Bindings

  • The CL. Psalmes of David in Meeter. Edinburgh, 1640.
    • This is a beautiful and important book: both the text and the binding are new to our collections. It is an edition of the metrical Psalms printed in Edinburgh in 1640, which seems to be unrecorded. Most strikingly, it is contained in a silver binding, decorated with a design of birds and flowers. The leaf edges are gilt and decorated with a stamped design of dots and crosses. It seems that the binding is contemporary. The thin-gauge silver, which is not hallmarked, is overlapped by the old endpapers. One would expect a Victorian binding to have new endpapers, and, indeed, to be more artistically confident. The blackening of the silver where it has not been touched, and the loss of the clasps, also suggest a contemporary binding. Research is continuing into the origin of the binding, which may be Dutch, German, or even Scottish.
  • The Holy Bible [with Psalms of David in Meeter]. London, 1653.
    • This two-volume Bible and metrical Psalms is bound in red morocco elegantly gilt with a variety of floral emblems. The spines are tooled in gilt between raised bands, there are green patterned pastedowns and endpapers. This is a good example of what the herring-bone style suggests is early eighteenth-century Scottish work.
  • Holy Bible. Edinburgh, 1726.
    • Here is one of the very finest surviving examples of Scottish decorative bookbinding. The well-considered design, rich but still balanced, has an aesthetic quality which is matched by the technical brilliance of the execution. The binder has combined elements from the famous 'wheel' and 'herring-bone' traditions, and has included an extraordinary variety of tools: stars, flowers, roundels, leaves and spear-heads. Particularly charming is the fact that this masterpiece seems to have been commissioned as a wedding present. Inside the front board is a leather label indicating that the binding was done for the marriage of Sarah Thomson to Robert Cross in Glasgow in 1738. Manuscript notes record the fortunes of Sarah's family. This acquisition will be central to our binding collections as an example of Scottish work at its very best.
  • Hamilton, James. Disputatio Juridica. Edinburgh, 1728.
    • This is a fine thesis binding in black morocco, with gold tooling on boards, spine, board edges and turn-ins. The binding complements that of Bdg.s.13, which may well have come from the same workshop: the structure of the design is similar, but different tools are used. The new copy is particularly distinguished by the stars in the panels on the spine, and the 'chain' design of the diagonals. It has fine green and gilt Dutch endpapers, with an attractive label of Kerr & Richardson, book makers of Glasgow, on the front pastedown. Kerr & Richardson are not recorded in the Scottish Book Trade Index. Only one other copy is known of the text, and the textblock in this new copy is untrimmed and in superior condition.
  • Holy Bible. Edinburgh, 1743. [Psalms. Edinburgh, 1744].
    • These two volumes of the Bible and metrical Psalms are bound in black goatskin, with a striking and unusual gold-tooled design in outstanding condition. This was apparently commissioned as a wedding present. Inside each volume is a red goatskin label with gold lettering, which reads 'Helen Scott 6th March 1765', presumably the date of her marriage. Manuscript notes record the birth of several children in the years which followed. Additionally, there are green and gilt endpapers with a floral design. This is a bright and appealing addition to the bindings collection, with a human story in it.
  • Clarendon, Edward Hyde, Earl of. Miscellaneous works of the right honourable Edward Earl of Clarendon. London, 1751.
    • This is a superb copy of the second edition of Clarendon's miscellaneous works, from the library of Sir James Colquhoun of Luss (1741-1805). It is a particularly fine example of a tree calf binding and was probably bound in the late eighteenth century. Colquhoun was the sheriff-depute of Dumbartonshire and was known as a connoisseur of paintings, engravings, coins and china. This book was part of the library at the Colquhoun seat of Rossdhu on the shores of Loch Lomond until it was sold at auction in 1984. It represents a significant addition to the Library's collection of almost twenty volumes from this Scottish country house library. Books from this library have become a paradigm for 'mint' condition. 
  • Fawkes, Francis. Works of Anacreon. London, 1760.
    • The importance of the eighteenth-century Scottish binder James Scott is considerable, and the National Library of Scotland is widely recognised as having the pre-eminent collection of Scott bindings. This addition to the collection is notable for the gilt roll-tool border to the covers, with a crisp and attractive floral design which seems to be wholly unrecorded. The spine is heavily tooled with gilt compartments and a red morocco spine label. Although there is no binder's label, on the basis of the tools on the spine it seems that this is a James Scott binding. A manuscript note inside reads 'The gift of Doctor Brody 1776'. Most of Scott's binding seems to have been carried out in the 1770s, and it seems unlikely that he bound the book in the year it was printed, 1760. Presumably the generous Dr. Brody had the gift specially bound in 1776.
  • Baillie, Joanna. A Collection of Poems. London, 1823.
    • This fine volume comes from the collection of the Walter Scott bibliographers William B. Todd and Ann Bowden. Baillie encouraged many poets to submit original unpublished works for inclusion in her volume, among whom were Scott, Wordsworth, Southey and Campbell. This copy was given as a present by Scott, according to the publisher's note on the title-page, and it is bound with Scott's personal portcullis device in gilt on the spine. No other examples of this 'Abbotsford' binding are known apart from those which were part of Scott's own library.
  • Gibb, J. Taylor. The land of Burns: Mauchline town and district. Glasgow, [1911].
    • This curious binding was made of wood from the old United Presbyterian Church, Mauchline, built in 1793 and demolished in 1884. Mauchline was one of a number of Ayrshire towns where, during the nineteenth century, snuff boxes, tea-caddies, napkin rings and cigar cases were made of sycamore or oak wood. Because of the dominant position of W. and A. Smith in Mauchline in the trade, these wooden objects were referred to as 'Mauchline ware'. These products sold in vast quantities not only in Britain but throughout Europe and the British Empire until the 1930s. Robert Burns' association with the town - he lived there with Jean Armour and composed some of his most famous poems locally - meant that many objects were decorated with portraits of the bard.
  • Alcott, Louisa M. Little women. London, [1927].
    • Jessie M. King designed this pictorial binding for the publishers, Collins, in her typical style, showing a solitary slender girl in what appears to be a desert environment. Collins used it for no fewer than twelve titles in their Bumper Reward Books series, and the theme is completely unrelated to Alcott's tale of young ladies in mid-nineteenth century New England. Born in New Kilpatrick, Bearsden, in 1876, King studied at Glasgow School of Art between 1892 and 1899. As early as 1902 she was regarded as the pre-eminent book illustrator in the Glasgow movement. She illustrated nearly 200 books between 1898 and her death in 1949.

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