Catalogue of the Library of...

Macduff (Scotland): c. 1890. Oblong roy. 8vo, 123 leaves written in ink. Original limp wrappers, manuscript label on upper cover, backstrip largely perished, boards slightly worn, internally very good. A fascinating document, being the manuscript library catalogue of John Cruikshank of Macduff, who owned the town’s drugstore. In it he lists every book by author, title, and date, sometimes adding the number of volumes and even occasionally a note such as “very fine.” In all he catalogues quite carefully and legibly some 2000 titles, which would have been a superb library for a small Scottish town on the Eastern seashore (see below). He did not collect rare books per se but was not afraid to buy old books, many of his titles dating from the early 18th-century onwards. The largest subject categories are music, poetry, science, religious writing, historical, and fiction. The entire catalogue is composed on the verso of advertising sheets for Whelpton’s Purifying Pills on which are printed Cruikshank’s name and business address, and it was probably bound up from individual sheets, though whether before or after cataloguing is impossible to determine. This meticulous record of the contents of a Scottish provincial library is a rare survival and of great interest for the insights it provides into the taste of the age. The port of Macduff lies opposite Banff at the mouth of the River Deveron. Originally known as the sea 'toune' of Doune, the settlement's name was changed to Macduff in 1783 by James Duff, Earl of Fife who built a harbour there. Macduff took over the fishing trade of the older settlement of Banff and became a significant herring port in the 19th century. (Item Id: 5634)

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