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 view in Open Collections.


Traveling in Style

Posted on July 6, 2012 by Site Admin
Perhaps we’ve just been overexposed to Canadian Pacific’s historic promotional material, but enjoying a fine meal while glorious views of Stoney Creek and the Selkirks rush by to the clickity-clack of the railroad ties sure sounds enticing.  This section of mountainous track and bridges between Field and Revelstoke was an engineering marvel of its day, […]


地理 初歩 – Elementary Geography to learn by heart

Posted on by Site Admin
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. […]


Bankoku-sozu

Posted on July 5, 2012 by Site Admin
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 […]


Common Stock

Posted on June 20, 2012 by Site Admin
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 […]


All ‘Round the World (1860-1862)

Posted on June 15, 2012 by Site Admin
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 […]


Invest in Kerrisdale!

Posted on June 4, 2012 by Site Admin
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.  


The Transit of Venus (1883)

Posted on May 30, 2012 by Site Admin
  “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 […]


Explore Open Collections: H. Bullock-Webster fonds

Posted on May 29, 2012 by Site Admin
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 […]


Disaster Prints

Posted on by Site Admin
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 […]


William Fraser Tolmie

Posted on May 17, 2012 by Site Admin
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 […]


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