June 2007

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

A curious Scottish binding

Chenille binding
Chenille binding

James Hamilton, a book collector, had a number of his books bound in chenille by the Edinburgh firm R Grant & Son. This soft and delicate fabric is a very unusual binding material. The books in Hamilton's library bound in chenille had different colours or patterns.

Edmund Spenser's five-volume Poetical works are bound in red chenille with yellow dots. Another curious features of this binding is the fact that the boards are much larger than the text block.



Original watercolour illustrations

Hummingbird illustration

Oliver Goldsmith, the poet, also published a History of the earth and animated nature in 1774. The 1853 and later editions have a number of coloured lithographs. We have now acquired the original watercolours of some of these illustrations.

The high-quality illustrations were reproduced through chromolithography. This process involves lithographic printing using several colours. The illustration shows different kinds of hummingbirds.



An early painting manual

Balquhidder illustation
Watercolour of

A Scottish landscape near Balquhidder in Perthshire demonstrates the use of different colours for painting. Cobalt, light red and indigo are ideal for depicting clouds and far-away mountains. The Balquhidder scene is one of over 20 illustrations in an early manual for watercolour painting.

David Cox, one of the finest British landscape painters, devised A series of progressive lessons intended to elucidate the art of painting in water colours as a manual for amateur painters. From the first edition published in 1811, it became one of the most influential drawing books.


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