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John Pendred Issues the Earliest Directory of the Book Trade in England

Title page and frontispiece of Pollard's edition of Pendred's Directory of the Book Trade
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In 1785 journeyman printer John Pendred issued from London the earliest directory of the book trade in England. Entitled The London and Country Printers, Booksellers and Stationers Vade Mecum, Pendred's printed directory survived in only one copy preserved in the Bodelan Library, Oxford.

In 1955 bookseller and bibliographer Graham Pollard published through The Bibliographical Society (London) an annotated edition of Pendred's work entitled The Earliest Directory of the Book Trade by John Pendred (1785). From Pollard's edition we have the text of Pendred's full and very explanatory title:

The London and Country Printers, Booksellers and Stationers Vade Mecum; Containing an Alphabetical Arrangement of the Letter-Press Printers, Copper-Plate Printers, Letter Founders, Booksellers, Bookbinders, Stationers, Print-Sellers, Music-Sellers, Paper Merchants, Paper Stainers, Paper Hangers, Card-Makers, &c. &c. &c.

In London, Westminster, and Southwark: With the Numbers affixed in their Houses. Also of those residing in the different Counties of England, Scotland and Wales, with the Number of Miles each Town is distant from London, and their Market-Days.

Likewise a correct List of Newspapers published in Great Britain, their Agents, and Days of Publication; and an useful Table of Stamps and Duties that are now in Use. Also a List of the Master Printers in Ireland.

Regarding the purpose and significance of Pendred's directory I quote from Pollard's edition p. xxii-xxiii:

"It is clear from the last line of his title-page and the note at the end that Pendred intended to issue the Vade Mecum annually to subscribers. He described it as 'very necessary for all Printers, Booksellers, Stationers, &c. Likewise for all Lottery-Office-Keppers, Shopkeepers, and others, who have Occasion to advertise in any of the News-papers in England, Scotland or Ireland. From this it appears that he sought his market among the advertising agents—not a numerous trade at that date, except for the lottery office—and among wholesale booksellers. In his concluding note Pendred says 'he hath spared no pains to render it of general utility both to Masters and Journeymen', and he goes on to mention that he has 'found it a difficult Task to obtain the Names of the real Master Letter-press Printers'. From this I infer that Pendred intended the Vade Mecum to be used by journeymen printers like himself, when in search of work.

Pendred's aims were utilitarian; his sources such as came to hand; and his treatment of them was sometimes careless. Nevertheless he has preserved for us a substantial body of information about the numbers of the book trade in 1785. In particular he tells us something about typefounders, printers, newspapers, and the wall-paper trade that we should not have known without his Vade Mecum.

If we exclude the professions, such as bankers and lists of officers in the navy and the army, Pendred published the earliest directory of any trade in this or, as far as I have been able to discover, any other country."

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