Hillhouse Collection

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Special Collections
Level 5, The Mitchell Library, North Street, Glasgow G3 7DN
0141 287 2988

Hillhouse Collection

Illustration from 'The Draught Player's Pocket Manual' by J.G. Cunningham [n.d.]
Most Scots are completely unaware that there’s a game at which for more than a century they were champions of the world – the game of draughts. Usually regarded as a simple children’s pastime, draughts is in fact a deep and complex game, every bit as subtle and sophisticated as chess. From the 1820s until the 1930s the domination of the game by Scots was almost total, with Scotland producing no fewer than 6 World Champions.  
Throughout the country there were an astonishing number of draughts clubs; most were located in the Central Lowlands, with Glasgow at the hub.  Here, draughts cut across the social divide with strong clubs such as the Govanhill Liberals, St. George's Co-op and the College Conservatives. From about 1905, a slow decline set in, hastened by the social and economic changes brought about by the First World War.
This ‘flowering’ of the Scottish game was reflected in the quantity and quality of the literature produced at the time and in 1898 Glasgow Corporation decided to purchase the collection of draughts enthusiast, James W. Hillhouse. Now housed in The Mitchell Library, this important collection includes:  books by Joshua Sturges; a copy of Le Jeu des Dames by Pierre Mallet printed in Paris in 1668; a notebook detailing the matches between Andrew Anderson and James Wyllie for the Scottish Championship in 1847; periodicals and an outstanding collection of newspaper cuttings.
The books from the Collection are listed in the online catalogue - see link on the right. For further information about our holdings and access, please contact the staff in Special Collections.
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