The London book trades 1775-1800: a topographical guide.
When this compilation was first produced in 1980 its somewhat unconventional microfiche format was felt to call for some explanation. The index had not been produced for publication but as a means of checking for inconsistencies within The London book trades 1775-1800: a preliminary checklist of members and, as it was typed out, a copy was deposited at the British Library in the hope that it might be of assistance in elucidating ambiguous imprints.
It became clear that other contributors to the ESTC might also find a topographical index of some assistance, and I was encouraged to distribute it more widely. It clearly had a limited market - I thought then about a dozen copies in all - and its 290 pages would have made publication in a form to match the Checklist unrealistic. Costings showed that publication in microfiche could make it possible to break even with a relatively few copies and additional sets could still be produced from the master fiches on demand at little extra cost. Over the years my experiment proved successful and instead of a dozen copies over 100 were sold, which led me to encourage other researchers who had amassed similar collections of material to use microfiche as a means of making the fruits of their labours more widely available. The arrival of the internet of course, adds a new dimension and it becomes an obvious medium for disseminating this type of information. The data is therefore being converted into a database and added to this web site as time permits.
February 2001 (revised from 1991and 1980)
This is an index to addresses in the London area recorded in The London book trades 1775-1800: a preliminary checklist of members. As firms were also checked on either side of this period it also provides a partial listing for dates before 1775 and after 1800. It does not normally include additions and corrections noted since publication, although inconsistencies within the published checklist itself that became apparent during the compilation of the index have been corrected. A corrected version of the Checklist is also being added to this web site.
The index includes certain ancillary trades such as paper stainers, paper hangers and pen and pencil makers which were included in the original typescript but deleted by the publisher. It also includes certain additional addresses for the period 1765-1775 where house numbers were recorded in trade directories.
Each street is identified by reference to a neighbouring street or square. Where no such identification is given it implies that no location was given in the source. In a few cases this may mean that residents in different streets of the same name are listed together. Streets not identified in the Plan of the cities of London and Westminster, the borough of Southwark, and parts adjoining by R.Horwood (1792-99) or the Appendix to Pigot & Co.'s commercial directory for London, &c. containing a list of the streets, lanes, passages & public buildings (1823) have a question mark added against them.
For suburbs outside the continuously built up area, some attempt has been made to cross-refer individual streets as well as listing those members of the book trades whose precise address within the locality is not known. Examples of this are afforded by Chelsea and Pentonville.
Under each street addresses where house numbers are known are listed first in numerical order followed by those for which no number is known, arranged alphabetically by name. Where the location within the street is identified, for example by shop sign or proximity to a named street or building, this is noted in parentheses at the end of the entry. Changes in street numbering are not accounted for. Apart from developing areas on the outskirts, these are generally few until continuous numbering was amended to the odd/even system in the later nineteenth century.
Dates in parentheses mean that, although no specific house number has been found for those dates, there is equally no evidence that the address differs from that specified for the dates without parentheses.
The desciption of the trade is simplified from that given in the Checklist, normally only the first trade mentioned or the main trade practised being noted in the address index. To obtain full use of this index it should therefore be used in conjunction with the Checklist.
As far as possible the use of abbreviations has been avoided. The exception is the letters after dates which refer to trade directories. This was also done in the Checklist because of the unreliability of many of the directories where updating was often poor and plagiarism not unknown. For example the New complete guide is frequently out of date and shows signs of copying from Kent's directory. The addenda from Holden's 1799 directory appears to be taken from the Post Office directory. The abbreviations for directories are as follows:
|A Andrews 1789-93||M Mortimer 1763|
|B Bailey 1781-90||N New complete guide 1763-83|
|B Boyle 1792-1840+||P Payne 1769, Pendred 1785,|
|C Complete guide 1740-65||P Post Office 1800-40+|
|H Holden 1799-1816||Pi Pigot 1822-40|
|I Intelligencer 1838||R Robson 1819-43|
|J Johnstone 1817||U Universal pocket companion 1741-60|
|K Kent 1736-1828||U Universal British 1790-99|
|L Lowndes 1772-99||U Underhill 1816-22|
Fuller details of the above can be found in C.W.F.Goss The London directories, 1677-1855 (London: Archer, 1932) or P.J.Atkins The directories of London, 1677-1977 (London: Mansell, 1990) except for John Pendred's The London and country printers, booksellers and stationers vade mecum, edited by Graham Pollard and published by the Bibliographical Society in 1955.
