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 772 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.

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Important Acquisitions 91 to 105 of 772:

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TitleObservations on the culture of the tobacco-plant... adapted to the climate of the west of Scotland.
ImprintGlasgow: Printed by Robert Chapman and Alexander Duncan
Date of Publication1782
LanguageEnglish
NotesDuring 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.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2622
Acquired on07/06/06
TitleThe Visitor : comprising a detail of cholera lists, accidents, occurrences &c. &c.
ImprintGlasgow: J. Farms
Date of Publication1832
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a very rare periodical published in Glasgow in 1832 to document the cholera epidemic sweeping through Scotland at the time. 'The Visitor' was published weekly from February 4th to April 25th 1832 and detailed the number of new cases, deaths and recoveries in Greenock, Paisley, Kirkintilloch and Glasgow. The worst of the outbreaks appeared to be in the west of Scotland but there was also news of the disease affecting Haddington, Musselburgh and Tranent and Edinburgh as well as Belfast, London and Newcastle. In all over 3,000 people died in Glasgow alone. The disease arrived for the first time in Britain in 1831, probably on ships bringing imports from China. It spread rapidly in the growing industrial towns, where houses had been built quickly without any thought for sanitation or sewage disposal. There were further outbreaks in 1848, 1853 and 1866 and again the death toll was considerable. The periodical contained practical information, including recipes for possible cures and symptoms to look out for. The publisher regarded cholera as an opportunity for people to repent of their sins and also noted the relatively large numbers suffering from intemperance who succumbed to the disease. Cholera had a huge impact on daily life - hawkers were unable to travel to the Highlands and weavers lost their jobs as there was no demand for their wares. There were also reports of 'cholera riots' in Glasgow, Paisley and Edinburgh. Surgeons were the particular target as they were suspected of 'burking' or murdering those who were ill. Three years after the Edinburgh murders by Burke and Hare, these events were still in the public mind. Apart from the news about cholera, 'The Visitor' also had a 'miscellaneous' section with details of fires, murders, drownings and robberies. In the issue for 14 March there was even mention of an earthquake in Crieff! In addition to the 20 issues of 'The Visitor' there are also a number of supplementary and related periodicals published from April to July 1832.
ShelfmarkABS.1.206.060(1)
Reference Sourceshttp://www.learningcurve.gov.uk/victorianbritain/healthy/default.htm Morris, R.J. Cholera 1832: the social response to an epidemic. (London, 1976)
Acquired on07/06/06
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
TitleDescriptive sketch of the print of the death of Gen. Sir Ralph Abercrombie.
ImprintLondon: John P. Thompson
Date of Publication1804
LanguageEnglish and French
NotesThis broadside is a guide to a print depicting the death of General Sir Ralph Abercromby in Egypt in 1801. The death of Abercromby at the Battle of Alexandria was recorded by a number of painters including James Northcote, Philip de Loutherburg and Samuel James Arnold. It is likely that the print was based on the work of one of these painters. Abercromby was born in Menstrie, Clackmannanshire, in 1734. He was educated in Alloa and Rugby before studying law at the universities of Edinburgh and Leipzig. His military career began in 1758 during the Seven Years War. For a number of years in the 1770s he sat in Parliament as an MP for Clackmannanshire. The French Revolutionary Wars revived Abercromby's military career - he fought in Flanders and the West Indies, then served briefly in Ireland before the rebellion of 1798. In 1800 Abercromby was appointed as commander of the British forces in the Mediterranean. In the process of routing the French at Abu Qir Bay, near Alexandria in March 1801, he was fatally wounded. He was later buried on Malta. Abercromby was a popular figure in the British army and his death elevated him to hero-status among the general public. Curiously, although the imprint gives the date as 1804, the paper has a watermark dated 1809! The publisher was John Peter Thompson, who worked as an engraver, printer and printerseller in Great Newport Street, London from 1792 to 1813.
ShelfmarkRB.l.232
Reference SourcesDNB
Acquired on31/07/06
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 Holy Bible, containing the Old and New Testaments: newly translated out of the original tongues; and with the former translations diligently compared and revised.
Imprint Edinburgh: Printed by Alexander Kincaid
Date of PublicationMDCCLXXIII [1773]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a two-volume contemporary Scottish binding in green morocco. Both volumes feature a centre floral emblem surrounded by gilt leaves, swirls and corner floral emblems. The edges of the boards are gilt-tooled. The spine is divided into five panels with one panel incorporating a gilt volume number, and the others with identical gilt floral emblems. The edges of the text-blocks are stained yellow and the endpapers are floral patterned Dutch gilt. Both volumes are accompanied by contemporary custom sewn leather pouches.
ShelfmarkBdg.s.914
Acquired on22/06/06
TitleSailm Dhaibhidh a meadar dhana Gaoidheilg
ImprintDun Edin [Edinburgh]: Aindra Ainderson
Date of Publication1707
LanguageGaelic
NotesThis 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.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2619
Reference SourcesScottish Gaelic Union Catalogue (Edinburgh, 1984) Maclean, Donald. Typographia Scoto-Gadelica (Edinburgh, 1915)
Acquired on26/06/06
TitleRepository of Arts.
ImprintEdinburgh: D.Macintosh,
Date of Publicationc.1817-c.1822
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis large engraving (25 x 16 cm) of Daniel Macintosh's Repository of the Arts in Princes Street was probably produced for advertising purposes. It is slightly unusual in that although tradesmen did produce engraved advertisements, they were rarely as large as this. Macintosh is recorded as having been a carver, gilder and print-seller in South St. Andrew's Street from 1799 onwards. He moved to Princes Street in 1817 where he also sold "ladies fancy works, stationery, water colours & all requisites for drawing". As he was also a drawing master, it is possible that he drew the very fine illustration of his shop which was engraved by James Girtin. Little else is known about Macintosh. The National Library only holds one book he published - "Twelve etchings of views in Edinburgh", dated 1816.
ShelfmarkRB.m.641
Reference SourcesScottish Book Trade Index
Acquired on27/11/06
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