Special and Named Printed Collections in the National Library of Scotland
THOMAS MURRAY COLLECTION
THOMAS MURRAY COLLECTION This collection of over 600 printed items reflects Thomas Murray's (1900-1983) interest in international socialism during his lifetime. It contains material dating from 1915 to 1975, but the bulk dates from the peak of the communist movement - the 1930s to the 1950s. Included are a large number of pamphlets, leaflets, books and ephemera from the period of the Spanish Civil War, during which Murray served on the Republican side as a political commissar in the International Brigade. There are over 30 issues of the 'Volunteer for Liberty', the periodical founded by the Brigade. Much of the material is from Catalonia, including calendars and books of nursery rhymes with clear political messages. There are also government-sponsored publications from China, Albania, Vietnam and the Soviet Union, as well as pamphlets demonstrating Murray's interest in nationalism and socialism in Ireland and Scotland. Thomas Murray was born in Aberdeenshire in 1900. In his youth he joined the International Labour Party, later the Communist Party. He served as a town councillor in Edinburgh for many years. The Library also holds personal and business papers and correspondence relating to Murray and his involvement in the trade union movement. Both the printed and the manuscript material (Acc.9083) have been on deposit in the National Library since 1983.
The collection is uncatalogued. An inventory is available on request.
The foundation of the Library’s Scandinavian collections, this collection was purchased by the Faculty of Advocates in 1819 from David Laing (1793-1878), then a young Edinburgh bookseller and later Librarian to the Society of Writers to the Signet. Laing had visited Copenhagen that year, where he bought a number of books from the collection of the Icelandic scholar and antiquary Grímur Jónsson Thorkelin (1752-1829). From these books the Advocates chose only works of Scandinavian origin or interest, amounting to c. 1500 printed items (another part of the Thorkelin collection is in the British Library). Works on the history, law, religion, mythology, topography and natural history, language and literature of the Scandinavian countries are well represented in the collection. Particular strengths are early printed editions of the Icelandic sagas, and a number of examples of early Danish printing. Two important imprints from Hólar, the first Icelandic printing centre, are Lögbok Islandinga (1578), the first printed edition of Jónsbok, the Icelandic code of laws, and Biblia (1584), the first printed edition of the complete Bible in Icelandic. The Advocates also bought Icelandic manuscripts from Thorkelin over a number of years. Additions have been made to the Scandinavian collection from time to time by donation and purchase.
The manuscripts are briefly described in the Library’s Summary Catalogue of the Advocates’ Manuscripts, Edinburgh, 1971, and in detail in a typescript catalogue by Ólafur Halldórsson (in Icelandic). Norway in Books and Manuscripts, an Exhibition, Edinburgh, 1963. Scandinavia, an Exhibition, Edinburgh, 1970. A.A. Calderwood, ‘Danish Libraries in Britain’, Denmark: a Monthly Review of Anglo-Danish Relations (June-July 1948), 8-9, 13-14. D. Wyn Evans, ‘A Note on the Content of the Thorkelin Collection in the National Library of Scotland’, The Bibliotheck, 4 (1963-1966), 79-80. ----, ‘Inscriptions and Bookplates from the Thorkelin Collection in the National Library of Scotland’, The Bibliotheck, 4 (1963-1966), 247-8.
Shelf: H.7-H.20 (the bulk of the collection is concentrated in H.7-H.16).
Presented to the Library by Mr A. Townley in 1961, this is a collection of c. 7,500 picture postcards sent from the beginning of the 20th century onwards. Some 5,000 of these portray scenes from all parts of Britain and from overseas, the remaining 2,500 are of railway locomotives and railway scenes.
