Home » Blog » Bibliography

Category: Bibliography

William Parks, Printer & Bookbinder of Williamsburg

Williamsburg Printing Office & Post Office

William Parks was an 18th century printer and bookbinder serving both Virginia and Maryland. Parks serves as a focus of a few different studies on colonial bookbinding in America, and they are all available online!

I just came across this monograph on Parks as well:

  • A. Franklin Parks, William Parks: The Colonial Printer in the Transatlantic World of the Eighteenth Century (Penn State University Press, 2016). Google Books; Amazon


Research at Gloucester Bound

Imperial Library of Vienna

The literature concerning 18th century bookbinding is scattered among various digital archives, print publications, blogs, etc. Over the past year, while working with James Moore at 18thcenturybibles.org, I have been collecting bibliographic references and illustrations related to pre-industrial bookbinding practices. I will be posting about both on this site on two permanent pages under the “Research” heading in the main menu:

  1. Bibliography
  2. Illustrations

As time permits I will be adding annotations and descriptions to both (or providing links to descriptions).

Book: The Bookbinder in Eighteenth-Century Williamsburg

The Bookbinder in Eighteenth-Century Williamsburg

I remember wandering through Colonial Williamsburg as a kid — the smell of sulfur at the blacksmith shop and the food at the various taverns. I don’t particularly recall visiting the printer and bookbinder shops, but I’ve  still learned a great deal from them! Colonial Williamsburg published the Williamsburg Craft Series — short pamphlet-sized tracts that provide a broad overview of the different crafts and trades of  colonial America. When I started researching bookbinding, Clement’s volume provided an excellent introduction, and it is available in full at HathiTrust.

Samford C. Clement’s The Bookbinder in Eighteenth-Century Williamsburg: An Account of His Life & Times, & of His Craft (Williamsburg: Colonial Williamsburg, 1959).


Book: Bookbinding in Colonial Virginia / Samford & Hemphill

Bookbinding in Colonial Virginia (published cover)

The full text of C. Clement Samford’s and John M. Hemphill’s Bookbinding in Colonial Virginia (Williamsburg Research Studies; Williamsburg: Colonial Williamsburg, 1966) is available in HTML at the Colonial Williamsburg Digital Library. The site includes “the original manuscript from which the published version was produced,” and as such it seems that the content is nearly identical to the published book. It does not, however, have the “Key to Rolls” included in the book, nor does it include the exact same photos and illustrations.

Contents of the HTML version include:

I. History of Bookbinding to 1800
II. Bookbinding in Colonial America
III. Beginnings of Bookbinding in Maryland and Virginia
IV. Bookbinding in Williamsburg and Virginia, 1750-1799
V. Analysis of Books Believed to Have Been Bound in Annapolis, Williamsburg, and Richmond by William Parks and His Successors, 1727-1799
VI. Nineteenth Century Developments
Appendix I. References to Bookbinding in the Hunter Daybook
Appendix II. References to Bookbinding in the Royle Daybook
Appendix III. Imprints Examined for Bindings

Book: Roger Payne: English Bookbinder of the Eighteenth Century / Davenport

The full text of Cyril Davenport’s book, Roger Payne: English Bookbinder of the Eighteenth Century (Chicago: The Caxton Club, 1929) is available on the Internet Archive at https://archive.org/details/b30009388. The book includes illustrations and plates showing Payne’s work as well as chapters on “Bookbinding in England after the introduction of gold tooling on leather,” “Roger Payne’s life and work,” and “Gold tooling on leather.”

Roger Payne in his workshop

Article: “Bookbinding in 18th Century Wales”

Printer’s device from 1760 Welsh almanac published by John Prys.

While researching, I recently came across reference to “Bookbinding in 18th Century Wales,” by Eiluned Rees (Journal of the Welsh Bibliographical Society 12.1 [1983/84]: 51-66; link). As Providence would have it, the article is available online for free!

Of particular note:

  • Various gentlemen took on bookbinding as a bit of a hobby (p. 59).
  • He also mentions the phenomenon of “itinerant binders” that would make ‘house calls’ (or is it ‘estate calls’?) to gentry in need of upkeep for their personal libraries (p. 60).
  • Various clergymen and lay ministers were also bookbinders: “Richard Tibbott was a Methodist exhorter and Congregational minister and he spent six weeks in 1745 with John Richard of Llansamet learning the art of bookbinding. John Richard was another Methodist exhorter, as was John Evans (1723-1817) who extended his range of activities to weaving, mining and bookbinding. Williams Hughes (1761-1826), a Congregational minister at Dinas Mawddwy, taught bookbinding to William Howell of Machynlleth, who subsequently became a cobbler/bookbinder.” (p. 61).

I would love to find more information on these kinds of things. The idea of bookbinding as a hobby and bookbinding being something that clergy/ministers would pursue is intriguing for me as a theologically trained layperson. The concept of “itinerant bookbinding” is interesting. What would their toolset look like? What are the essentials that they would take with them for travel? Were such itinerant binders employed in the colonies or on the Continent?