Robert (1707-76) and his brother Andrew Foulis (1712-75) started as booksellers and then printers in Glasgow. Shortly after 1741, the brothers became the official printers to Glasgow University, and during that decade began to build their reputation for beautiful and accurate printings of Latin and Greek classics, such as Virgil and Homer. In 1752, the two established an Academy for the encouragement of fine arts, but because of their penchant for collecting paintings, eventually found themselves in ruins. 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 proved to be not enough and Robert died in poverty.
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 such as 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 with Chaucer, Milton, Dryden, Shakespeare, and Pope.
All titles are catalogued and available via the library's online catalogue, with Library of Congress classification used as well. Gaskell's Bibliography is also available for consultation in the Wellington Country Reading Room and contains a comprehensive listing of all works printed by Foulis Press. 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.
Approximately 400 published works.