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 721 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 76 to 90 of 721:
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|Title||A new version of the Psalms of David , fitted to the tunes used in churches.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Printed for William Gordon|
|Date of Publication||1761|
|Notes||This Edinburgh edition of the Psalms has been acquired because of the rarity of the edition, the sumptuous nature of the herrringbone binding and its provenance. Only one other copy - at Aberdeen University Library - is recorded. It appears to have been bound for Margaret, Countess of Dumfries, who married the 6th Earl of Dumfries in 1771; 'M. Dumfries' is inscribed in cut-out letters at the head of the title page. It was later owned by the Countess's grandson, Lord James Stuart, younger brother of the second Marquess of Bute and M.P. for Cardiff during the early 19th century. The binding, which retains the brightness of the original crimson morocco, is tooled in gilt. There are two sets of endpapers - one the original Dutch gilt and pasted onto them, 19th century marbled papers.
William Gordon, who is named in the imprint, worked as a bookseller in Edinburgh from the 1750s until the 1780s. He also had the distinction of being sued on at least two occasions by other booksellers for selling pirated editions of other works.
|Reference Sources||ESTC; Scottish Book Trade Index|
|Imprint||Haddington: G. Miller and Son, printers.|
|Date of Publication||1814|
|Notes||An abolitionist broadside printed in Haddington, East Lothian indicating that the residents of Dunbar are petitioning Parliament for the universal abolition of the slave trade. Beneath the title is a woodcut of a slave being whipped by a white man, followed by an abolitionist poem and a call to the residents of Dunbar to sign the petition: 'It is requested that every well wisher to the melioration of the poor Africans, and those who, from motives of humanity, are inclined to give their dissenting vote to the revival of the bloody traffic, will come forward without delay.'|
|Title||The Holy Bible translated from the Latin Vulgat [sic]. [Douai version]|
|Date of Publication||1750|
|Notes||This edition of the Old Testament text of the Douai Bible, the English translation used by Catholics, was revised by Richard Challoner (1691-1781) to approximate more closely to the King James Bible, and remained the standard Catholic English Bible until 1941. This copy belonged to a Jacobite who was a prominent member of an old Catholic Scottish family, James Maxwell of Kirkconnel (1708-1762). Maxwell was an officer in the Jacobite forces during the 1745 rising, and his Narrative of Charles Prince of Wales' Expedition to Scotland is one of the most important primary sources for the event. After Culloden, he escaped to France and remained in exile for five years, returning to take up his position as laird of Kirkconnel in 1750. These four volumes, all with the family bookplate and inscribed 'Kirkconnell' in a contemporary hand', could conceivably have been acquired by Maxwell for the family library, whether as an appropriate remembrance of his time abroad, or as part of his concern to renovate the family home.|
|Reference Sources||Bookseller's catalogue; Darlow & Moule; DNB|
|Title||[Street traders' silhouettes]|
|Imprint||[s.l. : s.n.]|
|Date of Publication||c. 1840s?|
|Notes||This is a collection of 25 woodcut engravings of silhouettes of street traders, ten of which are Scottish. The woodcuts have been removed from other publications and mounted on bigger sheets.
Three of the street traders are well-known Glasgow characters: The blind fiddler and poet Alexander MacDonald called Blind Alick, the ballad singer and speech crier James McIndoe called Jamie Blue, and The Major, a street singer and kind of dancer who performed together with Coal Mary. The silhouette of the Glasgow Bellman may well be a likeness of the Glaswegian Bell Geordie. The other Scottish street traders depicted are Jemmy the showman, Billy Bain (Bill Porter) and Geordie Moore from Edinburgh, Willie Collie (Buttery Willie) from Aberdeen, Jamie Stephen from Montrose and the carter Willie Harrow from Dundee.
From the 1820 onwards silhouettes tended to be full-length rather than just portrait size. The ones we have acquired are a mix of both kinds, although the portrait depictions outnumber the full length ones.