Since writing the following paragraphs the topographical study of the book trades (or the construction of bookscapes as it has been termed) has made a quantum leap in the Oxford project "Mapping the Print Culture of Eighteenth-Century London" directed by Dr James Raven, details of which can be found at http://members.tripod.co.uk/bookhistory/ . This project has so far concentrated on the Paternoster Row area and has produced much more detailed listings for this area than the present compilation. Nevertheless I have left these paragraphs as they stood, simply to indicate the developments that have taken place since the 1980s.
With the completion of the ESTC and the clarification of many difficult eighteenth century imprints one major use of this index will considerably diminish. Another use will however remain - it can serve as a map of the social, economic and intellectual significance of the book trades in the metropolis.
Professor W.B.Todd in his introduction to A directory of printers and others in allied trades in London and vicinity 1800-1840 (London: Printing Historical Society, 1972) says (p. xx) "A geographical index ... would only show - at great waste of type - that a large majority of printers maintained only one office and were otherwise unconnected with others of the trade". Nevertheless he does connect printers occupying the same premises by means of cross-references and an appendix.
Michael Twyman in "A directory of London lithographic printers 1800-1850" in the Journal of the Printing Historical Society, 10 (1974-5) pp. 1-55 includes a series of maps to chart the changing geographical distribution of the trade and draws a number of conclusions that radically alter our view of early lithography. The concentration in the City of London, which was at least equal to that in the West End from the 1820s, implies that jobbing work for banks, insurance offices and other financial and commercial institutions was at least as important as the art market with which the medium is normally associated.
Perhaps there are not such radical conclusions to be drawn in other areas of the book trades, but the location of printers, binders, booksellers, stationers, engravers or printsellers within areas of differing social or economic status can shed considerable light on the structure of the various branches of the books trades and their relationships both to each other and to society at large. Of course more raw materials are necessary for such a study than those contained in the present index, and the range of questions to be addressed is very wide: What other tradesmen were jostling the book and printsellers for the limited frontage available along the fashionable West End streets and squares? Were there more snuff shops than book shops in Pall Mall? Given a smilar concentration of premises in different areas, such as St. Paul's and the West End, what distinction can be drawn between the sizes and types of business in each area? Why is there no concentration of the book trades to compare for example with the watch trades in Clerkenwell? What changes in geographical distribution have there been over the centuries and what were their causes?
In some cases the answers arrived at may do little more than quantify something that has already been long suspected, but in other instances a topographical approach can add a new perspective to an industry which, while it shares many features with other manufacturing and distributive trades, by the nature of its product bears on the entire intellectual life of the society it serves. With such a vast canvas it is only possible to present in map form a few examples and indicate some features of interest which may stimulate further research.
The following maps all show the distribution of the book trades in 1800 and are based on R.Horwood's Plan of the cities of London and Westminster, the borough of Southwark and lands adjoining (1792-99). The scale of the original is 26 inches to the mile but the images on the web are not all to the same scale. Letters enclosed by a line indicate a precise location according to Horwood's numbering, those without an enclosing line indicate an approximate location only. Horwood does not number all streets in his first edition, nor are the street numbers of firms always known. Street numbering was only introduced by act of Parliament in 1765 but, like postcodes today, its use was not universal in the decades immediately after its introduction.
