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 781 to 795 of 899:

Ordered by title
Order by author | Order by date acquired
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
AuthorAbercromby, Patrick.
TitleThe Martial Atchievements of the Scots Nation, vol.1
ImprintEdinburgh : Robert Freebairn
Date of Publication1711
NotesWith title-page inscriptions showing it to have been presented by the author to the Scottish Benedictine monastery at Ratisbon in Germany in the year of publication: 'Monasterij S. Jacobi Scotorum Ratisbonae 1711' and 'Reverendissimo Placido Flaminio Abbati dignissimo exempti Monasterij S. Jacobi Scotorum Ratisbonae dono dedit author libri Patricius Abercromby'. When the Schottenkloster, or Scottish monastery of St James at Ratisbon was finally suppressed in 1862, a number of books found their way to Scotland, brought ? so the story goes ? by Father Anselm Robertson, originally from Fochabers and one of the last two remaining monks at Ratisbon. Several years later, in the late 1870s, these items became part of the founding collections of the community of St Benedict's Abbey, founded in 1876 at Fort Augustus, on the western shore of Loch Ness. Over the coming years, the Benedictine monks were to make significant additions to that 'foundation' collection, attracting gifts from a variety of sources. During the 1990s the early books and manuscripts ? including all the items known to have come from Ratisbon ? were placed on deposit in the National Library. In late 1998 the decision was taken to close the Abbey, and with the help of a generous grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund the National Library purchased a selection of 13 manuscripts and 543 printed books for a total of £475,450. At the heart of the selection are the four manuscripts and 54 printed items inscribed as belonging to the monastery of St James at Ratisbon.
Acquired on01/05/00
AuthorStevenson, Robert Louis
TitleThe misadventures of John Nicholson
ImprintNew York: George Munro
Date of Publication1887
NotesThis is the first edition, first issue of a Christmas story written by Stevenson, which he began writing in November 1885 but quickly put aside, not starting work on it again until December of the following year. In a letter to his friend Sidney Colvin he complained that he was writing 'a damn tale to order & I don't love it, but some of it is passable in its mouldy way', and would later refer to it in a letter to Henry James as 'a silly Xmas story'. The story was published in "Cassell's Christmas Annual" in December 1887, and no sooner had it appeared in print than this pirate edition was produced by 'dime novel' publisher George Munro of New York. Munro had already produced a pirated version of "Jekyll and Hyde" in 1886 for the US market in his 'Seaside Library (Pocket Edition)' series of cheap, 25-cent, paperbacks, and he now printed Stevenson's story as part of the same series. Such was Stevenson's popularity on both sides of the Atlantic that even his silly Xmas stories could sell. The work was, however, quickly forgotten and was nearly overlooked for the Edinburgh Edition of Stevenson's works, the first collected edition, which was printed between 1894 and 1898.
Reference SourcesR.G. Swearingen "The prose writings of Robert Louis Stevenson" (London, 1980)
Acquired on19/01/09
AuthorTodd, John.
TitleThe mountain cottage.
ImprintPittsfield, Mass. : E.P. Little
Date of Publication1844
NotesThis short work is a rare and virtually unknown American children's story about a Scottish immigrant, James Orwell, which perpetuates stereotypes of Scottish greed and melancholy. The anti-hero had been in the U.S. for over 50 years, losing his livelihood when his shop was burnt down during the revolutionary wars. He retreated from society to this mountain cottage and cut a forlorn and repulsive figure. There is a moral and uplifting aspect to the tale relating to Orwell's children. The daughter dies after a long illness while the son returns in the manner of the prodigal son. The author, John Todd (1800-1873) was an American Congregationalist who wrote a number of books for children. Only three copies of this work are recorded, all in North America.
Acquired on20/04/09
TitleThe moving market or cries of London.
ImprintEdinburgh: G. Ross
Date of Publication1815
NotesThis is an unrecorded Scottish printing a popular London chapbook/children's book "Cries of various city tradespeople". It features 25 woodcut illustrations of various kinds of street vendors with the cries they made when selling their wares. This printing is for Ross's juvenile library", the work was also printed in Glasgow by James Lumsden.
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on13/05/16
AuthorNicholas Bohny
TitleThe new picture book: being pictorial lessons on form, comparison, and number, for children under seven years of age.
