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 697 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 697:
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|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||Catalogue of English books in circulation at Douglas & Foulis Library, 9 Castle Street, Edinburgh, and List of books added during 1913-1917|
|Date of Publication||1913 - 1918|
|Notes||This 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. |
|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||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||[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||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|
|Title||[3 early nineteenth century Edinburgh trade cards] |
|Date of Publication||[c.1811-1842]|
|Notes||These three trade cards provide us with a fascinating snapshot of the commercial life of the growing capital in the first half of the 19th century.The earliest of the three is probably that advertising the activities of H. Urquhart who was working as a hairdresser, peruque (wig)-maker and perfumer from premises at 31 George Street from 1811-1815. According to the Edinburgh and Leith Post Office Directory he worked at other addresses in George Street and Hanover Street around the same period. The engraving has been inexpertly hand-coloured probably many decades later. The text on the verso of the illustration describes in detail the services offered by Urquhart. We have been unable to discover when George King, velvet and silk dyer, was working. Around 10 dyers are listed in Edinburgh trade directories from 1810 to 1840, but there is no mention of King. The style of dress on the engraving suggest that in dates from the first quarter of the 19th century. The Watergate referred to on the card was a physical structure guarding the entry to the Canongate from the north-east. It acted as a toll barrier rather than a military defence. The engraved card advertising Tait’s New Royal Hotel on Princes Street probably dates from the 1840s. It was engraved by Mould & Tod who had an address on North Bridge in 1842. The scene shows a bustling street with people promenading outside the hotel, which is opposite the Scott Monument (opened in 1846).Trade cards probably date from the late 18th century. The advances in printing technology in the early 19th century led to trade cards becoming far more plentiful. This was accentuated when colour printing was developed from mid-century onwards. The trade card evolved into the business card which is still in use today. There are other examples of Scottish trade cards in the collection at RB.m.571 and RB.m.112.|
|Reference Sources||Edinburgh and Leith Post Office directories 1810-1850|
|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...|
|Date of Publication||ca.1740-1750?|
|Notes||Previously 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. |
|Reference Sources||ESTC; William Robertson: A description of the figure, construction and use of a new catadioptric microscope, invented by William Robertson (Edinburgh, ca. 1750).|
|Imprint||London: J. M. Johnson and Sons|
|Date of Publication||[1896?]|
|Notes||This is a highly decorative Victorian advertisement for the Edinburgh brewers Campbell and Co. The lettering is in bold red with striking gilt finishing. The lithographed poster is undated, but cannot have been produced after 1896, when Campbell & Co. amalgamated with Hope and King of Glasgow. UCampbell's are reputed to have started brewing as early as 1710. The business remained in the family until the 1896 merger. |
|Reference Sources||Bookseller's catalogue, which cites the Scottish Brewing Archive.|
|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||A list of the sporting ladies who is [sic] arrived from all the principal towns in Great Britain and Ireland, to take their pleasure at Leith races, on Monday the 3d June 1776.|
|Imprint||[Edinburgh : s.n.]|
|Date of Publication||1776|
|Notes||This is an 18th-century broadside containing an 86-line poem about the prostitutes lately arrived in Edinburgh to entertain gentlemen at the Leith races, held on the East Sands. It reviews the names and qualities of the "sporting ladies", recommending some, warning potential customers away from others, beginning with a Miss Clerk plying her trade at the back of Edinburgh's Bess Wynde, then other "ladies" from Aberdeen, Perth, Dunfermline, Inverness, Montrose, Dundee, etc., working Miln's Square, Niddery's Wynd, Gray's Close, and the Lawn-Market, concluding with two who could be found at Castle Wynd. Leith race week, establshed in the 17th century, was an important week in neighbouring Edinburgh's social calendar, sometimes leading to a partial suspension of work and business in the city. "On the approach of the race ... a great many fashionable families ... flocked into the town ... This influx of wealthy and idle people kept the city, during the whole of race week, in a state of feverish excitation, and converted it into one continual scene of gaiety and dissipation." (Campbell, p. 185). It was only to be expected that prostitutes would ply their trade for the benefit of the race-goers. The writer of this broadside concludes, tongue in cheek: "N.B. As there will be published a new List every day during the Races, Ladies who incline to be Booked, will loose no time in giving in their Names." This work is not recorded by the usual reference works, nor online catalogues. The only references to it can be found in Thomas Stevenson's "The bibliography of James Maidment" (Edinburgh, 1883 - p. 30) as having been sold on the 3rd day's sale of the antiquary James Maidment's collection on 29 April 1880 and T. Chapman & Son's catalogue of the sale where it is listed as part of lot 1000 "Collectanea curiosa", which sold for 80 shillings. Lot 1000 also included another Leith races broadside printed for 1777 (not recorded anywhere), and a broadside the "Sporting ladies' reply" (now in NLS - shelfmark: LC.1268(002)). This copy may well be Maidment's own copy but there are no marks of provenance to link it to him.|
|Reference Sources||Alexander Campbell, The History of Leith, Leith, 1827.
