Important acquisitions

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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.

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Important Acquisitions 766 to 780 of 899:

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AuthorRichard Johnson
TitleThe illustrious and renowned history of the seven famous champions of Christendom.
Date of Publication1772
NotesThe only known copy of this anonymously published romance. The Seven Champions of Christendom are the patron saints of Scotland, England, Wales, Ireland, France, Italy and Spain. Their deeds had been popular in Europe for over a thousand years before being set down in this form by Richard Johnson (active 1592-1622) in 1596. Johnson's entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography describes the work as containing "a heady mix of romance, adventure, Christian crusading high-mindedness, and misogynist, vindictive, and racially directed violence.". The saints are depicted in simple woodcuts of the type commonly found in broadside ballads and chapbooks. The book bears the armorial crest bookplate of Peter Forbes and shows Glasgow provenance in the form of the ownership inscription of David Murray and the bookseller's label of Kerr & Richardson.
Acquired on12/12/16
AuthorBurns, Robert
TitleThe jolly beggars : a cantata.
Imprint[London? : s.n.]
Date of Publication[1831]
NotesThis pamphlet published as a guide to an exhibition of eight figures by the Scottish sculptor John Greenshields (1792-1835) in illustration of Burns's poem "The jolly beggars". The sculpture was one of the best known of Greenshields's works, attracting the attention of Sir Walter Scott. The author happened to meet Greenshields in 1829, when visiting Clydesdale. Scott wrote in his journal that he had met "a man called Greenshields, a sensible, powerful-minded person", who "had at twenty-eight ... taken up the art of sculpture. ... He was desirous of engaging on Burns' Jolly Beggars, which I dissuaded. Caricature is not the object of sculpture." However, Greenshields was not to be dissuaded and when Sir Walter eventually saw the finished work he declared that the young artist had caused an old man to reinterpret a lifelong understanding of this particular Burns cantata. After exhibition in Edinburgh, the statues were transported to London for public viewing in the Quadrant, Regent Street, and later purchased by Baron Rothschild for the gardens of his property at Gunnersbury Park. The pamphlet itself is in three parts: the first part consists of the text of the poem; the second part reveals that the statues have been visited by nearly 20,000 people in Edinburgh, quotes reviews of the statues in the Edinburgh newspapers and reprints Walter Scott's article on the poem for the Quarterly Review; also included is a folded broadside titled "Jolly beggars, with the description in Burns' words", consisting of four passages from the poem which presumably relate to the sculptures. It is probable that broadside was also available separately.
Acquired on07/10/11
AuthorScott, Walter & Douglas, David, ed.
TitleThe journal of Sir Walter Scott from the original manuscript at Abbotsford, + Familiar letters of Sir Walter Scott.
ImprintEdinburgh: David Douglas
Date of Publication1891 & 1894
NotesDavid Douglas (1823-1916), described in his newspaper obituary as one of Edinburgh's "oldest literary patriarchs", was a publisher who worked for Blackwood's before forming the firm of Edmonston & Douglas. As a keen admirer of Walter Scott's works, and someone who personally had known some of Scott's friends and acquaintances, he was the first to edit and publish a collection of Scott's correspondence and his journal to meet the demand of scholars and fellow Scott devotees around the world. These are Douglas's own proof copies of these works with extensive annotations by him, showing the care and attention he devoted to his work.
ShelfmarkAB.3.217.10-11 & AB.3.217.14-15
Acquired on04/11/16
AuthorLemaire, Angela
TitleThe journey of Thomas the Rhymer
ImprintLlandogo, Monmothshire: Old Stile Press
Date of Publication2000
NotesNumber 5 of a limited edition of 220, signed by the author. Thomas the Rhymer, also known as Thomas of Erceldoune, was a real person who lived in the 13th century. While wandering alone in the forest lands of Melrose Abbey, Roxburghshire, Thomas saw a beautiful lady riding on a palfrey. He took her to be the Queen of Heaven. She denies it and tells him she is from 'another country'. She is, rather, the Queen of the Fairies. There follows an otherworld journey which he related in a visionary poem that has come down to us in various ballad forms and also in several romance-prophecies dating from the fifteenth century. Lemaire's nineteen wood engravings and the three linocut borders are printed from the original blocks. In addition to the second colour used for the linocuts, three different black inks were employed. Also includes a commentary on the text.
Acquired on02/04/01
TitleThe King Emperor's Indian Durbar tour 1911-1912
Imprint[London?: s.n.]
Date of Publication[1912]
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.
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on23/09/11
AuthorJames I
TitleThe Kings Maiesties speech
ImprintLondon: Robert Barker
Date of Publication1604
NotesThis is the speech which James I delivered to the House of Lords on 19 March 1604, the first day of the Parliament at Westminster, and indeed the first Parliament of his reign as King of Scotland and England. This copy has the text printed in italic type. We also hold the issue in roman type at shelfmark 1.174(1). Curiously, both issues were published by Robert Barker in the same year. It could be surmised that there was such a high demand for copies of the speech that Barker had to print on two presses at the same time and decided to print different versions for the sake of variety. There are slight spelling differences between the two editions too. The speech was certainly very popular and was published in Edinburgh as well as London.