We have not been able to establish which publications the silhouttes were taken from originally.|
|Reference Sources||D. Whitaker: Auld Hawkie and other Glasgow characters. Glasgow, 1988 [HP4.88.1771]
[Collection of press-cuttings on pedlars and chap-books]. Dundee, c. 1900-1920 [RB.m.141]
R. Collison: The story of street literature. London, 1973 [NG.1195.f.9]
L. Shepard: The history of street literature. Newton Abbot, 1973.
P. Hickman: National Portrait gallery silhouettes. London, 1972.
|Title||The Edinburgh Rose.|
|Imprint||London: Joseph Myers|
|Date of Publication||c.1860|
|Notes||This 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. |
|Title||Chronicle of Perth: a register of remarkable occurrences, chiefly connected with that city, from the year 1210 to 1668|
|Imprint||Edinburgh Maitland Club|
|Date of Publication||1831|
|Notes||An apparently unique copy of this Maitland Society publication, printed on vellum. It is not mentioned in the list of the Society's publications listed in A catalogue of the publications of Scottish historical and kindred clubs and societies by Charles Sanford Terry (Glasgow, 1909). The volume is tastefully bound in contemporary morocco, with the borders tooled in gilt with floral designs.
The Maitland Club was a publishing society founded in Glasgow in 1828 with the purpose of editing and printing works of Scottish historical and literary interest. It was named after the 16th century poet and editor, Sir Richard Maitland of Lethington. The Club produced over 50 publications between 1829 and 1859.|
|Title||The case of the Bishop of Ross, resident of the Queen of Scots, who was seized and committed to the Tower by Queen Elizabeth, for traiterous practices, and endevouring to raise a rebellion against her.|
|Imprint||London: Printed for Edward Symon...sold by J. Roberts...|
|Date of Publication||1717|
|Notes||A rare work attempting to construct a case against Count Karl Gyllenborg’s treasonable communications with Jacobites, by drawing on the case of John Leslie, Bishop of Ross’s support for Mary Queen of Scots' right of succession to the throne of England. The text revolves around the retelling of the events of 1584 with emphasis on pinpointing a legal parallel between the two cases of treason. Gyllenborg was imprisoned until the threatened rebellion blew over, more as a guaranteed safe custody or protection than as a punishment.|
|Title||The ten little travellers.|
|Imprint||Glasgow: John S. Marr & Sons|
|Date of Publication||c.1880|
|Notes||This is a colourfully illustrated children's book published by the Glasgow firm John S. Marr & Sons in the 1880s. This company published a large variety of material including biographies, poems and song books, from the 1860s to the 1890s. The book consists of ten pages (counting inside covers), each with a full page colour lithograph by Maclure & Macdonald of Glasgow, and 8 lines of text for the traditional counting rhyme beginning 'Ten funny little travellers, took ship across to France...'. By the end of the book the ten have been reduced to none.
The book is very much of its time in its portrayal of one of the travellers - a stereotypical black traveller, who invariably does all the work and ends up the last one left.
