World Book Day: Edward Clark Collection

As it is World Book Day, we thought we could take the opportunity to write about our beloved Edward Clark Collection. What is the Edward Clark Collection you may ask or why is it relevant to World Book Day? Well, let’s begin:

Edward Clark Collection

The Edward Clark Collection is based at Merchiston Campus. It is part of our Hertiage Collections/Archives. We have been custodians of the collection since 1964.  It is one of the only two surviving examples of what was once a widespread phenomenon in Britain: printers’ libraries. The other survivor is St Brides Library in London.

Edward Clark Collection consists of around 5000 items.

The collection concentrates on the development of typography, the techniques of printing illustrations, and fine bindings.  It includes several rare imprints and some splendid examples of typographers, printers, illustrators and binders art and craft.

It has a wide range of books throughout the years, showcasing the changes in illustrations, typography, publishing and more. We think it would be a great opportunity to highlight this collection on World Book Day.

Edward Clark

Edward Clark was born in Edinburgh, to Robert and Emma Clark on 11 December 1864. His paternal grandmother Isabel was sister to Adam Black, Lord Provost of the City of Edinburgh from 1843 to 1848, and a Member of Parliament from 1854 to 1865. Edward Clark  began business as a publisher in Edinburgh in 1815. And with his nephew founded the firm of A. & C. Black. Known to publish the Edinburgh Review for many years and acquired the copyright of Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Over the years, books that had publishing significance were bought in the name of Edward Clark, showing the development of publishing over the years.

Edward Clark Collection: Printers’ Libraries

The first Edinburgh printers’ library was established in 1858. The technical and reference collections continued to be used up until the end of the 19th century, after which it is not clear what happened to them. Formal educational requirements for printing apprentices were established after World War I. The Clark Collection was put together as a teaching resource, mainly in the 1930s, to illustrate printing technologies, type design and book production from the 15th century to the present day. As well as the treasures highlighted on the Collection website it is a treasure trove for the historian of print.


Heritage Collection:

The Edward Clark Collection is truly amazing, and we are grateful to the Heritage Collection team for all they do. Have a look at all they do here.

Any enquiries about our Heritage Collections at Napier including the War Poets and Jim Haynes, get in touch:

Read about our previous Edward Clark Collection posts here