Acquired on22/06/05
AuthorA Lady
TitleThe ladies' science of etiquette by a lady
ImprintEdinburgh: Paton and Ritchie
Date of Publicationc1850
NotesVictorian society was famously governed by strict codes of etiquette which were supposed to be the defining marks of members of polite society. This meant that many guides to these rules were produced, aimed at those who were anxious about whether their own behaviour met these exacting standards. This is one of the rarest surviving examples of such a conduct book, in its original coloured paper covers. Although here the work is published anonymously, it seems to be a reprint, originally written by the author and socialite Baroness E.C. de Calabrella, who was part of the circle surrounding the Regency dandy Count D'Orsay. This may account for the tone of this volume: where many such etiquette guides were written by and for the expanding Victorian middle class, and reflected bourgeois stolidity, The Ladies' Science of Etiquette discusses questions such as whether a lady should walk to a ball ('superlatively ridiculous' - if stuck in a provincial town without a carriage, take a sedan chair) and whether it is acceptable for a lady to carry a small dog about town ('altogether vulgar').
Reference Sources,%20e%20c%20de$baroness
Acquired on30/09/09
AuthorTaylor, Elizabeth
TitleThe lady's, housewife's, and cookmaid's assistant: or, the art of cookery, explained and adapted to the meanest capacity
ImprintBerwick: Printed and sold by R. Taylor
Date of Publication1778
NotesElizabeth, née Nealson, was a Berwick resident who married the printer and bookbinder Robert Taylor. She drew extensively on Hannah Glasse's Art of Cookery made plain and simple (London, 1747), adapting it for the tastes of Northumberland and southern Scotland. There are many more recipes for fish than in Glasse, reflecting Berwick's status as a fishing port. Taylor also tells her readers how to boil an egg, which Glasse did not, perhaps assuming that her metropolitan audience would already be familiar with this technique. (Taylor, p. 185) There are a number of recipes for using birds of the upland moors and wetlands, such as dotterels and ruffs. As is common with early cookery books, there are a number of interesting stains suggesting that it was put to practical use. For example, on p. 241 the section on how 'To preserve Apricots' has some colourful smears that may come from the fruit. This second edition is very rare and not recorded in the English Short Title Catalogue. There is a copy at the Brotherton Library in Leeds University. Although there are few changes from the first edition, it is a useful acquisition showing how the work was a commercial success. There was also a 1795 edition. With this copy we have purchased a facsimile of the 1769 edition of the Art of Cookery published by the Berwick History Society in 2002, with a useful introduction by David Brenchley about Elizabeth Taylor.
Reference SourcesMaclean, Virginia. A short-title catalogue of household and cookery books published in the English tongue 1701-1800, London: 1981, p. 140.
Acquired on14/06/07
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] ...
Date of Publication1794
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
Title[The last words of James, El. Of Derwentwater]
Imprint[Sl.l, s.n.]
Date of Publication[1716]
NotesThis is a remarkable broadside (68 x 50 cm) probably produced shortly after the execution in 1716 of the Jacobite leaders. It is engraved throughout and consists of the oval portraits of eight of the leaders and the last words of six of them. The British Museum Catalogue of Prints and Drawings lists a much smaller print (without any text) depicting 7 oval portraits - James III in the centre surrounded by Kenmure, Bruce, Collingwood, Paul, Hall and Gascoigne. One can only speculate on who produced this grand work and why. Presumably it was to keep alive the memory of the Jacobite leaders among their supporters in Scotland or abroad. It is however, likely that the proceeds from the sale of such a print were devoted to the relief of the executed mens' families. After the 'Old Pretender' scuttled back to France in early February 1716, the rebellion collapsed. Most of the Jacobite noblemen made their way to the continent and of those noblemen condemned to death, only Derwentwater and Kenmure actually paid the penalty. Both had been captured in the course of the skirmish at Preston. The original sentence involved them being hanged but before they died they were to be disembowelled (with the bowels burned before their faces) then beheaded and quartered. But because of their social status a mere beheading, which took place on Tower Hill in February 1716, sufficed. The fact that there was considerable sympathy, though not active support, for the Jacobite cause in Scotland, meant that the rebels were dealt with relatively leniently with many being 'allowed' to escape. The only other known copy is held by the Drambuie Liqueur Company, Edinburgh.
