March 2010 acquisitions

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

Printer's specimen book

Flowers on printers' specimen book cover
Detail from cover

Printing firms like A B Fleming & Co produced specimen books to showcase their wares. The copy we have bought includes the text of a lecture on 'The chemistry of colour printing'. Robert Irvine gave the lecture to the Edinburgh branch of the British Typographia in 1891. Irvine was a chemical director of A B Fleming & Co.

A B Fleming & Co was founded in around 1854 and was initially based in Leith. They developed a technique for producing cheaper newspaper ink, which led to a rapid expansion of the business. By the 1880s the company, in Granton, Edinburgh, could claim to have the largest printing ink works in the world.

A book on golf

Man in golf cartoon
Detail of
golf cartoon

'Book of Dalbeattie Golf Club' is a rare early 20th-century publication about golf in Dumfries and Galloway. The book was privately printed in 1912 and includes literary contributions from club members. The book was published to help raise funds to improve the course and the facilities.

The Dalbeattie Golf Club was inaugurated at a public meeting in 1894. A nine-hole course was created from local farmland. In 1902 a small clubhouse was erected, but soon became inadequate to meet the needs of the growing membership.

A French novel

Engraving of woman
Detail of

'Narcisse, ou le Château d'Arabit' is a rare and obscure French gothic novel by Desirée de Castera. It tells the story of how a noble family lost power after the downfall of the Stuarts. However, it is linked not to the Jacobite Uprisings but to the execution of Charles I. The geographical setting seems to come from descriptions found in Blaeu's 1654 Atlas of Scotland.

The work depicts historical Scotland before Walter Scott took up this topic. Thanks to Scott's historical novels, tartan and pictures of baronial castles would later in the 19th century become the defining markers of Scottishness. 'Narcisse' has no such illustrations.


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