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 755 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 91 to 105 of 755:

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TitleHoly Bible
ImprintLondon: Eyre & Spottiswoode
Date of Publication1850
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an outstanding example of Victorian Scottish craftsmanship. The binding was specially commissioned for the 50th wedding anniversary of William and Agnes Renton on 7 July 1852. We know quite a bit about this couple, thanks to a book entitled 'Memorial of Mrs. Agnes Renton', privately printed in Kelso in 1866 for their family (NLS shelfmark OO.8/2). Agnes Renton was born into a merchant family in Edinburgh on 16 February 1781. William Renton was born in Edinburgh on 7 January 1774 and was also a merchant; he married Agnes on 7 July 1802, and their marriage seems to be have been particularly happy and fruitful. Agnes is portrayed in the Memorial as a strong, intelligent and devout woman, and extracts from her letters confirm this impression. The Memorial describes the anniversary celebrations, which culminated in the presentation of this Bible (pp.26-9): 'On the completion of the fiftieth year of her married life an interesting celebration of it took place, at which all the members of her family in this country were present, including four sons, two daughters, three sons-in-law, two daughters-in-law...and twenty-three grandchildren... About noon on the Jubilee Anniversary, Wednesday, July 7, 1852, the different branches of the family met in their common home, the house of our venerable parents, 22 Buccleuch Place. On entering, all, old and young, received wedding favours and gloves, according to old Scotch fashion. The seniors were ushered into the drawing-room, where father and mother awaited them; and when they were all assembled and had taken their places - the aged couple in arm chairs about the middle of the room - the youngsters entered in procession, two and two, according to age, and, ranged in a beautiful group in front of their grandparents, presented, by the hands of John Robson, as eldest grandson, though not eldest grandchild, the gift of the united grandchildren. It consisted of a magnificent quarto Bible, richly bound and clasped. In the interior of the board fronting the title-page a silver shield is inserted, of ten inches by six, within which is an oval tablet, six inches by four and a-half, containing an embossed genealogical tree of gold. On the base of the trunk are engraved the names of the grandparents, with a plaited lock of the hair incased beneath each. On the successive branches are the names of their children, and where married those also of their partners, with a number of twigs attached, corresponding to that of the grandchildren, and affixed to each a lock of the child's hair with a number indicating the name on the margin of the shield. Surrounding the tablet is a space of about an inch, between the gold rim inclosing it and the border of the shield, which is occupied at the top and bottom with the inscription, and on either side with the names of the donors, in the order of their families, to the number of thirty-one. In making the presentation the speaker delivered a pretty and appropriate address, expressive of the love and reverence and good wishes of the donors, and of their desire to follow the example which had been set by their grandparents, and to gladden their hearts by walking in the fear of the Lord. "Grandpapa" replied with not a little emotion, giving vent to his feelings of gratitude, interest, and affection. We then engaged in worship.' This detailed description leaves no room for doubt that this is the very Bible which is now being offered to NLS. It is a most remarkable object. As well as the extraordinary family tree inside the front board, the Bible is finely bound with gold tooling all over, gilt gauffered leaf edges, fine brass clasps and a velvet lining inside the boards. It is housed in a purpose-built box, also lined with velvet. The book measures 340 x 260 x 112 mm., and the box 345 x 405 x 195 mm. The combined weight is significant. The box also contains two small envelopes containing the hair of two further grandchildren (born after the event?) and a rather moth-eaten pamphlet 'The Rentons of Renton' (about 1950). NLS does not have a copy of this pamphlet, although we have an earlier history of the family, 'Renton', at shelfmark S.120.i. What is particularly noteworthy is that this binding is the work of Colin Frame of Glasgow, according to the lettering on the inner edge of the joint of the front board. This is a binder who is recorded in the Scottish Book Trade Index, but about whom little seems to be known. We do not appear to have any other examples of his work - but he was clearly a highly skilled and innovative craftsman. There is clearly much to discover about 19th-century Glasgow binders, if work of this quality has remained unknown to this day. NLS has only an imperfect copy of this Bible at shelfmark NF.715.b.6.
ShelfmarkBdg.l.48
Acquired on21/11/05
TitleThe 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] ...
ImprintEdinburgh
Date of Publication1794
LanguageEnglish
NotesThese 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.
