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 818 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 email@example.com
Important Acquisitions 661 to 675 of 818:
Ordered by date acquired |
Order by author
| Order by title
|Title||Life and character of Robert Watt, who was executed for high treason at Edinburgh, the 15th October, 1794|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: A. Shirrefs|
|Date of Publication||1795|
|Notes||A rare edition (only 3 copies on ESTC, all in U.S.) of this unsympathetic life of Robert Watt, a government spy amongst the political reform societies who underwent an extraordinary conversion to the cause of revolution. Described as the 'natural son of a respectable gentleman in Scotland', he spent his formative years in Perth before working as a 'much respected' clerk in Edinburgh. However it was all downhill from there - Watt got involved in smuggling and when his offer to provide information on the revolutionary Society of the Friends of the People, for the princely sum of £1000, was spurned, he joined that Society with some enthusiasm. He was arrested in possession of a large amount weaponry, some of which is illustrated in the frontispiece, and executed for high treason in October 1794.
This issue includes the name of William Lane, the London publisher and distributor, in the imprint. The other issue (copy at 3.855(3)) does not have Lane's name in the imprint. Both issues contain 'Verses written on seeing the execution of Robert Watt' which are frequently lacking in editions of this text.|
|Title||History and Travels|
|Date of Publication||1769|
|Notes||This is one of the most significant and interesting (not to mention expensive) chapbooks that the National Library of Scotland has purchased in recent years. Hector Maclean's autobiographical account of his sea-faring life is packed with extraordinary information about how one eighteenth-century Scot saw the world. Hector was born in Argyleshire in 1728, but the story really begins when he stowed away on his brother's ship at the age of eight. He ended up in Greenock, which struck him as such an amazing place that he wandered the town until it was dark, and got lost. Not speaking any English (presumably because his native tongue was Gaelic), Hector ended up being taken in by various families, who put him to work as a farm servant. After some years he managed to return to his family, and was taught to read and write: the urge to travel, however, was still strong, and he took ship for Virginia.
The account of the North American coast which follows is full of keen observations, particularly of the wildlife. The curious behaviour of opossums, sharks, alligators and insects is presented to the Scottish reader. Maclean is also informative about the native Americans; he describes a group presenting a British Governor with the scalp of an enemy. The Portuguese, however, come in for the most scathing criticism, being described as violent thieves.
This is apparently the second edition of the first installment of Maclean's account (there is a 1768 edition in the British Library). We already have a copy of the second installment, (L.C.2811(2)), published in 1771. Any other installments have not been traced. It sounds as though Maclean paid for the printing of these chapbooks himself, so the rarity of the surviving copies may be a result of their being printed in very small numbers. When placed together, the first and second installments of Maclean's History and Travels constitute a truly fascinating account of a Scottish traveller, with some genuine literary merit.
The two pamphlets combined would be excellent candidates for a short publication.|
|Reference Sources||Lauriston Castle chapbook catalogue|
|Author||Burrard, S.G., Heron, A.M.|
|Title||Sketch of the geography and geology of the Himalaya Mountains and Tibet.|
|Imprint||Delhi : Manager of Publications|
|Date of Publication||1933|
|Notes||Revised and updated edition of the 1907 work by Burrard and Hayden which had been produced to mark the centenary of geographical and
geological exploring expeditions of the Himalaya Mountains. This had become an invaluable reference work for surveyors and explorers. The present work, which revises and updates it, is equipped with a large number of plates, maps and illustrations.|
|Reference Sources||Yakushi : Catalogue of the Himalayan literature|
|Title||Marie der Koenigin auss Schotlandt eigentliche Bildtnuss.|
|Imprint||[Cologne: Johann Bussemacher]|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||This is a fascinating broadside commemorating the execution of Mary Queen of Scots from a German Catholic perspective. The German text gives an account of her parentage and life, mentioning the role of Darnley, George Buchanan and Mary's son King James VI. There is an emphasis on Mary's European connections, and above all on her martyrdom for the Catholic faith. At the head of the text is a large and striking engraving by Johann Bussemacher; the central image is of Mary, wearing her crucifix and depicted with the arms of France and Scotland. Outside the border, which contains Latin phrases, are smaller images of her decapitation, and at the head of the engraving are (presumably cherubic) hands presenting a quill and the victor's laurels. This is in better condition than the only other known copy, in the British Library, which was David Laing's copy and has been cut up into four pieces. However, the British Library copy preserves some Latin verses which have been lost from the foot of our copy. These verses, by William Crichton or George Crichton, are as follows: 'Illo ego, quae Fata sum regali stirpe parentum, / Hoc tumulo parva contumulata tegor. / Hucque meo constans generoso in pectore virtus, / Prissacque me torfit, nec temeranda fides / Stemmata nil faciunt, nil prosunt sceptra, sed una, / Dum vixit, pietas, gloria nostra fuit. / Vtque Petri cathedram revereri discas, ob illam, / En mea martyris colla refecta vides' Despite this loss, this is a very desirable addition to our strong holdings of MQS material.|
|Reference Sources||Allison & Rogers, Contemporary Literature of the English Counter-Reformation, I, no. 805
BMSTC (German), p. 599|
|Author||Headrick, Rev. James|
|Title||Essay on the various modes of bringing waste lands into a state fit for cultivation and improving their natural productions.|
|Imprint||Dublin: Printed by H. Fitzpatrick|
|Date of Publication||1801|
|Notes||This is a survey of various techniques of land improvements and reclamation, with details of experiments carried out by the author in Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, Ayrshire, Dumfries, Galloway and other parts of Scotland. James Headrick later became a clergyman, and published a study of the geology and agriculture of the island of Arran. Headrick states that the majority of his findings were from his own observations and experiments rather than from secondary sources.
