The MacLehose Collection consists of over 2,000 University press publications.
Included are academic monographs and textbooks written by University professors and lecturers, as well as many publications printed to support the business of the University. The collection also preserves a great number of pamphlets and ephemeral items, including a large series of testimonials, produced for candidates applying for academic posts at the University of Glasgow. There is an interesting run of books by Walter Chalmers Smith (1824-1908), a poet and Minister of the United Free Church; MacLehose published several of his poetry collections and some of the working copies of his texts from the various stages of publishing (such as manuscript and marked up proof copies) have been saved in the collection (see Sp Coll MacLehose 693-730).
The printed books are supplemented by a small archive of the papers of the MacLehose firm. Although not comprehensive, included are some accounts files, director's meetings minutes, stock books recording work undertaken and business correspondence. The MacLehose firm were associated with the University of Glasgow as its printers and publishers for over one hundred years.
James MacLehose (1811-1885) was appointed as the University's bookseller in 1864, and then as publisher to the University in 1871. He encouraged his brother, Robert (fl. 1872-1910), a bookseller in Ayr, to begin printing, supplying him with the capital and work to start a small printing shop. He became printer to the University in 1872.
The first deposit of material to the Library was made in 1905, following a suggestion by James Lymburn (Librarian to the University) to Robert and James J. MacLehose that a collection of MacLehose publications would act as a "memorial" to their father, James, who had founded the publishing firm and always "took a very warm interest in the University of Glasgow". The collection of books was subsequently augmented, so that it forms a representative sample of the output of MacLehose's publications until about 1937. Thus, this is not a comprehensive collection of every book that MacLehose ever produced, but rather a large selection of predominantly University related items. Many of the books bear the bookplate of James J. MacLehose.
The MacLehose publishing and printing firms were quite distinct, but the brothers worked in tandem upon many publications; their books were carefully planned, and pride was taken in producing typographically elegant work. Upon retiring in 1894, the senior Robert MacLehose's business was purchased by his nephews, Robert and James J. MacLehose. These were the sons of his brother, James: they had already been taken into partnership by James senior in his bookselling and publishing business, which had become known as James MacLehose and Sons in 1881. James senior died in 1885, but this side of the firm carried on under the same name. They continued the printing part of the firm under the name of Robert MacLehose and Company. In 1904, 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. 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. As a result of over expansion, the firm was liquidated in 1982.
Please note: the MacLehose collection (except for manuscript material) is now stored in the Library Research Annexe. Books may be consulted in the LRA reading room (appointments necessary) or requested to be brought to the Special Collections reading room for consultation. Deliveries of requested material to the main Library take place on Monday-Friday but books requested after 10am will not be available for consultation until the following day (you will be notified by email when an item is ready for consultation).
How to find material in the MacLehose Collection
- Browse through a list of the titles of the books in this collection available via the rare books search with the shelf-mark MacLehose
- All records for manuscript items are available via the manuscripts search with the call number Sp Coll MS Gen 1594: go to the collection level record (and click on link 'list collection content' to browse through a list of all the manuscript items in this collection)
- James MacLehose & Sons: Books published by James MacLehose from 1838 to 1881, and by James MacLehose and Sons to 1905 : presented to the Library of the University of Glasgow (Glasgow: The University Press, 1905). Lists the books made in the initial deposit of 1905.
- In Aedibus Academicis: the Glasgow University Press web exhibition: includes more background on the MacLehose firm with samples of their books in the 19th and 20th century sections