The Hunterian Library according to Captain Laskey

You may have visited the Unrivalled Collection exhibition currently on display in the Hunterian Art Gallery. This show celebrates the first general guide to the Hunterian Museum. Compiled by Captain James Laskey (ca. 1760- 1829), it was published two hundred years ago in 1813.

Life of Christ

Manuscript copy of the Life of Christ (on display in the Hunterian)

Laskey’s catalogue describes the chief contents of the museum at the beginning of the 19th century. It was produced some five years after William Hunter’s “unrivalled collection” had arrived in Glasgow, and includes some early additions to his original bequest. Not comprehensive in listing every item, it rather aims to highlight the Hunterian’s riches, and includes a section on the magnificent library. Now kept in Special Collections, Hunter’s books were originally housed along with the rest of his collections in a specially built Museum in the East End near Glasgow cathedral, where the University was originally situated. The museum was open to the public between the hours of 12 and 2 every day, except Sunday.


Woodcut from Teuerdank (on display in Sp Coll foyer)

We have lent several books from Special Collections to the exhibition in the Hunterian, and to tie in with the “main event” we are also displaying some additional books in our showcase on level 12 of the library. 

In our foyer display is a copy of Laskey’s catalogue that was annotated by him for a second edition that was never published. Alongside this are a small selection of books featured in the catalogue: a copy of Sallust’s Belli Catilinarii et Jugurthini historiae (Edinburgh: 1744) – an early donation to the Hunterian collection displayed with a stereotype plate from the 1739 edition; a Wyknyn de Worde publication from 1506 representing one of Laskey’s  “typographical antiquities”; and our beautiful copy of the Teuerdank, as featured in the ‘books in vellum’ section of the catalogue.

We will have these on show on level 12 until June so feel free to come and have a look whenever we are open.

Categories: Special Collections

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