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 727 of the most important items we have acquired since 2000. We update it regularly as new material comes in. The description gives information about why it was chosen and what makes it particularly interesting. You can order the list by date of acquisition, author or title.

Please let us know what you think of this resource, if you have information to add about an acquisition, or if you have rare Scottish books that you would like to donate or sell. Email us at rarebooks@nls.uk

      

Important Acquisitions 76 to 90 of 727:

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TitleThe Tam O Shanter
Imprint'Somewhere in France [Belgium, Holland, Germany]
Date of Publication1944-45
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis 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.'
Acquired on15/02/08
TitleThe Edinburgh Rose.
ImprintLondon: Joseph Myers
Date of Publicationc.1860
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a remarkable piece of paper engineering from the mid-nineteenth century. At first glance it looks like a cleverly sculpted paper rose coloured in pink and green. However, once opened the viewer sees 28 vignette engravings of Edinburgh and its surroundings including Calton Hill, the Castle, Holyrood Palace, Roslin Chapel and Tantallon Castle. It is contained within an envelope, entitled 'The Edinburgh Rose' with an engraving of the Scott Monument. On one side the imprint reads, 'Joseph Myers & Co., London', and on the other 'C. Adler, Hamburg'. Myers and Adler produced a series of over 100 roses depicting views of places throughout Britain and Europe.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2697
Acquired on29/10/07
Title[Advertisement for John Hogan, Spectacle Maker, Edinburgh] That whereas John Hogan, removed from the Lucken-Booths to the Lower End of the Canongate, at the Sign of the Spectacles...
Imprint[Edinburgh: s.n.]
Date of Publicationca.1740-1750?
LanguageEnglish
NotesPreviously unrecorded in ESTC, this 18th-century advertisement publicizes the removal of one John Hogan from the Luckenbooths (the famous row of shops at St Giles on Edinburgh's Royal Mile, destroyed in the 19th century) to the 'lower end of the Canongate'. The Mr Robertson to whose premises Hogan removes must surely be the William Robertson whose house was 'near St John's Cross, Canongate', and who around the same time as this broadside was published was developing a 'catadioptric microscope', a 'dioptrick telescope', and an 'artificial eye, explaining the nature of vision' among other inventions. Hogan's advertisement here is for the work of a more ordinary optician: 'who makes and sells the best Christal Spectacles ... by the Use of which, those People who have weak Eyes, may be made capable to read or work as long as those who have stronger'. He also advertises reading glasses, 'Christals for Pictures', 'all Sorts of Glasses to preserve the Eyes when rideing [sic]' and 'all Sorts of Shagreen Cases, of any Fashion or Form; as reasonable as in any Part of Great Britain.' This single sheet, illustrated with a woodcut of a pair of spectacles, might have been posted up around town, or sent to customers: such ephemera rarely survives.
ShelfmarkRB.m.669
Reference SourcesESTC; William Robertson: A description of the figure, construction and use of a new catadioptric microscope, invented by William Robertson (Edinburgh, ca. 1750).
Acquired on21/02/08
TitleA 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
ImprintEdinburgh : R. Fleming and A. Neill; [Hawick : s.n.]
Date of Publicationc.1785; c.1795
LanguageEnglish
NotesThese 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).
ShelfmarkRB.s.2701 ; RB.s.2702
Reference SourcesDesmond, 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.
Acquired on17/12/07
Title[69 execution broadsides]
Imprintvarious
Date of Publication1754-c.1850
LanguageEnglish
NotesA 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.
ShelfmarkRB.l.238(1-69)
Acquired on17/12/07
TitleNotes upon, and illustrations of, the treatise intitled the Life of God in the soul of man. To which is prefixed a preface taking off the material objections lately published against that little Book, to which are subjoined, a poem upon prayer, with a short account of Dr. Scougal's life, &c. By a young gentleman.
