Grantley, Speaker of the House of Commons. 'Fletcher Norton, Abbey Hill, Edinburgh' as he signs himself in this book, was appointed one of the Barons of the Scottish Exchequer in 1776 and set up residence in the Scottish capital. According to James Grant's book Old and New Edinburgh, Norton 'stood high in the estimation of all' as 'husband, father, friend, and master'. A founding member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Norton was a supporter of Scottish culture, playing a key role in ensuring the publication of Albyn's Anthology, an important collection of Scottish music. Norton gave his name to East and West Norton Place, Abbeyhill, the streets now located on the site of his old Edinburgh home. This almanac, whose blank pages were used by Norton to keep a record of his expenditure, provide an interesting insight into the daily life of a member of Edinburgh's social and cultural elite in the early 19th century, recording the 18 shillings spent on tooth powder, and the 2.9.0 spent on a chaise to London, among other notes. Our perception of movement between England and Scotland during this period is largely one of Scots emigrating - this book bears witness to an Englishman who successfully moved to Scotland and integrated himself with its cultural life.
ShelfmarkAB.1.209.016
Reference SourcesOxford DNB; James Grant, Old and New Edinburgh, vol.5 chapter 13 (http://www.oldandnewedinburgh.co.uk/volume5/page138/single)
Acquired on06/04/09
Author[Anon]
TitleThe Edinburgh almanack for the year MDCCLXXVII.
ImprintEdinburgh : R. Fleming
Date of Publication1777
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis 1777 printing of the Edinburgh almanack (no copies recorded in ESTC) is notable for being in a contemporary red morocco wallet binding. An examination of the tools used on the binding shows that it is the work of Edinburgh's finest bookbinder of the 18th century, James Scott, and not recorded in J.H. Loudon's bibliography of Scott's work. The edges of the boards are decorated with the rococo-style rolls used by Scott. The lion rampant tool used on the spine is listed by Loudon as having been used by Scott's son, William, in the 1780s; however, the use here would indicate that it was used first by James Scott. No other wallet bindings by either Scott are recorded by Loudon, making this a rare and handsome oddity.
ShelfmarkBdg.s.961
Reference SourcesJ.H. Loudon, "James Scott and William Scott, bookbinders" (London, 1980); bookseller's notes
Acquired on29/11/13
TitleThe Edinburgh Review, or Critical Journal
ImprintEdinburgh: Archibald Constable
Date of Publication1814-1860
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a collection of c. 130 issues of 'The Edinburgh Review', covering the years 1814 to 1860. The volumes are in their original state with blue paper wrappers, along with inserts of publishers' advertisements for the later issues. The latter are often missing from bound sets in Library copies, such as NLS's existing set, as they were usually removed prior to binding. These particular volumes were part of the collections found the Northumbrian mansion The Hermitage, described in the press as the house "that time forgot". The contents of the house on the outskirts of Hexham were sold at auction in 2013 after the death of last surviving member of the Morant family, who had rented the house since the 1920s. The Morants had thrown very little away in the 90 years they had occupied the house and looked after the existing contents with great care, with the result that the house was full of antiques, memorabilia and ephemera. 'The Edinburgh Review' was published from 1803 to 1929 (the first issue for October 1802 actually appearing in 1803) and quickly established itself as one of the leading and most influential English-language periodicals of the 19th century. The publishers' aim was to select only a few outstanding books in all fields of interest and to examine them with more care than had been customary in previous reviewing. 'The Edinburgh Review' was above all an instrument of political enlightenment and social reform, adopting a pro-Whig stance in contrast to the pro-Tory 'Quarterly Review' and later 'Blackwood's Magazine'. To have a substantial run of this important periodical with the volumes in their original state is a great addition to the Library's collections.
ShelfmarkAB.3.214.09-141
Reference SourcesWaterloo Directory of English Newspapers and Periodicals: 1800 - 1900
Acquired on04/04/14
TitleThe Edinburgh Rose.
