September 2006

Here is some information on a small sample of items recently acquired by Rare Book Collections at the National Library of Scotland.

Illustration of man
Gentlemen in
underwear, 1910

A trade catalogue of Greensmith Downes & Son gives great insight into early 20th-century fashion.

At the back of 'The book of Scotch-made underwear' is a pattern book with more than 30 pieces of fabric of the type used by Greensmith Downes & Son in their garments. Their shop in George Street, Edinburgh, was well known for selling expensive quality clothing. It was in business until at least the 1970s. The catalogue also has sections on hunting jackets, waistcoats, elbow warmers, socks and rugs. One image shows two gentlemen in a dressing room lounging in their underwear.



Binding detail
Cover detail from
The Holy Bible

Alexander Kincaid, an Edinburgh printer, produced a two-volume edition of the Bible in 1773. Apart from its Scottishness, this Bible is interesting because of the binding. Both volumes are in a contemporary Scottish green morocco binding. It features a centre floral emblem surrounded by gilt leaves, swirls and corner floral emblems. The endpapers are made of floral-patterned Dutch gilt paper.

Each volume is also accompanied by a contemporary custom-sewn leather pouch designed for carrying the volume on a belt.



Kilt detail
Kilt detail from
football photo

A rather unusual purchase is an issue of a Argentinean weekly sporting magazine, 'El Gráfico'. It contains a double page spread on international football: Third Lanark's first game of their South American tour in the summer of 1923. Third Lanark lost this encounter against an 'Argentine Select' 1-0 in front of 20,000 screaming fans in the Palermo Stadium in Buenos Aires.

What the brief report does not mention is that after Third Lanark had been awarded a corner, missiles — including knives and live ammunition — were thrown on to the pitch. The Scots walked off in protest, but were later persuaded to return and finish the game.

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