ImprintEdinburgh: W. Cheyne
Date of Publication1744
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis rare book offers an insight into contemporary responses to one of the most popular Scottish devotional works. Henry Scougal (1650-1678) was a Church of Scotland minister in Aberdeenshire and professor of divinity at King's College, Aberdeen. He first published The Life of God in the Soul of Man, originally a manual for his private devotion, in 1677. It was reprinted many times into the 19th century, with enthuasiastic admirers as diverse as Gilbert Burnet, John Wesley, and Benjamin Franklin. This work shows the effect Scougal's book had on one reader described as a 'young gentleman' on the title page. The publisher's address to the reader refers to 'the author's distance from the press' (perhaps like Scougal he was based in Aberdeenshire) and his 'youthful modesty' which led to the anonymous publication. It also mentions that this 'impression' amounts 'only to a very small number, and upon a fine paper, neatly bound, for the reader's pocket', which must explain the scarcity of the book today. The author's preface, where he says that like Scougal he was a young man training for the ministry, explains that he was provoked to write by criticisms of Scougal's book: the first that Scougal's description of Christ as 'he never knew the nuptial bed' was indecent, and the second that he was accused by 'a sect pretty well known' of being Arminian and Socinian. A search of ESTC and ECCO does not uncover any details of these controversies, which would have remained unknown were it not for the 'young gentleman's' defence. His book itself contains several different responses to Scougal: a commentary on The Life of God; a poem 'On Prayer', a 'Life and Character' of Scougal, including a Latin text translated into English, and a poem in praise of Scougal. The author was clearly as much an admirer of Scougal the person as Scougal the theologian, perhaps identifying the young clergyman as a role model, and the mixture of prose and poetry in the volume show him inspired intellectually and emotionally by Scougal's life and work. Only one other copy of this book is listed in ESTC, at the British Library, with a different collation. Though the edges of the first few leaves are damaged, the book preserves its original wrappers. It comes from the library of the 20th-century book collector Bent Juel-Jensen.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2708
Reference SourcesBookseller's catalogue; Oxford DNB entry for Henry Scougal
Acquired on21/02/08
TitleCatalogue of English books in circulation at Douglas & Foulis Library, 9 Castle Street, Edinburgh, and List of books added during 1913-1917
ImprintEdinburgh
Date of Publication1913 - 1918
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis catalogue of Douglas & Foulis' circulating library gives a fascinating glimpse of the rules of the library, its charges (for one guinea a year, a person could borrow one book a month; for ten guineas, 30 books a month), and what books it contained. Through the supplementary 'List of Books Added during 1913-1917', it also gives a rare insight into reading tastes and the circulation of books during the First World War. It is easy to find out what books were published during this period: here we can see that books such as 'Trench Pictures from France' and 'Russian Court Memoirs 1914-16' were easily accessible to Edinburgh readers with five shillings (the lowest subscription) to spare.
ShelfmarkAB.3.208.03
Acquired on04/12/07
Title[Street traders' silhouettes]
Imprint[s.l. : s.n.]
Date of Publicationc. 1840s?
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis 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.
ShelfmarkRB.m.663
Reference SourcesD. 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.
Acquired on22/10/07
TitlePennsylvania Packet, and Daily Advertiser for Saturday December 5, 1789
ImprintPhiladelphia: John Dunlap and David C. Claypoole
Date of Publication1789
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis single issue of the Pennsylvania Packet contains an advertisement for the first American edition of Adam Smith's Enquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, which was printed for and sold by Thomas Dobson, Second Street, Philadelphia in three volumes, price 1-2-6. 'The superior merit of this interesting Work is universally acknowledged where the Book itself is known ... The Publisher flattered himself he should perform an acceptable service to the generous and discerning Public, by presenting to them an Elegant American Edition of this Work at this important period - Printed on a superfine paper and good type, handsomely bound and lettered, at not more than one half the price for which the London Edition can be imported and sold.' While many American libraries hold copies of Dobson's edition, the National Library is one of only two British institutions recorded in ESTC as possessing a copy (shelfmark RB.s.1408). Dobson was born in Scotland but emigrated to Philadelphia. Best known for publishing the first American edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, he also published other books by Scottish authors such as Robert Burns.
ShelfmarkRB.l.256
Reference SourcesRobert D. Arner: Dobson's Encyclopaedia : the publisher, text, and publication of America's first Britannica, 1789-1803 (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1991)
Acquired on12/08/09
TitleA 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.
Imprint[S.l., s.n.]
Date of Publication1715
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis 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.
ShelfmarkAP.2.209.029
Acquired on30/01/09
TitleSaga: the magazine of Eastbank Hospital. No.1, Summer 1953.
Imprint[Kirkwall: Eastbank Hospital]
Date of Publication1953
LanguageEnglish
NotesGeorge Mackay Brown was the editor of this short-lived periodical published by and for the patients and staff of Eastbank Hospital in Kirkwall. A total of 5 issues were published during 1953 and 1954 and Brown contributed 23 of the 58 pieces including poetry, prose and editorials. Brown was in Eastbank being treated for tuberculosis. The title of the magazine was suggested as he said in his editorial by 'the long and bitter struggle of men' against TB. He had previously been hospitalized as a result of TB in 1940. At the time of this spell at Eastbank Brown was teaching at Newbattle Abbey College, near Dalkeith, Midlothian. His time there, where fellow Orcadian, Edwin Muir was the warden, gave Brown 'a sense of purpose and direction'. This cover illustration drawn by Ernest Marwick shows the view of Kirkwall from the hospital verandah. It is unlikely that many copies of this home-produced magazine have survived and this is therefore a very welcome edition to the Library's holdings of material by George Mackay Brown.
