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Alphabetical catalogue of library at Arthurstone


Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Arthurstone, a country estate located near Meigle, Scotland, was built in 1797; but it was not until 1869, when the home was purchased by Peter Carmichael (1809-1891), that a formal library was added. The home remained in the Carmichael family until 1990.

Peter Carmichael was involved with the textile industry in Dundee, Scotland and was largely known as an inventor of machinery that increased productivity of mills producing linen, flax, and jute. His success with the firm Baxter Brothers & Co. resulted in a wealth that allowed him to purchase the Athurstone estate in 1869. Carmichael's alterations of the original home (built in the 1790s) included lighting the house with gas and replacing a kitchen and larder with a library and billiard room. According to Enid Gauldie, Carmichael filled his home with treasures, stating that "items had been gathered as his books had been gathered, gradually, and that they were emphatically his and no other man's in the sense that they revealed his interests, tastes, and likings," (Gauldie, page 205).

For the most part, the books in the Arthurstone library catalog, do not reflect the topics one might assume to be of interest to an industrialist business man. There are no books listed under industry or textiles; and only a small number on the steam engine or other modern inventions. Instead, while the topics of books are wide and diverse, they largely focus on the history of and travel to countries across the world; the British military; science and math; and the history, literature, and politics of Scotland. There is a significant number of volumes on famous Scots, including Robert Bruce, David Hume, John Pringle Nichol, Rob Roy, Sir Walter Scott, Adam Smith, and William Wallace.

The most modern book listed was created in 1847, when Patrick Murray (1772-1858?) owned Arthurstone. In 1851, his daughter Susan (born 1821) and her husband, Brunswick Popham (1805-1878) were also living in the house. Popham served in the Royal Navy from 1717 to 1868, earning the rank of admiral.

Works consulted:

Gauldie, Enid. Dundee Textile Industry, 1790-1885: From the Papers of Peter Carmichael of Arthurstone. Edinburgh: T. and A. Constable, Ltd., 1969.

University of Dundee. "Peter Carmichael: engineer, inventor and philanthropist,", 2021 January 29 (accessed 2023 February 21)

The Alphabetical Catalogue of Library at Arthurstone contains a listing of a diverse set of books, dating from 1535 to 1847, with significant focus on travel to and history of countries across the world; the British military and its many campaigns; and Scottish history, politics, and literature. The catalog is largely alphabetical but a book may be entered by topic, author, or genre; therefore, closely related books may not appear under the same letter. For example, the library contains a large number of volumes on the British military, but only a fraction of these volumes are listed under "Military," and are instead listed under: Army, Navy, Fortifications, Guerre, Infantry, Waterloo (and other battle names or campaigns), etc.

The handwriting within the volume is meticulous and clear; and for each volume, the topic or author under which it is alphabetized is listed, followed by title, sometimes the author, the size of the book (folio, quarto, and octavo), place of publication, date, number of volumes, and location within the library. The location of the volume within the library is indicated by both press and shelf. It is possible that the volume has been ruled by hand.

Topics are extremely diverse, and include, but are not limited to: agriculture, classical histories and writings, games (including chess and draughts), gypsies, husbandry, math, military, "the poor," religion (including a number of Bibles), and royalty of England, Scotland, France, Germany, Russia and Spain. There are volumes about the history of and travel to Africa, America, Asia, Australia, Egypt, England, nearly every country in Europe, Greenland, India, Ireland, Jerusalem, New Spain, New Zealand, Scotland, Russia, Turkey, and Wales. Books are written in English, French, German, Italian, and Latin.

In addition to kings and queens and Romans and Greeks, notable people about whom books are written or who were collected as authors include, but are not limited to: Robert Bruce, David Hume, Napoleon, Sir Isaac Newton, John Pringle Nichol, Caroline Pilcher, Rob Roy, Sir Walter Scott, Friedrich Schiller, Adam Smith, Jonathan Swift, Virgil, and William Wallace.

The volume is bound in half leather with marbled papers covers and the title in gilt on the spine. The volume was numbered by the creator; researchers should be aware that page numbers 196 and 435 were skipped, but that there are two pages numbered 212 and two pages numbered 436. There are fifty blank pages at the front of the volume (i-l, blank and unruled except for the title page (p. xlvii) and the table of contents (p. xliv)) and forty-one blank pages at the end of the volume (443-482 and i-ii).

Sold by Justin Croft Antiquarian Books, 2022

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Finding Aid Author
Holly Mengel
Finding Aid Date
2023 March 1
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This collection is open for research use.

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Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.

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Alphabetical Catalogue of Library at Arthurstone, circa 1870s.
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