Headrick's work has been bound with the 3rd edition of William Curtis's Practical observations on the British grasses, especially such as are best adapted to the laying down or improving of meadows and pastures. Curtis's treatise began as a four-page folio contribution to the sixth fascicle of his Flora Londiniensis, which was printed in 1787. An expanded second edition was published as a pamphlet in 1790. The verso of the final leaf ends with an advertisement for 'the packet of seeds, recommended in this pamphlet, [which] may be had where the pamphlet is published, and at the Botanic Nursery, Bromton, price ten shillings and sixpence.'|
|Title||To all householders [4 Edinburgh broadsides]|
|Date of Publication||[1808-1816]|
|Notes||These four broadsides published at the behest of the city fathers of Edinburgh between 1808 and 1816 encapsulate the very essence of life in the northern metropolis at the time. Two deal with the Sabbath -- 'the improper practice of keeping open Ale or Tippling Houses, and also Shops, at all hours of Sunday' and 'measures...for keeping the Public Streets clean during the Lord's day'. In the latter case, the inhabitants were encouraged to get their servants to bring out their ashes on Saturday afternoon at the sound of a bell.
The other two broadsides deal with the perennial bugbear of public disorder. A reward of 100 guineas was offered to those providing information on the 'knocking down...maltreating and robbing' of 'gentlemen and police officers. The main suspects were deemed to be 'apprentices and youth' and the offences took place on 31st December 1811. Plus ça change... In 1812 the Lord Provost and city magistrates were also berated concerning 'riots and outrages unexampled in any other City in the Kingdom' which occurred on the anniversary of King George III's birthday and another broadside strictly prohibited the citizenry from 'breaking down, cutting, carrying away ... any trees, branches of trees, planting, flowers, shrubbery; or of throwing squibs, serpents, fireballs ...'. Shopkeepers were cautioned against selling fireworks to children and masters urged to caution their apprentices and journeymen from 'intermixing with any tumultuous or disorderly assemblage of persons on the streets'.
These items enhance the National Library's holdings of early 19th century ephemera and complements material being used in the RLS project 'Popular Print in Scotland'.|
|Author||Alexander, Sir William, Earl of Stirling|
|Title||Recreations with the Muses|
|Imprint||London: b. Tho. Harper|
|Date of Publication||1637|
|Notes||This collection of the works of William Alexander is of central importance to the development of Scottish literature. Alexander was a member of the 'Castalian band' (named after the mythical spring on Mount Parnassus, a symbol of the inspiration of the muses) of poets at the court of King James VI, along with writers such as Alexander Montgomerie, William Fowler, Robert and Thomas Hudson, and the king himself. When the court moved to London in 1603 with the accession of James to the English throne, the 'Castalian band' was dispersed. Alexander, like other writers who moved to London with the king, began to modify his verse, expunging Scotticisms and adopting the southern English language, so that this publication of 1637 is substantially a book of poetry in English, not Scots. Alexander was highly regarded by James VI and I and by Charles I, and was chosen by James to help him produce a new translation of the Psalms; the translation was published under James's name although it was almost all the work of Alexander. Alexander, who died in 1640, was by 1637 Secretary of State for Scotland; more notable, perhaps, is the fact that he had been granted the colonial territories of Nova Scotia (and, indeed, much of what is now Canada and the USA!). This book is thus a collection of a major Scottish author's writings, and one of the last editions published during his lifetime.
