- 1950s-1970s (Creation)
Level of description
76 photographs and 1 newspaper cutting
Content and Structure
Scope and content
Folder containing 76 black and white photographs of various scenes in Edinburgh, taken by George Oliver and of various sizes. Some annotated. Also contains a newspaper cutting of a picture taken by George of a horse and cart on the Royal Mile. Most date from the period that the Olivers lived in Edinburgh as their Edinburgh address is given on many of the photographs. Includes: Playfair Library, glass houses at the Botanic Gardens, Life Association of Scotland Building, Princes Street, George Street, George Street lane sales, Leith Docks and the New Town.
Appraisal, destruction and scheduling
System of arrangement
Name of creator
An art school training, with drawing as the favourite means, plus a life-long enthusiasm for people and places, combined to make George Oliver a wide-ranging observer, not least because the pen, in time, gave way to the camera as a recording medium. Born in Birmingham but brought up in Glasgow, George was educated at Bellahouston Academy, then enrolled at Glasgow School of Art in 1938, was called up for war service in the RAF where he ended in New Delhi, mainly engaged in visual aids. Back to GSA for a Diploma in Commercial Art, he then worked for 18 months in London before becoming art editor of 'Scotland's SMT Magazine' (once Edinburgh's answer to 'The Scottish Field') and then, for much of his life as a freelance. But in between, during the later 1950s he was employed as Press and Publicity Officer for the Council of Industrial Design in Glasgow. George also suggested, organised and wrote catalogues for, the very first of the SAC touring photographic exhibitions, the subjects being James Craig Annan and Robert M. Adam. The posthumous exhibition of his own work, 'The Seeing Eye', held in the Mitchell Library in 1998-99 gave some idea of the range of his output. His idol was Cartier Bresson.
During the 1960s George became known to a much wider audience for a series of distinctive coffee table books generically titled 'Early Motor Cars'. Covering the veteran and vintage years, English sports cars and early racing cars, these were books of full-page profile scale drawings of specific vehicles, many of which were destined to be cut out and framed. Indeed, when he was commissioned to prepare the illustrations for a history of Citroen (published by Robert Delpire) the pages in questions were deliberately fixed in a way that made their removal an easy matter. His work as a serious historian of the motor car found an outlet in several commissions. 'A History of Coachbuilding' was published in 1962 and the much more lavish 'Cars and Coachbuilding' some ten years later. There were also serious books on Rolls Royce and Rover cars, and the long-researched history of the Scottish motor industry, 'Motor Trials and Tribulations' which was published posthumously by HMSO. In 1989 his book, 'Photographs and Local History' had been published by Batsford.
Physical Description and Conditions of Use
Conditions governing access
Conditions governing reproduction
Language of material
Script of material
Language and script notes
Black and white photographs. Some annotated.
Dimensions: 200 x 300 mm (largest)