Matthew Payne, Keeper of the Muniments at Westminster Abbey and on the Library and Archives Committee of the Stationers' Company, writes that members of the Company may be interested to hear of the launch of an important new online reference work for book history.
The British Armorial Bindings Database, begun by the late John Morris and continued by Philip Oldfield of the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library at the University of Toronto, is now available on the web by clicking here. It is the result of nearly half a century of scholarly work. The database has been created and hosted at the University of Toronto and is made available as a free public resource through the sponsorship of the Bibliographical Society.
This catalogue attempts to record all known British armorial bookbinding stamps used by personal owners to mark and decorate their books. It reproduces over 3,300 stamps used between the sixteenth and twentieth centuries, associated with nearly two thousand individual owners. The database is still a work in progress, with more information due to be added over the coming years.
Intended primarily as a tool to facilitate the identification of heraldic stamps, the database may be searched from many angles. Stamps may be searched by heraldic devices, such as arms, crest, mottoes etc. Owners can be found under their family name, their titular name, rank in the peerage, and by gender. The 12,000 odd books which provide the sources for the stamps, from libraries around the world, may be sorted by author and title, and individual libraries can be searched for their holdings of armorial bindings. The database will be useful to rare book librarians, book historians, book dealers and collectors, students of heraldry, genealogists, and anyone with an interest in questions of provenance and the identification of coats of arms. The image above is of the Stationers' Company stamp.