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Tartan Ferret

John Telfer Dunbar Collection


Acc. 12251

From the National Library of Scotland Manuscripts Division

Correspondence, journals, scrapbooks, working papers, and collected documents, 1822-1981, undated, of John Telfer Dunbar Archaeologist and Costume Historian (1912-2003). The original subject-based order, where apparent, has been retained.

John Telfer Dunbar was born in Edinburgh in 1912 and educated at Sedbergh School. By profession he was an archaeologist specializing in maritime archaeology and underwater exploration. In the mid-1950s, he was Archaeological Director of the British Underwater Research Group based in Salcombe, Devon. His book, The Lost Land. Underwater Exploration in Isles of Scilly was published in 1958.

Telfer Dunbar is best known for his work on Scottish Highland and military dress. He began to collect weapons, samples of tartan, and images of Highland military and civil dress, and related manuscripts in 1928. In 1947, he succeeded Major Ian Mackay Scobie as Honorary Curator of the Scottish United Services Museum in Edinburgh. The collection includes some of Major Scobie' working papers. In 1949, Telfer Dunbar' collection of material on Highland dress and tartans was exhibited during the Edinburgh Festival and seen by Queen Elizabeth and other members of the royal family. His publications include History of Highland Dress, Edinburgh, 1962 and The Costume of Scotland, London, 1981. Telfer Dunbar was President of the St. Andrew Society, 1973-1979, President of the Scottish Tartans Society and Chairman of the Costume Society of Scotland.

Other interests included pre-historic art, recording folk songs and tales, and experimental photography. Telfer Dunbar' biography of the photographer M.E.M. Donaldson, 'Herself' The Life and Photographs of MEM Donaldson was published in 1979.

During the Second World War, John Telfer Dunbar spent over three years as a prisoner of the Japanese in Malaysia and Thailand between 1942 and 1945. He worked on the notorious ' Railway' from Siam to Burma during the entire period of its construction. During the 1950s, Telfer Dunbar worked on a history of the Far East Prisoners of War. He was first Chairman of the Scottish Returned Far East P.O.W. Association and editor of the Association' magazine, Scottish Pow-Wow. The collection includes numerous incoming letters to William Wilson, Tartan Manufacturers, Bannockburn. John Telfer Dunbar presented material from the firm' archive to the National Library of Scotland in 1952 (MSS.6660-7000). The documents included here would seem to be strays.

For two volumes of papers relating to the World Federation of Scottish Societies and Individuals, 1959-1970, presented to the NLS by John Telfer Dunbar in 1976, see Acc.6639. For related material bought in 2004 see Acc.12390.

Deposited, 2003 and 2009
1 Correspondence
2-3 Journal
4-8 Scrapbooks
9-58 Working papers
59-61 Papers of Major I H Mackay Scobie
62 Original documents
63-69 Printed material
70-87 Additional items deposited January 2009

