IT appears necessary to offer a few words of
explanation, showing to what extent the authors of this work are
respectively responsible. In 1876-78 Dr. Dickson contributed to "The
Printers' Register" a series of articles under the title of "Early
Scottish Typography," but failing health brought them to an abrupt
termination. These articles have been incorporated with that part of the
present work which extends from the commencement to the end of Chapter
XX. It was Dr. Dickson's intention to use the articles in some such way
as the present, and, in order to illustrate the subject, he caused
photo-type blocks of facsimiles of the early printing to be prepared,
and these, together with such notes as he had gathered for the
continuation of the work, were placed at my disposal when I undertook to
carry out this larger design.
In 1881 Dr. Dickson published a tract, entitled "Who
was Scotland's First Printer?" and in 1885 a book on the same subject,
under the title of "Introduction of the Art of Printing into Scotland."
The ground traversed in those two books has been necessarily retraced in
this work, and extracts from them find a place here for it appeared
desirable to retain Dr. Dickson's account of our earliest Scottish
printers, rather than attempt to treat the subject anew.
My work on the first twenty chapters has been mainly
editorial. I have used every effort to ensure accuracy by checking the
collations, and, where defective, rewriting the descriptions of the
books. This particularly applies to such books as Dr. Dickson had no
opportunity of examining. Where more recent information had been
obtained the sentence, paragraph, or chapter affected thereby was recast
or rewritten, but in no case has this been done without good cause and
the consent of Dr. Dickson. For the second part of the work, extending
from Chapter XXI. to Chapter XXXVIII., I am wholly responsible. Dr.
Dickson's notes necessarily formed a useful basis of operation, but the
descriptions are entirely new, and in nearly every case taken directly
from the books themselves. Where this could not be effected, the
descriptions appear as mere quotations from previous writers on the
subject, and as such are duly acknowledged. I feel deeply conscious of
many defects in the present work, and that it should be free from
typographical errors is scarcely to be expected, but I must leave these
to the kind indulgence of my readers. The work has been conducted amid
many interruptions and distractions, and the printing has been spread
over a long time, delays occurring which made progress impossible. The
period at which I have closed the work may appear arbitrary, but my
reasons for doing so are as follows. The year 1600 was considered at
first suitable for a break, but on examination it was found that to
adopt a hard and fast rule would exclude certain works of three
printers. It was then decided to include all printers who exercised
their craft in Scotland before 1601, and by this means it was possible
to embrace within our limits Robert Charteris, whose productions are of
interest and rarity, and whose succession to his father was of necessity
treated of in an earlier part of the work.
In conclusion, we most
cordially thank many kind friends for assistance during the progress of
the work. To Mr. William Blades we are indebted in a very special manner
for the description printed at pages 36-42 ; to the late Mr. Samuel
Christie Miller for his courtesy in bringing to London for inspection
some of the rare treasures in which the library at Britwell Court is so
rich; to Mr. Alfred H. Huth for permitting an examination of several
volumes of great interest and rarity; to the Right Hon. the Earl of
Erroll for allowing an examination of the interesting library at Slains
Castle; to the Very Rev. the President of St. Mary's College, Blairs,
for permission to collate the very scarce early Scotch books in his
keeping; to the officials of the British Museum and the Public Record
Office for their unwearied efforts to assist in researches in the great
national collections; to the librarians of the Society of Antiquaries,
the Bodleian, Cambridge University, Trinity College, Cambridge, the
Faculty of Advocates, the Universities of St. Andrews, Aberdeen, and
Edinburgh, —to all these gentlemen thanks are due for valuable
assistance, and for permission to examine the books under their care. We
are also indebted for welcome suggestions and information to Principal
Geddes, Aberdeen University, Mr. F. Jenkinson, Trinity College,
Cambridge, Mr. E. Gordon Duff, Wadham College, Oxford, the Rev. W. D.
Macray, Oxford, Dr. Thomas Dickson, H. M. General Register House, and
many other kind friends.
J. P. EDMOND.
102 Percy Road, W.
8th November, 1889.
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