Category Archives: Biblio-ephemera

Bristol Bookbinders Society

Bristol Bookbinders Society

A recent acquisition for the biblio-ephemera collection here at ZHQ, an attractively engraved trade union card for the Bristol Bookbinders Society. The card has not been filled out, but notes that the bearer ‘having served a legal Apprenticeship to the Trade is entitled to participate in all its advantages’.  The Union was formed in March 1831, and their motto was ‘We are United to Support, But not Combined to Injure’.

The Historical Directory of Trade Unions – Volume Five, notes that the rules “drawn up in that year are still available, but no subsequent information has been found”. The Jaffray collection in the BL, (Jaffray was himself a bookbinder and interested in the history of his trade and particularly trade union and welfare issues) holds a document noting the cash amount held for the Society ending March 1833 (probably just the year ending for the Society rather than the end of its existence), so we know it lasted until at least 1833, but I haven’t been able to find out anything further about it.

Howe refers to Jaffray’s collection in his A List of London Bookbinders 1648-1815, but Jaffray himself does not appear in Packer’s Bookbinders of Victorian London, so he probably always worked for other bookbinders.

The later Bookbinders and Machine Ruler’s Consolidated Union used almost the same motto, ‘United to Support but Not Combined to Injure’

Associated Bookbinders of Chester

An invitation / ticket for the (first?) anniversary dinner of the Associated Bookbinders of Chester, June 28, 1828, with a wonderful typographic border. It was held at the Ermine Inn, in Flookersbrook.

Henry Evans was the President of the Associated Bookbinders, he appears in an 1826 Poll Book as a bookbinder in Linen-Hall Street, Chester, but doesn’t appear in the Pigot’s Commercial Directory under Bookbinders for 1828-9 (there are six other bookbinders listed in Chester).

It appears to have been clipped to the centre of the bottom edge, so was presumably used by the bearer to attend, the dinner cost 4s 6d.

I haven’t been able to find out anything about the Associated Bookbinders, whether they were just a social club, or more like a friendly society or an early trade union

Sturt’s Silver Penny

Some time ago (February and March 2015), I posted a couple of notes about ‘sombre’ bindings, one of the areas of interest here at ZHQ. The March post was mainly about the engraved, on silver plates, edition of a Common Prayer by John Sturt.

Sturt was apprenticed to White, himself a pupil of Loggan’s, was well known for his miniature work, “it was said that he could engrave the creed on a silver penny, a claim amply reinforced by his best-known works: engraved versions of the Book of Common Prayer and of Laurence Howell’s The Orthodox Communicant, published respectively by subscription in 1717 and 1721. The first of these books, executed on 188 silver plates adorned with borders and vignettes, had a frontispiece portrait of King George I, the lines for which were composed of the creed, the Lord’s prayer, the ten commandments, a prayer for the royal family, and Psalm 21, all inscribed in minute characters” (ODNB)

At the recent PBFA Cambridge book fair, we found an engraving of the Sturt Silver Penny for sale with James of Alastor Rare Books – – now happily ensconced inside the Common Prayer.

Sturt's Silver Penny

It is a remarkable piece of engraving, with the Lord’s Prayer in full within a circle with a diameter of 10mm. The engraving as a whole has a diameter of 50mm

Bibliotheca Woogiana Book Plate

woogianaA recent addition to the biblio-ephemera collection here at ZHQ is the bookplate of Karl Christian Moritz Woog (1684-1760), who was a German evangelical Minister who apparently devoted himself to scientific work, and more importantly for us, ‘collected a handsome library’ (Muller – General German Biography). The library, wonderfully named Bibliothecae Woogianae, was sold at auction in Dresden in 1755, and as you would expect was largely theological in content, though there were works on history, philosophy, economics and medicine – it can be viewed here

