Monthly Archives: June 2014

Building History

Snow at Edinburgh University Library, January 2010.

As part of our role here, Malcolm and I have taken many photographs of the Main Library. Over the years this has built up an archive of born digital images that show the life of the Library. Before and after shots of the Main Library Redevelopment Project, seasonal shots of the building and campus environs, students using the facilities and CRC events- such as exhibition openings, have all been documented.

Occasionally, one of us has to play a cameo role in the photo’s on those days we just can’t seem to get a student in the right spot, Malcolm stars in this one…

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Anon Art

Another visual essay from me this week. I thought it would be interesting to share a closer look at the amazing work of the invisible artists who populate the title pages of many books in our collections. I am constantly astonished at the graphic accomplishment present in these works from anonymous artists. I have spent some time highlighting details that are inspiring works in their own right. These works stand on their own feet and in their own space. All images this week are details from ” The Faerie Queene “. Shelfmark JY 1096. Points of note are the best snake tongue ever drawn (see below) and a fantastic phoenix rising from flames. More images from the book can be found within our image collections at

Deputy Photographer, Malcolm Brown.

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A Rocky Start to the Week


This week saw the start of a small project to digitise some papers that recently came to the CRC from the The Cockburn Museum, School of GeoSciences. The collection contains an interesting mixture of lecture notes, photos, etchings, scrolls, correspondence and large format drawings. What is more, many of these papers come from some of the biggest names in the field. Today I scanned 112 pages of Charles Lyell’s handwritten notes on mountain ranges in Madeira, including pen and ink geological sketches. These delicate and precise drawings of geological details show what fine draughtsman this influential geologist was (see

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The correspondence of Sir Archiblad Geikie also figures largely, along with a portrait photograph. Geikie was appointed the first Director of the Scottish branch of the Geological Survey in 1867, as well as holding the geology and mineralogy professorship here at the University (see


Also included are some photo’s of the old Geology Museum, and perhaps my favourite – 6 plates of fossilised fishes. We hope to be able to deliver these all online in the not too distant future!

Susan Pettigrew, Photographer

Geology Museum. 0056066d

The Pencil of Nature

Two of my favourite photographs in the Centre for Research Collections come from The University of Edinburghs copy of William Henry Fox Talbot’s “The Pencil of Nature“. Shelfmark Df.3.85 .The book also contains an exceptional capital letter T complete with small dragon like creature with a vine like tongue. As can be seen below.


The two images that impress from the book are minimal images that to me feel very modern but have a profound sense of the time they were created through the use of the calotype technique. However i think these images create a wonderful time portal and makes us think of now as well as one hundred and seventy years ago when they were created. I have included whole and detailed views of both of the photographs. Further images from the book can be found here.

Malcolm Brown, Deputy photographer.


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