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498 The Publishers' Circular May i , 18 90
Boo^Etle^ Of To-Da? .
Boo ^ etle ^ of To-Da ? .
III . —MESSRS . BICKERS & SON . Just half a century ago Henry Bickers , a bookbinder of some reputedecided to desert his
chosen craft and turn his , attention to bookselling o . He took the premises jrthat are still
occupied by the firm in Leicester Square , and , in course of timedeveloped one of the most
renowned businesses , in London . But neither Mr . Henry Bickers nor his son remain to tell of
the founding of the firm , of its growth , or of its present position . Yet there are those left who ,
in a few years to come , may be able to honourably represent the house in name and repute .
In the meantime , a guiding hand that has not allowed the well-built ship to deviate from its
given course has been found X in the person of Mr . John Harwoodwho may well be
honoured 4 booksellers with of to an -day earl . ' y , position among the
The premises occupied by Messrs . Bickers & Son are excellently situated at a street cornerone of the large window fronts facing
Leicester , Square . Every _ floor is packed with books , and the shop J . itself is rather representa J .-
tive of a gentleman ' s library than a show room . Through the glass cases are seenin
glittering array C 3 , innumerabl O e volumes , handsomel , O y bound in the best style . Many are clothed
in crushed levant of various hues , and a large number bound in the old-fashioned flat-back style . The house justly prides — —
itself upon its f binding . Hidden away % / among JL the central pile of books is a sanctum occupied
by Mr . Harwood , and it was here that our representative i . found him carefully study •/ ing — O
the affairs of the firm . For thirty-eight years has he worked here continuously «/ , but thougOh
time may have stolen the colour from his hair and beardt there is as yet no trace of inability ;
in fact , Mr , . Harwood appears now to be in the prime JL of his working < J life , full of energy O % /
and interest in the affairs of the day . Asked for a brief history of the houseMr .
Harwood replied with calculating * l , deliberation , : ' The house was started about 1840 , as near as
I can remember , by Mr . Henry Bickers . Ten years later , about 1850 , Mr . Bush was taken
when into partnershi he retired p in , and favour continued of Mr . Bickers until 1863 jun . ,
I joined the firm as an assistant on January , 1 , 1852 , at the time when the great contest
between the publishers and the booksellers on the question of underselling was going onand
which X involved the princip le of free C ? O trade , in books . Upon the retirement of Mr . Bush t took
up the position of manager of the retail department , and Mr . Bickers , jun « i ., managr-j ed th — e
sen publishing . died . and It his was son in 1875 died that nine Mr . Bickers — later — , / f - - ~ years
_^ , , tfaB V h •/ _ , activel in 1884 ^ " ^ ^ " y . engaged There ^ is ^ in no the member firm ^ now of the . On famil . ^ the ^— y
appointed death of Mr sole . Bickers manage , six r b years y the ago Court , I was of
• JL O «/ Chancery , and the hope was also expressed in his will that I should carry on the business for
the benefit of the widow and children . There are four children altogether ¦ .
' What is the chief feature of the house , Mr .
class ' Well booksellers , we have , princi been pall noted y standard here as editions
highthoroug endeavoured bound in h first good to -class work keep bindings 3 up the . reputation I have always for
iaiisiisu . g . 1 . 1 . , , guuu nui &< . ' Does your experience cover any unusual incidents % '
Mr . Harwood gradually broke into a broad smile , and then related the following : — ' At — - the ~ — — time — — Mr — . Gladstone - was appointed «— — - ^ — .. __ ^
Commissioner to the Ionian Islands , he _ came ^^ ^^ here and asked for u The History of Corfu . "
About that time a book had just been published entitled " The History of Court Fools . "
It was by Dr . Doran ; and as I thought that was what he asked for I sent it to him . He
enjoyed the joke immensely , and the error was soon corrected . ' Replying to further questions t / Mr .
Harwood x said •/ < z ? he . had had no deman , d for the Cobden - Sanderson school of binding ^ J ; he
believed in good solid work only . As to the firm ' s publications , they included Pepys — '
A ' % J . L •/ Diary , of which a thousand copies were printed x , and for which there was now a
great works , demand including ; many Hervey r > 4 nt reprints < u ' s 6 George of standard II— ., J int l and Swift * works t in nineteen i
volumes wo voumes ;' The , Life and ' s Times of Selwyn ' and "l the il 1 * 1 "* * edition 1 * i * of C ^ A 11 edited I ' ll ,
library Shakspeare , by Dyce . ' Have you any pet opinion upon the
burning question Yfts Yes ! 1 T think think of undersell it it should should ing 1 ' have ha . vft hppn been lett lftffc at at . ;
2 d . in the shilling , which gave a fair profit for everybody . I should not have started it
myself if I had not been forced into it by the Army and Navy Stores and Hatchard's . I am
glad to see an attempt is being made by some publishers to issue their books at net price . ' * Has the demand for standard works varied
much ?' ' No ; but there is a great decrease in the supp ly % i 7 owing to — so many books going to
America xn , and never returning «/ . We find o it difficult to get really good second-hand books
—much more difficult than it was thirty years ago . The Americans are keen after them .
This is especially the case with such works as Walpole ' sJesse ' sand writers like Miss Freer ;
, , the } r have all gone up in value . ' After further pleasant conversation our
half representative an hour with left one , know who ing was that competent he had spent to hold his own with any contemporary
bookseller , in the selection of such works as go to
form an English gentleman s library .
Old And New Styles In Rmtt\/\ S~*D Tt"W ...
OLD AND NEW STYLES IN rmTT \/\ s ~* d TT"W A " ¦""* . TTT "W 1 "
TYPOGRAPHY . At a meeting — _ of the ^ . — Societ __ y ^ of Arts —on
April 16 , Mr . Talbot ^ B . Reed _ read an _ „ interest „ - ing and valuable paper on ' Old and New
that Styles his in object Typograp was hy . to The draw speaker attention explained to the
fashions belonging to the Roman character in typograp ¦ ¦ ¦ hy ¦ —namel i to the type in 11 which ¦ i
¦ books - ^~ ^ r ^ ^^^ ^^^ m are - ^ r ^ m h «^ p ^ mm printed w ^ p m ^^ "mr " ^ p » pi « . ^^ " w >« y w He ^ , B ^^ wished ***^ ^^ " m ™ ^ " ^ ^^^ to ^ P * ^ J ^^ " make ^ ^^ P" p ^ p ^ p ^ a w brief — - - historical survey of the changes through which
the character had passed m the hands or . A
Publishers’ Circular (1880-1890), May 1, 1890, page 498, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse.ac.uk/periodicals/pc/issues/tec_01051890/page/12/