Of enormous symbolic importance is the fact that this copy contains a fine impression of the extremely rare portrait of Alexander. On the portrait is the manuscript inscription 'Liber Fra: Kinaston ex dono Nobilissimi Authoris'. Sir Francis Kynaston (1587-1642) was an influential English poet of the court of Charles I, and an appropriate recipient for this collection of Anglicised works by a Scottish-born writer. The bookseller describes the portait as one of the 'black tulips' of early English print-making, and there does not seem to be another copy with the portrait in any UK public library. This copy is of some bibliographical importance, as the inscription indicates clearly that the portrait was issued with the book (it had been argued that the rarity of the portrait was a consequence of its having been issued separately). An eighteenth-century facsimile is also bound in this copy. Another interesting bibliographical feature of this and at least two other copies is that two leaves (X1 and X6) were missing due to an error in printing early copies of that sheet; here they have been supplied from another copy.
The book is attractively bound in early nineteenth-century green morocco with gold-tooled decoration and lettering on the spine; the edges of the leaves are gilt. A note on a front flyleaf signed 'H.C.' probably indicates the ownership of the nineteenth-century collector Henry Cunliffe.
The National Library of Scotland had two copies of this text already (H.29.a.3, H.29.a.4), but the additional features of this copy enable us to claim that our holdings of this important book now approach bibliographical completeness. This will enhance further our standing as a centre for studies of early Scottish literature.|
|Title||Jolly Jump-Ups: Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses|
|Imprint||[Springfield, USA] : McLoughlin Bros|
|Date of Publication||1946|
|Notes||Robert Louis Stevenson comes to life in pop-up form in this delightful and highly coloured children's book. Stevenson's classic text, A Child's Garden of Verses, had proved very popular in North America and appeared in many attractive illustrated editions. This is a rather different adaptation which shows how Stevenson's influence had reached quite different genres of children's books. This copy is in nice condition, particularly for a pop-up, a form which often attracts the investigation of curious fingers to the detriment of the book. The 'Jolly Jump-Ups' was a well-established series of pop-ups, mostly nursery rhymes and learning books: as the bookseller remarks, it is 'somewhat unusual to have real literature as the basis for a pop-up'. Stevenson and children's books are two popular themes in the Library's collections which have been highlighted in recent exhibitions, and this pop-up brings both themes together.|
|Author||[Erskine, Andrew and Ross, Walter.]|
|Title||To the revolution club|
|Date of Publication||c. 1788|
|Notes||This unrecorded pamphlet is a tory satire against the Scottish whigs enthusiasm for the Glorious Revolution. The authors (see below) leave the reader in no doubt at the their unease at proposals that a monument be erected in honour of William III. They sarcastically suggest that it should be located in the Valley of Glencoe! The signature at the end is 'Gibbie Burnet' a very unveiled reference to the historian Gilbert Burnet, one of the key supporters of the Glorious Revolution.
The text was re-printed (APS.1.81.45; ESTC T108704) in 1792, at a time when it was feared that the unrest in France would spread across the Channel, as an appendix to a proclamation (ESTC T148691) by King George III warning against attempts at the 'subversion of all regular government'. The preface to this proclamation mentions that this pamphlet was first printed in 1788 with the aim of 'diverting the Northern part of this kingdom from joining in the popular enthusiasm' for the Revolution of 1688. The motives behind the re-printing of this pamphlet are difficult to unravel: the author of the preface seems to favour both the revolutions of 1688 and 1789 and implies that any attempts to suppress them were futile.
