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 765 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 765:
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|Title||The jolly beggars : a cantata.|
|Imprint||[London? : s.n.]|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||This pamphlet published as a guide to an exhibition of eight figures by the Scottish sculptor John Greenshields (1792-1835) in illustration of Burns's poem "The jolly beggars". The sculpture was one of the best known of Greenshields's works, attracting the attention of Sir Walter Scott. The author happened to meet Greenshields in 1829, when visiting Clydesdale. Scott wrote in his journal that he had met "a man called Greenshields, a sensible, powerful-minded person", who "had at twenty-eight ... taken up the art of sculpture. ... He was desirous of engaging on Burns' Jolly Beggars, which I dissuaded. Caricature is not the object of sculpture." However, Greenshields was not to be dissuaded and when Sir Walter eventually saw the finished work he declared that the young artist had caused an old man to reinterpret a lifelong understanding of this particular Burns cantata. After exhibition in Edinburgh, the statues were transported to London for public viewing in the Quadrant, Regent Street, and later purchased by Baron Rothschild for the gardens of his property at Gunnersbury Park. The pamphlet itself is in three parts: the first part consists of the text of the poem; the second part reveals that the statues have been visited by nearly 20,000 people in Edinburgh, quotes reviews of the statues in the Edinburgh newspapers and reprints Walter Scott's article on the poem for the Quarterly Review; also included is a folded broadside titled "Jolly beggars, with the description in Burns' words", consisting of four passages from the poem which presumably relate to the sculptures. It is probable that broadside was also available separately.|
|Title||The King Emperor's Indian Durbar tour 1911-1912|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||'Durbar' is a Persian term that was adopted in India to refer to a ruler's court. It could also be used to refer to a feudal state council or to a ceremonial gathering. The term was used during the British Raj for special royal occasions. Three imperial Durbars were held in Delhi: the first, held in 1877, marked the proclamation of Queen Victoria as Queen Empress of India; the second, held in 1902-03, marked the coronation of King Edward VII. The last, held on 12 December 1911, marked the coronation of King George V as 'King-Emperor' of India, and was the only Durbar that the ruler attended in person. The 1911 Durbar was "the most spectacular ceremony in the history of the British empire" (ODNB); it cost over £1 million to mount, and was over a year in preparation. Over 200,000 people attended the events taking place in Delhi's Coronation Park, which were captured in print, photography and the relatively new technology of film. As well as providing a clear sign of Britain's commitment to maintaining its grip on India, the Durbar was also used for particular political purposes. George announced the reversal of the unpopular 1905 decision that had partitioned Bengal. He also declared Delhi the new capital and laid its foundation-stone (soon after moved when New Delhi was re-sited). The Durbar was followed by a shooting expedition in Nepal and a visit to Calcutta (Kolkatta), the former capital of British India. The royal party returned home the following year, reaching Portsmouth on 5 February 1912. This lavishly-produced photo album was produced to commemorate King George's Durbar and subsequent tour through India. There are 208 photographic prints with printed letterpress captions pasted beneath them, bound in a full red morocco album with gilt lettering on the front cover. The photographs cover not just the Durbar but the whole of the royal tour, from the departure from Portsmouth, on 11 November 1911, to the thanksgiving service at St. Paul's, London, in February 1912 to mark the safe arrival home of the king and queen. The album also contains a number of memorable images of the elaborate hunting trip in Nepal and of Indian royalty. The photographs are not attributed to anyone but the person taking them clearly had very good access to the royal party. It is possible that the photographer was Ernest Brooks (b. 1878), who photographed the British royal family during this period and who during the War, in 1916, became the first official photographer to the Western Front appointed by the British military (many of his photographs are preserved in the Haig papers in NLS's manuscript collections). It is not known how many copies were produced and whether they were ever intended for public sale; a likely explanation is that a few copies were compiled for people travelling with the royal party as a souvenir of the tour.|
|Reference Sources||Oxford Dictionary of National Biography|
|Title||The Kings Maiesties speech|
|Imprint||London: Robert Barker|
|Date of Publication||1604|
|Notes||This is the speech which James I delivered to the House of Lords on 19 March 1604, the first day of the Parliament at Westminster, and indeed the first Parliament of his reign as King of Scotland and England.
This copy has the text printed in italic type. We also hold the issue in roman type at shelfmark 1.174(1). Curiously, both issues were published by Robert Barker in the same year. It could be surmised that there was such a high demand for copies of the speech that Barker had to print on two presses at the same time and decided to print different versions for the sake of variety. There are slight spelling differences between the two editions too.
