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Category: Business & Reference, National Library of Scotland

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The National Library of Scotland has the pre-eminent collection of decorative bookbindings produced in Scotland during the last five centuries. Some were transferred to the new National Library in 1925 as part of the collections of the Advocates Library, but many have been purchased since in an attempt to document the development of binding styles in Scotland. Below are displayed a representative sample of bindings from the 18th century, together with a number of decorative endpapers from these books.

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Propaganda – A Weapon of War is a small snapshot of Second World War propaganda that can be found in the National Library of Scotland’s collections.

Between 1939 and 1945, both Allied and Axis Governments greatly influenced wartime behaviour and attitudes through propaganda. This took various forms: the printed word and pictorial leaflets, radio broadcasts and cinema and poster campaigns.

White propaganda was mostly practical information intended for the Home Front. Black propaganda targeted enemy morale, and there was a strong Scottish involvement in the clandestine organisation that developed it – the Political Warfare Executive.

On this website you'll find examples of British Government propaganda, from 'Make do and Mend' to 'Tag und Nacht'.

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Welcome to the website where you can find out what was happening in Edinburgh's Theatre Royal at the start of the 19th century.

The Theatre Royal was extremely important in the revival of Scottish culture during this period, and is often associated with popular stage adaptations of novels by Sir Walter Scott. We have digitised a selection of over 240 playbills, which were used to advertise performances and events, using originals in the collection of the National Library of Scotland.

Search or browse the playbills to see who performed in a particular play or which musical events were scheduled for the same night. We provide a list of further reading and links to living theatres in Scotland today.

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We can trace Scottish printing back to 4 April 1508.

On that date the earliest surviving dated book in Scotland was printed in Edinburgh.

Here you can read full texts of items printed on 33 of the first 38 printing presses set up in Scotland between 1508 and 1900. These have been digitised from the National Library of Scotland's collections.

They include that first dated printed book – see The Complaint of the Black Knight, printed by Chepman and Myllar.

You can also trace the geographical spread of printing in Scotland, from the first printing towns to the 'printing revolution' in the 19th century.

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Mapmaking and printing from 1820 to 2002

The Bartholomew Archive is the remarkable record of the Edinburgh-based firm of map engravers, printers and publishers, John Bartholomew & Son Ltd. It is one of the most extensive cartographic archives available for research in a public institution.

Members of the Bartholomew family were engaged in map-making from the first known map engraving work of George Bartholomew in 1825. John Bartholomew junior started printing operations before 1870. For more than a century afterwards the Bartholomew firm specialised in high-quality map production.
Importance of the archive

The Bartholomew Archive enables us to:

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In the centuries before there were newspapers and 24-hour news channels, the general public had to rely on street literature to find out what was going on. The most popular form of this for nearly 300 years was 'broadsides' - the tabloids of their day. Sometimes pinned up on walls in houses and ale-houses, these single sheets carried public notices, news, speeches and songs that could be read (or sung) aloud.

The National Library of Scotland's online collection of nearly 1,800 broadsides lets you see for yourself what 'the word on the street' was in Scotland between 1650 and 1910. Crime, politics, romance, emigration, humour, tragedy, royalty and superstitions - all these and more are here.

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