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The Burns Encyclopedia
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Smith, John (1753 — 1833)

Eldest son of John Smith who in 1751 founded the Glasgow bookseller's business that still bears his name. In 1753, Smith Senior opened Smith's Circulating Library, which continued in operation until 1828. Smith Junior was taken into the business in 1777.

The firm subscribed for twelve copies of the 1787 edition of Burns's poems, and apparently ordered a further nine copies. Burns wrote to John Smith Junior from Mauchline on 18th July 1788: 'I recd pr the Mauchline Carrier 11 19sh I as mentioned in yours of the 16th Curnt — I cannot lay my hand on the Account, but I suppose the nine copies sent from Kilmarnock are not included in this payment — I only mention this en passant; but I will probably be in Glasgow in a month or two myself.'

However, Burns was again writing to Smith on 17th June 1789 still seeking payment 'of the nine copies of my book not yet accounted for'.

The firm also acted as agents for the distribution of subscriber's copies, for which service they charged only five percent. According to the history of the firm A Short Note on a Long History, when the poet heard of the modesty of the charge he his said to have exclaimed: 'You seem a decent sort of folk, you Glasgow booksellers, but, eh, they're sair birkies in Edinburgh'.

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Robert Burns Store

NEW!! robert burns store View our exclusive range of distinctive Robert Burns related products. Register with our Shopping Club for further offers and unique member offers.Click here...


Complete Burns Songs

linn recordings of burns Linn Records have completed their landmark recording of all 368 Burns songs, available as individual CDs or a 12 volume presentation box set. We have full details. Click here...


Burns Music & Recordings
Search our huge CD and music store for any Burns-related phrase!
Hint: Type "lang syne" or "peck maut" etc. into the Search box there for all artists, titles, descriptions or track listings with the words entered.
Burns Chess Sets

Burns Chess SetsUnique collectors' pieces based on Burns' life and works. (The ideal gift for your Burns Supper guests!) Click here...

Scotweb Store

ScotwebThe finest Scottish shopping site in the world, with the world's largest choice of kilts and tartans, exclusive jewelry, Highland Dress, Bagpipes and piping supplies, cashmere, and much more. Buying from these sites helps pay for the upkeep of Burns Country! Click here...