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 735 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 91 to 105 of 735:
Ordered by author |
Order by title
| Order by date
|Title||The Holy Bible.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Alexander Kincaid,|
|Date of Publication||1762|
|Notes||This Edinburgh Bible, which belonged to the Rev. James Oliphant, (1734-1818) is of interest for a number of reasons. Oliphant was lampooned by Robert Burns in his 1786 poem 'The ordination' for his booming voice. The Bible also contains at the front of the volume a list of the texts on which Oliphant preached, together with the dates of the sermons between 1761 and 1781. During this time he was minister at Kilmarnock and Dumbarton. Some of this information appears to have been written in a form of shorthand.
Oliphant was a somewhat controversial figure during his lifetime. His adoption of a certain kind of Calvinist theology attracted the hostility of colleagues in the Church of Scotland. In 1773 his Kilmarnock opponents even hired a man to walk the streets of Dumbarton to make fun of him.
|Reference Sources||Oxford DNB|
|Title||El Grafico, 16 Junio 1923|
|Date of Publication||1923|
|Notes||This Argentinian weekly sporting magazine contains a double page spread on Third Lanark's first game of their South American tour in the summer of 1923. Thirds were in fact the first Scottish side, strengthened by some guest players, to visit South America.
They lost this encounter against an 'Argentine Select' 1-0 in front of 20,000 screaming fans in the Palermo Stadium in Buenos Aires. What the brief report does not mention was that at one point after Thirds had been awarded a corner, missiles - including knives and live ammunition - were thrown onto the pitch. The Scots walked off in protest but were later persuaded to return and finish the game.
In all Third Lanark (who are not named in the magazine) played eight matches in Argentina and Uruguay, winning four of them.
Third Lanark Athletic Club were formed in 1872 by members of Third Lanark Rifle Volunteers and was one of Scotland's foremost football clubs until they went into liquidation in 1967.|
|Reference Sources||Bell, Bert. Still seeing red: a history of Third Lanark A.C. Glasgow, 1996.|
|Title||Living wonder! Never seen in this country before.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd|
|Date of Publication||c.1809-1814|
|Notes||This is a striking and unusual flyer advertising the exhibition of a 'great serpent or boa constrictor, alive' at Stephano Polito's menagerie, probably in Edinburgh in the early years of the 19th century. Stephano (or Stephen) Polito (1763/4-1814) was born in Italy but spent the bulk of his working life in England. He started his career by exhibiting supposedly exotic human beings at Bartolomew Fair, before establishing a menagerie of 'wild beasts' many of which had been collected from East India merchantmen. He travelled around the country showing elephants, kangaroos and rhinos. Lord Byron visited the collection at Exeter Change, London in 1813 where he remarked on a performing elephant that took off his hat.
Polito travelled regularly to Scotland as well as to Ireland. It is assumed that he went to the same place in Edinburgh every year as no exact location is mentioned. Polito also claims to be the first to exhibit this species in Britain. He reassures the public by claiming that his specimen is perfectly secure and that even 'the most timorous may approach it with safety'.
|Reference Sources||Frost, Thomas. The old showmen and the London fairs. London, 1874; Oxford DNB|
|Title||Observations on the culture of the tobacco-plant... adapted to the climate of the west of Scotland. |
|Imprint||Glasgow: Printed by Robert Chapman and Alexander Duncan|
|Date of Publication||1782|
|Notes||During the 18th century, Glasgow was a centre for trade between Scotland and North America. This pamphlet, printed just after the American Revolution, shows that Scots were keen to learn from America. The anonymous writer suggests that if the right location can be found, it should be possible to grow tobacco in Scotland as successfully as in Virginia. The book discusses growing the plants, harvesting the crop and curing the tobacco. It suggests that for extra flavour, you should sprinkle the tobacco 'with a little white wine or cider'. There is a long tradition of literature about smoking and tobacco; one of the earliest contributions was by a Scot: King James VI's Counterblaste to Tobacco (1604).
This is a good copy of a very rare book; it is not listed in the English Short-Title Catalogue (ESTC), and only one other copy in the UK is recorded, in Glasgow University Library.
|Title||Francis Garden Lord Gardenstone |
|Imprint||[Edinburgh? : s.n.]|
|Date of Publication||[18--]|
|Notes||This broadside commemorates the eccentricities of Francis Garden, Lord Gardenstone (1721-1793). It is printed on French laid paper with the watermarks Papier a la main and Auvergne with a flower and sprouting heart. However, the quality of printing suggests that the broadside is in fact a product of the mid- to late nineteenth century. It is possible that it was printed as a deluxe version for the centenary of the erection of St. Bernard's Well at Stockbridge in 1789, which had been financed by Lord Gardenstone.
