We’re thrilled to announce the opening of our first shop, in the heart of Wareham, at 12A West Street.

 

Shop Window

 

Antiquates Ltd., established in 2007 by owner Tom Lintern-Mole, has previously operated online and at local, regional, and national book fairs. Both Tom and his long-time friend and colleague Paris Austin Wells have worked in the Dorset book trade for over a decade and are excited by their future

‘Wareham has long needed a bookshop befitting its character; this Grade II* listed Georgian building has a history as a bookshop and I’m pleased that Antiquates has made it so again. Bookshops are becoming rarer than some of the books in them, especially in Dorset. This is the first local antiquarian bookshop that I can recall opening its doors in recent years rather than closing them, and we’re thrilled to be reversing this trend.’- Tom Lintern-Mole

‘Books have value as historic artefacts as well as for their contents, and as easy as it is to buy, sell, send, and receive books over the internet, to appreciate them fully sometimes you need to be able to touch, see, and even smell them. Those you will see on our shelves cover a variety of subjects suited to all tastes, whether your own or your friends – and as such can make great gifts for any occasion or that hard to buy for special someone.’- Paris Austin Wells

We are happy to offer advice on book collecting and library development, and are pleased to provide a specialised valuation service. We are keen buyers – if you have any old or interesting books, manuscripts or archives that you are looking to sell then please do come along and see us.

We open on Wednesday 17th August. For more details please contact Tom on 01929 556 656.

Shop opening hours:

Tuesday to Friday 10:00am – 5:00pm | Saturday 10:00am – 1:30pm

Address:

12a West Street | Wareham | Dorset | BH20 4JX

Phone number:

01929 556 656

August 14th, 2016

Posted In: all

I rarely feel more comfortable than when viewing a book sale, or reading a sale catalogue. The thrill of a new discovery, or rediscovery of a long-lost treasure, calls me to sales all around the country. I also find it difficult to dispose of even the most mundane and uninteresting catalogues of sales gone by, not least because every so often we pick up eighteenth- and nineteenth-century examples to feature in our catalogues – and I wouldn’t want to deprive a future bookseller of the pleasure of rediscovering an old catalogue.

The autumn 2015 auction season has only just begun in earnest. Catalogues from the main London sale-rooms have started to arrive and promise some interesting lots. One or two items have turned up in the usual places, and a now relatively rare beast, a decent country-house sale in the shires, unhappily coincided with a brief European holiday.

But for those of us, myself included, who when we run out of catalogues for future auctions like to explore the lots of book sales gone by, that country-house sale encouraged me to write up and share this example of a very early Victorian sale catalogue.

Peover1

Poever Hall in Knutsford remained in the Mainwairing family from the Conquest through to the early nineteenth-century, and its library, sold only a few months after the coronation of the young Queen Victoria, contained a number of treasures. Very interestingly for those interested in the history of book auctions and the book trade in general, this copy has been neatly annotated with the names of purchasers and prices realised. What a treat!

Two Caxtons topped the billing, and the prices realised: The Game of Chesse ‘one of the first books printed in England…1474’ reaching £101, and The Tale of Troy, ‘imperfect….said to be the first book printed in England’ £54, both to Mr. Rodd. Prices for each would be measured in millions today, indeed a rather defective copy of Caxton’s Bruges printed Chesse, the second book printed in the English language, fetched over $100,000 in its last appearance in the salerooms (1971).

Peover2

Other highlights included a number of fifteenth-century manuscripts, a 1549 Tyndall (£7 5s), a Shakespeare second folio (Rodd, £8 15s), Pynson’s 1525 Froissart (Dugard, £16 10s), Walton’s Polyglot Bible (£24 3s) and, somewhat remarkably, a copy of Dugdale’s Monasticon (£11). Indeed Dugdale’s works did remarkably well in their entirety: first editions of his Baronage made £5 15s (Rodd), the Antiquities of Warwickshire £11 and the Origines Juridiciales, admittedly ‘with many MS. additions’ fetched a rather staggering £10 – both to Crossley.

Peover 5

Peover3

Needless to say, prices and demand for Mr. Shakespeare has endured rather better than that for Mr. Dugdale.

To further illustrate the changing tastes apparent in the evolution of book-collecting, a first edition of Smith’s Wealth of Nations, with a first of the same author’s posthumous Essays on philosophical subjects included in the lot, reached a mere 17s courtesy of a forward thinking Mr Adamson; the same amount as Drinkwater’s Siege of Gibraltar, a near contemporary publication. The former now retails for 6 figures, the later would be priced in the low hundreds.

