In the 18th century, decorative arts underwent significant developments. Two outstanding Scottish bookbinders, James Scott and his son William, were at the forefront of such design changes. James Scott of Edinburgh is generally acknowledged as the finest bookbinder in Scotland in the 18th-century and indeed one of the finest in Britain at this time.
In the 1770s and 1780s Scott broke away from the traditional Scottish wheel and herringbone designs, and replaced them with first rococo and then neo-classical styles. We recently bought an outstanding example of his distinctive work:
This binding of a York printing of the 17th-century English scholar John Evelyn’s “Silva” is a magnificent example of Scott’s craftsmanship. The binding is brown tree calf with gilt column style tools and musical trophy on the boards and Minerva ornament on the spines.
The book also has a distinguished provenance: an inscription “Lauderdale” on the title page of vol. 1 indicates it once belonged to James Maitland, 7th Earl of Lauderdale (1718-1789). It was presumably bound for him.
Bindings by James Scott and his son William are much sought after by collectors, and the Library has the most extensive collection in existence.
Find out more about Scottish book binding on our website.