The speech was certainly very popular and was published in Edinburgh as well as London.|
|Title||The ladies' science of etiquette by a lady|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Paton and Ritchie|
|Date of Publication||c1850|
|Notes||Victorian society was famously governed by strict codes of etiquette which were supposed to be the defining marks of members of polite society. This meant that many guides to these rules were produced, aimed at those who were anxious about whether their own behaviour met these exacting standards. This is one of the rarest surviving examples of such a conduct book, in its original coloured paper covers. Although here the work is published anonymously, it seems to be a reprint, originally written by the author and socialite Baroness E.C. de Calabrella, who was part of the circle surrounding the Regency dandy Count D'Orsay. This may account for the tone of this volume: where many such etiquette guides were written by and for the expanding Victorian middle class, and reflected bourgeois stolidity, The Ladies' Science of Etiquette discusses questions such as whether a lady should walk to a ball ('superlatively ridiculous' - if stuck in a provincial town without a carriage, take a sedan chair) and whether it is acceptable for a lady to carry a small dog about town ('altogether vulgar').|
|Title||The lady's, housewife's, and cookmaid's assistant: or, the art of cookery, explained and adapted to the meanest capacity|
|Imprint||Berwick: Printed and sold by R. Taylor|
|Date of Publication||1778|
|Notes||Elizabeth, 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.
|Reference Sources||Maclean, Virginia. A short-title catalogue of household and cookery books published in the English tongue 1701-1800, London: 1981, p. 140.|
|Title||The 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] ...|
|Date of Publication||1794|
|Notes||These 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.
|Reference Sources||Young, Alex F. The encyclopaedia of Scottish executions 1750 to 1963. (1998)|
|Title||[The last words of James, El. Of Derwentwater]|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||This 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.|
|Reference Sources||Kemp, Hilary. Jacobite rebellion. (London, 1975)
Sharp, Richard. The engraved record of the Jacobite movement. Scolar Press, 1996. H4.97.202|
|Author||Barbour, John, d.1395|
|Title||The life and acts of the most victorious conquerour Robert Bruce King of Scotland.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Gedeon Lithgow|
|Date of Publication||1648|
|Notes||John 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.|
|Reference Sources||Aldis 1307, Wing B712|
|Title||The life of Robert Earl of Leicester, the favourite of Queen Elizabeth: drawn from original writers and records|
|Imprint||London: Woodman and Lyon|
|Date of Publication||1727|
|Notes||This 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. |
|Reference Sources||Oxford DNB|
|Title||The life of William Annesly.|
|Imprint||Bennington, Vermont: Anthony Haswell|
|Date of Publication||1796|
|Notes||This 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).|
|Author||Stevenson, Robert Louis|
|Title||The misadventures of John Nicholson|
|Imprint||New York: George Munro|
|Date of Publication||1887|
|Notes||This 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.|
|Reference Sources||R.G. Swearingen "The prose writings of Robert Louis Stevenson" (London, 1980)|
|Title||The mountain cottage.|
|Imprint||Pittsfield, Mass. : E.P. Little|
|Date of Publication||1844|
|Notes||This 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.
|Title||The new poetical works of John Gerrond, the Galloway poet.|
|Imprint||Dumfries: Printed for the author|
|Date of Publication||1818|
|Notes||John 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."
|Title||The noble pedlar! Or the late chance-sellor & present broom seller!!|
|Imprint||London: J. Sidebotham|
|Date of Publication||1816|
|Notes||This is a hand-coloured broadside satirising the Scottish politician Thomas Erskine, first baron Erskine (1750-1823). Starting off in the army, Erskine later became a successful barrister in England, moving into politics in the 1780s. As a supporter of the Whigs he championed the causes of parliamentary reform, the freedom of the press, and opposition to the growing reaction caused by fear of revolutionary France. In 1806 he finally achieved high political office, becoming lord chancellor, but resigned the following year. His latter years were marked by financial problems. He lost much of his fortune in failed American investments, and was forced to sell the bulk of his property in London. Having bought an estate, Holmbush, near Crawley in Sussex, he tried his hand at farming. The land, however, was infertile, and he suffered further financial losses when he tried to make money by growing and selling heath brooms. To add insult to injury, one of the men he employed to sell his brooms in London was taken to court in 1816 for selling the brooms without a hawker's license. Erskine was fined £10 and when, on entering the court, he was told by the magistrates of his conviction, he showed that he had lost none of his renowned wit by commenting "if you do, it must be under a sweeping clause." The broadside shows Erskine walking beside a cart selling brooms, crying "O the broom, the bonny, bonny broom! who'll buy my charming brooms". The verses at the foot, titled "The bonny brooms", are accordingly to be sung to the well-known Scottish ballad 'The broom o' the Cowdenknowes'.|
|Reference Sources||Bookseller's notes; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography|
|Title||The palis of honour|
|Imprint||London: William Copland|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||This 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.|
|Reference Sources||Mainstream companion to Scottish literature;