I’m building. Secretly building. It’s going on behind the scenes, and until now, it’s been nowhere near reality. But now I’m getting a tad excited that one day soon I’ll be ready! I’m talking about a project that has tickled my ticker for some time…
Back when I started my degree in geology, I started to collect so-called classic texts. Looking around the charity shops of affluent parts of Edinburgh, a surprisingly populous treasure trove of old geology books awaits the saturday bargain hunter! And now, I have shelves and shelves of these books looking all… well, old! But what’s the point? Sure they’re fun to read, but some of them are so old and so few that not many people have the chance to enjoy them. And how up to date is their content? Is it going to teach you something? Sure it will!
But that’s not the point! Pick up anything written by Geikie, Miller or even Holmes, and you’ll find they’re written with utter elegance. Written like the musings of Mr Darcy in a world now so alien to most of us. Modern science writing is the aspergic younger brother of classic science writing, you know… back in the days when your papers started with “On the….” and you conducted your fieldwork in a suit followed by a trail of lackeys.
But it’s not the writing style that I enjoy most. It’s the illustrations. Maybe I’ve been looking at undergraduate field notebooks for too long, but the standard of drawing in these old books is no question, art. Also, since Edinburgh and Scotland are the home of Geology, there are so many great lithographs from around this great nation that it’s all the more fantastic to see something or somewhere that you are familiar with.
So, I’m planning a resource. An online gallery of these images so that all may marvel at their beauty. And who knows, you may even find some illustrations that could be made use out of. I’m slowly scanning in image after image, hand-drawn maps, double spread lithographs, meticulous creations of geologists that had the time to sit down and spend half the day sketching a geologically significant scene.
Got some old texts yourself? Would you like to get involved? Get in touch and let’s do it!