|Imprint||New York and Rochester, NY|
|Date of Publication||1838-39|
|Notes||The Dundonian William Lyon Mackenzie (1795-1861) ran a circulating library with his mother before emigrating to the province of Upper Canada in 1820. He became a politician and journalist, starting with the publication of the "Colonial Advocate" in 1824. Politically he supported the critics of the local ruling class of Tory politicians and colonial administrators. He was elected to the assembly of the new provincial capital York in 1828 but was ejected three years later by the Tories. In 1834, when York became incorporated as the City of Toronto, Mackenzie became its first mayor. He later pushed for greater Canadian autonomy, which led to the armed Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837-8; the revolt was quickly put down by British troops and Mackenzie and his allies fled to the USA. He settled in New York and on 12 May 1838 launched "Mackenzie's Gazette", asserting that the newspaper would defend the cause of Canadian patriots, who, although now based the USA, were still determined to overthrow the Upper Canadian government and remove the British presence in the province. In January 1839 Mackenzie moved to Rochester, New York state, continuing to publish the newspaper from there, but financial support for him and his cause began to dry up; moreover, in June of that year Mackenzie was found guilty of violating America's neutrality laws. He served almost a year in prison, but still managed to publish his newspaper, although issues appeared only sporadically. The last issue was published in December 1840, six months after MacKenzie received a pardon by the US President, Martin Van Buren. Mackenzie later became an American citizen, but he returned to Canada in 1850 when an amnesty for those who took part in the 1837-8 Rebellion was announced. He remained active in politics and journalism for the rest of his life.
"Mackenzie's Gazette" was an important, if rather short-lived, literary expression of radical, anti-colonial feeling among Canadians and American sympathisers and contains much valuable historical information for the period. The set acquired by NLS comprises Vol. 1, numbers 27 to 52, covering November 1838 to May 1839; there are no recorded original copies of the newspaper in the UK.
|Title||1951 Exhibition of Industrial Power - Kelvin Hall, Glasgow - Festival of Britain. |
|Date of Publication||1951|
|Notes||This striking catalogue marks one of Scotland's contributions to the celebrations for the Festival of Britain. The 1951 festival marked a moment of national self-confidence as the austerity of the war years started to come to an end. As the text makes clear, this is not a commercial trade fair, but a celebration of Britain's technical and economic development, and its contribution to civilisation. However, many of the firms involved have included colourful advertisements for tools, heavy machinery, power generation and financial services. One of the most interesting features is the emphasis on the generation of electricity from renewable resources: hydro-electricity and wind power are discussed and promoted. The hope is expressed that engineers 'will be able to produce in Scotland by wind-power alone as much electricity as is being produced in the country at present by any other means'. The publication suggests an optimistic and ambitious society looking to a prosperous future: unfortunately, not all the hopes expressed in 1951 have yet been fulfilled.|
|Title||The Poster: an illustrated monthly chronicle|
|Imprint||London [various printers]|
|Date of Publication||1898-1900|
|Notes||The five volumes of this rare periodical contain numerous attractive plates of contemporary posters, some in colour. There are articles relating to artists and printers, reviews of exhibitions and movements in fashion, design and collecting. Writing on advertisements and other forms of ephemera is also included. Posters have traditionally been neglected in library collections: they are hard to store and conserve, inconvenient to issue to readers and difficult to catalogue using systems designed for books. With the advent of digitisation, however, poster collections are starting to become accessible in new ways. This is an important periodical to acquire, as it gives extensive information about the art of the poster during some of its golden years. Hopefully it will be useful to those researching the poster and the bibliography of related arts.|
|Title||Dancing taught without a master. The ball-room companion containing all the fashionable dances of the day.|
|Imprint||Aberdeen : J. Daniel and Son and all booksellers|
|Date of Publication||1879|
|Notes||This little pocket manual contains instructions for over 18 of the most commonly performed dances at balls or assemblies in the late 19th century. It was intended as a reminder for people who had taken dancing lessons, rather than for those new to dancing. No pages in this copy have been opened. However, the contents of the entire work can be read as a single sheet which measures 28 cm. x 45 cm when unfolded. |