Liveryman David Pearson writes that there is a longstanding informal association between the Company and the Bibliographical Society, the country’s leading learned society for encouraging study and publication around the history of the book.
The Society, based in London but with an international membership of around 900 people and institutions, was founded in 1892 and holds a regular programme of meetings and lectures, gives grants for bibliographical research, and publishes monographs and databases as well as a quarterly journal, The Library.
The Company’s history is of obvious interest to anyone pursuing research into the story of printing, publishing, bookselling or bookbinding and its hugely important archive has been explored many times over the years by Society members. The Society has published a number of books transcribing or drawing extensively on Company records, including the still-valued biographical dictionaries of printers and publishers compiled by H. R. Plomer and others in the early twentieth century, and volumes of Records of the Court of the Stationers Company (1930, 1957) and The Loan Book of the Stationers’ Company (1989).
Numerous liverymen over the years have been members of the Society, including several Society Past Presidents (most notably the Society’s first lady President, Robin Myers). Society members whose memories go back some years have happy recollections of its centenary dinner in 1992, which was held in the Hall. Peter Blayney’s splendid new book on the history of the Company in the sixteenth century, published by Cambridge University Press, is the latest example of the connection as his work was partly supported by a Bibliographical Society grant.
The Company rightly focuses a lot of its energy on forward-looking matters around the future of our various industries, and educating for tomorrow, but its history is another of its strengths as part of the fabric of national heritage, and its archive is one of the most important of all the livery companies. Any Company members wishing to explore more of its glorious past may find the Society’s activities of interest too – they are all listed on its website, http://www.bibsoc.org.uk/, and any Stationer would be very welcome at a Society lecture or, indeed, as a new Society member.