Born and educated in Edinburgh, Francis Garden was admitted an advocate in 1743 and appointed a lord of session in 1764. Notwithstanding his convivial propensities during his early practice at the bar, he was characterised by A.F. Tytler as an "acute and able lawyer". As a philanthropist he is remembered fondly for buying the estate of Johnston in Kincardineshire in 1762 in order to build a new village; he also founded a library and museum there for the use of the villagers, not to mention an inn. However, Lord Gardenstone is probably best remembered for his particular taste for social hilarity and his many peculiarities, one of which was an extreme fondness of pigs. Some anecdotes are retold in the broadside; another one recalls the occasion of Garden's involvement in the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion: serving under Sir John Cope, he and a companion preferred wine and oysters to watching and warding, tarried too long in a bar at Musselburgh and were captured by an enemy patrol. About to be hanged, they were released when they were seen to be completely drunk and incapable.
Lord Gardenstone died in Morningside aged 72 and is buried in Greyfriars churchyard in an unmarked grave.
|Reference Sources||Oxford DNB, www.electricscotland.com|
|Title||Sailm Dhaibhidh a meadar dhana Gaoidheilg|
|Imprint||Dun Edin [Edinburgh]: Aindra Ainderson|
|Date of Publication||1707|
|Notes||This is a fine copy of the very rare fifth edition of the Psalms in Gaelic. Only one other copy in recorded in public collections and Donald Maclean in 'Typographia Scoto-Gadelica' described this edition as 'excessively rare'. The Psalms were first translated into Gaelic by the Synod of Argyle in 1659. Also printed as part of the book was an edition of the Westminster Shorter Catechism 'Foirceadul aithghear cheasnuighe'. This book formed part of the library of the Earls of Macclesfield at Shirburn Castle, Oxfordshire. The first Earl of Macclesfield, Thomas Parker (1666-1732) was deeply interested in theological works and it is likely that he purchased this item in the early 18th century. The Macclesfield bookplate is on the front pastedown with a library label dating from 1860 on the front free endpaper.|
|Reference Sources||Scottish Gaelic Union Catalogue (Edinburgh, 1984) Maclean, Donald. Typographia Scoto-Gadelica (Edinburgh, 1915)|
|Title||[The Seasons] With sympathy inscribed to all who love flowers and their emblems|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: T. Alexander Hill|
|Date of Publication||c.1855-80|
|Notes||This 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.|
|Reference Sources||SBTI; 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|
|Title||Allies Bible in khaki.|
|Imprint||Glasgow: David Bryce and Son ; London: Henry Frowde, Oxford University Press Warehouse|
|Date of Publication||[Between 1901 and 1914?]|
|Notes||This is one of the most rare miniature Bibles produced by David Bryce and Son of Glasgow. Known as the 'Allies Bible', it is bound in brown khaki and is preceded by 15 pages of text which includes four national anthems (God Save the King, The Marseillaise Hymn, La Brabanconne, and Russian national anthem -- all in English without music) and also 'Recessional' by Rudyard Kipling and 'Evening Prayer of a People' by Neil Munro. It measures only 45 mm. in height and is accompanied by its original dust-jacket which features pictures of the Belgian, British, French and Russian flags in colour. |
|Reference Sources||Bondy: page 110|
|Imprint||Glasgow: David Bryce and Sons|
|Date of Publication||[1900?]|
|Notes||This 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.