1. Correspondence
Most of John Telfer' Dunbar' correspondence is enclosed in his
scrapbooks and folders of working papers. The letters described here were
found loose.
1. Letters, 1944- n.d., including Christmas cards from Jacques Laudy.
2-3. Journals
2. ' Years of Captivity' 1945, being John Telfer Dunbar' fair copy of his
journal written when a Prisoner of War in Malaya and Thailand, 1942-1945.
3. Journal, scrapbook and notes of a visit to Venice and Corvara, Italy, 1965.
With printed promotional brochures and timetables.
4-8. Scrapbooks
Scrapbooks, 1936-1975, consisting of miscellaneous material. Other
scrapbooks relating to specific interests for which there are files of working
papers, have been placed in the relevant sections.
4. Invitations, menu cards, photographs and press cuttings, 1936-64, n.d.,
gathered for inclusion in a scrapbook.
5. Scrapbook with newspaper cuttings, photographs, programmes and menu
cards, 1941-1952, n.d., many relating to Telfer Dunbar' history of the Far
East Prisoners of War, 1952, and H M Queen' visit to Scotland of 1953.
Material found loosely enclosed has been placed at Acc.12551/6.
6. Newspaper cuttings, invitations, menu cards, photographs, posters and
notes, 1951-1975, found loosely enclosed in Acc.12551/5.
7. Scrapbook with photographs, press-cuttings and printed items relating to H M Queen' visit to the Saltire Society' ' Highland Tartans' exhibition from the John Telfer Dunbar Collection at Gladstone' Land, Edinburgh, 1949, the publication of The History of Highland Dress, 1962, and controversy
surrounding pre-1745 tartans.
8. Scrapbook, 1959, of letters and notices, relating to Am Fasgadh, the
Highland Folk Museum, Kingussie and the Friends of Am Fasgadh
9-58. Working papers
Folders of working papers arranged by subject. The folders consist largely of John Telfer Dunbar' notes and collected original documents, press cuttings, photographs, printed ephemera including exhibition catalogues, leaflets and booklets. The original order has been retained where apparent.
9. Prehistoric Art
10-12. Underwater Exploration
13-32. Highland Dress
33-47. Military Dress and Armour
48-49. MEM Donaldson
50-56. Costume
57. Scottish Navy
58. Official Tartan Map
9. Prehistoric Art
9, Card index, sketches, photographs, printed articles and press cuttings, 1950s, n.d., on prehistoric art.
10-12. Underwater Exploration
10. Letters, typescripts, printed programmes, newsletters, notices and press cuttings, 1955-1958, relating to Telfer Dunbar' underwater explorations off the coast of Devon and related activities.
11. Drafts, 1958, for The Lost Land. Underwater: Exploration in the Isles of Scilly.
12. Photographs, 1955, n.d., of John Telfer Dunbar and others on shore and underwater.
13-32. Military Dress
Working papers and material collected by John Telfer Dunbar in connection with his research on military dress. The files include some correspondence, notes and articles of Major Ian Mackay Scobie. For other Mackay Scobie papers see Acc.12551/59-61.
13 Letters, notes, photographs and other images, 1922, n.d., relating to the dress of the 72nd Regiment.
14. Folder entitled ' of the 72nd Regiment' 1930-49, n.d., including ' on Early 72nd History' by Major Mackay Scobie, notes, sketches, photographs and samples of tartan. Numerous original documents, have been pasted in. These include ' of Sick of His Majesty' 72nd Regiment, 1790, and 17 letters to William Wilson and Company, Tartan Manufacturers, Bannockburn, 1808-27, and related receipts
15. Correspondence (largely letters to Ian Mackay Scobie and John Telfer Dunbar), notes, sketches and cuttings, 1927-1969, n.d., relating to Scottish military dress. With cuttings of ' Prospect of Prince' Island' and ' sight of Cape lopo Gonsaluez' 18th cent. See Acc.12251/16 for related photographs.
16. Photographs found with Acc.12251/15.
17. '' 1928-1983, n.d.: correspondence, notes, press cuttings, photographs and sketches of Highland dress, exhibition catalogues, printed booklets, and maps concerning Culloden and the Jacobites. With press cuttings from the Aberdeen Journal, 1831-1930 concerning the ' and typescript of '' Revenge. A Story of the '' by Major Mackay Scobie, 1830-1983.
18. ' Gorget' 1932-1965, n.d.
19. Folder, 1939-1949, n.d., containing notes, sketches, photographs, letter to Mackay Scobie, 1939, and cuttings, concerning Scottish military dress.
20. ' swords and pole weapons' 1939-1951, n.d. With notes on the R.L. Scott Catalogue of his collection of Arms and Armour and annotated sales catalogues, 1894-1951.
21. Copies of letters of Sir David Baird in the National War Museum of Scotland, 1947-1948, n.d., with related notes and printed articles.
22. File relating to the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders, 1948, n.d., including letters, notes, photographs and typescript for ' of the 93rd' by E A Campbell for Brigadier A.E.J. Cavendish, The 93rd Sutherland Highlanders, 1928, and drafts on ' Regimental Tartan' by Major I. H. Mackay Scobie, n.d.
