SAWYER, CHARLES J. BOOKSELLER Records, 1906-1990
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Guide to the Charles J. Sawyer Bookseller Records, 1906-1990

Title: Charles J. Sawyer Bookseller Records, 1906-1990

OCLC/RLIN No. (Unique ID): 987302674

 

Dates:             1906-1990

 

Extent: 23 boxes (24 linear ft.); approximately 1,000 black and white photographs, 6 ½” x 8 ½”

 

Abstract: The collection includes card files, catalogs, account books, and other material documenting the London-based Sawyer firm’s activities purchasing, marketing, and selling books and manuscripts.

 

Access Restrictions: 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 the materials.

Preferred Citation: [Description and date of item], [Box/folder number], Charles J. Sawyer Bookseller Records, 1906-1990, The Grolier Club of New York.

About the Finding Aid: This finding aid was prepared by Allison Hughes in Microsoft Word at the Grolier Club, May 2017.

 

Provenance: This collection was purchased from David J. Holmes Autographs in April 2017.

                                            

Biographical/Historical Note: Charles J. Sawyer (Chas. J. Sawyer Ltd.) was a London-based bookselling firm active in the twentieth century.

Charles Sawyer was born in London in 1876. He left school at age 12 to apprentice at Parsons Brothers bookshop on Brompton Road, then spent time in Manchester and other towns around England, before returning to London to work at various book shops on Holywell Street, then known as “Bookseller’s Row.” He started his own business in 1894, establishing a store in 1908 located on New Oxford Street, which later moved to Grafton Street in 1922. The firm dealt in “anything suitable for a gentleman’s library” with specialties in “rare items, early English literature, fine bindings and sporting and colour-plate books” (Brown, 64). Sawyer did business with book collectors, libraries, and universities in both England and the United States, making a series of trips across the Atlantic.

In addition to bookselling, Sawyer maintained an interest in publishing. With publisher F.J. Harvey Darton, he co-wrote English Books 1475-1900, an illustrated guide to English book collecting, which Sawyer published in 1927. Other titles published by the Sawyer firm include a collection of Indian legends translated from the Sanskrit as The Ocean of Story (1926), A Study of Walter Pater by Arthur Symons (1932), and Pictorial Art in South Africa During Three Centuries to 1875 by A. Gordon-Brown (1952).

 In 1931 Charles Sawyer died and the firm was taken over by his children: sons J.E. Stanley Sawyer and C.R. (Charles Raymond) Sawyer and daughter I.S.K. Sawyer. Under their leadership, the firm expanded in a number of new directions, with his daughter managing a new books department, and Charles developing a specialization in Africana. They were joined in 1969 by Charles Raymond’s son Richard Sawyer, who took over the business in 1982. He sold the shop premises on Grafton Street in 1986, but continued to operate as a bookseller and consultant. Currently, he works from his home in Kent.

 

Sources: Brown, Richard and Stanley Brett. The London Bookshop. Private Libraries Association, 1971.

            Sawyer, Richard. Interview with Sheila Markham. “Unsentimental Journey.” For The Bookdealer, March 1995. www.sheila-markham.com/Archives/rsawyer.htm. Accessed May 3, 2017.

 

Scope and Content Note: The collection includes card files, catalogs, account books, ledgers, and other material documenting the Sawyer firm’s activities purchasing, marketing, and selling books and manuscripts.

It includes a consecutive run of Sawyers' own interleaved retained office copies of 302 of the firm's (often-illustrated) book catalogues dating from 1906 to 1979, annotated throughout with buyers' names; as well as folio volumes of typewritten special lists promoting books by subject or date; and approximately 1,000 black-and-white photographs depicting books offered for sale by the Sawyer firm. There is also an extensive set of card files alphabetically listing items bought and sold by the firm, with cards often annotated with corresponding catalog numbers for cross-reference.

In addition there is a group of 40 “Day Books” containing a handwritten record of daily sales from the bookseller's catalogues and stock, as well as items bought on commission at London auction houses; and two inventory ledgers listing Sawyers' acquisitions and sales for the years 1927-1985, with handwritten entries recording the date, place, source and cost of purchase, the selling price, and other data, for over 25,000 books and manuscripts which passed through the booksellers' hands during the period covered. Like the card files, the day books cross-reference catalog numbers for items sold. The ledgers list items by stock numbers referring to the date the item was purchased. Note that while the catalogues, card files, day books, and ledgers were all evidently used in tandem to track purchases and sales, their precise working relationship has not yet been identified.

