William Pickering (1796-1854), antiquarian bookseller, publisher and book designer : A study in the early nineteenth century book trade
WILLIAM PICKERING, (1796-1854), ANTIQUARIAN BOOKSELLER., PUBLISHER, AND
BOOK DESIGNER: A STUDY IN THE EARLY NINETEENTH CENTURY BOOK-TRADE.
By James M. McDonnell
This study is the first systematic and detailed examination of the
life and career of William Pickering. Pickering was chosen as a subject
because he can be regarded as a transitional figure. In a period when
the specialist publisher was coming to the fore, and bookselling and
publishing were tending to become quite separate occupations,
Pickering's combination of rare-book dealing and publishing was a continuation
of eighteenth century practices into the 1850s. On the
other hand Pickering's invention of cloth binding for books, his
creation of a personal publishing style, his achievements as a book
designer, and his involvement with the movement to lower book prices,
are all innovatory traits.
The study argues that Pickering's conservative and innovatory tendencies
can best be understood as a response to particular social and economic
conditions. It investigates Pickering's perception of and relation to
his public, his authors, and his printer (Charles Whittingham the
Younger) and financial backer (John Joseph Thornthwaite). It also
examines Pickering's awareness of the financial and economic conditions
which constrained his business.
The argument is based upon an extensive and thorough study of Pickering Is
extant correspondence, and upon those papers relating to his business
which have been preserved. The most important primary source has been
the printing ledgers of the Chiswick Press.