George IV Bridge – celebrating 50 years

An exceptional Scottish binding: acquired in 1966

A spectacular Scottish 'wheel' binding on a law thesis is among a collection of traditional Scottish bindings received by the National Library of Scotland in 1966.

These bindings – 'wheel' and 'herringbone' designs – form an important series of 24 that cover over 50 years.

When the great collector of British bindings, Major J R Abbey, decided to sell his collection at Sotheby's auction house, he reserved his examples of traditional Scottish bindings on Edinburgh theses. He presented these bindings to the Library.

Our image shows the front board of a law thesis by William Adams, 'Disputatio juridica' (1773), bound in red morocco and tooled in gilt. This exceptional 'wheel' binding is the only known binding in which the spokes of the wheel are wavy, which gives the most dazzling effect. The design was possibly never repeated because of the difficulty of reproducing it accurately enough.

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