ImprintLondon: Joseph Myers
Date of Publicationc.1860
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a remarkable piece of paper engineering from the mid-nineteenth century. At first glance it looks like a cleverly sculpted paper rose coloured in pink and green. However, once opened the viewer sees 28 vignette engravings of Edinburgh and its surroundings including Calton Hill, the Castle, Holyrood Palace, Roslin Chapel and Tantallon Castle. It is contained within an envelope, entitled 'The Edinburgh Rose' with an engraving of the Scott Monument. On one side the imprint reads, 'Joseph Myers & Co., London', and on the other 'C. Adler, Hamburg'. Myers and Adler produced a series of over 100 roses depicting views of places throughout Britain and Europe.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2697
Acquired on29/10/07
AuthorBible. N.T. Ephesians
TitleThe epistle of Paul to the Ephesians.
ImprintEdinburgh: James Gall
Date of Publicationc. 1837
LanguageEnglish
NotesThe Library, thanks to the donation of a collection of the Royal Blind Asylum and School in Edinburgh in 1989, has a good collection of early printing done for the blind in Scotland. One of the key figures in this field was the Edinburgh printer and publisher James Gall (c. 1784-1874). While visiting Paris in 1825, Gall saw examples of embossed type books for the blind and decided to design a script which could be used by blind and sighted people alike. He introduced his Gall Type in 1827; its triangular forms were regarded as being more easily discernible by touch than existing rounded types. Capital letters were excluded, meaning that there were only 26 characters to be learnt. The Gospel by St. John for the blind (Edinburgh, 1834) was the first major work to be printed in Gall's type. In 1835 he founded the School for Blind Children at Craigmillar Park, which adopted his tactile alphabet. This particular book, of which only one other copy, in the British Library, is recorded, is a fine example of printing from Gall's press on Niddry Street. It is in its original binding and the label reveals that the book was printed "on the largest type" and cost one shilling and sixpence.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2822
Acquired on20/05/11
AuthorGray, John.
TitleThe essential principles of the wealth of nations.
ImprintLondon: T. Cadell
Date of Publication1797
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is one of the earliest critiques of Adam Smith's seminal economic text 'An inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations' (1776). Gray criticises Smith's work on a number of counts: he accuses Smith of misinterpreting the French economists' viewpoint on labour and productivity. Gray maintained that the French had in fact recognised that not all the so-called unproductive classes were barren to the same degree. Gray also argued that Smith was wrong to state that the manufacturing industry alone was responsible for contributing to Britain's real national wealth, saying that agriculture was the only true source of wealth. There is some Scottish content in the form of the appendix, which consists of a general plan of a lease by Henry Home, Lord Kaimes, "with remarks upon it by Dr. Anderson in his agricultural report for the county of Aberdeen". Coincidentally, Kaimes was Smith's literary patron. Very little is known about John Gray to whom this work, published anonymously in 1797, is attributed. He may have lived from 1724-1811 - obituary notices in contemporary periodicals merely state that he died in May 1811 in his 88th year and that he had been one of the Commissioners of the Lottery. John Gray may have been assistant private secretary to the Duke of Northumberland in Ireland in 1763 and 1764 and 'An essay concerning the establishment of a national bank in Ireland' (1774) may have been written by him. The Library of Congress catalogue attributes to Gray 'The right of the British legislature to tax the American colonies' (1775). However, Palgrave's 'Dictionary of economics' attributes 'The essential principles' to Simon Gray (fl.1795-1840).
ShelfmarkRB.s.2578
Reference SourcesThe New Palgrave: a dictionary of economics, vol.II, 1987. Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, vol.46, 1952, p.275-6.
Acquired on04/07/05
AuthorGray, Andrew
TitleThe experienced millwright; or, A treatise on the construction of some of the most useful machines, with the latest improvements. [2nd edition]
ImprintEdinburgh : Printed by D. Willison for Archibald Constable & Co.
Date of Publication1806
LanguageEnglish
NotesAndrew Gray's 'The experienced millwright' presents the most accurate first-hand account of the state of traditional British millwrighting in the second half of the 18th century. The first three chapters consist of a general treatise on mechanics. The following chapters cover practical directions for the construction of machinery, the mathematics necessary for calculating the strength of machines, and detailed plans for the construction of various kinds of water mills. The text is supplemented by a series of forty-four fine engravings showing the layouts of various types of water-, wind- and animal-powered machinery. The designs and descriptions are mostly of mills and machines which Gray either designed or supervised in actual construction in central-eastern Scotland. As stated in the preface: "the machines of which he has been careful to give accurate drawings and concise explanations are to be considered, not as plans founded on the speculative principles of mechanics ... but as cases of practical knowledge, the effects of which have been fairly tried and long approved". Little is known of Gray, described in his book's preface as "a practical mechanic" who 'has been for at least forty years employed in erecting different kinds of machinery". The text indicates that he is very familiar with the work of the leading civil engineer of the age, John Smeaton (1724-92), and especially Smeaton's seminal paper on the natural powers of water and wind to turn mills and other machines. The second edition of Gray's book corrects 14 textual errors found in the original edition of 1804. The front pastedown of this copy also includes a large printed advertisement for the prospective publication of Gray's 'The plough-wright's assistant' which was eventually published in 1808.