The collection also includes a visitors’ book containing approximately 75 signatures of customers to the store from five decades; notable signers include John Drinkwater, Clement Shorter, John Burns, F.J. Harvey Darton, C.J. Cutcliffe-Hyne, Norman M. Penzer, and Arthur Symons. There are several scrapbooks containing clippings concerning Charles Sawyer, the firm, and the bookselling trade, as well as autograph notecards from customers and friends such as Hilaire Belloc, Arthur Machen, M.H. Spielmann, Henry C. Folger, Charles Sessler, A. Edward Newton, and Chauncy B. Tinker, as well as a printed order form signed by George Bernard Shaw. Finally, there is a Sawyer family copy of the first edition of Sawyer & Darton's English Books 1475-1900, with annotations and ephemera.

Related Materials Note: Other catalogues and publications by the Sawyer firm are available in this repository under author Chas. J. Sawyer Ltd.

 

Access Points

 

Names

Chas. J. Sawyer, Ltd.

Darton, F. J. Harvey (Frederick Joseph), 1878-1936

Sawyer, Charles J. (Charles James), 1876?-1931

Subject

Antiquarian booksellers—England.

Booksellers and bookselling—England—20th Century.

Genres

Account books.

Daybooks.

Guestbooks.

Photographs.

Sales catalogs.

Scrapbooks.

Arrangement Note: This collection arrived with no arrangement scheme and was arranged by the archivist into the following series:

                                         Series I. Card Files

                                         Series II. Catalogues

                                         Series III. Day Books

                                         Series IV. Miscellaneous Bound Volumes

                                         Series V. Inventory Ledgers

                                         Series VI. Scrapbooks

                                         Series VII. Photographs

Container List:

Series I. Card Files, undated

Arrangement Note: Arranged alphabetically.

Box

Item

Title

Date

1

1

Card Files A-Bo

undated

1

2

Card Files Bo-C

undated

1

3

Card Files D-F

undated

1

4

Card Files Fl-H

undated

2

1

Card Files I-Ma

undated

2

2

Card Files Ma-Pr

undated

2

3

Card Files Pr-Sh

undated

2

4

Card Files Si-Vo

undated

3

1

Card Files W-Z, Bindings

undated

3

2

Card Files Printing Presses

undated

Series II. Catalogues, 1906-1979

Arrangement Note: Arranged chronologically.

