Ruth Frendo, Stationers' Archivist, writes:
For the exhibition accompanying our very successful 2017 Archive Evening, we were loaned some fascinating items from Cambridge University Library. These included a first edition of Robert Hooke’s
seminal Micrographia. With its beautiful illustrations of microscropic research, what Micrographia presented to an English reading public was, quite literally, a new way of seeing the world. I was interested to learn from our speakers that, although Latin was still the main language of learned discourse across Europe, publication in English was a deliberate policy of the Royal Society, to encourage circulation among an educated, but not necessarily professional, audience – whose financial support for the Society was also essential.
From our own collections, we displayed a Charter of Incorporation (TSC/1/A/01/01/05), issued to
the Stationers’ Company by Charles II in 1684. The Charter’s story offers an intriguing insight into the political issues of its time: Charles II was keen to reinforce his authority in the City of London, and so, in 1684, he ordered a surrender of the Charters of the City and the Livery Companies. He then proceeded to reissue them – in terms which favoured his supporters.
One item we were delighted to exhibit was our newly restored Liber A (TSC/1/A/05), a memorandum book of records relating to the governance and administration of the Stationers' Company. These include precepts of the Lord Mayor of London, Orders of the House of Lords and the House of Commons, and Orders of the Star Chamber, as well as documents internal to the Company. Again, it is an extraordinary document of the wider concerns of its time: our cataloguer Kate Higgins’s favourite entry is a bill of adventure for the Company's excursion into Virginia, 10 May 1609, with a list
of contributors to the grand donation of £125. Liber A suffered from over-enthusiastic repairs in the 1960s, and over time the resulting chemical reactions were causing the pages of the book to stick together. Thanks to the work of the conservation team at NCS, two of whose paper conservators, Lucy Gosnay and Maddy Marshall, joined us for the evening, the book has been rescued and repaired, and is once more available for present and future researchers.
The Stationers’ Company records are now available on ROLLCO, a site providing records of Apprentices and Freemen in the City of London Livery Companies between 1400 and 1900. You can visit the site here: www.londonroll.org.
Robert Hooke - the man who measured London after the Great Fire of 1666 and claimed Newton stole his ideas about gravity - also observed the world through lenses and in his Micrographia of 1665 illustrated in the minutest detail the smallest things. Come and see his great book at the Archive Evening event 'Printing and the Mind: Seventeenth-Century Transformations' on Monday 24 April 2017.
Richard Bentley - the greatest classical scholar of his times and one of the most disputatious and vexatious of academics, constantly in litigation against his colleagues, but also the invigorator and re-organiser of printing in Cambridge who set the University on course to be a great academic publisher. Book now to see his work at the Archive Evening event 'Printing and the Mind: Seventeenth-Century Transformations' on Monday 24 April 2017.
Isaac Newton, whose Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica remained unchallenged as a way of studying the physical world until Einstein introduced the theory of relativity in the twentieth century. First published under the auspices of the Royal Society in 1687, a much revised second edition came out from the Cambridge press. Come and see an image of Newton’s own revisions shown alongside the same page in the handsome Cambridge book of 1713. Book now to see his work at the Archive Evening event 'Printing and the Mind: Seventeenth-Century Transformations' on Monday 24 April 2017.
Liber A is undergoing restoration and has been digitised. A previous restoration involving coating the pages has had to be removed as the coating had deteriorated through time.
The Bibliographical Society is intending to publish Liber A later this year.
This project aims to make available the records of membership of different Livery Companies. The Stationers’ Company records make available, in remarkable detail, the sustained and significant membership activity of the Company.
A development site will be available from the end of June for the Company to view and approve before being general release. Watch out for an announcement showing that the Stationers' Company records have gone live and meanwhile enjoy the information available so far on www.londonroll.org.
Gordon Johnson has stepped up to organise the 2017 Archive Evening and his title will be ‘The Enlightenment’ – a very challenging one.
Gordon is an historian who has written on India and Cambridge and amongst many other posts has Chaired the Cambridge University Press from 1993- 2009. He is currently the President of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain.
Margaret Willes, who has organised four Archive Evenings, excelled herself with this year's evening which had a waiting list and 202 attendees.
Our thanks go to the Guildhall Library for the loan of material which combined with the Stationers’ Company items made a fascinating exhibition.
The lecture started with a light-hearted look at who was William Shakespeare, using portraits to compare the different images given by Peter Ross, Principal Librarian of the Guildhall Library.
Abigail Riokison-Woodall followed with a fascinating look at Shakespeare’s work both as an actress and an academician.
The evening was co-chaired by Margaret Willes and Professor Brian Cummings.
We need to give our special thanks to Margaret who is now standing down as organiser of the Archive Evenings.
Photos from the evening can be viewed here.
Here's a taster of what might be learnt at the archive event on Monday, 25 April 2016, click here to book!
Playbill of Every Man in His Humour, 1848
Charles Dickens played a major role in the purchase for the nation of Shakespeare’s Birthplace in Stratford upon Avon in 1847, and continued to raise funds so that a perpetual curatorship could be established. On May 17 1848, in aid of the Fund for the Endowment of a Perpetual Curatorship of Shakespeare’s House, the novelist stage managed an amateur production of Ben Johnson’s Every Man in his Humour at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket, with himself as Captain Bobadil, joined by his friends, including George Cruikshank, the illustrator, and Mark Lemon, editor of Punch, in the role of Brainworm.
Records of the Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers