Reference > Cambridge History > Prose and Poetry: Sir Thomas North to Michael Drayton > The Book-Trade, 1557–1625 > Early Catalogues
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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume IV. Prose and Poetry: Sir Thomas North to Michael Drayton.

XVIII. The Book-Trade, 1557–1625.

§ 26. Early Catalogues.


The important place which this fair held, even in the English book trade, is indicated by the agreement concluded between the Stationers’ company and the university of Cambridge in 1591, that the Cambridge printers should, “for the space of one month after the return of every Frankfort mart,” have the choice of printing any foreign books coming thence. Not many of the books printed in England were likely to find a sale on the continent, but several English booksellers either attended the mart or were represented there. Early in the seventeenth century. Henry Fetherstone, the stationer at the Rose in St. Paul’s Churchyard, harvested still further afield, and his results are to be seen in the catalogue of books bought in Italy which he issued in 1628. Perhaps the most notable of the regular English visitors to the fair at this time was John Bill, the leading London stationer, who numbered among his distinguished clients king James and Sir Thomas Bodley. His business there and at other continental centres must have been fairly extensive, for, in 1617, he thought it worth while to begin the issue of a London edition of the half-yearly Frankfort Mess-Katalog, which he continued for about eleven years, and to which, from 1622 to 1626, was added a supplement of Books printed in English. This supplement was not the first attempt at a catalogue of English books. The credit for that enterprise is due to Andrew Maunsell, who, induced, one must believe, by a love of books, deserted the calling of a draper to become a bookseller and the earliest English bibliographer. He had already published a number of books before he brought out, in 1595, the first part of his Catalogue of English Printed Bookes, which comprised works on divinity. In the same year, he printed the second part of the catalogue, which deals with the writers on arithmetic, music, navigation, war, and physic, and contains some 320 titles. The completion of the last part was prevented by failing health, followed by his death in 1596. This third and last part was, said Maunsell, to be “of Humanity, wherein I shall have occasion to shew, what wee have in our owne tongue, of Gramer, Logick, Rethoricke, Lawe, Historie, Poetrie, Policie, &c. which will for the most part concerne matters of Delight and Pleasure.” Maunsells’s attempt to record the output of the English press found no successor till the appearance of John Bill’s supplement in 1622; but from this time onwards several other lists were published which fairly well bridge the period to the beginning of the quarterly Term Catalogues in 1668.   55

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