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 899 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



Important Acquisitions 31 to 45 of 899:

Ordered by date acquired
Order by author | Order by title
Author[Charles Edward Stuart]
Title C. P de G R. de la G = B. &c., A tous les rois, princes, republiques, &c. ... C. P of W R of Gr. Br. &c. To all kings, princes, republiques, &c..
Imprint[Paris?: s.n.]
Date of Publication1748
LanguageFrench & English
NotesA single sheet proclamation issued on behalf of Prince Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie or the Young Pretender) on 16 July 1748, with parallel text in two columns in French and English. Two years after the failure of the Jacobite uprising in Great Britain, Charles found his position in exile in France becoming increasingly precarious after the terms of the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle had been agreed between Britain and France. The treaty put an end to the 8-year war of Austrian Succession which had been fought in northern Europe, and which Charles had taken advantage of to launch his uprising in Scotland at a time when British soldiers were fighting on the Continent. One clause of the treaty compelled the French to recognise the Hanoverian succession to the British throne and expel the Jacobites from France. In this proclamation, presumably intended for a British as well as French readership, Charles stated that he regarded as void anything stipulated against his or his father's rights to the throne of Great Britain. In reality there was nothing he could do about the treaty and in December of that year he was finally expelled from France. Only one other copy of this version of the proclamation is known in the UK, the Library also has a French language-only version of it.
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on29/04/17
Author"Dr Milsintown"
TitleAusfuehrliches Leben und besondere Schiksale eines wilden Knaben
ImprintFrankfurt und Leipzig: s.n.
Date of Publication1759
NotesThis German work is supposedly by a 'Dr Milsintown', an Edinburgh physician, who records how, in the summer of 1756, while on the Hebridean island of Barra, he discovered a feral African boy on a beach, who he presumes to have been a survivor of a shipwreck off the northern Irish coast. Milsintown endeavoured, without success, to humanise the boy and turn him into a Christian. He also operated on the boy's cleft palate but the child died soon after the operation. Shortly before his death he was baptised and given the name Edward. The text of the work is supposedly translated via French from the original Scots ("even more difficult to understand than English"), but no such source texts have been identified. There were a number of examples of feral children being discovered in Europe in the 18th and early 19th century. Their behaviour and the attempts to turn them into civilised human beings formed the subject of books and scholarly articles. The apparent existence of wild human beings, completely unaware of the norms of civilised society, was a subject which fascinated Enlightenment readers, who at the time were questioning traditional values and educational practices. It is not clear whether the Barra boy was the product of someone's imagination or was a real person.
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on29/04/17
AuthorJohn Ferdinand
TitleThe sword's-man: containing a series of observations on the use of the sword
ImprintEdinburgh: A. Robertson
Date of Publication1788
NotesThis is an unrecorded pamphlet on fencing. It is aimed at the gentleman amateur and aims to impart lessons which are "easy, safe, and void of those flourishes, only intended to divert the curious and ignorant." The author, John Ferdinand, is recorded in a contemporary post office directory as a "Fencing master" residing in Gavinlock's land, a close off what is now known as the Lawnmarket, nothing more has been discovered about him. The pamphlet was originally part of a volume in the library at Fettercairn house, home of the family of Forbes of Pitsligo, which was sold off at auction in 2016.
Acquired on22/04/17
TitleObservations of the management of flax from the field to the heckle.
ImprintEdinburgh: to be had of the booksellers
Date of Publication1784
NotesFlax was widely grown in Scotland in the 18th-century for the textile industry and was an important part of the national economy. The anonymous author has written a detailed guide to the efficient cultivation and harvesting of the crop "from the field to the heckle", a heckle being the toothed comb-like implement used for dressing flax. He has also embellished the pamphlet with illustrations of machinery and added a second, separately paginated, part "a plan of farming books, to answer from five acres, to ten thousand, or any number", designed to aid farmers in employing their workers and farm animals efficiently when harvesting crops. The pamphlet was originally part of a volume in the library at Fettercairn house, home of the family of Forbes of Pitsligo, which was sold off at auction in 2016. Only two other copies are recorded.
Acquired on22/04/17
AuthorJohn Gregory
TitleA comparative view of the state and faculties of man with those of the animal world.
Date of PublicationPrinted for J. Dodsley
NotesThe Scottish physician John Gregory (1724-1773), was a member of the Aberdeen Philosophical Society. He considered human nature to be a uniform non-variant, whose principles and function can be discovered through experiment. In this, the first edition of his work, the anonymous author brings together the contents of his lectures to the Society. Gregory wrote that "The task of improving our nature, of improving man's estate, involves the proper development and exercise of the social principle and the other principle of instinct, with reason subordinate to instinct and serving as a corrective on it". The study of nature is then, according to Gregory, the best means of cultivating taste and religious understanding, the aim being to produce morally well-formed individuals.
