1 FEBRUARY 2023
On the 30th January, I was delighted to accept an invitation to a Scholars’ Lunch at West Dean College, an annual event where the College invites bursary-givers to come and see the work they’re funding. Over the years, the Stationers’ Foundation has bestowed Major Awards and Francis Mathew Scholarships to several conservation students at West Dean. I was eager to meet the current award holder, Ana Perez, and learn more about the training provided.
Knowing relatively little about West Dean College before I arrived, I was unprepared for just how stunning the campus is. A Gothic Revival mansion nestling in a vast estate on the South Downs, West Dean House provides an idyllic retreat where students can devote themselves to mastering their craft. And the students I met were certainly embracing the opportunity to do just that. West Dean offers specialisms in various fields of conservation, including ceramics, furniture and clock-making. Small class numbers and a secluded live-in campus encourage students from different disciplines to share their knowledge, and allows them to form vital professional connections.
Naturally, I spent most time with Ana Perez, winner of a Stationers’ Foundation Major Award to support her on the 2022/2023 MA Conservation Studies (Books & Library Materials). After lunch, Ana took me to see the facilities available to book conservation students. Purpose-built workshops and a fully equipped bindery offer students a thorough grounding in the techniques they’ll need in their future professions. They first train on material donated from clear-outs of old businesses and collections, and with more experience they move on to commissioned work. This hands-on approach is an important element of West Dean College’s programmes.
Ana then showed me her studio space and some of the projects she’s working on. As a Masters’ student, she has been learning advanced techniques such as strengthening and repairing bindings, and creating conservation-grade bindings to replace lost originals where text blocks have become detached. Visiting expert tutors also instruct the students on binding techniques from different periods and traditions for their historic model project: by learning how these bindings are constructed, students acquire the expertise to recognise and address conservation needs. Ana clearly loves the creativity of this work, and is particularly proud of an example of Coptic binding she recently completed. On her desk lay the Gothic binding she’s working on now – she plans to take it with her to complete while on her imminent work placement (six weeks at Cambridge University Library).
Talking to Ana and her fellow conservation students, I was inspired by the enthusiasm of this budding new generation of conservators. West Dean College is providing them with a first-class preparation for the work ahead, and the Stationers can feel proud of supporting this work.
18 JANUARY 2023
This week the Archive welcomed a seventeenth-century prayer book back from the National Conservation Service’s studio in Dalston CLR James Library. Here we take a look at the conservation work carried out, and share some pages from this exquisite volume.
7 NOVEMBER 2022
A fascinating new deposit has been added to the Stationers’ Company Archive, courtesy of Emeritus Past Master Patrick Shorten and late Past Master Sir Ray Tindle. It’s a collection of eight issues of the London Cry, an unofficial newsletter published in April 1955, when strike action halted the Fleet Street presses.
4 AUGUST 2022
This 4th August 2022 marks 250 years since the apprenticeship of William Blake to Stationer and engraver James Basire. Although Blake chose not to take up the Freedom of the Stationers’ Company himself, this apprenticeship was one of the most significant periods of his life.
23 MAY 2022
In partnership with the University of Newcastle, the Stationers' Company Archive is delighted to announce the programme for our first conference in our newly re-opened Hall.
*Please note that the programme has been revised, 19/07/2022. This is to accommodate an earlier finish for attendees affected by train strikes on Saturday 30th July .
3 MAY 2022
James Raven (Cambridge), ‘Monsters, Myths and Methods: Writing a Global Book Biography of Erik Pontoppidan’s Det første Forsøg paa Norges naturlige Historie (1752-3) [ The Natural History of Norway (1755)]’
25 JANUARY 2022
To mark Burns night, we look at the story of Burns’s first publication in London by Stationer Thomas Cadell (1742–1802).
6 JANUARY 2022
After the turmoil of the last couple of years, you may be wary of making travel plans for next summer. But you can still expand your horizons, with these exciting summer schools run by the University of London's Insitute of English Studies.
6 JANUARY 2022
We're excited to announce that the Stationers' Company Archive is partnering with the Universities of Durham and Newcastle to offer a fully funded research opportunity into early modern apprentices in the print trades. Our project, The Importance of Youth in the Early Modern Economy: Apprentices and their peer-networks, 1605-1800, has been approved for Collaborative Doctoral Award funding by the AHRC’s Northern Bridge Consortium.
4 AUGUST 2021
This day in the archive: 4th August
On the 4th of August, 1772, William Blake was bound as an apprentice to the engraver James Basire. Blake, of course, went on to become one of the most important visionary artists and poets in England. Basire's story is less well-known, but as a Stationer, a leading engraver of his day, and a significant early influence on Blake, it's worth telling here.
26 JULY 2021
This day in the archive: 26th July
On 26th July 1678, an unusual entry was recorded in the Stationers' Register. It's the wording of an affidavit form, to be completed by two witnesses who 'doe severally certifie and make oath that the corps of the person of ... late of the parish of ... was not put in, wrapt or wound up or buried in any shirt, shift or shroude made or mingled with flax, hemp, silke, haire, gold or silver, or other then what is made of sheepe's woll onely.' The affidavit goes on to specify that the coffin must also be lined in wool.
5 JULY 2021
This day in the archive: 5 July
Luke Hansard, printer to the House of Commons, was born on the 5th July 1752. An exceptionally successful printer who established a thriving family business, he joined the Stationers' Company as a Liveryman in 1799. He endowed two charitable bequests, one for 'needy printers over the age of 65', the other for a 'neatly bound Church of England prayer book' to be given to every youth bound at the hall. He also ensured that all three of his sons were apprenticed through the Company. Two generations later, his grandson, Thomas Curson Hansard II served as Master to the Stationers' Company in 1886. It was Thomas who presented the Company with Samuel Lane's portrait of Luke, which now hangs in the Court Room of Stationers' Hall.