ImprintEdinburgh: Edmonston and Douglas
Date of Publication1858
NotesThe purchase of the first edition of this work compliments the Library's holdings of the 3rd (1866) and 5th (1869) from which it differs in some of the illustrations. The book teaches observation skills to children with over 100 hand-coloured illustrations depicting animals, plants, games, activities, farm life, objects found in the home, types of work with captions posing questions for readers to answer. Being a children's book it is now rare to find an example in such good condition.
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on01/09/17
AuthorGerrond, John
TitleThe new poetical works of John Gerrond, the Galloway poet.
ImprintDumfries: Printed for the author
Date of Publication1818
NotesJohn Gerrond was born near Gateside in Galloway in 1765. In 1776 his family moved to what is now Castle Douglas. He eventually trained as a blacksmith under his father and in 1783 he opened a smithy at Clarebrand, Galloway. He spent some time travelling through the United States and after returning from America, he set up as a grocer and spirit merchant in Castle Douglas, displaying the sign, 'John Gerrond, from Boston.' In 1802, he published the first edition of his poems entitled: 'Poems on Several Occasions'. A second edition was issued in 1808; and a third, for which he obtained fourteen hundred subscribers, was printed in 1811. This 1818 edition is extremely rare with the only other extant copy being held in the collection of the Broughton House Library in Kirkcudbright. John Mactaggart (1791-1830), author of 'The Scottish Gallovidian Encyclopedia' did not hold John Gerrond in high regard. He states that Gerrond "published at various times stuff he termed poems; shameless trash ..." However, he goes on to state that "if he had had ten times more industry than what he has, he would have wrote some tolerable verses, as his madness is ratherly that of a poet's."
Acquired on15/02/08
TitleThe noble pedlar! Or the late chance-sellor & present broom seller!!
ImprintLondon: J. Sidebotham
Date of Publication1816
NotesThis is a hand-coloured broadside satirising the Scottish politician Thomas Erskine, first baron Erskine (1750-1823). Starting off in the army, Erskine later became a successful barrister in England, moving into politics in the 1780s. As a supporter of the Whigs he championed the causes of parliamentary reform, the freedom of the press, and opposition to the growing reaction caused by fear of revolutionary France. In 1806 he finally achieved high political office, becoming lord chancellor, but resigned the following year. His latter years were marked by financial problems. He lost much of his fortune in failed American investments, and was forced to sell the bulk of his property in London. Having bought an estate, Holmbush, near Crawley in Sussex, he tried his hand at farming. The land, however, was infertile, and he suffered further financial losses when he tried to make money by growing and selling heath brooms. To add insult to injury, one of the men he employed to sell his brooms in London was taken to court in 1816 for selling the brooms without a hawker's license. Erskine was fined £10 and when, on entering the court, he was told by the magistrates of his conviction, he showed that he had lost none of his renowned wit by commenting "if you do, it must be under a sweeping clause." The broadside shows Erskine walking beside a cart selling brooms, crying "O the broom, the bonny, bonny broom! who'll buy my charming brooms". The verses at the foot, titled "The bonny brooms", are accordingly to be sung to the well-known Scottish ballad 'The broom o' the Cowdenknowes'.
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on27/06/14
AuthorDouglas, Gavin
TitleThe palis of honour
ImprintLondon: William Copland
Date of Publication[1553]
LanguageMiddle Scots
NotesThis is a rare copy of the earliest known edition of one of Gavin Douglas's (1474-1522) best known works. The first Edinburgh edition was published in 1579. Other Scottish editions may have been printed prior to 1543, when Florence Wilson imitated the 'Palice of Honour' in his 'De Tranquillitate Animi', but they cannot now be traced. An article in the Transactions of the Edinburgh Bibliographical Society, vol.III, part I, 1948-9, describes fragments of an Edinburgh edition printed prior to 1540 by Thomas Davidson (Aldis 20) which is held in Edinburgh University Library. This copy lacks the final two gatherings and contains contemporary scribbles, though not annotations. 'The palis (or palice) of honour' which was written in 1501 was dedicated by the poet, Gavin Douglas to James IV. It is his earliest known work and presents a mirror for princes, spelling out princely duties and ideals. This poem is very much in the European tradition of courtly allegory and reflects Douglas's knowledge of Latin and Italian poetry and his preoccupations with the themes of love, poetry and honour. It also shows influences of Chaucer and Langland. Around this time Douglas became Provost of the Collegiate Church of St. Giles in Edinburgh. It is not improbable that Douglas's address to James IV at the end of this poem induced the latter to appoint him to St. Giles. He held this position until 1515 when he became Bishop of Dunkeld. Douglas is best known for his translation of the Aeneid, also into Scots, which is still praised as an excellent work which shows the potential of the Scots language as a literary medium.
