Rare Books Signed by Notable Authors

My name is Annemarie Maimone and I am a postgraduate student at the University of Edinburgh interning in the National Library of Scotland’s Rare Book Collections Department. While doing provenance research, I came across a few books in the collection of particular interest because they contain the signatures and inscriptions of notable authors. The items […]

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An Early Book for Bird Breeders

 Despite its title, The bird-fancier’s companion (RB.s.2851) isn’t a guide for bird watchers, but a manual on how to breed canaries. Published in Edinburgh in 1763, the book introduces different breeds of canary and offers some advice about how to choose from the birds imported by German traders. The book goes on to cover breeding of canaries, health […]

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Robert Burns in America

The Library has acquired a collection of individual issues of the Pennsylvania Packet and Daily Advertiser newspaper from 1787 through to 1788, which probably contain the first examples of Robert Burns’s work in print in the USA! Each issue prints a poem or song by Burns to give American readers a taster of his poetry. […]

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National Poetry Day

Today is National Poetry Day! I’d like to celebrate this event by showcasing how a poem can act as a link between nations, in this case between Scotland and Germany. In 1802, Walter Scott published his Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border (Bk.5/1.3-4), a collection of “historical and romantic ballads, collected in the southern counties of Scotland”, as the subtitle said. […]

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More Scott for Russians

We recently acquired two very rare translations into Russian of Walter Scott’s epic poems The Lay of the Last Minstrel and Rokeby. Scott was probably the most popular foreign author in Russia in the 19th century. The Lay of the Last Minstrel was first published in 1805. The Russian translation (RB.s.2828), in prose rather than verse, […]

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Scott for Young Russians

  We recently acquired an adaption of Sir Walter Scott’s novel “Kenilworth“, an adventure story set during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603) with a bit of a tragic ending. What makes this acquisition so interesting is not that it is aimed at younger readers, but that it’s a Russian adaptation! It was printed in Moscow and St […]

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A Previously Loved Book

Here’s a book we bought not so much because of what’s in it, but because of who owned it. It’s an English translation of a theological treatise by a French noblewoman, Louise Francoise de la Baume le Blanc, Duchesse de la Valliere (1644-1710), called The penitent lady (NLS shelfmark  AB.1.211.014).  The book itself does not look terribly exciting – but […]

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Temperance is the only solution!

We’ve been fortunate recently to buy a copy of a book which appears to be the only known copy! It’s called Whiskiana, or the drunkard’s progress.  A poem. In Scottish verse (NLS shelfmark AP.1.211.06), and it was printed in Glasgow in 1812: Whiskiana deals with the “evil of habitual intoxication”.  The author acknowledges the popular Scots poet Hector Macneill as an inspiration […]

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