|Title||Pennsylvania Packet, and Daily Advertiser for Saturday December 5, 1789|
|Imprint||Philadelphia: John Dunlap and David C. Claypoole|
|Date of Publication||1789|
|Notes||This 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.|
|Reference Sources||Robert D. Arner: Dobson's Encyclopaedia : the publisher, text, and publication of America's first Britannica, 1789-1803 (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1991)|
|Title||Staffa, Iona, Inverness, Cromarty, Invergordon, Burghead & Oban, Tobermory, Strontian, &c. Regular and more speedy conveyance to the above ports & .|
|Date of Publication||1835|
|Notes||This is a very rare and relatively undamaged broadside from the early years of steamships plying the west coast of Scotland. The very first steamer was the Comet which sailed from Glasgow to Fort William via the Crinan Canal in 1819. Throughout the 1820s a number of ships made the long and sometimes arduous trip from Glasgow to Fort William or to Inverness via the newly opened Caledonian Canal. One of the ships mentioned here - 'The Highlander' had from 1822 taken passengers and freight from the Clyde to the Sound of Mull. 'The Staffa' operated from 1832 to 1848 mainly to the west coast and to Inverness. 'The Maid of Morven' operated from 1827 to 1850 to both west coast but also to the east coast ports of Invergordon, Cromarty and Burghead.
Although the main purpose of these ships was trade - carrying freight and passengers going about their business - they also accomodated tourists visiting Staffa and Iona. The painter J.M.W. Turner travelled on 'The Maid of Morven' when he went on a sketching tour of the west coast in 1831. During this trip he visited Fingal's Cave on Staffa and made some pencil sketches.
|Reference Sources||Duckworth, C.L.D. and Langmuir, G.E. West Highland steamers. 1987.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Alexander Alison|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||This is an interesting piece of printed ephemera from mid-18th century Edinburgh. In Britain printed funeral invitations - called burial letters - are known from at least the late seventeenth century. Many, like this, exhort the reader to 'Memento mori' - remember that you must die. Usually printers would produce ready-printed non-specific invitations on which the name of the deceased and the time and place of the funeral would be entered by hand. Mr. Simson must have reasonably well-off to have been able to afford to have his invitations fully printed . These invitations were usually hand-delivered by servants or people specially employed for the task. In large burghs delivering such letters became a recognized occupation.
Woodcut invitations such as this tended to use stock narrative or allegorical compositions. The images - the grim reaper, the skull and crossbones, the cortege - relate not only to the death of the person in question but also as reminder of one's own mortality.
Little is known of David Simson apart from the fact that he was employed in the legal profession.
The Library holds another example of such woodcut imagery (without letterpress but in manuscript) at APS.el.150.|
|Reference Sources||Llewellyn, Nigel, The art of death. (London, V&A, 1991)
Hatches, matches and despatches: catalogue of exhibition held at General Register House 1996-97.
Gordon, Anne. Death is for the living. (Edinburgh, 1984)
|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||Greenock news-clout, no.31|
|Imprint||Greenock: John Lennox|
|Date of Publication||28 September 1850|
|Notes||This is the only known copy of this issue of a short-lived but remarkable Greenock newspaper, which was printed on calico - a coarse and light-weight form of cotton. The Watt Library in Greenock holds 5 other issues - all printed on the same material - dating from 1849-1850. According to the masthead this title was a successor to the 'Young Greenock',' Aurora' and 'Quilp's Budget'. These titles have not been traced. The masthead goes on to state that these titles were declared in January 1849 by the Solicitor of Stamps to be illegal. The printer/publisher John Lennox was summoned before the Court of the Exchequer, fined £100 and forced to pay the expenses of the case. Lennox had for a long time been a campaigner against this 'tax on knowledge' and it appears that he was not prosecuted for printing on calico. The printer and 'News-clout' were even mentioned in Parliament during a debate on the newspaper tax in March 1850.
In order to circumvent the tax on newspapers (which saw the newspapers carry a red stamp showing the amount of tax levied), the publisher John Lennox decided to print this newspaper on calico. The contents of the paper itself are unremarkable reports of municipal election and court cases, letters on the Episcopal Church, advertisements and articles on female franchise and second sight.
Lennox had been a newsagent in Dumbarton around 1822. He printed the 'Dumbarton Argus' from 1832 until 1834 and printed a number of monthly periodicals in Greenock additional to those mentioned above (The Second Precursor, Sam Slick, and The Ventilator) in the 1840s. He died in 1853 aged 59. Monthly papers were not subject to the tax, so publishers like Lennox published papers weekly, though using a different title every week to evade the tax. The tax on newspaper which had been enacted in 1712 was abolished in 1855.|
|Reference Sources||William Stewart. John Lennox and the 'Greenock Newsclout' a fight against the taxes on knowledge. Glasgow, 1918
|Title||Rider's British Merlin for the year of Our Lord God 1804. |
|Imprint||London: Printed for the Company of Stationers|
|Date of Publication||1804|
|Notes||This 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.|