Peover4

What would Antiquates have been after? Lots 497 and 498, respectively ‘Poetical Commentary on the Pater Noster, Ms. on Vellum, very curious‘ and ‘A Curious MS. of Devotional Poetry, Eng. and Lat. on vellum’ both sound rather tempting. Several of the later bundle lots mention obscure John Donne items that we would expect, at least in the twenty-first century, to have no difficult putting into the right hands.

We’ll be taking this catalogue, along with a number of other noteworthy books and manuscripts, along to the Chelsea Book Fair on November 6-7th – free tickets available here.

If you’d like to be added to our mailing list to receive our short catalogue for the fair and all future catalogues, you can sign up here.

UPDATE: Lot 497, purchased at this sale by James Crossley, is most likely the Corser manuscript, now at the John Rylands library at the University of Manchester. More details and a picture are available on their website by clicking here.

October 22nd, 2015

Posted In: all, Chelsea Book Fair

It is almost a month since the 2015 London International Antiquarian Book Fair, at which Antiquates exhibited for the first time. Time to reminisce!

Olympia 2pm


The view from the street


The preparations for it and the fair itself were in equal measure exhilarating and somewhat daunting – months of acquiring stock, several weeks of late nights and many very early mornings had gone into cataloguing my books, and packing up took several days. And that was only the start.

Setting up

I’ve been attending as a visitor since I was an awestruck teenager, and arriving to an empty stand with my 15 boxes of books (many thanks to RF Shipping, who delivered and collected my fair stock wonderfully), fair catalogues (which can still be read, here) and accessories made me feel somewhat the dilletante again. A few hours and several rearrangements later, I was feeling more positive.

Olympia at 9am, before opening


Stand G11, 5 hours before opening


After a good night’s rest, further re-organisation, a quick tour of the fair and some final hints from my friend and next-door-neighbour at the fair, Dean Byass, the stand was ready. Lucky really, as it was 2pm on Thursday, and doors had just opened.

Olympia 2pm


Stand G11, just in time for doors opening


Fast-forward

The following two days went by in a flash. After meeting and talking books with customers new and long-standing, writing invoices, popping to the PBFA International Antiquarian Book Fair just down the road (another great event at which Antiquates also had a stall) and sharing a pint with a couple of old friends, it was Friday evening.

Touring rare books

I was happy on the Saturday to conduct a short tour of part of the fair, which also functioned as a brief introduction into why people collect books (soon to be extended into a series on this very blog – watch this space). Thankfully, to the great relief of my vocal chords towards the end of the fair, this featured some cameo appearances from Josh Clayton of Jarndyce (who really captured my small group’s imagination with a Charles Dickens holograph manuscript), Derek Walker of Blackwell’s Rare Books, Christian White of Modernfirsteditions and Sammy Jay of Peter Harrington.

Trade was brisk; I bought and sold some great books. The company was a treat; we were next to Dean Byass, opposite Peter Rowan and just up from Nick McConnell. The venue was majestic, the administration flawless, and security was fantastic.


Dean Byass and I on the final day

Why didn’t we see you there?!

Don’t take my word for what a treat this fair – the highlight of the British antiquarian book-trade calendar – really is. If you are a member of ILAB and even considering exhibiting in London, then do; if you’re at all interested in books and book-collecting, then come next year. Or better yet, come to Chelsea in November and then come to Olympia in 2016!

June 20th, 2015

Posted In: all, Olympia

I am an historian by training, but a bibliophile by nature – I see history through books. People make history, but until the twentieth century it was mostly in books and documents that history was recorded. Manuscripts are by their very nature frequently unique, whilst printed works are generally not. That said, here at Antiquates we tend to unearth a few unrecorded books each year. Sometimes these are unrecorded editions of known texts, every know and again they are entirely unrecorded texts. Unrecorded texts are generally unrecorded for a reason. Perhaps they failed to resonate with a paying public, or were superseded by events or innovations, as tables of logarithms and interest were made obsolete by the pocket calculator. Once in a blue moon a discovery of an unrecorded text turn out to be of real historical importance; I’m pleased that Antiquates is offering one such work at our stand (G11) at this week’s London international antiquarian book fair at Olympia.

The first modern London policing guide?

Hidden in plain sight

This significant ‘find’, what appears to be the first printed guide to modern policing in London, is only 15 pages in length and housed within a sammelband of eighteenth-century European works on criminal law, punishment and policing. It is a remarkable survival.