ShelfmarkS.Sh.S.1.205.08; S.Sh.S.1.205.09
Reference SourcesYoung, Alex F. The encyclopaedia of Scottish executions 1750 to 1963. (1998)
Acquired on05/09/05
TitleThe King Emperor's Indian Durbar tour 1911-1912
Imprint[London?: s.n.]
Date of Publication[1912]
LanguageEnglish
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.
ShelfmarkPhot.la.79
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on23/09/11
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
TitleThe Holy Bible translated from the Latin Vulgat [sic]. [Douai version]
Imprint[Dublin?]
Date of Publication1750
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis 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.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2645
Reference SourcesBookseller's catalogue; Darlow & Moule; DNB
Acquired on26/01/07
TitleStevensoniana: being a reprint of various literary and pictorial miscellany associated with Robert Louis Stevenson the man and his work
ImprintNew York: Bankside Press
Date of Publication1900
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis rare item is, indeed, a collection of miscellaneous items by and about Robert Louis Stevenson: it includes texts such as Stevenson's article on Beranger in the Encyclopaedia Britannica and a poem about Stevenson by W.E. Henley, and illustrations including facsimile title pages and reproductions from earlier editions. It is a fine example of American private press de luxe publication of the period, one of a series of such literary productions by the Bankside Press at this time, with M.F. Mansfield accredited as the publisher and Blanche McManus responsible for the illustrations. Originally published in 6 parts (12 are advertised in this volume, but only 6 were produced), the whole, including the original paper covers, has been rebound in contemporary maroon half morocco with black and pink marbled boards and endpapers.
ShelfmarkFB.s.888
Reference SourcesBeinicke Stevenson bibliography vol. 1 item 1425; bookseller's catalogue
Acquired on11/08/06
TitleThe Holy Bible containing the Old and New Testaments.
ImprintGlasgow: David Bryce and Son
Date of Publication1901
LanguageEnglish
NotesThe publisher David Bryce of Glasgow first published a complete miniature Bible in 1896. This edition is a 1901 reprint with the date no longer on the title page as in the 1896 edition, but on the license leaf on the verso of the title page. The date which in its original form reads in print 'eighteen hundred and ninety' has been altered in ink to '29th day of March nineteen hundred and one' before being handed over to the lithographers. The Bible is bound in light brown calf which has been blind-stamped to imitate a 16th or 17th century centre-diamond binding with clasps. A removable magnifying glass is located in the back cover. The Bible is accompanied by a brass book stand in the form of a bust of an 18th century gentleman, perhaps Samuel Johnson. Bryce published a number of variants of his miniature Bible. This copy is often referred to as the 'Bryce Shakespeare Bible' because the work entitled 'Note on the Shakespeare Family Records' by W. S. Brassington, has has been interpolated between the Old and the New Testaments. Bryce was active around the turn of the 19th century and took an active interest in the latest technological advances in photolithography and electroplates to allow larger volumes to be reduced to the smallest imaginable size. The texts of his works are prized for their clarity and legibility.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2625
Reference SourcesBondy p. 110
Acquired on21/08/06
TitleHoly Bible
ImprintEdinburgh: Sir D. Hunter Blair and J. Bruce
Date of Publication1807
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis Bible was owned by Jane Baillie Welsh, who was to marry Thomas Carlyle and launch one of the greatest exchanges of correspondence in English. The book is bound for travelling, in red morocco with a fold-over flap to protect it. Inside, the flap is lined with green leather, and it is gilt-stamped 'J. B. Welsh 1814'. It is also signed 'Jane Baillie Welsh' on a flyleaf. In 1814 Jane was just thirteen and being tutored at home, in Haddington, East Lothian. The book clearly stayed with her, as Thomas Carlyle later added his own bookplate to the volume. There are remains of manuscript notes which someone has attempted to erase, but which could be reconstructed. In 1997, the library acquired a copy of Schiller's 'Don Karlos' (Leipzig, 1804), which also has Jane's inscription and Thomas's bookplate. This latest acquisition is particularly interesting as it has this smart binding - which suggests that books were already prized by Jane as a young teenager.
ShelfmarkBdg.s.917
Acquired on28/08/06
TitleEdinburgh and Port-Patrick time-bill.
