Category Archives: Manuscript Collections

A Traquair Treat

0057151dAs there were several separate requests recently for images from the splendid ‘Song School St Mary’ manuscript by Phoebe Anna Traquair, we decided the time was right to digitise the book from cover to cover, replacing some fairly mixed quality old digital images and preparing it for the LUNA Book Reader . This item is one of my favourites (yes, I know I have many…), and it is a beautifully illuminated, vibrantly coloured, jewel-like treasure. Although made in 1897, Traquair created this on vellum, which adds to the impression of exquisite quality. Continue reading

3 Additions to the LUNA Book Reader Collection


We kick off 2015 with the addition of 3 new Book Readers added to LUNA. The first two are both music manuscripts that came down to the DIU as part of the Readers Orders trolley. It is not often that we receive volumes to be digitised in their entirety this way, so it seemed a good opportunity. As a result we spared a bit of time to do the additional work to prepare them for the book reader software after the High Resolution images had been delivered to the customers. Continue reading

The Most Beautiful Book in Scotland and the Oldest Scottish Manuscript?


The new Ms 39 Book of Hours available in LUNA Book Reader

We are delighted to announce that 2 manuscripts have been added to our growing collection of Book Readers in LUNA!

The first is Ms 39, an amazing early 15th century Book of Hours, with rich gold work, detailed miniatures and vibrant colours. See for the Book Reader. A note in the front of the book claims this is the most beautiful book in Scotland, what do you think? What are the other contender’s? Continue reading

Iconic Photography


Clement Litill’s 1580 bequest charter

Part of our remit in the DIU has been to work through a list of ‘Iconic’ Items from the collection in our spare time. Over the years we have completed the digitisation of some outstanding manuscripts and collections in this way, from the Hill and Adamson photographs (a personal favourite- see to the wonderful Laing Album Amicorum (see ). Continue reading

Discovering the Orient

Detail of portrait showing a group of women washing clothes in a river. This miniature comes from a collection of portraits (Tasawir), which originate from India and date to the mid-19th century. Although many of the images in the oriental manuscripts collection tend to relate to religion or mythology, this portrait is interesting as it provides a fascinating insight into the life of ordinary people, during the rule of the British Raj.



On the 2nd June, I was lucky enough to begin employment as the Employ.ed Digital Collections intern for the CRC. Although I begin with a little trepidation – like most people when they start a new job, I spent the night before worrying that I’d be really bad at it or that no one would like me – I am now in my fifth week and enjoying it immensely: I don’t really want to leave! Continue reading

New Images & New Collection Publically Available

Last week we were very pleased to make 864 new images available to the public. In the DIU we had recently completed a batch of nearly 1000 high quality images from Readers Orders and Staff requests, so we handed these over to Library Digital Development Team to upload into LUNA . Of the images that could be made available to the public…

372 Images were added to the Western Medieval Manuscripts Collection

0055682d196 Images were added to the CRC Gallimaufry Collection


162 Images were added to the New College Collection

54 Images were added to the Roslin Institute Collection


11 Images were added to the Architectural Drawings Collection

10 Images were added to the Salvesen Collection

10 Images were added to the University of Edinburgh Collection and

8 Images were added to the Incunabula Collection

0055707dHowever, we are perhaps most excited to announce the new collection of ECA Rare Books . Elizabeth Quarmby Lawrence has been very busy cataloguing these books (see our earlier post ) and tells us that the “Rare Books Collection of Edinburgh College of Art, includes about 1,500 items, which date from before 1489 to the twentieth century. Most of them are printed books; many of them are illustrated. It is particularly strong in books of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries on architecture, design and ornament. There are also nineteenth-century photographs, examples of textile design, and early nineteenth-century hand-painted designs for Edinburgh Shawls. Many of the books originated in the collections of the institutions which preceded ECA: the drawing academy of the Board of Trustees for Manufactures in Scotland, and the School of Applied Art. This collection is now housed in the Centre for Research Collections in the Main Library”.

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Making new images available requires a real team effort, and I’d like to say a special thanks to Deputy Photographer Malcolm Brown, Scott Renton & all the Library Digital Development Team, and of course Elizabeth Quarmby Lawrence for all the metadata!

Susan Pettigrew, Photographer


I’ve seen a startling number of beasties hiding out in our Collections over the years, and the time has come to celebrate them! From the delightful details in the margins of Books of Hours…


…to the damsels in distress being rescued from fantastical monsters.


It is also wonderful to see the same story illustrated from 2 very different traditions: St. George and the Dragon in a Book of Hours circa 1500 and made in France for a Scottish owner…0001121f

…or the strikingly different St. George and the Dragon in the Ethiopian Manuscript Gadala Georgois.0001205d

It doesn’t appear to matter where in the world -West, East, or South America- every nation has its own set of Beasties.

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Some are fairly conventional sea monsters…


…  and some just down right bizarre,


yet all bring a smile to my day!

Susan Pettigrew


New Ways Of Seeing

0004187eA large part of what we do in the Digital Imaging Unit is fulfilling digitisation requests from all over the world from researchers and academics who want access to our collections. This week one request required three images from  Ms 195  “Poems Of Virgil” , which is part of the University’s Western Medieval Manuscripts Collection. The detail of the Heron ? or Crane? struck me as an astounding piece of work. The economy of line used to describe the plumage and structure of the bird is very accomplished. I felt this image is worth sharing in detail as it highlights the quality of visual literacy preserved within our collections. The detail also highlights that high quality capture of these works can aid discovery and give us insight into the material. If you compare the detail to the full image via the link to Ms 195 you can see how easily this information could be lost to the eye. The high quality capture provided by top of the range Hasselblad cameras gives us new “ways of seeing” the collections that in turn has multiple applications.

Malcolm Brown

Deputy Photographer


French Bible Historial Now Available in Book Reader


When we started at the DIU at the beginning 2004, a project to digitise a beautiful French Bible known to us as Ms 19 was already half completed, our first job was to finish it. Once this was done it was archived up to server space, and sadly, for many years, forgotten. Which is why I am delighted to announce that it is now available in Book Reader format here . Our volunteer Ellisa Manahova – Panagiotaki has been very busy preparing the images to go into the book reader- all 966 pages. Furthermore, volunteer Jessica Macaulay has been working on enhancing the metadata for us, which we hope to add in the coming months.

The Bible has some fantastic illuminations, including ones where God has, in an act of very polite censorship, been removed with gold paint. Enjoy!

Susan Pettigrew

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Photographing The Apocalypse Circa 1483

Recently the Digital Imaging Unit were asked to photograph all 8 illustrations from the book of the Apocalypse in Anton Koberger’s German Bible of 1483.  Shelf-mark Inc.45.2.  I have selected a few details from the illustrations here to demonstrate the quality of the line and its powerful descriptive impact. ” Koberger was the godfather of Albrecht Dürer, whose family lived on the same street. In the year before Dürer’s birth in 1471.”   Giulia Bartrum, Albrecht Dürer and his Legacy, British Museum Press, 2002, pp 94-96, ISBN 0-7141-2633-0  

Malcolm Brown


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