ShelfmarkRB.l.266
Acquired on02/04/10
AuthorMiller, Philip (1691-1771)
TitleThe gardeners dictionary: containing the methods of cultivating and improving the kitchen, fruit and flower garden, as also, the physick garden, wilderness, conservatory, and vineyard; according to the practice of the most experienced gardeners of the present age. The third edition, corrected.
ImprintLondon: Printed for the author, and sold by C. Rivington, at the Bible and Crown in St. Paul's Church-yard., M.DCC.XXXVII [1737]
Date of Publication1737
LanguageEnglish
NotesMiller, Philip (1691-1771), horticulturist and writer, was the most distinguished and influential British gardener of the eighteenth century. His father, a Scot, was a market gardener at Deptford, near London, and gave young Philip both a good education and training Miller established a nursery of ornamental trees and shrubs in St George's Fields, Southwark. When the Society of Apothecaries needed a new gardener for their Physic Garden at Chelsea, Patrick Blair, a Scottish doctor and author of Botanik Essays (1720), wrote to Sir Hans Sloane, the garden's benefactor, recommending Philip Miller for the post as one 'to go forward with a curiosity and genious superior to most of his profession'. Miller's writing on the theory of gardening matched his expertise in its practice. He helped to produce a quarto Dictionary of Gardening in 1724, and an illustrated Catalogus Plantarum of trees and shrubs flourishing in the London area in 1730. In that year he drew up a list of medicinal plants grown in the garden, and forty years later he made a much longer one. Miller's outstanding work was The Gardeners Dictionary, produced in eight editions during his lifetime. Besides horticulture, it covered agriculture, arboriculture, and wine making. He also produced an Abridgement in eight editions (1735-71) and a practical, cheaper, Gardeners Kalendar in fifteen editions (1731-69). The work was dedicated to Sir Hans Sloane, one of a number of Miller's contemporaries who encouraged his career. Miller was eventually admitted a member of the Botanical Academy of Florence and the Royal Society of London. In spite of his achievements, his contemporaries apparently looked upon Miller with some reservation. This was due partly to his Scottish birth, and also his habit of employing only Scotsmen. Stephen Switzer is believed to refer to Miller in his Ichnographia Rustica as one of the 'northern lads who have invaded the southern provinces'. The National library's copy of the third edition to the Gardeners Dictionary is bound with the only edition of the Appendix (1735), and accompanied by the Second Volume of the Gardeners Dictionary, which was published in 1739.
ShelfmarkRB.m.619
Reference SourcesESTC T059422
Acquired on22/02/05
TitleThe Glasgow Advertiser v. XV, no. 1151-1255
ImprintGlasgow: J. Mennons
Date of Publication1797
LanguageEnglish
Notes"The Glasgow Advertiser" started life as the "Glasgow Advertiser and Evening Intelligencer" in 1783, becoming the plain "Advertiser" in 1794. The newspaper then became "The Glasgow Herald" in 1805, which in turn was renamed "The Herald" in 1992, making it one of the world's oldest continuously-published English-language newspapers. In 1797 the newspaper was published bi-weekly and was priced at 4d. Each issue consisted of eight pages, two of which were devoted to adverts, the rest was a mixture of domestic, British and European news. The content of these issues are heavily influenced by the ongoing war with France. Early issues of "The Glasgow Advertiser" are very rare, so this volume containing c. 100 issues is a welcome addition to the NLS' holdings of early newspapers.
ShelfmarkRB.m.681
Acquired on21/11/08
TitleThe Glasgow Chronicle, no. 1706-no. 2377
ImprintGlasgow: D. Prentice & Co.