Acquired on22/04/17
AuthorAnnie S. Swan
TitleThomas Dryburgh's dream: a story of the sick children's hospital.
ImprintEdinburgh: Oliphant, Anderson & Ferrier
Date of Publication1886
NotesThis is the first edition of one of Annie S. Swan's most popular Scottish tales, only three other copies are recorded in major UK libraries. Swan (1859-1943) was a prolific author of novels which never earned critical acclaim but were popular successes. Thomas Dryburgh's dream was one of her early works of fiction which drew on her personal experience as the wife of a medical student in Edinburgh.
Acquired on22/04/17
AuthorJames Porterfield
TitleGod's judgements against sin: or, a relation of three dreadful fires happening in the city of Edinburgh
ImprintEdinburgh: James Watson
Date of Publication1702
NotesFirst edition of a long poem taking as its main subject three major fires in Edinburgh during the years 1696 to 1701, all seen as evidence of God's displeasure with the sins of the city. The fire of 3 February 1700, which is covered in depth, was one of the most serious in Edinburgh history, destroying all of the tenement buildings on the eastern and southern side of Parliament Close. It also threatened the Advocates Library. James Stevenson, the then librarian, acted heroically in evacuating the books from the building. Unfortunately some of the books were dropped in the street during the evacuation and the Advocates made an appeal in the "Edinburgh Gazette" for any books with their ownership inscription to be returned.
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on22/04/17
TitleThe red-breast, a tale
Imprint[Edinburgh?: s.n.]
Date of Publication1787?
NotesThis is an unrecorded printing of a mock erotic poem, dated at the end 'Edinburgh, 1787'. The less than polished nature of the printing suggests that the item was printed on a private press where the amateur printer had limited typefaces to hand and did not correct the errata at proof stage. The poem is prefaced by quotes from James Thomson's "Seasons" (Winter) and his "Castle of Indolence", and is written in the overwrought style of a contemporary love poem. The main content of the poem itself concerns a 'robin' creeping into a bedroom where 'Miss Fanny' is sleeping in a chair. The robin hops up to between her legs and leaps up with "hopes of bliss" only for Fanny to wake and tear him from his 'nest' and dash him lifeless to the floor.
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on07/04/17
AuthorJulie de Gerschau
ImprintLondon: Spottiswoode & Co.
Date of Publication1888
NotesA fictionalised and incomplete account of the life of Mary Queen of Scots by the daughter of a Russian aristocrat of German ancestry, Julie de Gerschau (1870-1887), privately published after her death. The work contains a preface by author's father, Baron Gerschau, who also seems to have acted as editor, and presumably funded the publication as a memorial to his daughter, who died of typhoid fever while staying in Rome. Julie 'Loulou' appears to have had a particular passion for Mary Queen of Scots which led to her to begin writing this historical novel. This copy is a presentation copy to a "Miss Coles" from Baron Gerschau. It has a mounted photograph of the author as a frontispiece, with "Loulou Gershaw" written in manuscript underneath, and a copy of a drawing of "Mary Stuart after a drawing by the author", inserted after page [100].
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on17/02/17
AuthorHector MacPherson
TitleHere's to the Heather. Poems and Songs.
ImprintNew York: Scottish American press
Date of Publication1896
NotesThis volume of verse, some of which is written in Scots, was by the Scottish journalist and political campaigner Hector Carsewell MacPherson (1851?1924), best known for his books on Thomas Carlyle and Adam Smith for the 'Famous Scots' series. MacPherson was at the time editor of the Edinburgh Evening News, known for his strong stances on the importance of free speech, the independence of small nations and his pro-Liberal Party views. No copies of this work are recorded in other major libraries in the UK and there are no other publications recorded as published by the Scottish-American Press of New York.
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on10/02/17
AuthorRushton, Edward & Burns, Robert.
TitleThe Maniac [&] The Chevalier?s Lament, After the battle of Culloden.
Imprint[Scotland?: s.n.]
Date of Publication1800?
NotesAn unrecorded broadside, possibly printed in Scotland, containing early appearances in print of two songs relating to failed uprisings in the British Isles. The first song in the broadside 'The Maniac' is better known under the title 'Mary le More'. It was written by the radical Liverpool poet Edward Rushton (1756-1814), and describes the brutal reprisals after the United Irishmen's unsuccessful rising in 1798. It is first recorded in print in 1800 and appears in a number of later 19th-century broadside ballads in the Library's collections. 'The Chevalier?s Lament' was written by Robert Burns in the voice of Prince Charles Edward Stuart, it contrasts the joy felt at the coming of spring with the ruin that defeat at Culloden brought to the Prince's supporters. Burns wrote the opening stanza in 1788 and added a second one probably later that same year. The song first appeared in print in 1799, three years after Burns's death. This printing has a number orthographical and textual differences compared to both the manuscript copy of the poem preserved in Burns's second commonplace book and to other early recorded printings.
