Rankine, W. J. MacQuorn.


Glasgow : Printed at the University Press by Robert Maclehose, West Nile Street, 2nd ed., 1883. (V) + 90 pp., engrvd. port. frontis + engrvd. vignette plate at rear. Bound by Maclehose in full green levant morocco ; gilt ; richly gilt-tooled spine ; raised bands ; double-panel gilt boards with elaborate floral corner decorations ; richly gilt-tooled inner dentelles ; marbled endpapers ; a.e.g. 18 a 12cm. Two small Glasgow University Library stamps & a de-accessioning bookplate showing that it was presented to the Library in 1936. Inscribed : "To Queen Margaret College from Mrs. John Elder, Decr. 3rd 1888." First published at the Glasgow University in 1871, this beautifully-bound Memoir of one of the Clyde’s most pre-eminent shipbuilders of the 19th century, John Elder, is inscribed by his widow, Isabella Elder (1828-1905), to Queen Margaret’s College, Glasgow, a higher education establishment for women only, the only such college in the country when it opened. Mrs. Elder, a renowned philanthropist, purchased the original building to establish the college, and at the time she presented this book to the college she was financially backing a proposal to provide medical courses for women. The college merged with the University of Glasgow in 1892. When Mrs. Elder died, her death certificate was signed by Dr. Marion Gilchrist, the first woman to graduate in medicine at Glasgow. Mrs. Elder was buried with her husband in Glasgow Necropolis, an engraving of the large tomb is to be found at the rear of this book. The subject of this Memoir, her husband John Elder (1824-1869), followed his father in constructing marine steam engines, and in 1854 he established the compound engine which made steam ships more competitive than sail. He opened a shipyard on the banks of the Clyde employing four thousand workers. In 1886, it became the Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Company. He was only 45 when he died in London of liver disease but by then he had become one of Glasgow’s most prominent shipbuilders. The author of this book, Professor Rankine (1820-1872), one of the foremost writers on shipbuilding and engineering, called him "a genius in engineering". He was so popular with his workforce that almost to a man they begged to be able to attend his funeral. The bookseller, printer and publisher responsible for this fine binding copy, Robert Maclehose, ran his business together with his brother, James Maclehose. They were publishers to Glasgow University and many of their publications now form the ‘Maclehose Collection’ in the University Library. The firm continued to prosper under their sons and in 1904 new printing and bookbinding works were open at Anniesland. Robert Maclehose died in 1907. This is an exceptionally fine binding copy of a memoir of a prominent Clyde shipbuilder, with associations with his wife, her college, and Glasgow University. SCARCE.

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