When you visit Carson Clark Gallery just opposite our venue, you step into a world unique across the whole of Scotland. The nation’s biggest dealer of specialist maps and prints, Carson Clark stock over 20,000 antique maps from around the world, many created as far back as the 16th Century, and with a strong emphasis on the land of Scotland.
It’s impossible to leave the Gallery without learning something about the geography of Edinburgh, Scotland and indeed the world, as well as something about the history of map making and printing. One great example is that French map makers typically omitted any part of the world not yet visited by a French national! Indeed Paul Clark, the son of founder Carson Clark, has appeared on television and in various newspaper articles, interviewed for his expertise in cartography.
You’ll find a large selection of Scottish maps, from the very first map by Abraham Ortelius in 1573 to one of the larger maps by Lieut Campbell measuring 49 x 42 inches, published around 1790. There are British Isles maps from 1561 by the Italian Ruscelli and the famous map by Mercator from 1596. Plans of Edinburgh from as early as 1582 by Braun & Hogenberg to a late directory plan by Bartholomew around 1900.
Paul maintains that handling these old maps with your bare hands is part of the experience. You can feel the impressions left by the copper printing plates and holding the maps close, you can pick up that unique aroma of old, quality paper and print.
When Carson Clark opened the Gallery in 1969, he was an ex Ordnance Survey Cartographer and ex Edinburgh University Draughtsman, as well as being a map collector himself. After a short time in London working for Stanley Gibbons Mapsellers between 1975 and 1981, the business in Edinburgh’s Canongate was re-establised and taken over by Paul in 1983.
In November last year, the Gallery moved to 17 St.Mary’s Street.
There is an unrivalled selection of replicas of many rare and unobtainable maps, including many English counties by the famous John Speed, which are particularly decorative items and keenly sought after by collectors.
Just arrived is John Speed’s second version of his legendary map of Scotland. Published in 1652, it reflects the anti union sentiment at that time, with the Royal Portraits removed to be replaced with Highlanders and ordinary Scotch folk! The Royal standard too has been removed to be replaced with the Saltire. You can see the difference between the two images here. It’s believed the zigzag lines representing the sea would have been removed because the original copper plates would have worn and it would have cost too much to have an artist engrave them back in.
Do visit the Gallery to enjoy the library of maps from around the world.