Records of the Stationers' Company

Scope and Content

The Company's historic records date from 1554 to the present day. Consulted by scholars since the mid-eighteenth century, they are a key archival source for the history of the English book trade and the development of copyright; the evolution of London livery companies and corporate London; and the social history of the city. Records held in the Stationers' Company Archive include:

  • Stationers' Company Registers or Entry Book of Copies 1554-1842. (Copyright records for the period 1842-1924 are deposited at the National Archives. Further information about them is available at http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk
  • Court Books, 1602 to the present day
  • Membership records, 1555 to the present day
  • Legal and official records, from 1557
  • Records relating to bequests, charities and pensions, 1593 to 1929
  • Records relating to property owned by the Company from 1674
  • English Stock records 1603-1961
  • Financial records, from 1605
  • A small collection of family papers belonging to former members of the Company, such as the Tottell papers (1448-1714) and the Baskett papers (1740s-1840s)
  • Miscellaneous ephemera which includes invitation cards, programmes, etc

Administrative / Biographical History

The Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers, or Stationers' Company, is a City of London livery company numbered 47 in precedence. It is the City livery company for the communications and content industries, and its principal purpose is to act as an independent forum enabling its members to advance the strategic, educational and charitable interests of the Company's 'trades of the guild' - the industry sectors associated with the Company. The Stationers' Company has existed in one form or another since the 14th century, but it was in 1403 that the Mayor and Aldermen of the City of London approved the formation of a Guild of Stationers, the members of which were text writers and illuminators of manuscript books, booksellers, bookbinders and suppliers of parchment, pens and paper. With the introduction of printing into England in 1476 printers began to join the Guild, which consequently increased in importance and received a Royal Charter of incorporation in 1557. In 1559 it was granted the right to have a livery.

Arrangement

The Stationers' Company records have been arranged into 7 sections in accordance with the arrangement set out in the Guildhall Library's book City of London Livery Companies and Related Organisations: A Guide to their Archives in Guildhall Library (City of London, 2010). These are:

  • TSC/1/A: Constitutional records
  • TSC/1/B: Governance records
  • TSC/1/C: Membership records
  • TSC/1/D: Financial records
  • TSC/1/E: Trade records
  • TSC/1/F: General administrative and other records
  • TSC/1/G: Charities and property records

The Archive was previously arranged by Honorary Archivist Robin Myers, and her arrangement and descriptions have been published in The Stationers' Company Archive: An Account of the Records, 1554-1984 (Robin Myers, Winchester: St Paul's Bibliographies, 1990). The reference numbers used in that book have been retained as alternative reference numbers in the current catalogue.

Conditions Governing Access

Open for consultation : The reading room is open on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Access is by appointment, and ID will be required on your first visit. Please check our website for full access conditions, and contact the archivist with any queries, or to book an appointment.

Other Finding Aids

The Stationers' Company Archive: An Account of the Records, 1554-1984 by Robin Myers (Winchester: St Paul's Bibliographies, 1990) provides a useful introduction and guide to the collections.

Alternative Form Available

Microfilm copies of most records to 1920 are on 'Records of the Stationers' Company 1554-1920: 115 Reels of Microfilm with Printed Guide', published by Chadwyck-Healy Ltd (1989).

The majority of Company records 1554-1984 were digitised by Adam Matthew and published in 2017 as the digital resource Literary Print Culture . Full details of the scope of that resource can be found on the 'Nature and Scope' section of the site.

Separated Material

The Stationers' Company Registers (Entry Books of Copies) for the period 1842-1924 are held at the National Archives .