Here at the Digitization Centre we are fascinated and excited by the vast amount of primary-source material that our digitization work exposes us to.  Whether a document of historic significance, a beautiful illustration, or even a particularly fine typeface, we are frequently amazed by the materials we’re working to share with the world.  So much so, that not only will we crowd around to ogle a particularly interesting specimen, but we’ve started decorating our workplace with copies of some of our favorites.  But why stop there?  Surely, we can’t be the only ones geeky enough to appreciate such “gems” in our collections, and so we’ve decided to share them here with you.  Below you will find some of our favorites, hand-picked by staff from both existing and upcoming collections.  We hope you enjoy them as much as we do!   TIP: To view full resolution versions of the images on any size screen, click to enlarge and then right-click and select “open image in new tab.”

地理 初歩 – Elementary Geography to learn by heart

Posted on July 23, 2012 @12:46 pm by Schuyler Lindberg

Kaisei chiri shoho ansha no zu: Another gorgeous woodcut from the Japanese Maps of the Tokugawa Era digital collection (almost all of which could probably be featured here..)

We were particularly struck by the almost abstract beauty in this piece’s mix of cartographic and illustrated blocks.  Its intended function remains elusive, although the title suggests an instructional purpose. Let us know if you can shed any light on the matter!

Don’t forget, you can also come by UBC’s Rare Books and Special Collections to view this collection up close and personal!

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Posted on July 23, 2012 @12:46 pm by Schuyler Lindberg

This double-sided Japanese woodcut displays a world map on the front and illustrated examples of the peoples of the world on the verso.  It exemplifies the Bankoku-sozu (“complete maps of the peoples of the world”) style of cartography influenced by European techniques and geographic knowledge in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.  

It can be found in the Japanese Maps of the Tokugawa Era digital collection, which has recently been upgraded to higher resolution images for improved viewing and zooming.



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Common Stock

Posted on July 23, 2012 @12:46 pm by Schuyler Lindberg

This Canadian Pacific Railway Company stock certificate from 1915 not only represents what was probably a lucrative investment for Mr. Archibald White Maconochie, but is a something of a work of art in its own right.  We’re particularly fond of the inset locomotive engraving.

Part of UBC Rare Books and Special Collections’ Chung Collection and to be included in the upcoming Canadian Pacific digital collection.

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All ‘Round the World (1860-1862)

Posted on July 23, 2012 @12:47 pm by Schuyler Lindberg

All ‘Round the World
 is a three account by William Ainsworth of his travels around the world in the early 1860s.  Chock-full of beautifully crafted historic engravings of exotic locales like the Ateshgah of Baku and Mt. Etna, we enjoyed this set so much that we decided to do some high quality scans of some of our favorites to share and festoon our walls with.  

All three volumes will be included in their entirety in the upcoming BC Bibliography collection.

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Invest in Kerrisdale!

Posted on July 23, 2012 @12:47 pm by Schuyler Lindberg

This advertisement from a 1910 issue of Opportunities magazine made us all wish we’d been around to take advantage of the deal


The full anthology of Opportunities issues will be available to view in the upcoming BC Bibliography digital collection.


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The Transit of Venus (1883)

Posted on July 23, 2012 @12:47 pm by Schuyler Lindberg


“The Transit of Venus” J.G. Brown, 1883

With the recent hubbub over the upcoming transit of venus we noticed copies of this image kicking around the ‘net in varying qualities, and thought to ourselves, “we can do better.”  A quick search of the UBC ASRS yielded Harper’s Weekly; A Journal of Civilization (1857-1916), and sure enough, this image of children staring at the sun originally published on Saturday April 28th, 1883.  It turned out wonderfully at 600dpi on our Epson flatbed.

The second (cropped) image shows the intricate detail of the original engraving.  The full volume contains many more beautiful illustrations and is well worth checking out at the Irving K. Barber Center Library branch.

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H. Bullock Webster’s Sketchbook

Posted on July 23, 2012 @12:47 pm by Schuyler Lindberg

Sketches of the Canadian west by H. Bullock Webster (1855-1942).  As a young man he came to Canada from England and began working as an apprentice clerk for the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1874. While in the service of the company Webster travelled extensively to HBC posts throughout northern Alberta and British Columbia.  Although never formally trained in art, Webster sketched throughout his life and while in the service of the Hudson’s Bay Company he compiled an album of some ninety three colour sketches depicting social life, activities, customs and dress in and around Hudson’s Bay Company posts, mainly around Stuart Lake and Fort McLeod during the period 1874 to 1880. Many of the sketches included First Nations and Metis people whose participation was critical to the Canadian fur trade. Several of Webster’s sketches were published in The Graphic magazine in England and provided British readers with images of frontier life in British Columbia and Alberta.

These and many others can be browsed in the Bullock Webster Sketches digital collection.

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Disaster Prints

Posted on July 23, 2012 @12:47 pm by Schuyler Lindberg

Woodcuts by unknown authors from “Disaster Prints,” a part of the Japanese Maps of the Tokugawa Period digital collection. 

UBC Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections holds one of the world’s largest collections of maps and guidebooks of the Japanese Tokugawa period, ca. 1600-1867. Most of this collection was acquired from George H. Beans, the original collector, and is accompanied by his inventory A List of Japanese Maps of the Tokugawa Era. To that has been added a small collection from George Bonn, as well as a number of maps acquired from various other sources.  Much of this collection has been digitized and is available for online browsing and is in the process of being updated with higher-resolution images.

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William Fraser Tolmie

Posted on July 23, 2012 @12:47 pm by Schuyler Lindberg


A brief (and almost fawning) biography and impressive etching of William Fraser Tolmie from British Columbia Pictoral Biographical printed by the British Alaskan Boundary Tribunal, 1903.

In addition to the quality of the etchings, typography and illuminations in this volume, the DI team was struck by this image due to the remarkable likeness Mr. Tolmie bears to our own beloved technical supervisor, Mr. Leslie Field.  Unfortunately, unlike his historical doppelgänger, he has yet to have a street named after him.

The two-volume set comprises a veritable who’s who of the early British Columbia elite, with hundreds more etchings and short biographies of men (and a few women) whose names grace many of our local streets and parks.  The full work will be included in the upcoming B.C. Bibliography digital collection.

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Klondike Gold Rush

Posted on April 17, 2015 @3:31 pm by Schuyler Lindberg

Photographs from the Klondyke Souvenir published by H.J. Goetzman in 1901 depicting pioneer life and the Klondike gold rush from the upcoming B.C. Bibliography collection.

Images contributed by the University of Northern British Columbia.


If you are looking for more related Klondike gold rush resources, please visit this blog post: British Columbia, the Gold Rush and the Klondike

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