Box

Item

Title

Date

4

1

Catalogues Vol. I, Nos. 1-18

1906-1909

4

2

Catalogues Vol. II, Nos. 19-28

1910-1912

4

3

Catalogues Vol. III, Nos. 29-36

1912-1913

4

4

Catalogues Vol. IV, Nos. 37-44

1914-1916

4

5

Catalogues Vol. V, Nos. 45-58

1917-1920

4

6

Catalogues Vol. VI, Nos. 59-65

1921-1922

4

7

Catalogues Vol. VII, Nos. 66-70

1922-1923

4

8

Catalogues Vol. VIII, Nos. 71-74

1923-1924

4

9

Catalogues Vol. IX, Nos. 75-79

1924-1925

4

10

Catalogues Vol. X, Nos. 80-84

1925-1926

5

1

Catalogues Vol. XI, Nos. 85-88

1926-1927

5

2

Catalogues Vol. XII, Nos. 89-93

1928-1929

5

3

Catalogues Vol. XIII, Nos. 94-98

1929-1930

5

4

Catalogues Vol. XIV, No. 100

1930

5

5

Catalogues Vol. XV, Nos. 99, 101-105

1930-1931

5

6

Catalogues Vol. XVI, Nos. 106-108

1931-1932

5

7

Catalogues Vol. XVII, Nos. 109-112

1932-1933

5

8

Catalogues Vol. XVIII, Nos. 113-117

1933-1934

5

9

Catalogues Vol. XIX, Nos. 118-122

1934-1935

5

10

Catalogue No. 121

1934

6

1

Catalogues Vol. XX, Nos. 123-127

1935-1936

6

2

Catalogues Vol. XXI, Nos. 128-133

1936-1937

6

3

Catalogues Vol. XXII, Nos. 134-139

1937

6

4

Catalogues Vol. XXIII, Nos. 140-146

1938

6

5

Catalogues Vol. XXIV, Nos. 147-153

1938-1939

6

6

Catalogues Vol. XXV, Nos. 154-159

1939-1940

6

7

Catalogues Vol. XXVI, Nos. 160-167

1940-1942

7

1

Catalogues Vol. XXVII, Nos. 168-174

1942-1944

7

2

Catalogues Vol. XXVIII, Nos. 175-180

1944-1946

7

3

Catalogues Vol. XXIX, Nos. 181-185

1946-1947

7

4

Catalogues Vol. XXX, Nos. 186-190

1947-1948

7

5

Catalogues Vol. XXXI, Nos. 191-197

1948-1949

7

6

Catalogues Vol. XXXII, Nos. 198-204

1950-1951

7

7

Catalogues Vol. XXXIII, Nos. 205-210

1951-1952

8

1

Catalogues Vol. XXIV, Nos. 211-216

1952-1953

8

2

Catalogues Vol. XXXV, Nos. 217-222

1953-1954

8

3

Catalogues Vol. XXXVI, Nos. 223-228

1954-1955

8

4

Catalogues Vol. XXXVII, Nos. 229-235

1955-1956

8

5

Catalogues Vol. XXXVIII, Nos. 236-241

1956-1957

8

6

Catalogues Vol. XXXIX, Nos. 242-246

1957-1958

8

7

Catalogues Vol. XL, Nos. 247-252

1959-1960

9

1

Catalogues Vol. XLI, Nos. 253-256

1960-1961

9

2

Catalogues Vol. XLII, Nos. 257-260

1961-1962

9

3

Catalogues Vol. XLIII, Nos. 261-265

1962-1963

9

4

Catalogues Vol. XLIV, Nos. 266-270

1964-1965

9

5

Catalogues Vol. XLV, Nos. 271-276

1966-1968

9

6

Catalogues Vol. XLVI, Nos. 277-281

1968-1970

9

7

Catalogues Vol. XLVII, No. 282-285

1970-1971

9

8

Catalogues Vol. XLVIII, No. 286-289

1971-1972

9

9

Catalogues Vol. XLIX, No. 290-293

1973-1974

9

10

Catalogues Vol. L, No. 294-302

1975-1979

Series III. Day Books, 1943-1990

Arrangement Note: Arranged chronologically.

Box

Item

Title

Date

10

1

Day Book

June 1943-May 1945

10

2

Day Book

June 1944-March 1945

10

3

Day Book

June 1945-May 1946

10

4

Day Book

June 1946-May 1947

10

5

Day Book

June 1947-May 1948

10

6

Day Book

June 1948-May 1949

10

7

Day Book

June 1949-May 1950

10

8

Day Book

June 1950-May 1951

10

9

Day Book

June 1951-May 1952

11

1

Day Book

June 1952-May 1953

11

2

Day Book

June 1954-May 1955

11

3

Day Book

June 1955-May 1956

11

4

Day Book

June 1956-May 1957

11

5

Day Book

June 1957-May 1958

11

6

Day Book

June 1958-May 1959

11

7

Day Book

June 1959-May 1960

11

8

Day Book

June 1960-May 1961

11

9

Day Book

June 1961-May 1962

11

10

Day Book

June 1962-May 1963

12

1

Day Book

June 1963-May 1964

12

2

Day Book

June 1964-May 1965

12

3

Day Book

June 1965-May 1966

12

4

Day Book

June 1966-May 1967

12

5

Day Book

June 1967-May 1968

12

6

Day Book

June 1968-May 1969

12

7

Day Book

June 1969-May 1970

12

8

Day Book

June 1970-May 1971

13

1

Day Book

June 1971-May 1972

13

2

Day Book

June 1972-May 1973

13

3

Day Book

June 1973-May 1974

13

4

Day Book

June 1974-May 1975

13

5

Day Book

June 1975-May 1976

13

6

Day Book

June 1976-May 1977

13

7

Day Book

June 1977-May 1978

13

8

Day Book

June 1978-May 1979

13

9

Day Book

June 1979-May 1980 and April-May 1983

13

10

Day Book

June 1980-May 1981

13

11

Day Book

June 1981-April 1983

14

1

Day Book

June 1983-March 1985

14

2

Day Book

March 1985-May 1990

Series IV. Miscellaneous Bound Volumes, 1925-1969

Box

Item

Title

Date

14

3-6

English Books 1475-1900 Family Copy

1927

14

7

“Grafton House Bookshop Visitors”

1925-1969

14

8

“Lists of Incunabula, Sporting Books, Fine Arts”

1940-1942

14

9

“Lists of Petrarch, John Mytton, Sporting Books, Bound Books, Private Presses”

1932-1957

14

10

“Lists of Rare English Books Printed Before 1640, Livres Francais, Bibliotheca Aegyptiaca, Sale Catalogue of Africana Held in Johannesburg Oct. 27 1948”

1946-1948

Series V. Inventory Ledgers, 1927-1985

Box

Item

Title

Date

15

1

Inventory Ledger

1927-1985

15

2

Inventory Ledger

1973-1980

Series VI. Scrapbooks, 1917-1954

Box

Item

Title

Date

16

1

“Album” Scrapbook

1917-1926

16

2

Charles J. Sawyer Memorial Scrapbook

1931

17

1

“Chas. J Sawyer Ltd.” Scrapbook

1933-1950

17

2

“Reviews of Chas J. Sawyer Ltd.” Scrapbook

1926-1954

Series VII. Photographs, undated

Arrangement Note: The photographs arrived largely housed in paper envelopes, with some loose in boxes. They have been kept in these envelopes and in their original order, which has no discernable arrangement scheme.

Box

Item

Title

Date

18-23

Photographs

undated

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