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.