The pamphlet comes from the collection of Alexander Fraser Tytler (1747-1813), Lord Woodhouselee, Professor of History at the University of Edinburgh, sold at Bonhams, Edinburgh in August 2002. Fixed to the final blank page is a sheet of manuscript possibly with annotations partly in the hand of Tytler, listing 'The King's Advocates since the institution of the Court of Session', from 1537 to 1725. The inscription on the title page, presumably in Tytler's hand, reads 'written by Walter Ross and the honble Andrew Erskine'. The latter, who committed suicide in 1793 was one the closest friends of the young James Boswell and they collaborated on 'Critical strictures on the new tragedy of Elvira' and 'Letters between the honourable Andrew Erskine and James Boswell', both published in 1763. Walter Ross was probably the Writer to the Signet of the same name (1738-1789) who wrote a number of legal works in the 1780s.|
|Title||Maçonnerie pratique: cours d'enseignement supérieur de la franc-maçonnerie rite écossais ancien et accepté... Publiée par un profane|
|Imprint||2 vols., Paris: Édouard Baltenweck|
|Date of Publication||1885|
|Notes||This is an important addition to the Library's holdings of literature relating to Freemasonry, dealing as it does with the 'Scottish Rite'. The work is produced from a fiercely anti-masonic standpoint, and the introduction denounces masonry as an anti-Catholic heresy, an epidemic which spreads blasphemy and corruption. The editor makes his case by devoting most of the work to the publication of a text which purports to have been drawn up as a guide to the secrets of masonry by a leading mason at a council at Lausanne in 1875. The magnificent folding plates depict the rites and symbols of the masons, and large folding tables give details of the supposed ranks of the masonic hierarchy. This two-volume work is handsomely bound in half navy calf by Maclehose of Glasgow, whose stamp is found on the verso of the first free endpaper in volume one. The spines have gilt tooling and leather labels in red and brown with gilt lettering; the endpapers and the edges of the leaves are marbled. From the library of Fort Augustus, with bookplates in both volumes.|
|Title||Thorn tree clique, a new analysis of Mathieson's poem The Goff|
|Imprint||Kilmacolm: Partick PressStandard edition 60/28Deluxe edition 36/50|
|Date of Publication||2001|
|Notes||David Hamilton operates one of the few private presses surviving in Scotland. He uses a Vandercook proofing press and does all of the research, writing, and most of the presswork himself. All in limited editions and printed to a high standard, the books are about or relating to golf. Since 1985 the press has published nine books. The present volume is a fine example of the careful attention to detail that has become a mark of the press. The work contains a well written introduction to Mathieson's The Goff 1743, the first complete book about golf, followed by a reprinting of the text with supporting footnotes. Mathieson's text is also illustrated with a suite of elegant wood engravings by Kathleen Lindsley of the Isle of Skye. The book is printed on Zerkall paper and bound in quarter leather. A high quality facsimile of the original 1743 edition of The Goff is secured in a pocket attached to the lower board.
The standard edition was supplied by David Hamilton for Copyright; the deluxe edition, with a specially commissioned binding showing inlay themes from the book (the Links, the Tree, the long-nosed-club, and a feather ball) was purchased.|
|Title||Historia regalis divi Iacobi VI. regis semper augusti|
|Date of Publication||1626|
|Notes||This is an unusual rarity for which no extant copies could be found in RLIN, ESTC, OCLC, CURL, or the British Library, Library of Congress, Harvard University Library or the Bodleian. It is a 30-cm. tall folio, bound in calfskin vellum with the word/name 'Solon' written in manuscript at the head of the top board. There are 13 unnumbered preliminary leaves and 89 numbered pages of text. The text ends with the inscription 'Libri Primi Finis' although there is no bibliographic evidence that any additional volumes were ever published. The preliminary leaves close with the signature of Bernardinus ab Angelis. The identity of this person or his nationality has not been determined.
There is an emblem on the title page of a woman's head with cornucopias, which resembles devices used by both the publishers Vautrollier in London and Andro Hart in Edinburgh. However, the emblem incorporated by both these publishers does not match precisely the emblem appearing this book. There are indications in the Latin text that the book may be Parisian in origin although no record for it could be located in the Bibliothèque nationale de France.
The work has a number of interesting textual and bibliographic anomalies. For example, on the recto of leaf e2 a slip of paper with the words 'Inclitissime Princeps Pietatis & Sanctitatis' has been pasted in to complete this missing line of text. Later, on page 36 a larger compositor's error was corrected by pasting in a new sheet of text over the existing erroneous text. There is a blank space at the beginning of the text on page 1 caused by the omission of the initial capital letter. The fourth leaf has been excised, as it was presumably blank. Lastly, the stub of the back pastedown and the stub of what would have been Z2 have been folded before signature Y. These occurrences suggest that the volume may have been a proof copy for a work that was never taken further to the publication stage.
Both the title page and the recto of the opening free flyleaf have the manuscript signature of Georg Rodolph Weckherlin (1584 -1653). Weckherlin is widely regarded as the greatest German poet of the period preceding the stylistic reforms later introduced by Martin Opitz (1597-1637). Weckherlin was born in Stuttgart, studied law at the University of Tübingen and later immigrated to England where he married Elizabeth Raworth in 1616. He entered the royal service shortly before the accession of Charles I in 1625 and served as secretary to all of Charles's Secretaries of State prior to the Civil War as well as serving as Under-Secretary for the German, Latin and French Tongues. His diary also shows that he was often called upon to act as personal secretary to the King himself. Weckherlin broke with the King around 1642 and was in Parliamentary service by 1643. In February 1644 he was officially appointed to the important position of Secretary for the Foreign Tongues. He retired at the end of 1648 and was replaced by Milton although he was later recalled and served as Milton's assistant during his blindness.