23. Folder entitled, 'nd 1818-1887, 2nd Batt. 42nd 1780-1882, Black Watch to date' consisting of printed articles, photographs, sketches, and bill of William Wilson, Tartan Manufacturer, Bannockburn, 1844-1936, n.d.
24. Volume entitled ' History of the Dress of the Black Watch, 1742-1816 by Capt. J. Telfer Dunbar, F.S.A. (Scot), Hon. Curator. Scottish National Naval & Military Museum' consisting largely of plates and photographs.
25. Draft for H. D. MacWilliam, Origin of the Black Watch, 1725-1739' 1935, with an introduction by I. H. Mackay Scobie. This work appeared serially in the Celtic Monthly, Vols. XXI-XXII, 1913-1914. With 4 letters of H.D. MacWilliam to Skeoch Cumming, 1910.
26. Annotated copy, n.d., of Charles B. Balfour, The Scots Guards, Glasgow, 1919, with numerous loose and pasted in images and notes and loose letters of the author to Skeoch Cumming, 1921 and John Graham to Mackay Scobie, 1933-34.
27. Folder entitled ' 78th, 1793-1886' consisting largely of printed and typescript extracts from Major H. Davidson' History and Services of the 78th Highlanders, and manuscript notes on the same. With seven letters of and to William Wilson, Tartan-Manufacturer, Bannockburn, 1813-1868, typescript ' re Captain Colin Mackay in command of the Grenadier' Company of the 78th Regiment at the Battle of Elhamed, 1807' extracted from ' Soldier' Diary' and tartan samples, n.d.
28. Folder of press cuttings, notes, photographs, sketches, printed articles and a letter on military dress, 1941-1970, n.d.
29. ' Gardes Ecossais' notes, sketches and cuttings from printed books and articles, 1947, n.d. With letters to Major Mackay Scobie.
30. ' Town Guard' 1948-1950 (includes pages from John Kay' Original Portraits, 1842).
31. ' Dunbar Collection' 1949-1980, n.d. Catalogue entries and photographs of paintings and objects collected by John Telfer Dunbar, with related correspondence and printed exhibition catalogues.
32. ' After Waterloo' 1950-1965, n.d. Notes and printed articles on Scottish military dress.
33-47 Highland Dress
33. Correspondence and printed leaflets, 1936-1968, n.d.
34. Notes, cuttings and printed booklets, 1936-1975, on modern Highland dress.
35. Material for a scrapbook on Scottish Highland dress, 1936-1976, including notes, sketches, cuttings, transcripts of published articles, tartan samples and notes for a National Trust for Scotland exhibition of ' from the Victorian Period' at the Georgian House, Edinburgh.
36. 'th list of Highland Portraits' 1937.
37. Scrapbook of prints, photographs, notes and sketches, 1943, n.d.
38. ' on Clan Tartans, 1947- 1978, n.d. Correspondence, notes, tartan samples, printed articles and press cuttings, etc. in alphabetical order of Clans. With letter to William Wilson and Sons, Tartan Manufacturers, Bannockburn, 1828.
39. File of letters, notes and samples, 1948-71, n.d., relating to the Macpherson tartans.
40-42 Card file, 1949, n.d., of sketches, photographs (with some glass negatives), cuttings from printed works including Kay' Original Portraits and modern works, postcards and notes, on Highland dress (in 3 folders).
43. Miscellaneous letters, photographs, sketches, notes, cuttings and exhibition catalogues, 1952-1975, n.d., largely relating to the kilt.
44. Scrapbook of cuttings relating largely to The History of Highland Dress, 1962.
45. Typescript of James Grant, ' Notes on some Tartans associated with the Clan Grant' 1985. With covering letter.
46. Volume of notes and sketches on ' Dress' n.d. With other notes and sketches loosely enclosed.
47. Card index of notes, sketches and cuttings on Highland dress, n.d.
48-49 M.E.M. Donaldson
48-49 Working papers, including correspondence, drafts and prints 1916-1980, n.d., relating to John Telfer Dunbar' biography of Mary Ethel Muir Donaldson (1876-1958), Herself: The Life and Photography of M.E.M. Donaldson, Edinburgh, 1979 (2 folders).
50-56 Costume
50. ' notes, early to 18th century' consisting of ' for a lecture on Scottish costume' notes, sketches, postcards, photographs and cuttings from newspapers and periodicals relating to European dress.
51. Folder entitled ' - General' including notes for lectures and related letters, notes, photographs, excepts from printed articles, 1967-68, n.d.
52. Folder entitled ' - 19th century' including notes, sketches, photographs and extracts from printed articles, n.d.
53. Fishwives: notes, press cuttings, poems, postcards, sketches, photographs (including a glass negative), printed booklet, sheet music for John Gray, ' Boatmen O' the Forth; or Caller Oysters' n.d., 1877-1953, n.d.
54. ' at War' containing letters, and collected notes, sketches and excerpts from printed articles, press cuttings, 1964-1971, n.d.
55. Proof copy of The Costume of Scotland. With Daily Telegraph review, 1981.
56. Folder of images considered for illustrations for Telfer Dunbar' publications notably Highland Dress, 1979, 'Herself' The Life and Photographs of MEM Donaldson, 1979, and The Costume of Scotland, 1981. Included are letters relating to his research, photographs, glass negatives, photocopies, sketches, extracts from published works (some from John Kay Original Portraits, 1842), and related notes, 1979, n.d.
