Sunday, 17 April 2016

32 Saffron Hill EC1

L.&.Co were Longmans, the publishers of dictionaries and other good works - the founder, Thomas Longman, inherited a share in Ephraim Chambers' Cyclopaedia and was one of the booksellers responsible for marketing Samuel Johnson's Dictionary.
Longman started in 1726 in a shop in Paternoster Row under the sign of the Ship, later expanding into premises next door under the sign of the Black Swan. Both symbols were used by his company thereafter.In the nineteenth century Longmans started producing lavishly bound editions which proved so popular the bindery in Paternoster Row was unable to keep up, so in 1887 this works was built to expand production, apparently causing something of a stir in the book trade. 
Known as the Ship Binding Works, it was highly regarded and produced prize-winning bindings for exhibitions.The bindery went independent but was bombed out in 1941 and closed.

1 comment:

The Duke of Waltham said...

The sign of the Ship, the sign of the Black Swan... Tantalising glimpses of a largely lost world. It's difficult to imagine that such signs were once ubiquitous, and street addresses didn't exist but all houses were named instead, and indeed it must always come as a surprise to learn how commonplace some things were before being replaced by whatever we take for granted today. Of course the surprise will be greater still for someone not personally familiar even with these few remainders of the old order; here in Greece (at least in my parts) there is only a handful of tavern signs to represent this tradition and I've never heard of a house being named, except perhaps referred to by the name of its owner. Whatever insight I could gain into life in pre-Industrial England was therefore through indirect knowledge gained mostly thanks to the Internet, and places such as this. I wonder what it feels like, to live in a place where history peeks from all sorts of unexpected corners. We are justifiably proud of our ancient heritage in Greece but I think we lack this sense of continuity, at least in the built environment.

The publisher's signs have also reminded me of an old question of mine. A booklet in my possession, dating from 1926, identifies its printer only by means of a device on the back cover, a shield surrounded by foliage and a ribbon with the words "At the Sign of the Red Pale". The description is accurate (a white shield with a broad vertical stripe engraved as red) and refers to William Caxton, who traded under this sign. Unfortunately, this connection obscured the actual printer of the booklet in my previous searches a few years ago, and I was left empty-handed. Your post has now prompted me to look again, and I've managed to refine my search sufficiently to find a single mention of the device. It postdates my booklet by two years, but it's promising...