John Johnson Collection

One of the many online resources we have available that you might not be too familiar with is the John Johnson Collection which gives a unique insight into everyday life in Britain in the eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It is an archive of printed ephemera from the Bodleian Library and contains an amazing amount of weird and wonderful pictorial information.

We’ve been having a dig about in the collection, looking at some of the things that have been keeping us occupied during lockdown and found these gems from the past.

We’ve all been trying to get our hands on soap, handwash, hand sanitiser and cleaning products. This advert below lists Bishop’s Pure Drug Co.’s ‘best and cheapest’ disinfectant supplies for combatting infectious diseases –

Special price list of disinfectants from Bishop’s Pure Drug Co., c1880

And after barbers and hairdressers had been closed a few weeks, we were reduced to some DIY haircutting from family members –

Dick Wildfire preparing for a dash – 1812

And when we all decided to keep fit, we took to the bicycle. Would we have been so keen if we had to wear all this?

The three best lady cyclists dress holders – [1890’s]

And of course, when we were finally able to track some flour down, we all took to baking-

Why they all use McDougall’s Self-Raising Flour – [1920s]

Why not have a browse through the intriguing John Johnson Collection yourself and see what you can find. All you need is your library card to access and if you’re not already a member, now’s the time to join!

Passport belonging to John Morison Inches

One of the things that Libraries lend most frequently are travel guides, but we have in our collections much more than just books about travel. We house prints, photos, travelogues, timetables, tickets and ephemera, including perhaps surprisingly, some historical passports.

Before the age of photographic ID, the passport was a standard printed form emblazed with the Royal Coat of Arms and stating:

We, Sir Edward Grey, a Baronet of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, a Member of His Most Britannic Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council…

 

Request and require in the Name of His Majesty, all those whom it may concern to allow — to pass freely without let or hindrance and to afford — every assistance and protection of which — may stand in need.

Staff in the Edinburgh and Scottish Collection recently uncovered one such passport made out to Mr John Morison Inches, a British subject travelling in Europe, accompanied by his wife Mrs Margaret Morison Inches.

Passport of Mr John Morison Inches

Who are the persons named in the passport? We turned first to the Library’s resources and the Scotsman Digital Archive where we found John Morison Inches obituary in its edition of 5 May 1914. We also found details of his will published in The Scotsman on 12 June 1914 where he left an estate of £49,095.

Mr John Morison Inches was well-known in Edinburgh in his time. He was a brewer and ran J & J Morison, the Commercial Brewery in the Canongate. He was traveling with his wife Mrs Margaret Inches on a possible business trip in 1911 to Moscow in pre-Great War and pre-1917 revolutionary Russia. He died soon after this trip in 1914 and left his business to his widow until his son John Morison Inches took over. Although, Margaret remained heavily involved in the business operations for many years. The brewery would eventually evolve into Scottish and Newcastle Breweries.

The passport  is currently on display in the Reference Library at Central Library.

Calling concert programmes!

The Music Library has an enviable collection of programmes and ephemera from music festivals, competitions and concerts, providing a snapshot of Edinburgh’s rich concert going and music making, from the early 1800s to the very recent past. Many of our concert programmes are available to view on Capital Collections.

Sir Harry Lauder headlines the Grand Scottish Concert on 23 February 1940.

We collect programmes, handbills and flyers to record as much of Edinburgh’s rich musical life as we can. We are unable to collect our programmes digitally, so we ask you, each time your group performs during the year, to deposit a programme and some handbills with the Music Library for our collection.

Concert programmes can provide a rich source of historical information on musical taste and the wealth of musical participation by both professional and amateur groups. Contribute to our archive and 50 years from now your programmes could be a valuable resource for researchers!

A 2001 programme for the Royal Scottish National Orchestra

If you are involved in more than one choir or orchestra, please pass on the word that we wish to find a home for their programmes, and, because we have gaps in our collection, we would love to be offered back copies of your groups’ programmes. Or, if you have a growing archive, which is perhaps growing too large for your premises, we would happily consider housing it within our collection.

For more information on donating material, email central.music.library@edinburgh.gov.uk, phone 0131 242 8050 or drop into the Music Library.