World Book Trade Historical Register. After a spate of work on the Devon bibliography attention has returned to what is certainly an over-ambitious and ill-considered project. It is being prepared in connection with a study day at the Bibliothèque nationale in Paris on 23 October 2015 which, held to support a major project to produce a database and published work listing French publishers of the 19th century. I hesitate to make this available as so much of it is perfunctory or erroneous but it helps to tidy up scrappy notes gathered over many years and will helpfully provide a basis for others to build on. I hope to start loading up pages in September.
Wiki site. It is becoming increasingly evident that I will never get round to editing and maintaining all the pages on this website and I would welcome any corrections and amendments. An easy way to do this is by copying the source code for the text of a record or even a whole page into a text file, editing it and sending it as an attachment for incorporation into the website. It is not too daunting as the records themselves have only minimal coding. It would be helpful if amended records were marked with an asterisk. Contributions will be credited and gratefully received. On many occasions researchers contact me with additional information and it is not always possible to add this immediately.
Devon bibliography. June was spent in preparing a large number of pages for a new blog on Devon bibliographywhich was launched this month followed by a seminar in Exeter Central Library on 28 July. For more information on this see the Devon Bibliography website.
Progress. Work so far this year has not resulted in a large number of new pages. There has been much updating of the registers of Devon imprints into the later 19th century. These are arranged by town, then alphabetically by printer or publisher and then by date. There has also been a considerable mount of work on biographies of book trade members in Lower Normandy, especially for the 19th century. Not reflected in new pages is work on the book trades in other parts of the world – a consolidation of work undertaken over a period of many years. More on this to follow soon, I hope.
Imprint registers. Work has been under way to extend the coverage of imprint registers further into the nineteenth century. These continue the chronological lists of Devon imprints and provide imprint listings arranged by place and printer or publisher, in parallel with the biographical listings. At present these only cover Basse Normandie for the 18th century and Devon from the start of printing to 1819, with listings for some places and publishers extending to 1850 and even into the 21st century. See for example Honiton and Sidmouth. I am also experimenting with linking direct to imprint listings in major union catalogues – with mixed success.
Anti-book trade index. This was added following the Charlie Hebdo events in Paris. It was the latest in a long series of events which set out to stifle free expression and, much as I regretted that the protests should arise from such a tasteless and offensive publication, I felt impelled to chart the black side of the book trade.
Future plans. One new year's resolution is to make this website into a wiki site, so that people can add information on their own localities - and correct my many errors and omissions. I also hope to extend my coverage to other parts of the world, and selectively to the manuscript period. I have also started to separate the paper trades from the book trades, and will not be actively gathering information on these in the future.
Election ephemera. In this election year I have been asked to write an article on Devon election ephemera in the long nineteenth century - whenever precisely that may be. I have started to gather together listings of Devon election ephemera, starting with a volume of Honiton items, held in the Devon Heritage Centre. Images are provided for most of the items in the volume and more are to follow as the year progresses. I will also be incuding the burlesque collection held in Ide, an inoffensive village close to Exeter, where the mob descended after elections to poke fun at the main event and also at a range of local characters. The cut and thrust of elections in the 18th and 19th centuries make the present-day ones seem very dull affairs.
Watermarks in Devon ephemera. In September I presented a paper on this topic at the Exeter conference of the British Association of Paper Historians and in preparation gathered together images of watermarks covering the period 1750 to 1820.
Sources for French book trade history. In March I held a seminar on sources for book trade history in Paris and have put a version of the presentation on the website. The seminar was chaired by Jean-Dominique Mellot of the Bibliotheque National, who has since volunteered to edit my biographical dictionary of the book trades in Lower Normandy for publication. I am delighted at this, as he has considerable expertise on the book trade personnel of Upper Normandy, especially Rouen.
Devon imprint registers. This is a development of my chronological listing of books with Devon imprints wich extends to 1800. This stage continues the listing into the nineteenth century and is arranged not by year but by publisher. I have put an introduction and key on the website. I have so far struggled through to about 1830, with some localities, such as Honiton, coming into the 21st century.
Bayeux cathedral library. La bibliothèque du chapitre de Bayeux: colloque de Bayeux, 7-8 novembre 2013. I presented a paper at this conference in Bayeux held on the occasion of the re-opening of the important historical library after several years of preparation. I have put an account of the conference on this website and have also updated the list of books printed in Bayeux. A listing of book trade personnel and the texts represented in the Rochechouart collection of documents discussed in the paper has also been added.
Devon bibliography. The Westcountry Studies Library in Exeter is no more. As part of a restructuring it has been transferred to the Devon Record Office, now rebadged the Devon Heritage Centre. Unfortunately no staff has been designated as library assistant, the only member of staff to transfer having become an archive assistant. As a result the work of documenting Devon's written heritage has collapsed and I have felt impelled to revive the Devon bibliography for 2012 and 2013 so that some attempt has been made to record what has been produced, even if it can no longer be consulted in the Westcountry Studies collection or its on-line database. More background to this sorry state of affairs is given in the web pages.
Travel, topography and the book trade. I attended the conference on this theme in the Print Networks series held in Chichester 23-25 July 2013 where I presented a paper entitled: The changing view of Devon through topographical prints. This is based on a statistical analysis of the 4,500 items which formed the subject of the Etched on Devon's memory digitisation project undertaken by the Westcountry Studies Library.
Project 1781 has finally made its way onto this website. It has grown from my work on the French book trades and aims to develop listings of book trade personnel on an international basis to chart the spread of printing and the book trade and to facilitate comparative studies in this area. The date 1781 derives from the publication of Antoine Perrin's Almanach de la librairie in that year. The first listings are detailed below. The entries use a format which I have developed to build the simple platform-free database structure for book trade personnel.
Data format. This website has grown like Topsy since the 1970s and I have been thinking for some time of devising a data structure which is a platform free text file that can work across web pages and databases. My ideas on the data format are presented here and have already been used successfully on a number of web pages.
The Book, Romania, Europe. I recently attended the fifth International Symposium in this series, which was held in Mamaia from 24 to 26 September. I delivered a paper and attended lectures in section 1: Des livres pour tous. A report on the presentations attended has been placed on the website.
Exe Libris. Libraries in Exeter contain a wealth of cultural artefacts, many of which were highlighted in a pre-millennium exhibition From script to print to hypertext, held in the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in 1999. To build on this interest I have started a series of occasional articles Exe-libris, based in part on presentations made to a book club which meets in Exeter Central Library.
William Sancho, black bookseller. A recent enquiry from Dublin has led me to gather information on this interesting figure, the son of the better known Ignatius Sancho (1729-1780) who rates an entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. The updated entry can be seen at London 1775-1800: S. Although he is now known not to be active until after 1800 I have retained his entry in this section of the database.
Printers of popular literature. I have started to contribute entries to the database being compiled by Steve Roud for the English Folk Dance and Song Society. The timescale is from the sixteenth to the end of the nineteenth centuries, so it will go beyond my normal closure date of the 1850s for the provinces and 1800 for London. The index, which is in its early stages but already has more than 400 entries can be accessed on the website of the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library.
Sabine Baring-Gould Library. I have been working on a database of some 6,000 records which gathers together surviving items in the library of this polymath Devon squarson. As it is based on a series of brief listings of items in several locations I am reluctant to make it more generally available at present. In parallel with this I am attempting to list the several thousand broadsheets which were once owned by Baring-Gould but are now dispersed in a number of collections, most notably the British Library, which hold twelve volumes of them. I have put together an introduction at Baring-Gould Library on this website.
This page last updated 18 August 2015