Special and Named Printed Collections in the National Library of Scotland

ROYAL BLIND SCHOOL COLLECTION

This is a selection of works printed for the use of the blind - mainly from the presses of James Gall of Edinburgh and John Alston of Glasgow - which was presented in 1989 by the Royal Blind Asylum and School, Edinburgh, and consists of 86 works, 73 in special types. The collection reflects the prominent role of institutions in Scotland in the first half of the 19th century in developing aids for educating the blind. In 1827 James Gall printed some elementary and educational works in an embossed, angular type of his own design, and in 1834 he published the Gospel of St John, the printing of which had been completed in January 1832. The Edinburgh Society of Arts had awarded in 1832 a gold medal for the best method of printing for the blind to Dr E. Fry of London, and in 1836 John Alston began to print with an embossed type based on Fry’s design. In 1837 he produced a specimen of printing which he presented to the Society of Arts (this copy is present in the collection). Alston then printed the New Testament and then the complete Bible in embossed type, along with catechisms and educational works. Examples of these works, including a number of presentation copies to the Society of Arts, are present in the collection, as are examples of other systems of embossed type, such as those used by Dr Moon of Brighton and Dr S.G. Howe of Boston. There are also a number of works of Scripture, literature, mathematics and music in the Braille alphabet, printed in Britain, Europe and America.

B.P. Hillyard, ‘Books for the Blind’, Scottish Book Collector, 3 no. 10 (April-May 1993), 19-21.

Shelfmark: : R.Blind.S.

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