Bertram Ltd. of Sciennes

Bertram Limited, Sciennes was founded in 1821 in Edinburgh and soon developed into a major manufacturer of papermaking machinery.

Brothers George and William Bertram set up a workshop near Sciennes with a few machines and a small forge, later moving to new, larger premises around 1859 to a site which it was to occupy for over a century.

St Katherine's Works

Bertrams was a very family orientated company where you’d find several members of the same family working alongside each other. They produced The Bertrams Family Magazine where in each issue, were published photos and articles about the company’s many social activities and sports teams.

Bertram Family Magazine

Our collection has been made possible thanks to Bill Hall who followed his father and uncle into the Bertrams workplace and who shared with us many of his own personal photographs taken throughout his family’s time there.

Staff on roof of Bertrams

Bill’s father, Joe (top row centre) and Uncle Willie (top row right) with colleagues on Bertrams roof.

See the full Bertrams exhibition online at Capital Collections.

The Moromasa Scroll conservation project – 1 year on

Edinburgh Libraries and Information Services are excited to announce that the Moromasa Scroll project has completed its first year. Even more thrilling, the Sumitomo Foundation have generously awarded a further grant for £17,500 to finish the conservation of the Moromasa Scroll.

Moromasa Scroll in workshop

Conservator at work on the Moromasa Scroll in the Leiden studio.

The scroll which was brought to light 2 years ago in Edinburgh Central Library has turned out to be a real treasure and an artwork of national importance.  As such, securing its future was vitally important.  Academics and specialists have supported this work, and have visited the scroll whilst it is away from home in Leiden at the Restorient Studio.

One of the visiting academics has gone the extra mile and handmade a traditional roller for the scroll.  None were available commercially even in Japan.  In return, with its illustration of Kabuki and puppet theatre scenes, the scroll has given researchers information about Japanese theatre they had not previously found elsewhere.

Detail of the roller of the Moromasa Scroll

Detail of the roller of the Moromasa Scroll

And the story is not yet over. The scroll is currently in 10 pieces! No need to worry though, this has been done so it can be rejoined on new lining papers. Its silk cover will be replaced and its silver decoration brought back to life for what should make it a real showstopper.

Silvering on cloud detail and the scroll's silk cover

Detail from scroll shows silvering on cloud design on left and the silk cover on right

We shall be following progress closely and will keep you updated until the scroll returns safely to Edinburgh Central Library. Many thanks to everyone who is helping to restore the scroll to its original splendour.

You can see images of the scroll online at Capital Collections where you can zoom into the incredible detail of life in early 18th century Edo (Tokyo).

You can catch up on the Scroll story so far with these earlier blog posts:

Forth Rail Bridge

March 2015 marks the 125th anniversary of the Forth Rail Bridge. Currently awaiting the outcome of a UNESCO World Heritage site nomination, there is little doubt that the Forth Rail Bridge’s iconic status extends far beyond Scotland.

However, the Forth Rail Bridge may have looked very different.

 

In 1879 during a dreadful storm, the navigation spans collapsed on the Tay Bridge. A train had been crossing the bridge at the time and over 70 lives were lost. The Tay Bridge had been designed by Thomas Bouch, the engineer employed on the new Forth Rail Bridge and so, a decision was made to halt construction on the Bridge only shortly after it had begun.

To allay the fears of the public in the wake of the Tay disaster the revised structure of the Forth Bridge was designed to be both visually impressive and enormously strong. Work restarted on a new cantilever design by Sir John Fowler and Sir Benjamin Baker.

 

The creation of the monumental structure came at a heavy price. In addition to the high economic cost of roughly £2.5 million, more than 60 men lost their lives whilst working on the bridge. Our latest Capital Collections exhibition includes material from our Libraries’ collections and also from the Queensferry Museum. Browse awe-inspiring pictures of the Bridge in mid-construction, views from high amongst the girders and photos of some of the men who risked their lives to realise this feat of Victorian engineering.

 

 

Streets and Canals in Venice

There is something so different in Venice from any other place in the world, that you leave at once all accustomed habits and everyday sights to enter an enchanted garden…..
Mary Shelley

Our latest online exhibition is taken from a volume published by Ferdinando Ongania in 1893 who was inspired to record the architecture of his beloved city for the ‘studious art loving public’.

The Venetian GondolaBrowse the images and meander the narrow streets and waterways of a less well-known side of Venice. Although you will see images of gondolas they are of a time when unlike today they normally contained an intimate “felze”, a small cabin on the deck.

There is also an image of the Regata Storia where thousands of people line the streets, gather on bridges and watch from every possible vantage point.  This centuries old event is still as popular today as when this photograph was taken.

Waiting for the Regatta

We also witness women pulling water from the well to fill the tub for the daily washing while nearby men with pipes firmly clenched between teeth can be seen with tools of their trade.

Campicello, Little field

Explore the beautiful Street and Canals in Venice exhibition on Capital Collections.

A calendar of flowers

It may be thought perhaps the Winter months are void of the delights expected in a flower garden; but the mistake will soon be discovered by any curious observer, when he shall find, that there are at least two and thirty flowers of different kinds then in their splendour.

So wrote the author in ‘The Flower Garden Display’d’ volume of 1732.

January

This vibrant display shows January’s blooms. The following months’ illustrations can be seen in our latest Capital Collections exhibition. The flowers from each month’s bouquet are identified to help the budding horticulturist.

Exploring the Henry Dyer Collection

This short film uncovers one of Edinburgh Libraries’ hidden gems: the Henry Dyer Collection.

Edinburgh City Libraries received two donations from the Henry Dyer Collection in 1945 and 1955, gifted by Marie Ferguson Dyer in honour of her father.

These donations together consisted of 50 loose sheets of Japanese woodblock prints, a number of bound woodblock printed volumes, scrolls and a collection of late 19th Century Japanese photographs attributed to Baron Von Stillfried. The remainder of the Dyer Collection was gifted to the Mitchell Library (Glasgow) and Glasgow Museums (Nitshill).

Read more about Henry Dyer’s contribution to Edinburgh Libraries.

There are also a number of Dyer related exhibitions on our image database, Capital Collections, that are worth dipping into.

Watch this space for the second part of this film which explores the wonderful Moromasa scroll.

Watch the birdie! Golf in Edinburgh, 1909 style

We’ve unearthed a cracking album of historic photographs of Mortonhall Golf Club which we wanted to share with you.

Dating from 1909, the album includes some wonderful action shots as well as scenic views of the course, the clubhouse and its surroundings.

Here’s the club captain driving off, totally unfazed by the sheep grazing on the fairway up ahead.

the club captain

 

I’m sure most Saturday morning hackers will recognise the following scene. A golfer searches the rough for a lost ball while his fellow player waits ‘patiently’ on the grass beside him.

the lost ball

 

This shot, entitled ‘The Home Hole’ features some wonderful fashions, facial topiary and plenty of serious expressions.

the home hole

You can  zoom in to see this and all the other pictures from the album in detail, as well as finding out more about the club itself (including the famous novel in which it is mentioned) on Capital Collections.