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In Aedibus Academicis
The Glasgow University Press

A selection of books from the printers of the University of Glasgow. Devised for the 2008 celebration of 500 years of Scottish printing.

Introduction | 17th Century | 18th Century|19th Century | 20th Century

MacLehose 636: colophon device

In 1904 the MacLehose printing works moved from its cramped premises in the city centre to a more spacious site in Anniesland (in the west of Glasgow). Here, entirely new printing, electrotyping and bookbinding works were erected. At this time, the firm was converted into a private limited company known as Robert MacLehose and Company, Limited: this was controlled and largely owned by the MacLehose family. When this company was formed, Robert and James J. MacLehose (junior) were its Managing Directors. Robert died in 1907, although his "fine taste, his literary powers, and his eager interest in business left a permanent mark on the firm's work". James lived until 1943.

In 1919, James decided to devote himself entirely to the printing side of the firm and retired from being a partner in the publishing and bookselling side; James MacLehose and Sons subsequently became, successively, MacLehose, Jackson & Co. and Jackson, Wylie & Co.: thus the MacLehose family were no longer connected with publishing and bookselling in Glasgow. But the printing side of the firm continued to expand successfully, merging with several other companies over the years. Ownership passed to the MacLehose group in 1970. While output continued to include University publications, the firm's remit obviously also extended to a far wider commerical base, beyond the University.

The MacLehose group was liquidated in 1982, ironically as a result of over expansion. The previous year, the firm had taken over another printing firm, Morrison and Gibb. Prior to that, the Edinburgh University Printer, Clark Constable, had been incorporated into the company. As the then managing director, Matt McLure explained, this reorganised company was successful to the extent that  "Orders were coming at an alarming rate, which meant that increased financing was required" (Glasgow Herald, 6 May, 1982). Although additional finance was sought, it proved impossible to obtain further backing, and the receivers were called in. For a time, it was hoped that the company would be saved; one senior executive is quoted as saying "There is a positive feeling in the air. Our orders are going up month by month. It is bloody ridiculous - what do we have to do to survive?" (Scotsman, 7 May, 1982). Unfortunately, the firm could not be saved.

The MacLehose firm, in slightly different manifestations, had been the official printers to the University for over one hundred years. There has been no Glasgow University Press since their demise.

MacLehose (not yet catalogued):
advert for "The work of E.
Burne Jones" c. 1900

MacLehose (not yet catalogued):
order form for "The work of E.
Burne Jones" c. 1900

MacLehose (not yet catalogued):
terms for advertising for the
University Calendar, 1900-1901

MacLehose ephemera
Sp Coll MacLehose (not yet catalogued)

There are several volumes of ephemeral publications relating to the work of the MacLehose firm in the press collection. These are indicative of the high quality commercial work that the firm undertook. Examples shown here include a perforated order form for a book on Edward Burne Jones (as published by the Berlin Photographic Company), and a notice to attract advertisement copy for the 1900-1901 issue of the Glasgow University Calendar.

MacLehose 636: printing details

MacLehose 636: title-page

Samuel Purchas Hakluytus posthumus, or, Purchas his Pilgrimes : contayning a history of the world in sea voyages and lande travells by Englishmen and others
Glasgow: Printed at the University Press by Robert MacLehose & Company Ltd. for James Maclehose and Sons, publishers to the University of Glasgow, 1905-1907.
Sp Coll MacLehose 636-655

This 20 volume edition of a 17th century work of travel writing - along with a 12 volume set of Hakluyt's Voyages - earned the MacLehose Company wide acclaim for the accuracy of its texts, as well as praise for the beauty and format of the books.

MacLehose 580: cover

MacLehose 580: title-page

David Murray Lord Kelvin as Professor in the Old College of Glasgow
Glasgow: MacLehose, Jackson and Co. publishers to the University, 1924
Sp Coll MacLehose 580

The University Press continued to produce much University related material throughout the 20th century. This short biography of the famous 19th century Professor of Natural Philosophy William Thomson, Lord Kelvin, was extracted from a larger work by David Murray: Memories of the Old College of Glasgow. Murray had himself been a pupil of Thomson's, so this is a personal account of his teaching methods.

MacLehose 399: title-page & frontispiece of Foulis

MacLehose 399: chapter on MacLehose & Co.

James MacLehose The Glasgow University Press 1638-1931
Glasgow: At the University Press, 1931
Sp Coll MacLehose 399

It is appropriate that a member of the MacLehose family was responsible for producing what is still the definitive history of the Glasgow University Press. In his final paragraph, James proudly reiterates the family's indebtedness to the spirit of the Foulis brothers, "and in the modern revival of interest in typographical quality the firm has endeavoured, not without some measure of success, to take its share in upholding the reputation of Scottish and also of British printing".

Fine Arts CA2070 UNI: Fergusson exhibition catalogue (1961)

Medicine Z12.M353 1973-T:
biography of
William Mackenzie (1973)

Medicine qYH50 1973-H4:
 veterinary medicine textbook (1973)

Later publications of the MacLehose Company
Level 11 Fine Arts CA2070 UNI
Level 5 Medicine Z12.M353 1973-T
Level 5 Medicine qYH50 1973-H4

There are many examples of the later publications of the MacLehose firm throughout the Library.  Shown here is a random sample: a catalogue of an exhibition held in the University print room; a privately printed biography of the founder of the Glasgow eye infirmary, and a veterinary medicine textbook for students. The Company's work developed in both black and white and colour in order to meet the requirements of the University and commercial clients.

Ms Gen 1594/12/2:
front of pamphlet

Ms Gen 1594/12/2: inner side 1

Ms Gen 1594/12/2: inner side 2

Robert MacLehose & Co.Ltd Centenary of association with University of Glasgow
Glasgow, Scotland, 1972
Sp Coll Ms Gen 1594/12/2

MacLehose celebrated their centenary as University printers in 1972. This commemorative pamphlet reprints the Senate's approval to appoint Robert MacLehose as Printer to the University in 1872.

MS Gen 1594/1/1: Minutes of
Director's meeting, 8 August 1951

MS Gen 1594/9/1: stock book, entry for 23 August 1968

MS Gen 1594/3/8:
Annual report, 1972

Papers of Robert Maclehose & Co. Ltd
Sp Coll MS Gen 1594

The papers of the MacLehose firm are also held in Special Collections. Although not comprehensive, included are some accounts files, director's meetings minutes, and business correspondence. One of the items shown here is a interesting stockbook that records the output of the firm from 1964 to 1974.

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