Reference SourcesBurns and Broadside Publication "The Chevalier's Lament" at auction in Macon, Georgia by Patrick Scott, edited by Frank R. Shaw, FSA Scot.
Acquired on09/01/17
AuthorBallantyne, R.M.
Title[Ballantyne's Miscellany set]
ImprintLondon: James Nisbet & Co.
Date of Publication1886
NotesA complete set of the 18 works which made up 'Ballantyne's miscellany', a series of adventure stories written by the prolific Scottish children's author Robert Michael Ballantyne (1825-1894) and which were originally published between 1863 and 1866. The 18 volumes in this set are dated between 1882 and 1886. The stories in the Miscellany were shorter in length than Ballantyne's other children's books and were aimed at the poor and relatively uneducated. They have a strong didactic content, primarily religious, but also covering history, geography and science. This particular set is complete with the publisher's cloth-covered presentation box, with the volumes inside in almost mint condition, perhaps testimony to the fact that this series was not as successful as Ballantyne's other, less didactic, works.
Shelfmark AB.1.217.98
Acquired on06/01/17
AuthorJames Miller
Title[Specimen of miniature lithographic printing by the lithographic printer James Miller of Glasgow]
ImprintGlasgow: James Miller
Date of Publication1828
NotesThis small sheet of paper (9 cm square) comprises an outer ring of text containing a list of the items printed in miniature: The Lord's Prayer, the Creed, the 133rd psalm [etc. ] ... being betwixt 2000 and 3000 letters written in the compass of a sixpence by J. Miller lithographic printer Glasgow. 1828; and an inner, sixpence-sized, circular block of text containing the aforementioned texts as well as a drawing of the Glasgow city arms in the centre. The lithographic printing process, discovered in 1798, reached Scotland in the 1810s and the first recorded lithographic printer in Scotland was in business by 1819/1820. James Miller, active in Glasgow between 1825 and 1840, was regarded as one of the best exponents of the process, known for his "consummate skill in selecting and training staff ... several of the finest lithographers in Scotland first learned their art in his establishment" (Schenk).
Reference SourcesDavid H.J. Schenck "Directory of the lithographic printers of Scotland 1820-1870" Edinburgh, 1999
Acquired on06/01/17
AuthorR.M. Ballantyne
TitleFighting the flames: a tale of the London fire brigade
ImprintLondon: James Nisbet
Date of Publication1867
NotesThis is the rare first edition of Ballantyne's children's novel, in the original blue publisher's cloth binding with advertisements at the end. It was one of the earliest works Ballantyne had published by the firm James Nisbet of London. Having initially been published by Thomas Nelson and then by Routledge, he moved to Nisbet in 1863 and stayed with them until his death in 1894. The story concerns Frank Wilders a young hero of the London Fire Brigade and his various adventures. This copy was presented by Louisa Gladstone (1837-1885) of Fasque, Scotland, to her brother John Robert Gladstone (1852-1926), the nephew and niece of William Ewart Gladstone. Inscription on title page: "J. R. Gladstone from L.G. Christmas 1867.
Acquired on16/12/16
AuthorDownman, Hugh.
TitleInfancy, or The management of children: a didactic poem in four books. 4th edition.
ImprintEdinburgh: Printed for John Bell,
Date of Publication1788
NotesHugh Downman (1740-1809) a West Country physician and poet studied medicine as a young man in Edinburgh, staying at the house of the blind poet and orator Thomas Blacklock. He seems to have maintained a link with the city by having editions of this, his best known poem, published in Edinburgh. Downman was well known as a presenter of copies of his books to friends and wider acquaintances. This copy contains a presentation inscription in the author's hand to the leading 18th-century tragic actress Sarah Siddons (1755-1831) and a gushing manuscript poem entitled 'To Mrs Siddons' which begins with the line 'To praise those wondrous talents wch. command'.
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on16/12/16
Important Acquisitions - page no. 1     2     3     4     5     6     7     8     9     10     11     12     13     14     15     16     17     18     19     20     21     22     23     24     25     26     27     28     29     30     31     32     33     34     35     36     37     38     39     40     41     42     43     44     45     46     47     48     49     50     51     52     53     54     55     56     57     58     59     60