The first modern London policing guide

The Marine Police-Office was set up in July 1798, in order to combat the growing losses of cargo at London’s docks. Based upon a plan composed by Essex Justice of the Peace and Master Mariner John Harriott, supported by philosopher Jeremy Bentham and campaigned for by London Magistrate Patrick Colquhoun, the force was sanctioned by government but funded by those who stood to gain from reduction of River theft: the planters and merchants of the West India Company. Consisting initially of just fifty officers, the marine constables were charged with policing more than 30,000 London dock workers. The initial success of the force was reported in the sixth edition (London, 1800) of Colquhoun’s Treatise on the police of the Metropolis: ‘certain it is, that previous to the establishment of the Marine Police System…the incease [in losses] had been regular and progressive, while the easy manner in which this species of property was obtained, generated an accession of plunderers every year’. Establishment recognition of success was swift; Colquhoun and Harriott’s private enterprise was taken under government control just over two years later with the passing of the Marine Police Bill on 28th July 1800.

Instructions for constables

This short guide, dated 7th August 1798 to the second leaf, forms a rule-book and guide to the responsibilities, rights and powers of the river constables. Oaths of office, vigilance, fidelity and allegiance to the overseeing magistrates and the King, along with rules for proper conduct and sobriety are included alongside a more technical description of the operating procedures of the new force. These details include such preventative measures as the posting of ‘A CAUTION’ on newly docked ships and the lighting of lanterns at night. The process of apprehending criminals and the connection and close working relationship between the constables and their magistrates are both firmly outlined, with the expectations of the latter including the careful noting of details in ‘Check-Books’ highlighted. Finally, and perhaps most importantly for the professional nature of the new force, the details of Pay for the constables is outlined: 5s per day whilst ships are unloading, dropping to half pay either on completion or after ten-days.

The historical context

Given these details t is unsurprising that it was Colquhoun’s first professional, salaried force, with an emphasis on upholding the law and preventing criminality through deterrent was the model, coupled with clear financial cost-benefit analysis, which converted the English political economy to abandon law-enforcement founded in the medieval period and embrace the foundation of a public police force. Thus, when the Metropolitan Police Force was founded by statute in 1829, it resembled more the Marine Police Force than the mid eighteenth-century Bow Street Runners.

The only surviving copy?

Printed items are rarely unique, but occasionally there is justification for believing they are the only extant copy. This first instruction manual for the first modern London police force is entirely unrecorded in the usual databases. Given a likely print run just exceeding the size of the new force, around 50, and taking into account the ephemeral format and practical nature of such a book, it is entirely possible that this is the sole remaining example.

Full details:

 

THE FIRST MODERN LONDON POLICING GUIDE?

 

[POLICE]. Instructions to marine police-constables serving as watchmen and guards for the protection of commercial property in ships and vessels in and upon the river thames, and in lighters passing from the said vessels to the quays and wharfs in the Port of London. Marine police-office, under the sanction of government. Instituted 2d July, 1798.
London. Printed by H.L. Galabin, Ingram-Court, Fenchurch-Street, 1798. First edition.8vo. 15pp, [1]. Not in ESTC.

[Bound third amongst a sammelband of seven works on policing, crime and punishment, with:]

I. FIELDING, Henry. An enquiry Into the causes of the late Increase of Roberts, &c. With some proposals for Remedying this Growing Evil… London. Printed for A. Millar, 1751. Second edition. [iii]-xxxii, 203pp, [1]. Without half-title. ESTC T89871
II. [WOOL]. Proposals For preventing the Running of Wool, And encouraging the Woollen Manufacture. London. Printed for J. Peele, 1731. [3]-31pp, [1]. Without half-title. Marking to title and following leaf, price shaved from imprint. ESTC T70310.
IV. [SERVAN, Mr.] Discours sur l’administration de la justice criminelle, prononce par Mr. Avocat-General. A Geneve, [i.e. Geneva]. [s.n.], 1767. [2], 152pp.
V. DRAGONETTI, Giacinto. Abhandlung von den Jugenden und ihren Belohnungen als eine Fortsetzung der Abhandlung von den Verbrechen und ihren Strafen Aus dem Franzosischen. Riga. ben J.F. Hartsnoch, 1769. First German edition. 88pp. Occasional shaving to running title. Rare, with OCLC locating a single copy (Danish Union catalogue).
VI. SONNERFELS, H.V. Uber die Abschaffung der Tortur. Zurich. Bey Orell, Gessner, Feusslin und Compagnie. 1775. First edition. 117pp, [3].
VII. ZAUPSER, Andreas. Gedanken uber einige Punkte des Kriminalrechtes in drei Abhandlungen. Munchen, [i.e. Munich]. Gedruckt bey Johann Paul Jacob Botter, 1777. 64, 79-80. Lacks E1-6, with tear to final leaf.