Date of Publication1822-1826
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis volume contains c. 175 issues of "The Glasgow Chronicle" covering the years 1822 to 1826. The newspaper was founded and edited by David Prentice, who bought over the "Glasgow Sentinel" title, with the first issue appearing in 1811. Prentice was a pioneer among provincial newspapermen in introducing editorials. His newspaper was published tri-weekly, priced 7d, and one of the first liberal newspapers in Scotland, calling for the end of the Corn Laws. In this volume there are several articles and letters on the subject of the abolition of slavery. The newspaper continued until 1857.
ShelfmarkAB.10.208.09
Reference SourcesBookseller's catalogue
Acquired on21/11/08
AuthorPrimmer, Jacob, (1842-1914)
TitleThe great Protestant demonstrations of 1892
Imprint[Edinburgh?]
Date of Publication[1892?]
LanguageEnglish
NotesA publication by the Church of Scotland minister and religious controversialist Jacob Primmer (1842-1914). Although educated in divinity at the University of Edinburgh, Primmer continued to educate himself by independent study and attendance at Christian Fellowship meetings, and, significantly, at the anti-popery classes instituted by John Hope (1807-1893). Primmer believed in total abstinence and sabbatarianism, and was committed to defending the principles, and often the forms and practices, of the original protestant reformers. Primmer believed his greatest achievement was the series of open-air demonstrations, or "historic conventicles", held throughout Scotland between 1888 and 1908. These were well-attended occasions, where Primmer's direct, pugnacious preaching style and bearded, prophet-like appearance were used to powerful effect. The list of demonstations for 1892 give 42 locations in Scotland with details as to the number of pamphlets given away, the number of persons present, hands held up against the resolution etc. The text is filled with anti-Catholic comments. Some of the condemnations include: the toleration of popish lotteries; the observance of popish superstitious days; the profane blessing of bells and idolatrous pulpets, and the popish archbishop and bishop of Edinburgh being invited to dine at Holyrood Palace with the moderator and other ministers of the Protestant church.
ShelfmarkAP.5.215.01
Reference SourcesDNB
Acquired on21/11/14
AuthorAnon.
TitleThe Highland rogue: or, the memorable actions of the celebrated Robert Mac-gregor, commonly called Rob-Roy.
ImprintLondon: J. Billingsley
Date of Publication1723
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is the earliest printed account of the life of Rob Roy, Robert MacGregor (c. 1671-1734), Scottish outlaw and folk hero. Rob's fame extended well beyond his Stirlingshire homeland; hence the publication in 1723 of this account of his colourful exploits. His double life as a cattle trader who enriched himself through cattle raiding and running protection rackets; his feud with the Marquess of Montrose who, according to him, pursued him vindictively for debts he could not pay; his involvement with the Jacobite cause which made him a fugitive; all these ingredients made him the stuff of popular legend. In 1716 he was attainted for high treason for his role in the Jacobite Rising of 1715. In 1717 the British government passed the Indemnity Act, which effectively pardoned all those who had taken part in the Rising, but the Clan Gregor and Rob were specifically excluded from the benefits of the Act. Rob remained at large, an outlaw and rebel until 1725, well after this work was published. His situation changed when General George Wade was sent to Scotland by the British government with the authority to offer remaining rebels the chance to receive a pardon after writing letters of submission. Rob in his letter argued that he had never meant to be a rebel, even though the facts spoke otherwise. He spent the rest of his life living in the Balquhidder area, acting occasionally as a spy for General Wade but also still dabbling in cattle raiding and protection rackets. This anonymous work, supposedly based on "authentick Scotch MSS" (which are no longer extant), purports in the preface to tell "not a romantic tale & but a real history: not the adventures of a Robinson Crusoe, a Colonel Jack, or a Moll Flanders." The preface is signed "E.B." which has led to the work being ascribed to the Quaker author Elias Bockett (1695-1735), but this seems unlikely in view of the nature of other works by him on religious and political controversies. Lives of notorious criminals were very popular among the English reading public of the early 18th century, and a number of authors, including Daniel Defoe, were happy to churn out biographies to meet popular demand. Inevitably, given the subject matter of the work and the mention in the preface of Robinson Crusoe, Colonel Jack and Moll Flanders - all works written by Defoe in this period  'Highland rogue' has been widely attributed to Defoe. Sir Walter Scott stated that Defoe ought to have written it, without actually confirming that he was the author. However, it is not attributed to Defoe in Furbank and Owens's 1998 critical bibliography of his works, nor in Moore's checklist of Defoe's writings (2nd ed. 1971). The book and its title may in fact have been inspired by another anonymous work, first published in London back in 1706, 'The scotch rogue: or, the life and actions of Donald Macdonald a high-land Scot', a first-person account of the (mis)deeds of a "highland robber". 