57 Scottish Navy
Notes and related letters, press cuttings and photographs, on ' History of the Scottish Navy' 1934-56, n.d.
58 The Official Tartan Map
58. Working papers, 1974, n.d., including correspondence and notes for John Telfer Dunbar and Don Pottinger, The Official Tartan Map (London, 1976).
59-61 Major Ian Hamilton Mackay Scobie 
Working papers of Major Ian H Mackay Scobie, Curator of the Scottish United Services Museum. Major Mackay Scobie set up the Scottish United Services Museum in Edinburgh Castle in 1930 and was its honorary curator until his death in 1947. See Telfer Dunbar' working papers for other material of and relating to Major Mackay Scobie.
59. Volume of ' Cuttings, Prints etc concerning Scottish Regiments and Corps, throughout the World' 1906-1907. The volume includes notes for Major Mackay Scobie' ' of the Reay Fencibles'
60. Typescript notes on the collections of the Scottish United Services Museum, n.d. With related letters to Major Mackay Scobie, photographs and sketches, 1930-1937, and The Royal Scots (The Royal Regiment), ca.1938.
61. Notes, photographs and sketches on military dress, n.d. With printed papers including ' for a History of the Dress of the Scottish Yeomanry and Volunteer Cavalry up to 1850' by A.V.B. Norman, ' Argyll or Campbell Militia of 1745-1746' by Major Ian H. Mackay Scobie in Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research, Spring, 1946 and proof copy of Major I.H. Mackay Scobie, Three Prints of Keith' and Campbell' Highlands (87th and 88th Regiments), 1759-1763.
62 Original documents
Original documents collected by John Telfer Dunbar found loose among his
62. Bill of Lading for ' Hazard' Leith, ca.1820; letters to William Wilson,
Tartan Manufacturers, Bannockburn, 1820-1852; envelope, 1877; letter of W
Gow Brown to Mrs Skeoch Cumming, from Salonica, 1917.
63-69 Printed material 
Printed books, magazines including articles by John Telfer Dunbar and promotional leaflets for John Telfer Dunbar' publications.
63. Bound volume of The Scotsman, 1822, Vol.6.
64. The Ladies Monthly Museum, 1822.
65. Folder of pages taken from Punch Magazine, 1854-78.
66. Madame M. Delos, Methode de Coupe our Dames, Paris, 1912.
67. Disbanded Scottish Cavalry Regiments, Andrew Ross, in Lowland Scottish Regiments, 1918. With related correspondence, photographs, prints and press cuttings, some relating to the East Lothian Yeoman Cavalry, 19th century.
68. Bound volume of copies of John Telfer Dunbar' published works on
Highland dress.
69. Folder of copies of John Telfer Dunbar' published books and articles.
70-87 Additional material deposited January 2009
70-74 Papers relating to Prisoners of War and internment camps in the Far East, 1941-1945:
70 Notebook containing accounts of prisoners of war, verse, drawings
71 Letters, postcards [many empty envelopes] of letters home and received by Telfer Dunbar in Thailand, 1942-1945 and personal documents including a menu card, Christmas 1942 and 'Theatre' programme, 1944
72 Photographs, 1942-1945, undated
73 Press cuttings, 1945-1952, undated
74 Letters, reminiscences, menu cards, Order of Service and maps 1945-1972, undated, of and relating to the Scottish Returned Far East P.O.W. Association. With '' magazine, nos.1, 3-4.
75 Letters of E. Craig Brown to Telfer Dunbar, 1900-1947, with related notes concerning ' tartan' Two samples of tartan
76 Letters, circulars, constitutions, menu cards, of the St Andrew Society, 1968-1990, undated. With typescript of talk and CD by John Telfer Dunbar on the ' of the St Andrew Society and printed speeches and proceedings of the St Andrew' Society of New York, 1967, 1972
77 Menu cards of the Ninety Burns Club, Edinburgh, 1975, and the Edinburgh Sir Walter Scott Club, 1979, with related letters and toast to ' Majesty' Armed Forces' genealogical notes on the Telfer Dunbar family and two tartan samples
78 Drafts, notes and related material for articles, undated. Topics include '' '' ' Letters of Quartermaster McQueen, ' and Weaving' and ' Washing'
79 Letters to William Wilson, Tartan Manufacturer, Bannockburn, 1795-1838 [38 documents]
80 Letters, 1801-1930, concerning the death of Colonel Charles Erskine, Constantinople, 1801 [4 documents]
81-87 Seven framed items:
81 Framed tartan sample said to be part of a plaid worn by a Jacobite, 1745
82 Framed letter, 1822, of John Richard, Edinburgh, to William Wilson, concerning the Stewart tartan. With sample
83 Framed letter, 1827, of an Aberdeen merchant to William Wilson, ordering Glen Lyon tartan. With two samples
84 Framed sample of Prince Albert tartan, 1845
85 Framed sample of Royal Dress Stewart tartan as approved by Queen Victoria for Balmoral, undated
86 Framed passport, 1863, in favour of Revd Andrew Bennett and his daughter 87 Framed tartan sample. Unidentified and undated.

© Scottish Tartans Authority
Scottish Tartans Authority (Scottish limited company no. 162386), c/o J & H Mitchell, 51 Atholl Road, Pitlochry, PH16 5BU
Scottish Charity Number SCO24310

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