Finely bound in twentieth-century half tan morocco, gilt, over buckram boards, by Sangorski and Sutcliffe.

SOLD

May 22nd, 2015

Posted In: all, Olympia

I really rather enjoy my job, not least because it frequently leads me down an entirely new avenue of discovery. This can be especially intellectually satisfying when a book passing across my desk comes to life as the full story of it’s origin, writing or later provenance is examined.

One item that Antiquates has only just acquired, and that I’ve been furiously researching and carefully cataloguing in order to bring it along to exhibit at our stand (G11) at this week’s London international antiquarian book fair at Olympia revealed a lovely connection between history, literature, romance and music at the turn of the nineteenth-century. A poem that connects a young female poet resident at Naples to England’s greatest naval hero and one of England’s most notorious love affairs to Austrian composer Joseph Haydn at a time of great European tumult: this is its story.

Poetry on the Battle of the Nile

Housed within a handsomely bound collection of late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century pamphlets is one of the rarities of the Lord Nelson canon: English poet, artist and socialite Ellis Cornelia Knight’s famous ode celebrating Nelson’s victory at the Battle of the Nile in the summer of 1798. The volume, almost certainly bound together out of utility rather than any coherence, contains several other significant first editions of eighteenth-century works of literature (Pratt’s Humanity on the inequities of slavery and Browne’s famous work on the immortality of the soul), important titles in eighteenth-century history (John Almon’s Letter is an examination of the failure of the British in the American revolutionary wars) and two educational rarities – but it is The Battle of the Nile which occupies the rest of this post.

The poet, Naples and Nelson

Ellis Cornelia Knight (1757-1837) had spent much of the final decade of the eighteenth-century on the continent with her mother, Lady Knight. The final year of the latter’s life saw the pair living in Naples and, following Nelson’s evacuation of the Bourbon monarchy in 1798, in Palermo. There and most especially after her mother’s death, Knight, the daughter of Sir Joseph Knight, rear-admiral of the White, proved a ‘daughter of the waves’ who revelled in the company and protections of Nelson, the English ambassador to the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies Sir William Hamilton, and his wife Emma. It was thus in close proximity to of one of the most notorious love affairs of English history, between Nelson and the diplomat’s young wife, that Knight composed this celebration of the English hero of the Nile. She acquired the epithet of ‘Nelson’s poet laureate’ from his fellow naval officers, but as the dedication of The Battle of the Nile to Sir William Hamilton indicates, was very much the literary organ of the trio. The poem was first printed at Naples in 1799 in what must have been a very limited, and almost certainly a private print run; the work is not recorded in ESTC and institutionally is represented by the British library copy only.

Travelling towards composition

The history of this rare poem, and indeed the company in which it was composed, did not end with the first edition, nor in Naples. After a somewhat contentious involvement in the domestic politics of the Bourbon dynasty, which culminated in Nelson charging and executing a Neapolitan admiral in the Bay of Naples, and quite startling displays of caprice verging on insubordination, Nelson was ordered back to England. This coincided, rather helpfully, with the granting of Sir William Hamilton’s request for relief from his post. As a result, Nelson, the Hamiltons and a group of English fellow travellers voyaged to England by way of central Europe in the September of 1800 – and it is here that the story turns musical. The group visited the Esterhazy family and their court composer Joseph Haydn at Eisenstadt, and were honoured by a performance of the latter’s Missa in Angustiis, a mass composed when all of Europe and especially Vienna was threatened by Napoleon but first performed when Europe was digesting the impact of Nelson’s victory at the Nile. Unsurprisingly given the association, Missa in Angustiis has become known as the ‘Nelson Mass’.

The Vienna printing

Slightly lesser known is the cantata ‘Lines from the Battle of the Nile’ that Haydn produced, presumably after meeting Knight during the group’s September visit and reputedly for performance by soprano Emma Hamilton, with lines taken from the former’s poem celebrating Nelson’s triumph. The publication of the second edition of the poem in Vienna by the widow of famous associate of Mozart, Ignaz Alberti, must surely have been related to this fabulous combination of the literature, music, romance and heroism that accompanied the English travellers’ visit to Austria in that summer of 1800. It is almost as rare and most likely printed once again in very small numbers; not recorded by ESTC, OCLC locates copies at Harvard, NMM and Strasbourg only, with COPAC adding another at Oxford. No copy of either is recorded in recent auction records.

