I would like to offer a double instalment of published works: an 18th Century Dundee rarity today and, next Saturday, one of the scarcest local offerings from the 20th Century.
From Wilson55 Auctions of Cheshire comes A New Edition of the Life and Heroick Actions of the Renown’d Sir William Wallace, a work printed in Dundee in 1770 by Henry Galbraith.
Though uncatalogued, it is worth giving its full title – A New Edition of the Life and Heroick Actions Of the Reknown’d Sir William Wallace, General of Governour of Scotland: Wherein the Old obscure Words are rendered more Intelligible, and adapted to the Understanding of such who have no Leisure to study the Meaning and Import of such Phrases, without Help of a Glossary…By William Hamilton.
Hamilton’s glossary was required as his ‘new’ history drew upon the original Life of William Wallace, an important and ancient English (Scottish) epic poem written by Blind Harry, or The Minstrel Henry, around 1477.
Galbraith, meanwhile, was one of Scotland’s pioneers of print. In 1755 his fledgling company began the first proper newspaper in Dundee – the Dundee Weekly Intelligencer.
The paper did not survive long. In those days, editor, printer and proprietor were often one and the same. And it was a hazardous undertaking. They were always liable for a fine or imprisonment if an action for libel was raised – frequently facing financial ruin.
And five years after this book was published, Galbraith’s business was taken over by Thomas Colville, the founding printer-editor of The Courier in 1816.
Somewhat distressed, The Life and Heroick Actions of the Renown’d Sir William Wallace appeared at Wilson55 Auctioneers, Nantwich, Cheshire, where it sold for £65.
Picture: The Life of William Wallace, £65 (Wilson55 Auctions).