Reference SourcesMainstream companion to Scottish literature; DNB
Acquired on25/08/04
AuthorLa Baume le Blanc, Louise Francoise de, Duchesse de la Valliere.
TitleThe penitent lady, or reflections on the mercy of God. The third edition, corrected.
ImprintLondon: printed for H. N. and sold by W. Davis,
Date of Publication1703
NotesThe author of this work, Louise Francoise de la Baume le Blanc, Duchesse de la Valliere (1644-1710), was a French noblewoman who made her debut at court in 1661. A woman of considerable charm and learning, Madame de la Valliere was soon the object of King Louis XIV's affection. She became his mistress, bearing him four children. However, by 1670 she had lost her places as Louis' principal mistress, and, after recovering from a serious illness and suffering a crisis of conscience, she decided to turn to God and renounce her former sinful existence. In 1671 she wrote a theological work "Reflexions sur la misericorde de Dieu [Reflections on the mercy of God]" from the perspective of a repentant sinner who had experienced the pleasures and hypocrisies of court life and found them to be unsatisfactory. In 1674 she entered a Carmelite convent in Paris and became a nun, remaining there for the rest of her life. "The penitent lady" an English version of "Reflexions sur la misericorde de Dieu", translated by a Church of England clergyman Lewis Atterbury, was first published in 1684. This third edition from 1703 is rare; only two other copies are recorded in ESTC. Moreover, this particular copy also has an interesting provenance. On the front free endpaper there is an inscription by a former owner, Maurice Paterson (1836-1917), the rector of Moray House (then a Free Church of Scotland teacher training college). Paterson notes that the book had once belonged to Mrs Scott, the mother of Sir Walter Scott, and had passed into his hands via a step-cousin who had formerly lived with his aunt Esther, the latter having been a companion of Mrs Scott. The role Esther Paterson played in the Scott family is revealed in Sir Herbert Grierson's edition of Sir Walter Scott's letters. 'Miss Paterson' nursed Scott's older brother John through his final illness and then became his mother's companion for the final years of her life. During, or shortly after, her time spent looking after Anne Scott (d. 1819), Esther Paterson presumably received this book as a token of gratitude for her work; it is tempting to think that she may have read aloud from it to the dying old lady who was preparing to meet her maker. Walter Scott was certainly grateful to Esther Paterson, describing her a person of 'uncommon good sense and civility', who was of 'inestimable comfort' to his dear mother. In 1826 he considered employing her to look after his wife, who was by then seriously ill, writing that, 'she is familarly know[n] to all of us and that sort of person who can take charge of keys or read aloud or make herself an assistant in many ways[,] uncommonly well bred besides[,] in short a useful and agreeable inmate".
Reference SourcesThe letters of Sir Walter Scott edited by H.J.C. Grierson, London, 1932-37. vols 6,7 and 9.
Acquired on15/01/11
TitleThe Poetical Works of the inimitable Don Carlos, commonly called the Young Chevalier.
ImprintLondon: J. Oldcastle,
Date of Publication1745
NotesThis is the first edition of a very rare and unusual attack on Bonnie Prince Charlie, which involved printing and attributing to him two salacious and immoral French poems. According to the anonymous author/editor of the introduction, the purpose of the publication was to show how very odious "our bold adventurer's character" must appear "in the eyes of all who have the least regard for religion and morality". The author goes on to express that the wish that the publication "will have a good effect, not only by preventing unthinking men from joining the Pretender's son, but likewise by opening the eyes of those deluded wretches who have already taken up arms in his cause". The dating of the introduction, 20 October 1745, shows that the publication was conceived at the height of the panic about the Jacobite uprising in Scotland. Charles's army had taken Edinburgh in September; he was now holding court at Holyrood and waiting for reinforcements for his expedition to England, which began at the end of the month. Charles was counting on receiving support from Jacobites in England and this pamphlet was an attempt to deter would be recruits to his cause. The two poems printed here, 'L' Ode Priapique' and 'Épitre à Uranie', are in fact not by Charles, as the anonymous author/editor must have known. The former is a famous piece of erotica by the French dramatist Alexis Piron (1689-1773), written in c. 1710, and which had circulated widely in manuscript. The version printed here is in 14 stanzas (other printings are in 17 or in an expurgated 11) and varies substantially from the more widely-known versions of the text. The latter poem is actually 'Le pour et le contre', an anti-religious poem by Voltaire probably written in 1722, first printed under a false "Londres" imprint in 1738 - this is its first true English printing. The author/editor concludes in a final paragraph that "as there is no living in this Protestant kingdom with such a religion and such morals as his, he had even best return from whence he came - ". ESTC records only two other copies of this work, both of them are in England.
