Scottish Tartans Resources

The Authenticated Tartans of the Clans & Families of Scotland - 1850

William & Andrew Smith

William and Andrew Smith, of Mauchlin, Scotland, were the inventors of the method of printing tartan onto paper which entailed the laying down of ink in specific, individual lines, better imitating the look of actual woven cloth. This method of printing tartan on paper would lead to the success of the popular "Mauchlineware" craze. The first book printed with this method of tartan illustration was the Stuart brothers' infamous Vestiarium Scoticum of 1842. But the Smith brothers would soon follow suit with their own tartan book, The Authenticated Tartans of the Clans & Families of Scotland, in 1850.

Perhaps because of the controversy that even then was stirring about the authenticity of the Vestiarium Scoticum, the Smith brothers made a point of emphasizing that aspect of their work, claiming various authorities for the sixty-nine tartans included. D. C. Stewart writes in The Setts of the Scottish Tartans:

"It seems that, in preparation for the visit of George IV to Scotland in 1822, George Hunter, an army clothier, toured the Highlands in search of old tartans. We cannot be certain of what he learned, but his report was passed on to Messrs Meyer & Mortimer, and the Smiths obtained many of their setts from this firm, and some from Messrs Wilson of Bannockburn. The Smiths had access also to the collection of W. F. Skene, the historian, and to the records of Messrs Romanes & Paterson, tartan merchants, of Edinburgh. A few setts are put forward on the authority of contemporary chiefs of the clans, but... 'use and wont' is the authority most often given."

The Smiths themselves said in their preface that the purpose of their work was

"the production of a complete series of well-authenticated tartans for the clans and families of Scotland, executed by the novel and beautiful process of machine painting... The publishers have sought to win the approbation, and to gratify the taste of their Subscribers, by the fidelity and beauty of these authenticated specimens of tartan."

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