Imprint[Scotland]
Date of Publicationc.1790
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a timetable for the Edinburgh to Portpatrick mail-coach, printed during the 1790s. It sets out the time and the distance for each stage of the journey, along with the name of the contractor responsible for each portion of the journey. The distance covered by the route, which took in places including Moffat, Dumfries, Newton Stewart, Glenluce and Stranraer, was 156 miles. The coach took 23 hours and 20 minutes to cover this distance, allowing for 30 minutes of 'office business' at Stranraer. This was considerably slower than the average royal mail coach, which moved at 11 mph in around 1800, and is indicative of the poor state of Scottish roads at the time.A weekly mail service from Portpatrick to Donaghadee in Co. Down (a distance of 21 miles) was established in 1662. In 1790 a daily mail service was introduced with the Post Office using its own vessels. Previously the mail had been carried by contract in privately owned ships. Portpatrick was also used as a port for sending troops and cattle to and from Ireland. The Portpatrick-Donaghdee route was superceded by the Stranraer-Larne crossing in the 1860s. A regular coach travel for passengers between England and Scotland was only introduced in the 1750s. The journey from London to Edinburgh/Glasgow took 10 or 12 days depending on the season. By the 1780s this had been reduced to 4 days. Within Scotland there were coaches operating between Edinburgh and Glasgow from 1749 and from Edinburgh to Perth and Stirling by 1767. The use of mail coaches, which also catered for passengers, only began in Scotland in 1786 with the London-Edinburgh mail coach which travelled via the Great North Road. Edinburgh-Portpatrick followed in 1790 and Edinburgh-Aberdeen in 1798. However the heyday of the mail coach was short-lived. It was superceded by the railway in most parts of Scotland by the mid-19th century.
ShelfmarkAPS.4.206.013
Reference SourcesCunningham, R.R. Portpatrick through the ages. (1974) Gordon, Anne. To move with the times: the story of transport and travel in Scotland (1988)
Acquired on13/09/06
TitleThe Holy Bible, containing the Old and New Testaments. With arguments to the different books; and moral and theological observations, illustrating each chapter, and shewing the use and improvement to be made of it: composed by the Reverend Mr. Ostervald, Professor of Divinity, and one of the ministers of the Church at Neufchatel in Swisserland: translated at the desire of, and recommended by, the Honble. Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge.
ImprintLondon: Printed by J. Murray, no. 32, Fleet-street.
Date of Publication1777
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a unique and unrecorded Old Testament and Apocrypha printed by John Murray. No bibliographic record can be found for it in ESTC, COPAC, Darlow & Moule and it is also not recorded in the checklist of Murray publications found in Zachs' 'The First John Murray and the Late Eighteenth-Century Book Trade' (Oxford University Press, 1998). It is accompanied by the New Testament of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ which has new signatures and a different imprint: Edinburgh: Printed by William Darling, 1776. The New Testament is also not listed in ESTC. Arrayed throughout the entire Bible are 9 engraved maps and 82 full-page engraved plates by Charles Grignion (1721-1810). Grignion was born in London to Huguenot refugees and had a successful career as an historical engraver and book illustrator. He was regarded by many contemporaries as the 'Father and Founder of the English school of Engraving'. The plates are inscribed or presented to various bishops by William Rider (1723-1785). Rider published 'The Christian Family's Bible' in three large folio volumes between 1763 and 1767 and the plates may have initially appeared in those volumes.
ShelfmarkRB.m.634
Reference SourcesNot in ESTC Not in Darlow & Moule
Acquired on07/08/06
TitleThe rudiments of architecture; or the young workman's instructor. In two parts ... with twenty-three elegant designs of building, the most of which have been actually executed in North Britain. To which is added. The Builder's Dictionary. Intended for those whose time will not allow them to attend teachers.
ImprintEdinburgh: Printed by William Auld, Turk's close, Lawn market
Date of Publication1773
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is one of the first books of architectural designs produced in Scotland. The first such publication was George Jameson, Thirty-three designs, Edinburgh: 1765, an extremely rare book of which no copies are known in Scotland. In 1772, the first edition of an anonymous book entitled The rudiments of architecture was printed in Edinburgh by Robert Mundell (NLS copy at RB.m.418). This work was based on William Salmon, Palladio Londinensis (1762) and Sebastien Le Clerc, Treatise (1723). Eileen Harris notes 'The success of the compilation is due more to the absence of other such works printed in Scotland and the efforts of the publishers than to the second-hand, second-rate contents' (Harris, p.401). In 1773 this second edition appeared, with an additional 12 plates showing 23 designs for houses in the Palladian manner, modelled on Jameson's work. Despite Harris' disparaging remarks, this book was clearly of use, as the copy we have now acquired has marginal notes and sketches that suggest it was owned by a working architect. This may have been the William Watson whose contemporary inscription appears at the head of the title-page. No other copies are recorded in public ownership in Scotland.