I had the ‘Nelson Mass’ playing in the background whilst cataloguing this fine volume. After cracking the mystery of why a poem about Egypt first published in Naples should have appeared a year later in Vienna, I simply had to listen to the Haydn Cantata ‘Lines from the Battle of the Nile’. It doesn’t disappoint!

 

Full details:

 

NELSON, HAMILTON AND HAYDN

 

[NELSON, Admiral Lord Horatio]. KNIGHT, Ellis Cornelia. The Battle of the Nile. A pindaric ode. To his excellency the Rt. Honble. Sir William Hamilton, K.B. His Britannick Majesty’s minister plenipotentiary and envoy extraordinary at the court of the Two Sicilities etc. etc. etc.
Vienna. Printed by Widow Alberti, 1800. Second edition.
Quarto. 13pp, [1]. Not in ESTC.
[Bound eighth, amongst a sammelband of 14 rare literary, historical and educational works, all in quarto format]I. [MELBOURNE, William Lamb, viscount]. Essay on the progressive improvement of mankind… London. W. Bulmer, 1799. First edition. 20pp. With half-title. Rare; ESTC records only six copies in the UK, two elsewhere. ESTC T33406.
II. [SCONE]. Sconiana. Memoranda of the antiquities….and present state of Scone… Edinburgh. Printed by John Moir…for James Morison…, 1807. First edition. 22pp, [2]. With engraved frontispiece and terminal blank leaf.
III. [LITERARY PROPERTY]. The question concerning Literary Property, determined by the court of King’s bench On 20th April 1769, in the cause between Andrew Millar and Robert Taylor…. London. Printed by W. Strahan and M. Woodfall…for R. Tovey, 1773. First edition. iv, 127pp, [1]. ESTC T88999.
IV. [DOUGLAS, Basil William]. The right of the eldest sons of the peers of Scotland to represent the Commons of that part of Great Britain in Parliament, considered. [Edinburgh?]. [s.n.], 1790. First edition. 44pp. Rare, with ESTC locating only six copies (BL, Hornel, Glasgow, House of Lords, LSE and NLS). ESTC T82930.
V. GREG, Thomas. A letter to Sir John Sinclair…President of the Board of Agriculture; containing a statement of the system, under which a considerable farm is profitably managed in Hertfordshire… London. Printed by W Bulmer and Co., 1809. First edition. 22ppp. With two engraved plates.
VI. SMITH, Rev Sydney. A sermon preached before his grace the Archbishop of York, and the clergy at Malton at the visitation, August, 1809. London. Printed for James Carpenter…by Thomas Wilson and Son, 1809. First edition. [3]-22pp. Without half-title, but with errata slip. Rare, with OCLC locating only three copies, at Cambridge, Newberry and Oxford.
VII. SINCLAIR, John Gordon. Letter to his royal highness monsieur, brother to Louis XVIII, King of France…from Colonel John Gordon Sinclair, relative to his trial in the court of King’s Bench, the various concealed methods used to effect his ruin… London. [s.n.], 1798. [2], iii, [2], 15-17, [1], 17-31, [1]. Lacking pp.1-15. ESTC T205495.
IX. [PRATT, Samuel Jackson]. Humanity, or the rights of nature, a poem; in two books. By the author of Sympathy. London. Printed for T. Cadell, 1788. First edition. [4], 114pp, [4]. With terminal errata leaf duplicated. Several manuscript alterations to text, which differ from thosee identified by the errata. Uncommon in British institutional holdings, with ESTC locating copies at Birmingham, BL, Cambridge, William Saly and Wisbech/Fenland Museum. ESTC T36737.
X. [ALMON, John]. A letter to the Right Honourable Charles Jenkinson. London. Printed for J. Debrett…, 1782. Fifth edition. [3]-51pp, [1]. Without-half title. ESTC T118043.
XI. SHEPHERD, R. An essay on education, in A Letter to William Jones, Esq. [London]. Printed by W. Flexney, 1782. [2], 17pp, [1]. First edition. Rare, with ESTC locating only two copies in the UK (BL, Dr. William’s) and four elsewhere (Chicago, Columbia x 2 and Huntington).
XII. BROWNE, Isaac Hawkins. De animi immortalitate. Poema. London. Impensis J. & R. Tonson & S. Draper, 1754. First edition. [4], 40pp. ESTC T32111.
XIII. SMITH, Hugh. An enlarged syllabus of philosophical lectures delivered by Hugh Smith, M.D., Of Hatton-Street. With the Principles on which his Conjectures are founded concerning Animal Life, and the Laws of the Animal Oeconomy… London. Printed for L. Davis…, 1778. First edition. 40pp. With half-title. Rare, with ESTC locating only three copies: at BL, Cambridge and Harvard. ESTC N3443.
XIV. [Paul preaching at Athens, being a fragment and the final quarter only of The Cartons of Raphael D’Urbino. (London, 1809), without plates]. 8pp.Fourteen volumes in one. Handsomely bound in early nineteenth-century speckled calf, gilt. A trifle rubbed to surfaces and a little creasing to joints, else a fine copy. Kinnaird amorial bookplate, with manuscript shelfmark, to FEP.

