This site attempts to protect users against Cross-Site Request Forgeries attacks. In order to do so, you must have JavaScript enabled in your web browser otherwise this site will fail to work correctly for you. See details of your web browser for how to enable JavaScript. Skip to Main Content Library - University of Liverpool
Toggle mobile navigation

Special Collections & Archives: John Fraser Collectionaccredited archive service logo

SC&A includes manuscripts and archives, medieval to modern; early and finely printed books, and science fiction collections.

John Fraser Collection

More than 2000 books, ephemera and advertising material from the collection of John Fraser (1836-1902), Secretary of the printing and publishing department of Cope's Tobacco Company in Liverpool.

Image from Cope's tobacco poster showing man talking to pelicans and penguins

The books reflect Fraser's interest in Scottish literature, positivist philosophy, phrenology, bee-keeping and, particularly, tobacco; the collection also includes examples of the advertising material produced for Cope's under Fraser's direction between 1870 and 1894, as editor of their literary review Cope's Tobacco Plant (1870-1882) and the series of Smoke Room Booklets. The work of the artist John Wallace (1841-1903) and the writers James Thomson (1834-1882) and Richard Le Gallienne (1866-1947) is strongly represented.

Notable items include a rare complete set of James Hogg's The Spy (Edinburgh, 1811) and Robert Burns's Poems, chiefly in the Scottish dialect (Edinburgh, 1787), Kelmscott Press ephemera and James I's A Counterblaste to Tobacco (London, 1604). An obituary notice describes Fraser as "a Socialist, a Fabian, a zealous member of the Church of Humanity" (the collection includes a ticket for the opening service of the Liverpool Church of Humanity), but notes that "these extreme opinions were always held with moderation and courtesy."

The collection passed on after Fraser's death to his son John, who with his brother Donald, upheld for many years the best traditions of good printing at Lyceum Press and some of the University's most creditable publications. In 1957 (second deposit in 1963) the collection, including additions by the two brothers, was presented to the University by Mr Donald Fraser. From 1966, material on Auguste Comte (1798-1857) was acquired to complement the Positivist holdings in the Fraser collection.

The John Fraser Collection featured in a past Special Collections and Archives exhibition, Smokescreen: the Victorian Vogue for Tobacco. For more information see the Smokescreen past exibition page

Finding and using