Stationers' archive opens up history of print and publishing

14 Nov 2017
Topics: Stationers, history of print, copyright

The old and the new: Stationers' Company copy lists and online reference in the new reading room


As part of its strategy to improve access and support education, The Stationers Company is opening its archives to the public in a new purpose-built renovation to part of its historic City of London site.

The Company's archives, which date back to the early sixteenth century, comprise an invaluable trove of authentic source materials which document the pivotal role played by printers and publishers, the development of copyright of and the visual communications industry across six centuries.

Stationers' Company archivist Ruth Frendo said, 'The Stationers' Archive is already known as a key resource to historians of the book trade. However, it also holds a wealth of records whose potential is yet to be explored.'

Collectively named the Tokefield Centre in honour of the liveryman who rescued the copy lists from the original Stationers' Hall in the Great Fire of London in 1666, the physical archive facility comprises a sustainable temperature- and humidity-controlled store room and a reading room. In addition to the copy books, which list everything from Shakespeare first folios to toothpaste carton designs from the 1940s, the site will store charters, almanacs, maps and paintings.

This is complemented by an online digital resource, which provides access to scanned versions of the historic documents 'to balance access with conservation'. The physical archives are currently stored offsite while the new building reaches the desired humidity level. The Company hopes to move the materials into their new home towards the end of 2017.

William Alden, clerk to the Company said, 'Widening access to Stationers' Hall for educational purposes is a critical objective of the Company. The opening of the Tokefield Centre marks the completion of the first phase of a broader Hall development programme, which we hope to complete by 2023, the 350th anniversary of the building of the Hall.'

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