The Bowyer Ledgers, 1710-1781
RLIN ID / OCLC No.
NYGG02-A155 / 122530277
Bowyer, William, 1663-1737.
Bowyer Ledgers: the Printing Accounts of William Bowyer, 1710-1781.
4 boxes; 8v.; 36 cm. and smaller
Correspondence files in Box 4 are restricted until 2020 except with the permission of the Librarian or his/her Designee. Remainder of collection is open for research use. Copyright restrictions may apply; please contact repository for requests for copying and for authorization to publish, quote, or reproduce materials.
[Description and date of item], [Box/folder/item number], The Bowyer Ledgers: the Printing Accounts of William Bowyer, 1710-1781, The Grolier Club of New York.
About the Finding Aid
This finding aid was created by Barbara Dunlap in consultation with Fernando Pena in 2002, and updated by Club Archivist Sophia Dahab and Club Librarian Meghan Constantinou in Microsoft Word at the Grolier Club, April 2015.
Collection title devised by cataloger.
Originally preserved by John Nichols and handed down from eldest son to eldest son; sold at the John Gough Nichols’s sale at Sotheby’s (London), 1929 November 18. Purchased by the Grolier Club from Quartrich, January 1930; accession nos. 19471 (Vol. I)-19477 (Vol VII).
William Bowyer the elder set up as a master printer in 1699 and his son, William Bowyer the younger formally joined the business in 1722. After serving for many years as master printer, he succeeded to the ownership and control of the business on his father’s death and ran it until his own death in 1777. From 1759 on John Nicholas served as his apprentice and from 1766 as his partner, inheriting the business on Bowyer’s death. Nichols appears to have closed out the Bowyer accounts in 1778. Joseph Iliffe, a hosier, was a friend of Bowyer the younger who closed out his accounts in the years succeeding his death.
Scope and Contents
The collection provides information about more than 5,000 individual books or jobs printed by the Bowyers between 1710 and 1778, with information for some on paper used as well as a record of William Bowyer the younger’s payment for goods and services. The wages check-book records wages earned by the compositors and pressmen and provides a record of production, type usage and operation of the presses for the period 1730-1739. The “loose sheets” consist mainly of bills that should have been written up in the ledgers.
Letters were assigned to the ledgers by Keith Maslen for use in his publications about the Bowyer Ledger collection. Volume IX is not included in this collection, see separate finding aid and catalog record (RLIN ID: NYGG01-A49)
Volume I, Customer Accounts, 1710-1738 (“Ledger A”; accession no. 19471)
Volume III, Receipt Book, 1738-1778 (accession no. 19473)
Volume IV, Wages Check-book, 1730-1739 (“Ledger C”; accession no. 19474)
Volume V, Accounts of Joseph Iliffe (accession no. 19475)
Volume VI, Account of Quire Stock and Printed Catalogs for J. B. Nichols et al. (accession no. 19476)
Volume VII, Loose Sheets (“Ledger S”; accession no. 19477)
Volume VIII, Paper Stock Book (“Ledger P”) [photocopy of original held at Bodleian Library]
Volume II: Customer Accounts, 1738 [July]-1781 (“Ledger B”; accession no. 19472)
Volume II original boards, detached.
Microfilm Photocopies of Vols. I (Ledger A), II (Ledger B), V, VI, and Vol. IX.
[Vol. IX described and cataloged separately]
RESTRICTED Correspondence 1963-1993: Two folders of correspondence between Grolier Club Librarians, the Bodleian Library, Keith Maslen, and J. Fleeman regarding Bowyer Ledger reproduction and conservation.
Additional Physical Form Available
Grolier Club collection contains photocopies taken from the microfilm of Vols. I (Ledger A), II (Ledger B), V, VI, and Vol. IX.
Existence and Location of Originals
Original copy of Vol VIII, Ledger P in the Department of Special Collections and Western Manuscripts, Bodleian Library, Broad Street, Oxford, England.
Vol VIII, Ledger P (Paper Stock Ledger): Photocopy from microfiche, Bodleian Library, Oxford.
Fleeman, J.R. (1963, December 19). 18th century printing house ledgers. The Times Literary Supplement, 1056.
Maslen, K. & Lancaster, J. (Eds.). (1991). The Bowyer ledgers : the printing accounts of William Bowyer, father and son, reproduced on microfiche : with a checklist of Bowyer printing, 1699-1777, a commentary, indexes, and appendixes. New York: Bibliographical Society of America.
Maslen, K. (1993). An early London printing house at work: Studies in the Bowyer ledgers. New York: Bibliographical Society of America.
Exhibited: “Of Making Many Books: The Bowyers of London,” Grolier Club (New York, N.Y.), 1993.
Related Materials Note
Related materials may be found in the following collections in this repository:
Bowyer Ledgers Volume IX: Nichols and Son vs. Henry Fawcett, Esq. : Arbitration papers re Mssrs. Nichols and Son vs. Henry Fawcett, Esq. [with] statement of case on behalf of Mr. Nichols [by] Devon & Tooke, [solicitors of Gray’s Inn], ca. 1813. (RLIN ID: NYGG01-A49)
Account of case involving ownership of the copyright in the second edition of John Hutchin’s History and Antiquities of the County of Dorset printed by John Nichols and his son John Bowyer Nichols between 1796 and 1815. Includes history of the publication with proposals for printing volumes 3 and 4, financial records, and report of the arbitrator.
John Bowyer Nichols: Scrapbook of Book Values for English Topographical Works, ca. 1845 (RLIN ID: NYGG01-A40).
John Bowyer Nichols was the son of printer John Nichols, whom he succeeded as a printer of notes and proceedings of the British Parliament. John Bowyer Nichols supervised through the press many of the most important county histories published in England in the first part of the 19th century. This manuscript volume records the prices of 17th, 18th and earlier 19th century English topographical books, including some bibliographic details.
Related materials may be found in the following collections at the Bodleian Library, Oxford:
Papers of William Bowyer the Younger, Printer (Reference ID: MSS. Eng. misc. c. 141-2).
Bowyer, William, 1663-1737.
Bowyer, William, 1699-1777,
Fleeman, J. R.
Lancaster, John, 1943-
Maslen, K. I. D.
Nichols, John, 1745-1826.
Printer. England. London. 18th century.
Printing. England. London. History. 18th century. Sources.
London (England). Imprints.
Account books. England. London. 18th century.
Ledgers. England. London. 18th century.
Receipts. England. London. 18th century.
Occupation (as reflected in the collection)
Printers. England. London. 18th century.
Grolier Club, 47 East 60th Street, New York, N.Y. 10022-1098.