1849 Fairbairn Large Folio Antqiue Print of Houses Saltmarket St Gorbals Glasgow

Publisher : Thomas Fairbairn

This beautifully coloured large folio original antique lithograph print, views of old Glasgow now long gone, by the Scottish artist Thomas Fairbairn (1821 - 1885) was published by Miller & Buchanan in the 1849 edition of Relic of Ancient Architecture and other Picturesque Scenes in Glasgow.

Subject Background:

The artist has here represented a style of dwelling-house architecture which is fast passing away, and will soon altogether cease to exist. Houses of this kind seem to have been originally erected from the cheapness of the materials, and for the purpose of economizing building-ground space. To attain the latter object, beams, as shown in the print, were projected from the first storey, and an out-shot and additional structure raised upon them, thus offering a great obstruction to ventilation, and affording an inconvenient, cold, and comfortless dwelling. When situated in a close, houses of this kind were generally occupied by working people, or by those who rented a small shop or bothy in the front street, and lodged themselves and families in one of these fragile-looking tenements behind. In some rare cases these wooden houses were tenanted by persons of a more substantial character, and we may mention, as the most prominent instance of which we have heard, that so recently as the close of last century the firm of Francis Reid & Sons, watchmakers, occupied a large wooden structure in the close opposite 77, both as their dwelling-house, work-shop, and sale-shop. These gentlemen were the first to give a stimulus to the watchmaking and jewellery business in Glasgow; and however humble their premises may have been, they did a large and lucrative business, and off-shoots from their concern branched into some of the principal establishments at present existing in Glasgow. We have no story to tell regarding the houses represented in the print; in their better days they were occupied by decent native tradesmen, but for a long succession of years they have been in the possession of the Irish, whose annals would furnish nothing attractive. Two hundred years ago wooden houses of this kind formed the majority of the Saltmarket closes ; but a great fire having broken out on 3rd November, 1677, the upper part of the street on both sides was destroyed as far as the Tron Church on the west, and two or three tenements in the Gallowgate on the east. From the rapidity with which these timber structures were mowed down by the flames on that occasion, the wisdom of replacing them with stone erections became apparent, and since then very few timber houses have been put down in the city, excepting in obscure back lanes, and on a very humble scale. As we have said, they will speedily disappear altogether, for the Dean of Guild Court will not permit a renewal of buildings in this style, when the present houses fall or are pulled down from natural decay. A stone inserted in the door-way of a one-storey house at the bottom of this close hears the inscription, "H. Br., J. H., 1727.".

Relic of Ancient Architecture and other Picturesque Scenes in Glasgow, was published large folio size in 1849, containing 19 large folio coloured lithograph prints and has long since been out of print. A praiseworthy motive induced Mr. James Bogle, at one time Lord Dean of Guild, and a member of an old and highly-respected Glasgow family, to engage Mr. Thomas Fairbairn to reproduce them, before they passed into oblivion, some "Relics of Ancient Architecture and Picturesque Scenes in Glasgow." The immediate cause of Mr. Bogle's resolve was the fall of a sugar-house in Alston Street, by which some six or seven lives were lost, and a resolution on the part of the Dean of Guild Court to make a general survey of the City with a view to the removal of old houses which, from age or other causes, were considered to be unfit for habitation. Mr. Bogle naturally thought that this was the proper time to reproduce in permanent form a fair presentment of many of the noted houses of old Glasgow.
Along with Mr. Fairbairn, the artist, Mr. Bogle made a tour of the City, and selected subjects for the drawings, nearly all of which are now gone, and those few that remain are so altered as to be almost irrecognisable.
A general wish having been expressed for a reproduction of the work, the publishers some time ago engaged Mr. Fairbairn (now alas! gone) to reproduce the original sketches, and also add a number of others of interest before the rapid growth of the City extinguishes or entirely defaces their subjects.
The drawings are now thirty in number, and have been reproduced by Messrs. Annan's new process of photo-engraving, which it will be observed, gives the effect of finely finished mezzo-tints.
The letterpress descriptions of the original edition are from the pen of the late Mr. James Pagan, Editor of the Glasgow Herald, and the descriptions of the new scenes have been supplied by his successor, the present Editor of that journal.
It ought to be stated that the descriptive portions, written by Mr. Pagan more than thirty years ago, have not been touched; so that readers should understand that they refer to the Glasgow of a former generation, and are all indicated in the Contents by an asterisk.

General Description:
Paper thickness and quality: - Heavy & stable
Paper color: - White
Age of map color: - Original
Colors used: - Red, green, blue, brown  
General color appearance: - Authentic   
Paper size: - 22in x 16in (560mm x 405mm)
Margins: - Min 4in (100mm)

Margins: - None
Plate area: - None
Verso: - None