ShelfmarkFB.m.830
Reference SourcesRoyle, Trevor. The Mainstream companion to Scottish literature. (Edinburgh, 1993)
Acquired on08/12/08
Title[The Seasons] With sympathy inscribed to all who love flowers and their emblems
ImprintEdinburgh: T. Alexander Hill
Date of Publicationc.1855-80
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a fine example of de luxe book production in mid-Victorian Edinburgh. Bound in dark green cloth with the top board decorated in a black and gilt design repeated in blind in the lower cover, and with watered silk endpapers and gilt edges, the book is a meditation on the seasons designed primarily to feast the eye. The title page is decorated in gold and colours, and each season begins on a page with lithographed illuminated heading and colour illustration, enclosed with the text in a decorative border. The text, anonymously compiled, consists of a prose meditation on each season followed by an appropriate poem by a contemporary poet - Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Jean Ingelow, Richard Chevenix Trench and Edward Bulwer Lytton. The book was the work of two significant figures involved in the production of artistic books in mid-19th century Edinburgh: the lithographer W. H. McFarlane or M'Farlane, and T. Alexander Hill (1800-66), brother of David Octavius Hill and 'printseller to the Queen' as he describes himself on the title page. Praised in his obituary for his work in improving the print selling and publishing trade, Hill was involved with the then-recently established Royal Scottish Academy as supplier and dealer. This item is therefore not only interesting as a book, but also gives valuable background to the material context surrounding Scottish 19th-century art.
ShelfmarkFB.l.390
Reference SourcesSBTI; National Portrait Gallery directory of British artists' suppliers, 1650-1950 (http://www.npg.org.uk/research/programmes/directory-of-suppliers/h.php); bookseller's catalogue
Acquired on21/05/09
TitleThe Edinburgh Almanack and Scots Register for 1807
ImprintEdinburgh: David Ramsay & Son
Date of Publication1807
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis Edinburgh Almanack belonged to Fletcher Norton (1744-1820), second son of Fletcher Norton, first Baron Grantley, Speaker of the House of Commons. 'Fletcher Norton, Abbey Hill, Edinburgh' as he signs himself in this book, was appointed one of the Barons of the Scottish Exchequer in 1776 and set up residence in the Scottish capital. According to James Grant's book Old and New Edinburgh, Norton 'stood high in the estimation of all' as 'husband, father, friend, and master'. A founding member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Norton was a supporter of Scottish culture, playing a key role in ensuring the publication of Albyn's Anthology, an important collection of Scottish music. Norton gave his name to East and West Norton Place, Abbeyhill, the streets now located on the site of his old Edinburgh home. This almanac, whose blank pages were used by Norton to keep a record of his expenditure, provide an interesting insight into the daily life of a member of Edinburgh's social and cultural elite in the early 19th century, recording the 18 shillings spent on tooth powder, and the 2.9.0 spent on a chaise to London, among other notes. Our perception of movement between England and Scotland during this period is largely one of Scots emigrating - this book bears witness to an Englishman who successfully moved to Scotland and integrated himself with its cultural life.
ShelfmarkAB.1.209.016
Reference SourcesOxford DNB; James Grant, Old and New Edinburgh, vol.5 chapter 13 (http://www.oldandnewedinburgh.co.uk/volume5/page138/single)
Acquired on06/04/09
TitleRider's British Merlin for the year of Our Lord God 1804.
ImprintLondon: Printed for the Company of Stationers
Date of Publication1804
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis almanac, in a splendid decorative binding, is perhaps most interesting for its annotations: there is no ownership inscription, but it would be possible to reconstruct much about the owner from the copious notes on blank pages throughout the text. There are accounts (five shillings for a yard of lace, nineteen for 'stuff for petticoats', sixpence for a 'poor woman', for instance), recipes, notes on sermons and devotional topics, and poetry - most clearly attributed to authors such as Cowper, but some perhaps original. From the accounts and recipes, it seems likely that this almanac had a female owner; from the other content, one with a particularly spiritual and poetical turn of mind.
ShelfmarkBdg.s.937
Acquired on06/04/09
TitleBhagavad-Gita
ImprintGlasgow: David Bryce and Sons
Date of Publication[1900?]
LanguageSanskrit
NotesThis is a miniature copy of the Bhagavad-Gita, printed in gold and produced by David Bryce of Glasgow, the pre-eminent 19th century Scottish maker of miniature books. Regular copies of this publication are extremely rare and this copy printed in gold type is most probably unique. The provenance is significant in that it was originally part of David Bryce's personal collection. It was then owned by Bryce's grand-daughter and later acquired by Louis W. Bondy (1910-1993), the author of the classic one-volume reference source entitled: Miniature Books: their History from the Beginnings to the Present Day. The book measures 3 x 4 cm. The text is printed upon the thinnest white tissue paper and it is bound in gold and purple grapevine patterned stiff paper. On the front board a curlicue-patterned paper is pasted on, at the center of which is the title. The same pattern is repeated on two separate pasted papers on the spine. The book is accompanied by a lidded silver box measuring 4.5 x 6.5 cm. The top lid is engraved with a pattern resembling a tartan which incorporates a shield device. Engraved in script in the center of the shield is Bryce's name, and "Jedburgh" below.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2747
Reference SourcesBondy
Acquired on21/04/09
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