Anyone can make a book or a zine these days with anything from stapled photocopies to print-on-demand services, but how did the book-making industry get its start? Who was allowed to print, and for what purposes? And how does this history continue to shape how we use and conceive of printing? We recently gained access to a new e-resource, The Stationers' Company Archive, 1554-2007, where you can explore these questions and more! It is an important resource for understanding the early book trade, printing and publishing community, establishment of legal requirements for copyright provisions, and the history of bookbinding. It contains rare documents from as far back as 1554.
The Archive has online exhibitions as well; the current one, “Copyright and Censorship”, reveals that in its early history, the “privilege” of printing was wielded as a political tool:
For Queen Mary, the control of printed material was particularly important as she aimed to restore Catholicism to the country, following the creation of the Church of England by her father Henry VIII. In 1558, she issued a Proclamation Against Wicked and Seditious Books, in which those printing, possessing or distributing such works could be executed. The Charter to the Company and the powers of search and seizure were, therefore, an extension of her desire to curb political opposition.
And there’s more where that came from! Explore The Stationers’ Company Archive for yourself.