Reference SourcesKemp, Hilary. Jacobite rebellion. (London, 1975) H3.76.379 Sharp, Richard. The engraved record of the Jacobite movement. Scolar Press, 1996. H4.97.202
Acquired on12/05/03
Author[John Hood]
TitleThe letters of Zariora and Randale
ImprintEdinburgh : Walker and Greig
Date of Publication1814
NotesThis is an unrecorded, anonymous novel by a Scottish author. A contemporary MS note on the half title of this copy states 'Written by John Hood of Stoneridge A.D. 1813'. 'Stoneridge' refers to Stoneridge, or Stainrigg, House near Coldstream in the Scottish Borders. John Hood (1795-1878) was a local landowner. In 1841-1842 he travelled to Australia to visit his oldest son, and his account of his journey was published in 1843 under the title "Australia and the East". "The letters of Zariora and Randale" is an epistolary novel which would appear to be a youthful literary experiment of the 18-year-old Hood, presumably printed at the author's own expense. The novel is set in contemporary Spain and is moral tale about the dangers of excessive passion, in this case Randale's doomed love for a young woman Maria. The young Scot, the 'Chevalier Charles Randale', when living in Spain writes to his friend 'Mr. Zariora' of his love for Maria, the daughter of the Baron Lariana. When she suddenly dies he is overcome with grief and Zariora visits him in Spain, reporting his adventures to another friend 'Kalthander'. The novel closes with Zariora writing to Kalthander that his friend Randale refuses to leave the home of his dead lover and return to Scotland; he concludes "I fear that this dear man's emaciated form and disordered mind speak a quick decay". This copy appears to have been censored, as some lines have been ruled out to the point of illegibility on the title page, and a number of words throughout the text have been carefully removed by scraping away the surface of the paper. Pages 29-30 are also missing from this copy.
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on27/02/15
AuthorBarbour, John, d.1395
TitleThe life and acts of the most victorious conquerour Robert Bruce King of Scotland.
ImprintEdinburgh: Gedeon Lithgow
Date of Publication1648
NotesJohn Barbour, the fourteenth century poet, churchman and scholar wrote this famous poem probably during the 1370s. In 1377 King Robert II awarded Barbour the princely sum of £10 for writing this stirring and patriotic work. Only two intact copies of the poem on Robert the Bruce are known.Barbour was probably born in Aberdeen and spent most of his life there. He was Archdeacon of Aberdeen from 1357 until his death in 1395. He did spend some time outside of Scotland - studying in Oxford and Paris. In 1372 he was appointed Clerk of Audit in the household of Robert II.The work was first printed by Robert Lekprevik in Edinburgh in 1571. This edition was printed by Gedeon (or Gideon) Lithgow who was appointed printer to Edinburgh University in 1648 in succession to J. Lindesay.
Reference SourcesAldis 1307, Wing B712
Acquired on04/04/05
TitleThe life and work of David Livingstone missionary and explorer.
ImprintLondon: W. Butcher & Sons, Ltd.
Date of Publication1913?
NotesThis is a set of 40 glass lantern slides and an accompanying booklet to be used during the showing of the slides, presumably for younger audiences. The slides depict various scenes from Livingstone's life and travels and depict him in the usual heroic light. W. Butcher & Son was a London-based supplier of magic lanterns and lantern slides who in 1913 changed their name to W. Butcher & Sons, Ltd. An enlarged set of 49 slides was also produced for the London Missionary Society at around the same time.
Acquired on07/07/17
AuthorJebb, Samuel
TitleThe life of Robert Earl of Leicester, the favourite of Queen Elizabeth: drawn from original writers and records
ImprintLondon: Woodman and Lyon
Date of Publication1727
NotesThis book comes from the library of Gordon Castle, home of the Dukes of Gordon, and contains that library's booklabel, shelf label and armorial bookplate. However originally it belonged to one particular member of the Gordon family, as revealed by a flyleaf inscription: 'Lord Lewis Gordon his Book given to him by his Mamma Janry 17th 1733'. Lord Lewis Gordon (c.1725-54) would be one of Bonnie Prince Charlie's members of council in 1745, and end his life in exile in France. This life of a prominent Elizabethan courtier at first glance does not seem a likely present for the Jacobite Henrietta Gordon to give to her 8-year-old fatherless son, and one wonders if he in fact ever read the book, or if it made its way into the family library because it failed to hold his interest.
Reference SourcesOxford DNB
Acquired on21/05/09
AuthorMackenzie, Henry.
TitleThe life of William Annesly.
ImprintBennington, Vermont: Anthony Haswell
Date of Publication1796
NotesThis is a very rare printing (ESTC records one other copy in the American Antiquarian Society) of a work compiled from parts of Scottish author Henry Mackenzie's novel "The man of the world". Mackenzie's second novel was first published in 1773, parts of it dealing with the character William Annesly are set in North America. Annesly is a victim of the machinations of the anti-hero of the novel, Sindall, and, after being found guilty of robbery, finds himself sentenced to transportation to the West Indies. Once there, after the death of his master, he is enlisted in the army and sent to North America. Annesly's adventures continue as he escapes from the army and lives with the Cherokees. This particular printing is done on blue paper by the second printer to operate a press in Vermont, English-born Anthony Haswell (1756-1816).
Acquired on16/12/11
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