Sale of the Paul Harris Collection

 Paul Harris, writer, publisher, lecturer by Jack Morrocco

Over the years, there have been vast fluctuations in the prices of books published by T N Foulis. In the late 1960s, it was possible to acquire a small envelope book for  just 5s. (five shillings, 25 pence in today's money!). Now a rare example will command a price around 200-400. Often these days, there are early casebound books on US dealers' sites at US$2,000-5,000 each.

Paul Harris has collected T N Foulis books since 1968, when he was a student at Aberdeen University. Over a period of almost half a century, he has acquired almost 400 different titles, around 85% of the output of the company. It is probably the second largest collection in the world, after that of Ian Elphick, his co-author on the 1998 book T N Foulis: The History and Bibliography of an Edinburgh Publishing House. His collection includes many rare or unusual items. More than 80 are not even in the collection of the National Library of Scotland.

These include a hand-tooled leather example of an envelope book The Lover of Gardens. The blind-stamped cover is by Jessie M King and is believed to be unique: a one-off for a special customer or, indeed, the publisher. There are some early volumes with dramatic covers by the artist Joseph Simpson: a framed self-portrait of the artist is included in the sale. There are a considerable number with illustrations by Jessie M King, Frank Brangwyn, Louis Balmer, H M Brock and Joseph Pennell. Others are illustrated by Annie French, Frank Cayley Robinson, Robert Burns and Stephen Bone. Most of these illustrators were specially commissioned by Thomas Foulis.

  Jessie M King   Jessie M King    Unknown     F Cayley Robinson

This unique collection, which could never be gathered in present times, is available for purchase. It is NOT available for sale piecemeal and preference will be given to institutions or organisations willing to commit to keeping it together. A guideprice of 35,000 is indicated, although preferred institutional bodies might be allowed to acquire at a discount under certain negotiable conditions such as tax free donation.The cost of building up such a collection today would be of the order of 100,000 and many of the rare single copies are simply not available on the market.

  Joseph W Simpson     Joseph W Simpson   signed watercolour self-portrait of Joseph W Simpson (included)


Intimations of interest can be made via

Telephone 0044 1890 771840 (The Coldingham Gallery)


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