ShelfmarkRB.m.635
Reference SourcesESTC N13160; Eileen Harris, British Architectural Books and Writers 1556-1785, CUP, 1990
Acquired on29/09/06
TitleThe complete pocket book or, gentleman and trademan's daily journal, for the year of our Lord 1764.
ImprintLondon: Printed for J. Johnson
Date of Publication1763
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis work, of which only one copy is recorded in the UK, contains a fascinating record of accounts and appointments of a relative or employee of James Duff, the second Earl of Fife (1729-1809). This unnamed individual seems to have been based in London sorting out the business affairs of Lord and Lady Fife. He records his correspondence with them and the payments he makes on their behalf. The Earl of Fife was MP for Banff between 1754 and 1780. He married Lady Dorothea Sinclair (Lady Fife) in 1759. In 1763, the year in which this volume was published, he succeeded his father in the title and estates, mainly in Aberdeen and Moray. The Earl devoted himself to the improvement of the property, which he greatly increased by the purchase of land in the north of Scotland. Most of the entries, however, concern the expenses of the Earl's man in London. For example, he was a frequent visitor to the Smyrna Coffee House in Pall Mall, a popular meeting place for Whigs during this period. He also went regularly to the theatre and the opera - both Drury Lane and Covent Garden are mentioned throughout. This was a man who was also concerned with his appearance: nosegays, shaving powder and toothpicks as well as payments to his hairdresser are recorded. He hired coaches and chairs, the 18th-century equivalents of black cabs. He also bought snuff, gloves, sealing-wax, fruit, woodcocks, teal and turkey and gave money to charity almost on a weekly basis.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2633
Acquired on16/10/06
TitleIn four days to London. The Edinburgh and London fly coaches, by way of Newcastle and York.
Imprint[Edinburgh?]
Date of Publication1776
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a ticket for a 'fly coach' between Edinburgh and Newcastle. It was issued to a Mrs. Inchbald on 2 July 1776. This was possibly Elizabeth Inchbald, the actress who was touring Scotland with the West Digges theatre company at the time. On the back are details and prices for fly coaches from Edinburgh to London via Newcastle, York and Grantham, run by James Dun, Cowgate Port, Edinburgh. The entire journey which began at 2am from Edinburgh took 4 days. Dun was based at this address from 1772 to 1777 and was competing directly against another coach service which ran from the Black Bull in the Canongate. In 1777 Dun moved to a larger establishment in St. Andrew's Square in the more fashionable New Town. Coach travel between England and Scotland was a relatively new phenomenon. It was only in 1753 that a regular passenger carrying service was instigated. This took ten days in the summer and twelve in the winter, so Dun's four-day service was a considerable improvement.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2634
Acquired on16/10/06
TitleThe ten little travellers.
ImprintGlasgow: John S. Marr & Sons
Date of Publicationc.1880
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis 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.
ShelfmarkAP.4.207.47
Acquired on24/09/07
TitleThe Holy Bible containing the Old Testament and the new &
ImprintCambridge: Printed by John Archdeacon &
Date of Publication1769
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis two volume set of the Holy Bible, printed in Cambridge in 1769, has been bound in red morocco, probably in imitation of the Edinburgh binder James Scott, who was active during the 1770s and 1780s. Also bound in with the New Testament are the Psalms of David in metre printed in Edinburgh in 1770 by Alexander Kincaid. The Psalms were also printed as part of a Holy Bible published by Kincaid in the same year.This binding is probably contemporary, and given the presence of the Psalms printed in Edinburgh, may have been bound in Scotland. Several of the ornaments used, particularly the scrolls and flourishes (Sc.7.1773 and Sc.13.1774 in Loudon), resemble those used by James Scott, though other prominent ornaments such as the fox and Cupid were not used by Scott. These bindings were part of the collection of Bibles belonging to Lord Wardington (1924-2005).
ShelfmarkBdg.s.916
Reference SourcesJ.H. Loudon, James and William Scott bookbinders. (London, 1980)
Acquired on31/07/06
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