|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||A health, the Duke of Richmond and the Earl of Clare made their hired mobb[sic] drink in the Court of Requests, and places adjacent, on Friday 10th of June, 1715.|
|Date of Publication||1715|
|Notes||This is a curious piece of anti-Jacobite printed ephemera: a small handbill with the text of a toast proposed by two Whig peers, the Earl of Clare and Duke of Richmond. The toast wishes ill-will to, amongst others, the Pretender (James, son of the late, deposed James II/VII), the French king and all those who do not love King George I. At the time a Jacobite rebellion against the Hanoverian king, organised by leading Tory noblemen, seemed imminent, but it never came to fruition in England. In Scotland, however, events took a different course and an organised armed rebellion took place in the autumn of that year.|
|Title||Repository of Arts.|
|Date of Publication||c.1817-c.1822|
|Notes||This large engraving (25 x 16 cm) of Daniel Macintosh's Repository of the Arts in Princes Street was probably produced for advertising purposes. It is slightly unusual in that although tradesmen did produce engraved advertisements, they were rarely as large as this. Macintosh is recorded as having been a carver, gilder and print-seller in South St. Andrew's Street from 1799 onwards. He moved to Princes Street in 1817 where he also sold "ladies fancy works, stationery, water colours & all requisites for drawing". As he was also a drawing master, it is possible that he drew the very fine illustration of his shop which was engraved by James Girtin. Little else is known about Macintosh. The National Library only holds one book he published - "Twelve etchings of views in Edinburgh", dated 1816. |
|Reference Sources||Scottish Book Trade Index|
|Title||A catalogue of foreign and native forest-trees; also fruit trees, evergreens, flowering shrubs & sold by Robert Anderson, seedsman and nurseryman ... Edinburgh. AND
A catalogue of foreign and native forest-trees, flowering shrubs, evergreens, flowering shrubs and greenhouse plants & sold by Archibald Dickson and Sons, & at Hassendeanburn, near Hawick
|Imprint||Edinburgh : R. Fleming and A. Neill; [Hawick : s.n.]|
|Date of Publication||c.1785; c.1795|
|Notes||These slim volumes from the late 18th century are very rare examples of Scottish nurserymen's catalogues. Robert Anderson's catalogue is unrecorded whereas there are two other copies (both in the UK) of Archibald Dickson's catalogue. Robert Anderson, who later worked as Anderson, Leslie & Co., had a large nursery at Broughton Park in Edinburgh and specialised in fruit trees, especially pears. In 1798, the whole nursery stock was acquired by another Edinburgh concern, Dicksons and Shade. Unusually, the catalogue is priced. In the advertisement preceding his lengthy address on the merits of larch (introduced to Scotland in the 1720s), Anderson expresses his hope that the catalogue 'will be of great service in promoting the planting of this country, which is so much wanted at present.' The library holds another catalogue (with 44 pages) by Anderson, which may predate this one.
Archibald Dickson was one of the leading nurserymen in Scotland. Members of the family also ran tree nurseries in Perth, Edinburgh and Belfast. The first was founded in 1728 by Robert Dickson and by 1835 five generations of the family had been involved in the trade. The National Library of Scotland also holds day books and price books of the firm from the 18th and 19th centuries in the Manuscript Collections (MSS.29489-29490 and MS.3354).
|Shelfmark||RB.s.2701 ; RB.s.2702|
|Reference Sources||Desmond, Ray. Dictionary of British and Irish botanists and horticulturists including plant collectors, flower painters and garden designers. London, 1994.
Harvey, John. Early horticultural catalogues. Bath, 1973.|
|Title||[69 execution broadsides]|
|Date of Publication||1754-c.1850|
|Notes||A collection of 69 broadsides dating from 1754 to around 1850, all but five of which are almost certainly printed in Scotland. Most are printed in Glasgow but there are some from Edinburgh, with others most likely printed in Stirling, Perth and Ayr. The content is almost exclusively 'gallows literature' - accounts of executions and 'last speeches and dying confessions'. Highlights include the 'Last Speech and Dying Words of Robert Campbell, alias Drummond, alias Macgregor, alias Rob Roy', son of Rob Roy McGregor (1754) and a supposed account of the murder of William Hare a mere three months after the execution of his accomplice William Burke (1829). Hare actually survived until 1859.
Of the 69, 59 are unique and a further 9 are known only as single copies. Surprisingly many of these executions are not recorded in Alex Young's Encyclopaedia of Scottish executions (1998), so this may be the only source we have for some of these cases. |
|Title||The Tam O Shanter|
|Imprint||'Somewhere in France [Belgium, Holland, Germany]|
|Date of Publication||1944-45|
|Notes||This is a group of 25 issues of a World War II trench newspaper written for Scottish soldiers. It was printed in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany and thus reflects the movement of Scottish troops in Western Europe towards the end of the war. They were each printed on one large 32 x 20 cm. sheet of paper. They were not type-set, but were crudely prepared on a typewriter and many of the copies also incorporate hand-drawn maps and other illustrations. The issues appear to have been folded down and carried by a soldier or soldiers for some length of time as there is dirt, tears, nicks, creases on many of them and all have horizontal and vertical fold lines.