 

SOLD

May 20th, 2015

Posted In: all, Olympia

The hectic first day – an introductory session, two seminars and a drinks reception – of my first LRBS experience is over. I’ve not picked up a book in anger – but we’ve witnessed approaching a hundred examples on the screen, and benefitted from Nicholas Pickwoad’s experience in the of study, identification and documentation of tens of thousands of examples of bookbinding from the handpress era. Much of this is recorded by the Ligatus Research Unit, a fascinating meeting of the expert study of traditional craft techniques in bookbinding and cutting edge data aggregation.

Study of the underlying structures and materials of European books has long been overshadowed by scholarship into the decoration or ‘finishing’ of bookbindings. The book trade too has traditionally emphasised appearance over historical importance. But scholars are leading the way in the re-evaluation of the position of the large majority of early, workaday bindings that form the bulk of the historic record in books. Method, material, provenance and indications of the training, background and even identity of the crafts-men and women involved can frequently be revealed by detailed study of what Nicholas called the ‘archeology of the book’.

Stuart Bennett, a wonderful bookman and past president of the Antiquarian Bookseller’s Association who I’m honoured to consider a friend, demonstrates that the best booksellers are beginning to follow suit. His Trade Bookbinding in the British Isles, 1660-1800 (New Castle and London, 2004) swiftly became a classic in the field.

I’m a romantic at heart, and my imagination is always willing to be captured by a fascinating story or two – perhaps why I think I’ll enjoy the social events as much as the formal course this week. One of many raised in discussion of the behaviour of owners eminent and not-so eminent towards the bindings of the books in their libraries remains at the front of my perhaps all too commercial mind. Edward Gibbon insisted that the English books he ordered from London booksellers whilst living in Switzerland were dispatched unbound – such was the cost differential in the transportation of bound books. Books from his library turn up in commerce – but how many in economical Lausanne bindings may remain undiscovered on the continent…

June 21st, 2013

Posted In: all, LRBS

I dread to think how many books I’ve handled in the past decade in and around the book trade, and in my studies at Oxford – where I haunted the upper reading room of the Radcliffe Camera (Rad Cam!) and the Duke Humphrey’s. It must be reaching the hundreds of thousands. However boastful this is sounding – and reading it back almost makes me ashamed of such gluttony – I don’t intend it to be. Of those say 150,000 books, around 50,000 would have been in early and sometimes ‘fine bindings’ of calf, sheep, goatskin (‘morocco’ or ‘Russia’), pigskin or vellum. Of these 50,000, at least 4/5ths would undoubtedly have been British in origin – the small remainder would have been a mixture of continental and North American.

So in short, whilst I’ve picked up lots of early books, I’m no expert on bookbinding. I’d back myself on identifying the work of few English binders C17-19th – Samuel Mearne, the Naval Binder, Kalthoeber, Riviere, possibly even the Spaniel Binder – and the wonderful, free and illustrated British Library database of bookbindings provides data to help on those I’m ignorant of. But the history of continental bookbinding is an area of my education I’m particularly eager to improve. As luck would have it, the London Rare Book School are holding a week long summer school course on exactly this topic – and registration starts in two hours.

Reading the second chapter of Mirjam M. Foot’s Bookbinders at Work (London, 2006) has reminded me of the continental heritage of the craft, and art, that I now appreciate mainly in the British – and lets be honest, mostly English – form. A 5 day course on its history should be just the ticket. If I can keep up with the tutors and fellow students, I’ll try and share some of the experiences here – stay tuned!

June 20th, 2013

Posted In: all, LRBS