Professor Nicholas Pickwoad started his presentation with his discovery of a two volume Histoire by Jean LeClerc, printed in Amsterdam in 1723, which contained neither boards nor covers. His first guess was that certain book blocks were withdrawn unfinished from a binder’s workshop; however, regarding this collection’s history, he became convinced that these two volumes were part of long-established practice which books were prepared for sale by being sold in a condition ready for ‘conventional binding’, sometimes with or without boards attached but always without covers.
The second instalment in this term’s series of seminars was given by Dr Bill Bell, Professor of Bibliography at the University of Cardiff and founder of the CHB. His talk centred on the John Murray Archive, which houses a rich repository of materials relating to the celebrated publisher. Founded in 1768, the Murray publishing house was run by seven generations of publishers, all named John Murray, until 2002 when John Murray VII announced a voluntary takeover by Hodder Headline. Professor Bell has a comprehensive study forthcoming on John Murray, Travels into Print: Exploration, Writing, and Publishing with John Murray, 1773-1859; in this seminar, he focused specifically on paratexts in books published under the proprietorship of John Murray I, John Murray II and John Murray III.