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Foulis Press Collection: Robert and Andrew Foulis

Robert Foulis (1707-76) and his brother Andrew (1712-75) were booksellers and printers in Glasgow. Shortly after 1741, the brothers became the official printers to Glasgow University and during that decade established their reputation for beautiful and accurate printings of Latin and Greek classics, such as Virgil and Homer. In 1752, they founded an Academy for the encouragement of fine arts; however, because of their penchant for collecting paintings, their business eventually floundered. As a result, both their printing enterprise and the Academy declined. After Andrew's death in 1775, Robert took control of the paintings and sold them in an attempt to revive his business. Unfortunately, the sale did not raise sufficient funds and Robert died in poverty.

Robert Foulis
Foulis caricature, 1775 by E. Topham
Robert Foulis
Drawing of Andrew Foulis by E. Topham, 1775

During the printing history of the Foulis Press, almost 600 books were published. The University of Guelph collection consists of almost 400 printings. The two brothers were particularly proud of  their editions of Greek and Latin authors - Homer, Pindar, Cicero, Herodotus, and Aristotle. Their books were noted for quality and many were attractively bound. Although mainly interested in classical authors, Robert and Andrew also produced English editions of Chaucer, Milton, Dryden, Shakespeare, and Pope.

Euclid's Elements translated by Simpson

Euclid's Elements, published in 1776


Almost 400 Foulis Press books can be searched in the catalogue and sorted by date, author, and title. Gaskell's Bibliography is also available for consultation in the Wellington Country Reading Room. In their work together, the Foulis brothers produced truly remarkable editions that placed Glasgow in the front ranks of European publishing. The two men, especially Robert, had a love of printing and a vision of what they wanted to achieve as well as the level of perfection they knew they could commit to on a practical basis.

Spartan Lessons, published 1759