Science relics in spotlight at book launch

Charles Darwin’s student cards will be showcased in a new guide to a historic collection.

The class cards list Darwin’s chosen subjects during his year as a medical student at the University  in 1825.

They will feature in The Directory of Collections by University of Edinburgh Head of Special Collections Joseph Marshall, along with a first edition of the classic text, The Origin of Species.   

Fascinating read

The Directory of Collections  is both a guide to the University’s vast collections and an opportunity to share its beautiful and surprising objects.

It is published by Third Millennium and retails at £14.99. The book can be purchased at the University's Visitor Centre, the Main Library's sixth floor reception or via Waterstones online.

Penicillin pioneer

A laboratory dish used by penicillin pioneer Alexander Fleming also features in the guide.

The petri dish – used to culture cells – holds a sample of mould that enabled him to discover the antibiotic power of penicillin, for which he shared a Nobel Prize in 1945.

The artefact was presented to the University to commemorate his time as Rector in 1951.

Priceless artworks

Pablo Picasso’s Going to the Fair is highlighted in the guide.

Created when he was 19 years old, it is one of only seven pre-1906 works by Picasso in British public collections.

Vibrant artwork by one of Scotland’s first professional woman artists also features in the publication. 

The rare manuscript by Phoebe Anna Traquair – a key figure in the Arts and Crafts movement – is an 1897 painting of a larger mural that she created in Edinburgh.

Collection highlights

Further highlights include a recently digitised book of photographs from an 1860 military campaign in China, when British diplomat Lord Elgin was sent to convince Chinese officials to renegotiate a treaty between the two parties during the Second Opium War.

A baroque guitar, dated 1650, is also described in the guide. Made by noted instrument maker Pietro Railich in Venice, the back, neck and sides are covered with detailed geometric patterns.

The University holds thousands of precious objects, which are used for teaching, research and by the wider community. As well as providing an overview of the breath and variety of our collections, the book serves as a lasting record of the University’s rich holdings.

Joseph Marshall Head of Special Collections at the University

Related links

Buy the Directory of Collections online

Collections at the University of Edinburgh

The Centre for Research Collections

The University's Visitor Centre