Sale of the centuries: a celebration of shopping in Scotland

A National Library of Scotland exhibition looking at the changing nature of shops and shopping in Scotland from the 17th to the 20th centuries. Ran from December 2005 to February 2006.


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From the markets of the Middle Ages to the self-service supermarkets of the 1950s, the Scots' experience of shopping has been transformed across the centuries.

A glimpse of the development of shopping over 300 years is provided by the National Library of Scotland's free exhibition, 'Sale of the Centuries'.


Scots and shopping

Open from 8 December to 12 February, this celebration of shopping in Scotland gives a flavour of how Scots shopped before 'malls' and online ordering came to dominate.

Material on display from NLS collections reveals, for instance:

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Allan Ramsay's
Full shop image
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Going to market,
Aberdeen, 1661.
Full map detail
  • Why the Earl of Angus, who lived in Glasgow, brought his bread in Edinburgh in 1608.
  • The shopping 'trail' of 18th-century Edinburgh housekeeper Mrs Dudgeon.
  • A schoolboy's drawings of shops and streets in the Lanarkshire village of Newarthill in the early 1900s.
  • Expeditions to department stores in the 1920s and '30s by a university lecturer.
  • What it was like to 'go the messages' in Hawick in the 1950s.


Connery exhibit on loan

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'Stookie Mattha', Wishaw
chalk-seller, 1900s.
Full chalk-seller drawing

Exhibits on loan from other organisations include a staff record slip showing employment details for an Edinburgh milkman working for a co-operative society in the 1940s.

His name is Connery, Sean Connery — now earning millions from his career as a film star.


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