Acquired on19/09/09
AuthorSnelling, William Joseph.
TitleThe polar regions of the Western Continent explored.
ImprintBoston : Printed for W. W. Reed.
Date of Publication1831
NotesWilliam Joseph Snelling (1804-1848) was born in Boston and began his working life as an explorer, trapper and fur trader in what is now present day Minnesota. His five years out west enabled him to become well acquainted with native Indian life and he took an active part in mediating outbursts of tribal warfare between Chippewa, Dakota, and Winnebago Indians. Snelling returned to Boston in 1828 after the death of his first wife. He then led a varied career as a newspaper journalist, essayist, poet, short story writer and latterly, after developing an alcohol dependency, a poverty stricken hack writer. Snelling's interest in North American polar exploration was most probably influenced by his adventures and experiences on the western frontier as a young man. Although the British and the Russians dominated the early exploration of the Arctic, Snelling's Polar Regions was one of the earliest significant American publications on this topic to appear in the first half of the 19th century. Snelling's Polar Regions is not based upon his own personal experiences. As he makes very clear in his pithy one-page preface, he is not so much acting as an author but rather as a compiler whose objective is to condense the previously published writings of such polar explorers as Crantz, Parry, Franklin, Richardson, Kotzebue and others and present them in a one-volume work. The text is accompanied by 8 leaves of engravings depicting arctic animals and arctic scenes, and there is also an appendix which lists and describes arctic animal life.
Reference SourcesThe Cambridge History of American Literature. V.2: Prose writing 1820-1865. Benet's Readers Encyclopedia of American Literature. American National Biography. V. 20
Acquired on07/04/03
AuthorJohn Moncrief
TitleThe poor man's physician, or the receipts of the famous John Moncrief of Tippermalloch, 2nd edition.
ImprintEdinburgh: George Stewart
Date of Publication1716
NotesThis is the rare second edition, "very much enlarged and corrected", of a self-help manual for men and women who were not sufficiently wealthy to afford a doctor. The contents of the work are arranged according to the various parts of the body and the particular diseases affecting them. The author, John Moncrief/Moncrieff/Moncreiff, a "worthy and ingenious gentleman", was a physician and 5th baronet of Tippermalloch in Strathearn, Perthshire. He recommends cures based on folk remedies, using herbs, spices, food, drink and other substances likely to be found in the average household, as well as toe-curlingly awful treatments involving animal parts, blood and excrement, such as washing the head in dog?s urine to make hair grow on bald heads. This particular copy has the armorial bookplate on the front pastedown "The Right Honble. Patrick Hume Earl of Marchmont Viscount of Blasonberry Lord Polworth of Polwarth &c Lord High Chancelor [sic] of Scotland 1702".
Acquired on09/09/16
TitleThe Poster: an illustrated monthly chronicle
ImprintLondon [various printers]
Date of Publication1898-1900
NotesThe 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.
Acquired on02/03/05
TitleThe puzzling cap: a choice collection of riddles
ImprintGlasgow : J. & M. Robertson
Date of Publication1784
NotesThis is an unrecorded early Scottish childrens book in pocket-size format with original wrappers. Childrens books of this format and age are particularly rare. It consists of 18 riddles, with woodcut vignettes illustrating each one, which are as follows: The Miser, A Dark Lanthorn, Merry Andrew, A Ship, A Bear, A Parrot, A Cock, Robin Red Breast, A Cuckow, A Tree, A Wind-Mill, A Lark, A Doll, A Cuckold, Charity, Solomon's Temple, A Monkey, A Whale, A Watch. These were presumably popular verses of the time although the modern reader may find the inclusion of a riddle about a cuckold in a children's book to be curious to say the least. Various 18th-century printings of works entitled the "Puzzling cap", sometimes attributed to 'Billy Wiseman', survive; most of them being American imprints. NLS and UCLA have imperfect copies of 1786 printing of this work by Robertson of Glasgow; there is also a much longer version of the "Puzzling cap" printed by Newbery of London, also in 1786, but nothing as early as this copy, which makes it a remarkable early survival of a Scottish children's book.
Acquired on18/11/11
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