The Tam o'Shanter was the Divisional Newsletter of the 15th Scottish Division, a Territorial Division which had been disbanded at the end of WW1 and was revived in 1939.
Tam o'Shanter was begun sometime in 1943. Newsletters were very much part of Divisional life and most followed the format of the famous "Wipers Times" of WW1. The contents are varied: good first-hand reports of military engagements including much on Arnhem; encapsulated reports from Scottish newspapers; anecdotes from soldiers and also humorous pieces.
News was gleaned from local newspapers from where the battalions of the division recruited and was fed down from 21st Army Group of which the division was a part. There was a coordinating Press Office in St Andrew's House.
The group consists of the following numbers:
'No.10. Somewhere in France. Divisional News Edition. Monday 24 July 44.'
'No.33. Somewhere in Belgium. Scottish News Edition. Friday 15 September 44.'
'No.40. Somewhere in France. General News Edition. Thursday 31 August 44.'
'No.56. Somewhere in Belgium. General News Edition. Monday 18 September 44.'
'No.65. Somewhere in Holland. General News Edition. Wednesday 27 September 44.'
'No.66. Somewhere in Holland. General News Edition. Thursday 28 September 44.'
'No.71. Somewhere in Holland. Edn Branch Publication. Tuesday 3 October 44.'
'No.72. Somewhere in Holland. Edn Branch Publication. Wednesday 4 October 44.'
'No.73. Somewhere in Holland. Edn Branch Publication. Thursday 5 October 44.'
'No.86. Somewhere in Holland. Edn Branch Publication. Wednesday 18 October 44.'
'No.91. Somewhere in Holland. Edn Branch Publication. Monday 23 October 44.'
'No.92. Somewhere in Holland. Edn Branch Publication. Tuesday 24 October 44.'
'No.99. Somewhere in Holland. Edn Branch Publication. Tuesday 31 October 44.'
'No.106. Somewhere in Holland. Edn Branch Publication. Tuesday 7 November 44.'
'No.110. Somewhere in Holland. Edn Branch Publication. Saturday 11 November 44.'
'No.116. Somewhere in Holland. Edn Branch Publication. Friday 17 November 44.'
'No.117. Somewhere in Holland. Edn Branch Publication. Saturday 18 November 44.'
'No.118. Somewhere in Holland. Edn Branch Publication. Sunday 19 November 44.'
'No.120. Somewhere in Holland. Edn Branch Publication. Tuesday 21 November 44.'
'No.121. Somewhere in Holland. Edn Branch Publication. Wednesday 22 November 44.'
'No.129. Somewhere in Holland. Edn Branch Publication. Thursday 30 November 44.'
'No.130. Somewhere in Holland. Edn Branch Publication. Friday 1 December 44.'
'No.148. Somewhere in Holland. Edn Branch Publication. Tuesday 19 December 44.'
'No.212. Somewhere in Germany. Edn Branch Publication. wednesday 21 February 45.'
'No.213. Somewhere in Germany. Edn Branch Publication. Thursday 22 February 45.'
|Title||The history of the life, bloody reign and death of Queen Mary, eldest daughter to Hen. 8. ...|
|Imprint||London: Printed for D. Brown, at the Black Swan without Temple-barr, and T. Benskin in St. Brides Church-yard, Fleetstreet.|
|Date of Publication||1682|
|Notes||This is an unrecorded edition of this title. The two other 1682 editions listed in ESTC have different paginations and signatures. Together, there are only a total of five copies of all the editions located in the UK with this copy being the only one located in Scotland. |