Shelf: Pc.1/A - Pc.7
This is an almost complete collection of all the letterpress items printed by Alan Anderson's Tragara Press between 1954 and 2012. It brings together a collection of c. 230 items purchased from a private collector in 2010, and other items acquired by the Library over the last five decades, which were not already in special collection shelfmarks. The Tragara Press was founded in Edinburgh the early 1950s by Alan Anderson (b. 1922), the press taking its name from the famous Punta Tragara hotel on the Italian island of Capri, a favourite holiday destination for him. It was Scotland's longest-running, and, in terms of output, most prolific private press. Alan Anderson studied printing at Edinburgh College of Art in the early 1950s, and the first book with a Tragara Press imprint appeared in 1954. However, he worked mainly as a bookseller until the 1970s before devoting himself full-time to printing and publishing. According to the most recent bibliography of the Tragara Press by Steven Halliwell, published in 2005, between 1954 and 1991 he printed and published himself c. 150 items. These items were usually small octavo format pamphlets with the print runs of 100-200 numbered copies, printed from 1969 onwards on an 'Arab' treadle platen press, although some of them have smaller print runs. Anderson's aim was to produce good quality, appropriate printing of selected texts (with particular emphasis on the works of Norman Douglas, Oscar Wilde, John Gray, Baron Corvo and other writers of the 1890s/early 20th-century) at affordable prices. His printing is characterised by its emphasis on typography rather than illustration, and by its elegant, austere design; his books are now collectors' items among bibliophiles. He has also produced a substantial body of work from the 1950s onwards, usually contemporary poetry, which has been privately commissioned by other presses and by friends. From 1991 onwards his printing was exclusively for other publishers, with the exception of his 2004 anthology of poems "Blue Remembered Hills". The collection also has examples of work printed for other presses, such as Alan Clodd's Enitharmon Press and David Tibet's Durtro Press; it also includes examples of rare printed ephemera, proof copies and variant printings on different papers, enabling one to trace the different stages in the printing of the individual publications.
S. Halliwell, "Fifty years of hand-printing: a bibliography of the Tragara Press", High Wycombe, 2005.
A small collection of 25 books from the library of John Buchan (1875-1940), first baron Tweedsmuir, which was presented to the Library in 1940 and contains his bookplates. All the items in the bequest relate to James Graham (1612-50), the first Marquis of Montrose, and to the history of Scotland after the declaration of the National Covenant and during the Civil War; the collection includes 13 Wing items (see p. 3). Montrose featured in several of Buchan’s books and lectures and was the subject of one of his earliest historical works, The Marquis of Montrose (1913), which was unfavourably criticized due to the author’s idealized portrayal of its subject (a revised biography, Montrose, was published in 1928). Two collections of manuscript material relating to John Buchan, were successively presented and deposited by his son, the second baron Tweedsmuir, in 1977 and 1985.
Typescript inventories of the manuscripts.
TYNINGHAME HOUSE LIBRARY
A selection of books from the library at Tyninghame House purchased in 1987, before it was dispersed at auction. The core of the collection consists of 345 volumes believed to have belonged to the lawyer and politician Thomas Hamilton (1563-1637), 1st Earl of Haddington, known as ‘Tam o’ the Cowgate’ by his friend King James VI. A collector of books throughout his career, he signed them with the form of name and title he bore at the time of acquiring them. However, research on these books since they came to the Library suggests that some of the volumes signed ‘M[agister] T Hamilton’ may have belonged to his father, another Thomas, who had also been a student at Paris. The first Earl acquired books in French, Latin, English and Italian, mainly on history, politics and political theory, law, literature, but also some courtesy books and other more practical works on subjects such as medicine and agriculture. The remainder of the collection comprises 11 works owned by the 2nd Earl (1600-40), and 41 works acquired at later dates. Among the latter are four illustrated books which came from the library of George Lauder of the Bass, and several fine Scottish bindings, including Tasso’s Gierusalemme Liberata, (Glasgow, 1763), bound by James Scott of Edinburgh.
B.P. Hillyard, ‘Books for the National Library from Tyninghame House’, Scottish Book Collector, 6 (June/July 1988), 26-7. ----, “Durkan & Ross’ and Beyond’, in A.A. MacDonald, M. Lynch and I.B. Cowan (editors), The Renaissance in Scotland, Leiden, 1994, 369-384.