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Scrapbook of John Donaldson, Reid Professor of the Theory of Music, 1850s

Identifier: Mus.f.379

Scope and Contents

Scrapbook containing Donaldson's collection of cuttings (including one from The Scotsman 24 April 1858 re his purchases of many items for the Reid library from Siegfried Wilhelm Dehn in Berlin), pamphlets (including several collected at the Great Exhibition of 1851), handbills and advertisements describing and advertising various types of musical instrument.

Donaldson made considerable acquisitions of both musical instruments and scores for the Reid and was the driving force behind the establishment of the music school buildings in the central campus. He was particularly interested in musical instruments and the physics of music. The scrapbook reflects these interests and contains advertisements and pamphlets from companies from whom he bought, or may have bought his acoustic and scientifc instruments.

Description of individual items:

  1. Leaflet entitled 'Catalogue des instruments et appareils mis à l'Exposition universelle de Londres par Deleuil, constructeur d'instruments de Physique et de Chimie' ('catalogue of instruments and devices showed at Universal Exhibition in London by Deleuil, builder of Physics and Chemistry Instruments'.
  2. Newspaper clippings from The Scotsman relating to instrument making and the death of Professor Siegfried Dehn.
  3. Advertisement entitled 'Dr. Bateman's Centrifugal Machine, for illustrating planetary motion'.
  4. Advertisement from Cocker and Sons of Hathersage Derbyshire, for needles, wires, and pins.
  5. Notice of articles exhibited at the Society of Arts from the Practical Mechanic's Journal for 1st June 1855, presenting the AMerican Fog-horn by Messrs. McNaught and Wood, Liverpool.
  6. Extract from the Glasgow Herald of December 31, 1852 entitled 'The Organ for the City Hall, Glasgow, Constructed by Messrs Gray and Davidson, of London'.
  7. Booklet printed by Ballantyne and Company entitled 'Analysis of the Opera of Roberto il Diavolo', extracted from the 'Edinburgh Advertiser'.
  8. Leaflet entitled 'Observations, extracted from the prospectus of the New Philharmonic Society, on Beethoven's Grand Choral Symphony'.
  9. Booklet printed by Ballantyne and Company entitled 'Analysis of the Opera of Les Huguenots', extracted from the 'Edinburgh Advertiser'.
  10. Booklet printed by Benjamin Hall, Birmingham entitled 'Birmingham Musical festival - Eli', reprinted from the 'Ari's Birmingham Gazette of July 30, 1855'.
  11. Extract of catalogue for the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations, 1851, listing vegetable and animal substances used in manufactures.
  12. Advertisements for 'the Concertina' manufactured by Mssrs Wheatstone and co., 1851.
  13. Leaflet presenting different kinds of organs from Alexandre et Fils co.
  14. Leaflets advertising 'the improved patent harmonium', originally imported by Messrs Wheatstone and co.
  15. Leaflet advertising the 'Orgue de Voyage' (Travel Organ) of A. Muller, organ maker in Paris, 1851.
  16. Leaflet entitled 'Catalogue des preparations d'Anatomie Clastique du Dr Auzoux' (Catalogue of the Clastic Anatomy prepaprations of Dr Auzoux), Paris, 1855.
  17. Leaflet entitled 'Testimonials to the efficiency and advantages of the Vortex Water-Wheel, an improved turbine, invented and patented by James Thomson, civil engineer'.
  18. Booklet entitled 'Newly-invented musical instruments and works of art. The orchestrion, symphonion, harmonichord, chordaulodion, and trumpet-automaton', by Herr Kaufmann and Son
  19. Cuttings entitled 'Directions', about Acribelles Strings.
  20. Leaflet entitled 'New improved French patent, Harmonic First Violin Strings called Acribelles', presented at the Universal Exhibition of 1855.
  21. Price list for string instruments of Alphone Villin, Importer of Italian, French, and German strings.


  • Creation: 1850s


Language of Materials

Documents in French and in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Open. Please contact the repository in advance.

Biographical / Historical

John Donaldson (1789-1865) was elected to the Reid Professorship of Music at Edinburgh University in 1845 on the death of Professor John Thomson. It was Donaldson who established a museum and purchased old and unusual musical instruments which today forms the John Donaldson Collection. As well as founding this collection which illustrates the history of music and acoustics, he built a fine hall as his music classroom with adjoining museum gallery, now known as the Reid Concert Hall. He held the Professorship until his death at Marchfield, his home near Edinburgh, on 12 August 1865.

See his agent record above for a more detailed biography.


1 volume

Physical Location

Stored with printed collection, Mus.f.379

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Transferred from the printed collection of John Donaldson. Accession no SC-Acc-2018-0031.

Related Materials

The Special Collections also hold the Letters of John Donaldson, 1850-1865 (Coll-1237).

Processing Information

Catalogued in February 2018 by Aline Brodin.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
George Square
Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
+44(0)131 650 8379