Abbreviations are as follows:
|B Bookseller, publisher||P Printer|
|Bb Bookbinder, vellum binder||Pb Pocket book maker|
|C Copperplate printer||Pc Playing card maker|
|E Engraver||Ph Paper stainer or hanger|
|L Law stationer or bookseller||Ps Printseller|
|M Music seller or printer||S Stationer, quill dealer|
|Mp Mapseller||W Wholesale stationer|
The centre of the wholesale book trade in the late eighteenth century, and indeed until the Blitz devastated virtually the whole of the area to the north of St. Paul's Cathedral, was firmly established in the Paternoster Row area as shown in map 1 overleaf. Only two London streets could boast a greater number of book trade members, the Strand and Fleet Street, which were respectively six and three times as long as the Row. Todd lists 40 printers in Paternoster Row, compared with 82 in the Strand and 81 in Fleet Street. The 87 premises on this map, most of them crammed into an area of less than ten acres, represent perhaps five per cent of all book trade firms in London. The 40 booksellers represent about one in eight of all booksellers in the metropolis and include some of the largest wholesale booksellers and publishers of the day, such as the Rivingtons, Longmans and Robinsons. Even within this small area the distribution of trades is clearly structured. Of the 40 booksellers all but seven are located in the major thoroughfares of Paternoster Row, Ave Maria Lane and St. Paul's Churchyard. Of the 16 bookbinders all but two are located in minor alleyways. The 13 printers are divided more evenly between the main streets and the minor alleys and courts. The Oxford mapping project mentioned above has added much detail to this analysis and shown just what a crowded and vibrant area this was.
The area of Fleet Street shown in map 2 presents a different structure. Fleet Street was not then synonymous with newspaper publication. Of 24 London newspapers published in 1790 only five appeared in Fleet Street compared with seven in the Strand and eight in the Paternoster Row area. It is the Inns of Court that dominate the west end of Fleet Street. Of the 86 firms located on this map 21 are law stationers or booksellers, a good half of the 41 listed by Holden for the whole of London in 1802. This probably colours the nature of the work undertaken by many of the 21 printers. Significantly the King's Printers had premises near Gough Square, just to the east of the area covered by the map. The seven engravers and copperplate printers, concentrated in the Fetter Lane area, probably also engaged largely in legal work, a market later to be poached from them to some extent by the lithographic printers.
A couple of hundred yards to the south of St. Paul's the Upper Thames Street area presents an emptier aspect. This however obscures the vital function of the few firms in this area. The 14 wholesale stationers on the map are equivalent to one third of the wholesale stationers and rag merchants listed in Holden's 1802 directory for the whole of London. They played an essential role in supplying the paper used by the 1500 book trade firms in London at that date as well as being the centre of an extensive distributive network to the provinces. Their location by the Thames reflects the importance of the river as a trade route. A.H.Shorter in Paper mills in England 1495-1800 shows that in the late eighteenth century, apart from the concentration of paper mills in the Buckinghamshire/Hertfordshire area, Kent was the county with the largest number of paper manufacturers. The easiest way for the products of many of these firms to reach London was by water and this also applied inevitably to all imported paper.
The area around St. James's Square (map 4) was formally laid out in the later seventeenth century and by 1800 was part of the heartland of the West End. For the first time in the examples offered here booksellers form the majority of firms on the map, with 20 out of a total of 36, including many of the most fashionable establishments, such as James Edwards and George Nicol of Pall Mall and Hatchard, Stockdale and Debrett in Piccadilly, all three described as "fashionable lounging places in The picture of London (1802). While the Whigs lounged at Debrett's, the Tories lounged at his rival Stockdale's two doors away. Almost directly opposite, S.W.Fores indulged political appetites at his Caracature Warehouse, lending out portfolios for the evening, while in Pall Mall the Boydells were commissioning a series of finely illustrated works from their Shakspeare Gallery. A total of eight printsellers and engravers are found in this area, but there is a complete absence of letterpess printers.
The last example is of an area still being developed in the late eighteenth century. Fitzroy Square began to be laid out in 1790, and already some book trade members begin to appear in the newly built terraces. Six of these are engravers, including Thomas and William Daniells, newly returned from India, and there is also one copperplate printer. The two paper stainers must have made a more than adequate living providing paper hangings for the new houses in the area.
This brief glance covers less than one sixth of the book trade firms active in London in 1800. A more comprehensive analysis of all periods will have to await a fully revised directory of the book trades from 1476 to 1800 or beyond. Since I first wrote this in 1980 the challenge has been taken up by the British Book Trade Index project enthusiastically led by the late Professor Peter Isaac at Newcastle upon Tyne and taken up since his death in 2002 by the University of Birmingham. Since my 1990 revision the Oxford mapping project has made intensive use of land tax assesments and other property records to take the study of the London book trades to new levels of detail.
This page last updated 31 Jan 2007
© Ian Maxted, 2004.