In March 2003 one of our readers read the text and concluded that it is indeed likely to be French, as there are many references to contacts between Scotland and France, including a story that Henri III tried to kidnap James. The text holds up James as the ideal example of kingship to the new King Charles. It is possible to speculate that Weckherlin is the author. He is known as a Rosicrucian, and much of the symbolic language in the text may stem from this; even the name Bernardinus ab Angelis could be a code-word of this cult movement.
It might be useful to compare this with a work in the John Rylands library:
James, I, King of England, 1566-1625. - Kurtze Summarische / vnd Wahrhafftige Beschreibung / der Geburt / Lebens vnd. - [S.l.], 1625, shelfmark R19122.|
|Reference Sources||Sotheby's London Thursday 14th December, 1989. The Trumbull Papers, the property of the Most Honourable the Marquis of Downshire.|
|Author||Lizars, W[illiam]. H[ome].|
|Title||[Specimen book of lithographs, engravings, copper plate and letterpress]|
|Date of Publication||[1851?]|
|Notes||This is a sample book of engravings produced in Edinburgh ca. 1851 by William Home Lizars (1788-1859). W. H. Lizars was first apprenticed to his father, the publisher and engraver Daniel Lizars, from whom he first learned engraving. He then entered as a student under John Graham (1754-1817) in the Trustees' Academy at Edinburgh, where he was a fellow-student with Sir David Wilkie. From 1808 to 1815 he was a frequent exhibitor of portraits, or of sacred and domestic subjects, at exhibitions in Edinburgh. In 1812, on the death of his father, Lizars was compelled to carry on the business of engraving and copperplate printing in order to support his mother and family. Lizars perfected a method of etching which performed all the functions of wood-engraving in connection with the illustration of books. He died in Edinburgh on 30 March 1859, leaving a widow and family. Lizars took an active part in the foundation of the Royal Scottish Academy.
This sample specimen book gives an excellent idea of the wide range of products produced by W. H. Lizars in his Edinburgh studio: business receipts, company letterheads, picturesque scenes of Scotland, bankers' notes, cheques, maps, portraits, reproductions of charters and seals, book illustrations and examples of typefaces and fonts.|
|Author||Dalhousie, James Andrew Broun Ramsay, Marquis of|
|Title||Copy of a minute by the Marquis of Dalhousie, dated February 28, 1856 reviewing his administration in India, from January 1848, to March 1856|
|Imprint||Printed by J. & H. Cox|
|Date of Publication||1856|
|Notes||This volume contains a presentation inscription on the title page to the Caledonian United Service Club by Colonel W. Geddes, C.B. It is one of the only examples extant of a review of a Governor-General's period in office from the East-India Company Period. Later reviews appear for succeeding Viceroys although their scope is often limited to the Home Department. This report covers both Foreign and Home Departments. Dalhousie's introduction suggests that this is the first example of such a report on administration, perhaps inspired because of his longer than usual tenure in India. A vast range of subjects are covered: Thuggees, tea, vaccination, female education, natural resources, the port of Singapore, the Burma war and the Sikh war.|
|Title||Edinburgh Calotype Club Album, Volume 1|
|Date of Publication||c. 1848|
|Notes||By an extraordinary sequence of events, the Library, in partnership with Edinburgh City Council, purchased the 'lost' Edinburgh Calotype Album at auction on 12 December 2001. The sister album (volume 2) was acquired by Edinburgh Central Library in 1952. Having the output of the club, acknowledged as the first photographic society in the world, reunited in Edinburgh is a remarkable coup. The Edinburgh Calotype Club was formed in the early 1840s after a group of Edinburgh gentlemen, mostly advocates, doctors and academics, were introduced to the process by Sir David Brewster (1781-1868). The photographs in the album are a mixture of portraits, landscapes, buildings and sculptures, most of them showing locations in Scotland such as Edinburgh, Newhaven, St Andrews, Fairlie and Inverness. These invaluable images enable the researcher to discover a wealth of information about Scotland and its people in the mid-19th Century. As part of the project, both albums have been digitised and mounted on a specially designed website www.nls.uk/pencilsoflight to enable the widest possible access to this resource.
The project received financial support from:
The Heritage Lottery Fund
The National Art Collections Fund
The Gordon Fraser Charitable Trust
Edinburgh City Council