Our example is unfortunately slightly cropped, losing the name of the designer and engraver, there is a better image here which shows both names. The bookplate was designed by Wernerin (probably Anna Maria Werner) and engraved by C.F. Boetius. It is, unfairly in my view, described by Hardy as “perhaps the most gloomy book-plate that it ever entered into the mind of man to conceive. A skeleton sits upon a coffin, or a coffin-shaped tomb, holding in his right hand a pair of scales and in his left a scythe; in the lighter balance of the scales is a scroll, bearing the inscription; ‘Dan v.25, Mene Tekel;’ in the background we see monuments, Lombardy poplars or cypress trees, and a distant landscape. This uninviting picture is contained in a frame, inscribed, in a medallion above, ‘E. Bibliotheca Woogiana’, and below, Nominor a libra: liberatus ne levis unquam Inveniar, praesta pondere, Christe, tuo‘ – a motto in which the owner makes a play upon the derivation of his name from wage, the German for a weight or balance, and asks the bestowal of divine weight on the day of soul-weighing” (W.J. Hardy, Book-Plates, 1893, pages 95-96)

Book Selling Apprenticeship

Book Selling Apprenticeship Indenture

The above apprenticeship indenture was purchased recently to go into the biblio-ephemera collection here at ZHQ.

It is from February 1861 and apprentices William Gladwin, of 19 Arthur Street Derby, to Richard Keene of the Iron Gate, Derby, printer and bookseller, for a period of seven years to learn the art of printer, compositor and bookseller.

As usual it prohibits the apprentice from having any fun – “he shall not commit fornication nor contract matrimony within the said term. He shall not play at Cards or Dice Tables or any other unlawful Games … He shall not haunt Taverns or Playhouses nor absent himself from his said Masters service unlawfully”

Unfortunately there is no information on either master or apprentice on the BBTI, however Richard Keene is quite well known as an early photographer, particularly of Derbyshire (See Hannavy, Encyclopedia of Nineteenth-Century Photography, page 792)

Circulating Library Catalogue – Thurnam’s of Carlisle

thurnam1 thurnam2 thurnam3

An uncommon example of a circulating library catalogue – Thurnam’s of Carlisle 1827, Parts I-XIX, a total of nearly two thousand works, a decent sized circulating library if we compare this to the figures listed in Allan’s ‘A Nation of Readers’ (Table 4.1) – parts were added to the catalogue as new books became available; John Turton had a copy of Thurnam’s catalogue to part XXVI in a 2013 catalogue.

Thurnam’s ‘let out to read’ books at £1, 1s a year; 12s half a year, 7s a quarter, 4s a month, or by single volume at 1d each evening, though “the proprietor will sometimes be necessitated to charge a trifle additional for expensive works”.

The books are mainly fiction, which led to worries about the influence of circulating libraries, indeed the chapter on circulating libraries in Allan is titled ‘Inlets of Vice and Debauchery’, opening with a wonderful quote by Cooke, “how many young people, especially girls, often procure, and sometimes in a secret manner, books of so evil a tendency, that not only their time is most shamefully wasted, but their morals and manners tainted and warped for the remainder of their lives”.

For an excellent overview of book clubs, reading societies, subscription libraries, circulating libraries and early public libraries, see David Allan, A Nation of Readers – The Circulating Library in Georgian England (2008)

Circulating library advert


An attractive advert for the circulating library of Samuel Simms of Bath, here found as a wrapper covering a copy of Vox Stellarum for 1827. Simms offered all sorts of book related products and services as you can see from this wrapper, including bookbinding . Ramsden notes Samuel Simms at North Parade as early as 1801 (Ramsden – Bookbinders Outside London, page 149)

John Payne – Bookseller Label


A handsome mid-late eighteenth century booksellers label, John Payne ‘at the Feathers in Paternoster Row’. One of the larger examples (100mm x 70mm) in size, attractively engraved. The BBTI shows Payne as working between 1744-1787, at four different addresses all on Paternoster Row. He was at 15 Paternoster Row between 1752 and 1758, then at ‘Pope’s Head’, followed by the Feathers and finally at 54 Paternoster Row.

Raven, in his ‘The Business of Books’, notes that Payne, who was a friend of Dr. Johnson’s, moved to the Feathers in 1765 and moved to 54 Paternoster Row in ‘about’ 1767 – Confusingly there was another John Payne in Paternoster Row, the business partner of Joseph Johnson who later published Paine, Godwin and Wollstonecraft.