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 789 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 661 to 675 of 789:
Ordered by date acquired |
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| Order by title
|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|
|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.|
|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||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. The excavations were conducted by the Glasgow Archaeological Society from 1890 onwards. The photographer was John Annan (1862-1947), 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. As a member of the Glasgow Archaeological Society, he could perhaps have taken the photos on a known excursion of the Society to the work in progress at Castlecary, between March and November 1902. These photographs are not the same as the ones used for the article published in volume 37 of the Proceedings of the Scottish Society of Antiquaries (1902-1903; the latter were taken by one of the principal participants in the excavation, Mungo Buchanan. The fort at Castlecary was one of only two defences (from a total of 15) along the 37 mile-long wall to have featured stone ramparts. 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 bisected by the Edinburgh-Glasgow railway around 1840. The outer boundary was further damaged by construction of the main Glasgow to Stirling road (A80). The album was formerly owned by the Glasgow Archaeological Society and acquired at auction in 2002. |
|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||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||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|
|Date of Publication||1807|
|Notes||A presentation copy, with the note in the author's hand, of the 1807 printing of this important work. This copy is in good condition and complete with both large folding tables. The Library currently holds only an imperfect copy (wanting tables) of the 1808 printing, the first which was actually published. Bentham, the political philosopher who has come to be known as one of the founders of utilitarianism, wrote this work in favour of reforming the Scottish legal system as a series of letters. Clearly written and full of detail and practical examples, his proposals relate in particular to the workings of juries and appeal courts.|
|Reference Sources||Chuo University Library, Bibliographical Catalogue of the Works of Jeremy Bentham, Tokyo: 1989, S1-1
The Bentham Project http://www.ucl.ac.uk/Bentham-Project/index.htm|
|Author||Isham, Charles Edmund, Sir|
|Title||Tyrant of the Cuchullin Hills|
|Date of Publication||c. 1860?|
|Notes||This poem about a ferocious golden eagle terrorising the Cuillin mountains of Skye appears here in what seems to be a brightly-coloured, even garish lithograph. The borders of the text are attractive, and the elaborate initial letters are executed with some success. The Library has a photocopy of what is probably an earlier version of the work, which has different ornamentation (XP.461). As an artist's book, this is a work of some quality. Its poetic merits are another matter. As a sample, here is the eagle's dream of lamb-killing:
'He dream't he first tore out their eyes,
Enjoying much the feeble cries.
And when he'd finished all the flock,
He watched from some convenient rock,
Exhibiting intense delight
When heartrent mothers came in sight.
He then returned and tortured more
The lambs which still remained in store
At dawn of day we will suppose
The tyrant from his bed arose
Quite vexed at finding but a dream
All that reality would seem.'
It is one thing to project human emotions onto a bird, but to describe it getting out of bed after a pleasant dream opens up new possibilities for (unintentionally) comic verse.|
|Title||[Album of photographs and newspaper cuttings belonging to John Winning]|
|Date of Publication||c.1930-1944|
|Notes||This is an album of photographs and newpaper cuttings relating to the activities of Dr. John Winning during the 1930s and early 1940s. Included are group photographs of visits undertaken by members of the Scottish Socialist Party to Germany in 1930, Austria in 1931 and Denmark in 1936. Winning was a member of Glasgow Town Council between 1926 and 1932 and he led a number of visits to the continent. A cutting from 1936 notes that 'the number of countries which Socialists can visit with enthusiasm seems to be diminishing -- Germany is no longer on the visiting list'.
Winning from Larkhall in Lanarkshire began his working life as an apprentice plumber. He became involved in local politics in the 1920s and unsuccessfully stood for election for Westminster. In 1932 he resigned his Council seat to take up medicine and he worked as a GP for a number of years before his appointment as Assistant Medical Officer of Health for Glasgow in 1940.
Other cuttings and ephemera document Dr. Winning's involvement in the Scottish Vegetarian Society . There are also four copies of The two worlds: the weekly journal of spiritualism, religion and reform dating from 1938 to 1942. It appears that John Winning was also an active member of the Spiritualist Church.|
|Author||Alcott, Louisa M.|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||This is an uncommon edition of Louisa Alcott's classic children's book with a striking wrap-around
pictorial cover by Jessie M. King. The style of the illustration, which is typical of King with a solitary slender girl in a what appears to be a desert environment is at variance with both the story itself and the Edwardian-style colour frontispiece and title page by an unknown illustrator. Indeed, this design was used for twelve books in the Collins Bumper Reward Books series
Born in New Kilpatrick, Bearsden, King (1876-1949) studied at Glasgow School of Art between 1892 and 1899 - her style mirrors the angular art nouveau concepts of the Glasgow Style Her decorative work in books is often regarded as the counterpart to Charles Rennie Mackintosh's output in the field of applied arts. As early as 1902 she was regarded as the pre-eminent book illustrator in the Glasgow movement. She illustrated nearly 200 books between 1898 and 1949. It has been said that her myopic eyesight allowed her to work in fine detail in her book illustrations, as well as in her jewellery, ceramic and fabric designs, murals and watercolour painting.|
White, Colin. The enchanted world of Jessie M. King. (Edinburgh: Canongate, 1989) H8.90.6|