'Scotch rogue' was reprinted in two parts in 1722 and 1723, at the same time as 'Highland rogue', thus roguery and Scottish highlanders were firmly linked in the minds of the English reading public of 1723. Whoever the author of 'Highland rogue' was, his account of the life of Rob Roy is, contrary to the claims of the preface, "inconsistent, badly written and fanciful" (Stevenson, "Hunt for Rob Roy", 2004). The basic outline of Rob's life is, however, "essentially accurate" (Stevenson). The work's main importance, apart from being the first biography of Rob, is that it provides a blueprint for his character in later printed works, depicting him as a charming and audacious rogue rather than a bloodthirsty villain, a man capable of towering rages but one who abhors cruelty and violence. His legendary status is matched by his physical appearance; the author notes that he has a superhero-like stature, "he approaches even to a gigantic size", has a foot-long beard, and of course an abundance of red hair covering his body. Moreover, the author's depiction of Rob is consistent with the widely-held belief among the common people of Scotland that Rob Roy was indeed a Robin Hood figure, a humble man who had taken to robbery to right wrongs done to him by an arrogant aristocrat. They regarded him as a man "who did not steal indiscriminately, but took what was his by right from the great while sparing poor men" (Oxford DNB). The affection he inspired can be seen by the fact that he was not betrayed in all his years as an outlaw. A slightly enlarged version of the text of 'Highland rogue', with a re-written ending taking into account Rob's death, was published in 1743 under the title of 'The highland rogue: being a general history of the highlanders, wherein is given an account of their country and manner of living, exemplified in the life of Robert Mac-Gregor, commonly called Rob-Roy'. The 1743 edition makes explicit the connection between Rob and Robin Hood, noting that he had "lived in the manner of the ancient Robin Hood of England." As mentioned earlier, Sir Walter Scott was familiar with 'Highland rogue'; one of the five other UK copies of the 1723 edition recorded in ESTC is held in his library at Abbotsford. Incidentally, he also owned two editions of 'Scotch rogue'. Scott drew on this work when writing his own celebrated version of Rob Roy's life, published in 1817, which gave the Highland outlaw international fame and inspired plays, operas, biographies and an industry in Rob Roy memorabilia. The NLS copy of 'Highland rogue' is extra-illustrated with a woodcut of a highlander with a drawn sword and shield taken from the 1723 edition of 'Scotch rogue', which has been cut out and mounted on a blank leaf as a frontispiece. The work has also been bound together with a copy of John Campbell's 'A full and particular description of the Highlands of Scotland' (London, 1752); this particular copy also contains the frontispiece plate of a highlander sitting in his study which is not present in any of the other NLS copies of the work. The volume was formerly in the private collection of the late Peter Nelson (d. 2004) who worked at Lyon and Turnbull auction house in Edinburgh. The volume also contains the loose bookplate of Robert Hay-Drummond, the 10th Earl of Kinnoull (1751 1804), which may have at one point been stuck on to the front pastedown.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2905(2)
Reference SourcesDavid Stevenson, 'The hunt for Rob Roy', (Edinburgh, 2004); Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on04/07/14
AuthorAnon
TitleThe history and love adventures of Roswal and Lillian
ImprintGlasgow: J. & M. Robertson
Date of Publication1788
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an unrecorded Glasgow printing of a Scottish verse romance "Roswal and Lillian". The tale appears to be medieval in origin, and concerns Roswal(l) a prince of Naples who is forced into exile by his father, but who eventually finds love in his new home and marries the king's daughter Lillian. Sir Walter Scott records hearing the song sung in his youth in Edinburgh sung by an old person wandering through the streets. The first recorded printing of the work was in Edinburgh in 1663, there are then four recorded editions in the second half of the 18th century, printed in Newcastle and Edinburgh. The printers of this Glasgow edition, James and Matthew Robertson, were two of the principal printers of chapbooks in Scotland from 1782 onwards. From at least 1777 they were publishing children's books, most of which are reprints of titles published by John Newbery of London. They also imported them from England.
ShelfmarkAP.1.215.14
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes, Scottish Book Trade Index
Acquired on06/03/15
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