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2 Victorian commonplace books 1850s

Identifier: Coll-1550

Scope and Contents

One volume is covered in green binding, and is dated 25 December 1852. It is 'Mother's Christmas Book'. The first page is decorated with mistletoe. Subsequent pages are decorated with floral and natural themes. Some of the drawings are initialed 'HP'. There are lines entitled, 'The Elswick villains', 'To a soot flake', 'A legend of Marsden rocks', 'A paragraph on poetry', 'The Hanoverian brothers', 'The policeman's soliloquy', and 'A dream'.

A second volume is covered in maroon binding. It is undated, but is entitled 'A Christmas Offering for our Mother'. The pages are decorated with sketches of plants, birds, and children. Some of the drawings are initialed 'HP'.There are lines entitled, 'Sketches of a journey through Dreamland', 'Lines written in the Vatican. A fragment', 'The letter Box', 'King Cole', 'The philosophers', 'The Devil's water', 'The sea', 'Music', and 'New Year's Eve'. One of the illustrations, shaded with pencil, and accompanying 'The philosophers', may be an early form of photographic image (perhaps a calotype, or salted-paper print).


  • Creation: 1852

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Open to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance of visit.

Biographical / Historical

Commonplaces or commonplace books were a means of compiling knowledge, usually by writing information into books. The books were, in effect, scrapbooks filled with items such as medical recipes, quotes, letters, poems, tables, proverbs, prayers, legal and mathematical formulas. Commonplaces were used by readers, writers, students, and scholars as an aid for remembering useful concepts or facts that had been learned. Every commonplace book was unique to the particular interests of the creator.

In this instance, the commonplace books were a gift to a mother.


2 Volumes

Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Acquired by purchase. Accession no: E2014.39.

Processing Information

Catalogued by Graeme D. Eddie 6 June 2014

Collection of two Victorian commonplace books, circa 1852
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

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