Skip to main content
Grolier Club Exhibitions


1.20 Francofordiense emporium.jpg

Estienne, Henri. 

Francofordiense emporium …. [Geneva]: H. Estienne, 1574.

In the 1570s Henri Estienne (1531–1598), heir to the great printing tradition begun by his grandfather Henri (d. 1520), was in search of new markets for his books. A successful and profitable visit to Frankfurt caused him to write and publish this encomium of the city and its famous trade fair.  Estienne ends his work by praising one of Germany’s favorite sons, Gutenberg, the inventor of printing, who “was unwilling to cherish that invention in his own bosom, but shared it with all the world to the highest good of the human race."

Gift of Leonard L. Mackall.

1.21 Maunsell.jpg

Maunsell, Andrew. 

The first[-seconde] part of the catalogue of English printed bookes. London: J. Windet [J. Roberts] for A. Maunsell, 1595. 

In response to the need for a general national catalogue, bibliographer and publisher Andrew Maunsell (d. 1595) compiled this first trade bibliography of English books. Maunsell’s intent was to issue a three-part catalogue, but only the first two, embracing theology and the sciences, were published before Maunsell’s sudden death in 1595. Entries are arranged under authors’ surnames, but the numerous general headings made it a valuable subject bibliography. 

1.23 Catalogue vendible books.jpg

London, William. 

A catalogue of the most vendible books in England. [2nd issue]. London: [s.n.], 1658.

In 1658 bookseller William London, of Newcastle-on-Tyne, compiled the most important trade list of new books available in England since Maunsell’s 1595 catalogue. Appended to the Grolier Club copy is the ten-page supplement of new books issued between August 1657 and June 1658.  

Purchased in 1957.

1.25 Henry Knox catalogue.jpg

Knox, Henry. 

A catalogue of books, imported and to be sold by Henry Knox, at the London Book-Store, a little southward of the Town-House, in Cornhill, Boston. [Boston: H. Knox], 1772.

The earliest American bookseller catalogue in the Grolier Club library, and one of only two copies known; the other is at the Beinecke Library at Yale. It comprises about 600 author entries, some with descriptive comments, with a brief list of school books and classical authors following. History remembers Henry Knox (1750–1806) primarily for his role in the American Revolution, when he participated in nearly every major military engagement against the British. 

Gift of William A. White, 1916.

1.26 Caylus.jpg

Caylus, Anne Claude Philippe. 

Mémoires de l’Académie des colporteurs. Paris: De l’imprimerie ordinaire de l’Académie, 1748.

Colporteurs, or peddlers, played an important role in the distribution of books and pamphlets in rural areas of Europe from the advent of printing through the nineteenth century. Because they often dealt in salacious or seditious literature, these itinerant booksellers were objects of interest. This description of colporteurs and their wares, presented as a parody of the French Academy’s annual reports, was the anonymous work of antiquarian and archeologist Anne Claude Philippe Caylus (1692–1765). The frontispiece shows an enterprising colporteur at work on a village street.  

Purchased in 1996.

1.28 Jefferson.jpg

Jefferson, Thomas. 

Autograph letter to Parisian book-seller Jacques-François Froullé, May 26, 1795.

Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), revolutionary, statesman, and third president of the United States, was also a voracious book collector. In this three-page autograph letter to Parisian bookseller Jacques-François Froullé, Jefferson complains of a damaged shipment of books, and asks Froullé to pack the books more carefully the next time. After Jefferson’s signature follows a list of books “which mr Froullé is desired to send me,” including volumes of plates from the Encyclopédie to replace copies damaged in the last shipment. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to Jefferson, Froullé had already been put to death for publishing a pamphlet sympathetic to Louis XVI. 

Gift of William B. Osgood Field, 1932.

James Lackington and the Temple of the Muses

The practice of selling of huge quantities of books at steep discounts in extravagant surroundings was invented more than two hundred years ago by English bookseller James Lackington (1746–1815). In 1789 he established the huge and grandiloquently named “Temple of the Muses” in Finsbury Square, where it quickly became one of London’s primary tourist attractions, eventually realizing sales of upwards of 100,000 volumes yearly. Fire destroyed the legendary Temple of the Muses in 1841, but by that time James Lackington had forever changed the face of bookselling.
1.31 Lackington cartoon.jpg

Nixon, John.

Frontispiece to Ode to the hero of Finsbury Square. Engraving. London: I. Herbert, 1795.

Lackington’s personal vanity and shrewd business acumen are lampooned in this contemporary cartoon, which appeared as the frontispiece to a satirical skit entitled Ode to the Hero of Finsbury Square. 

1.33.2 Lackington medal.jpg
J. Lackington, Finsbury Square, 1796.

Copper token.

Gift of William P. Wreden, 1966.

1.32 Temple of Muses.jpg

Walker, William. 

Temple of the Muses … where above half a million volumes are constantly on sale. Engraving. Ca. 1795.
1.34 Payne and Foss.jpg

Payne & Foss. 

Master set of catalogues. N.p., 1815–1850.

Among the Grolier Club Library’s extensive collection of nineteenth century dealer catalogues is this annotated “shop set” of catalogues issued by Payne & Foss, perhaps the most important bookselling establishment in pre-Victorian London. These copies are marked with prices and, in some cases, buyers’ names, crucially important information for collectors and scholars. 

Gift of Robert Hoe, 1889.

1.35.2 Whitman broadside.jpg

Whitman, Walt.

Walt Whitman’s books … also, John Burroughs’ “Notes on Walt Whitman as poet and person.” Broadside. [Washington, D.C.?: s.n., 1872].

Throughout his literary life, Walt Whitman (1819–1892) never forgot his roots in the printing trade and the years he spent as an apprentice with newspaper printers in Long Island and New York city.  This broadside, which uses eight different type faces, was apparently designed by Whitman himself to help booksellers promote the five titles listed.  Most known copies of this broadside are printed on paper; this is one of a very few surviving copies on linen.

1.16 Nast.jpg

Nast, Thomas.

David Ross Locke in front of publishers Lee & Shepard, May 1867.

In this watercolor portrait by Thomas Nast (1840–1902), signed and dated 1867, journalist and satirist David Ross Locke (1833–1888) is seen walking past the shop sign of Lee & Shepard, a prominent Boston publisher. Nast greatly admired Locke’s work and political views, and collaborated with him as illustrator on several satirical, pro-Reconstruction books published by Lee & Shepard.  

Gift of Bella C. Landauer, 1930.

1.36 Goldschmidt ledgers pile.jpg 1.28 Jefferson.jpg

E. P. Goldschmidt & Co.

Book sale records, 1919–1981.

The Grolier Club Library holds the archives of a number of important booksellers, but among the richest are the financial records of the firm of E. P. Goldschmidt. Ernest Philip Goldschmidt (1887–1954) was the quintessential antiquarian bookseller cum scholar, a bibliographer whose meticulously researched sales catalogues often became standard reference works. Shown here are just a few of the twenty-one stock books, day books, and customer account books that make up the collection; the detail shows entries from a 1938 stock book listing purchases of rare book catalogues by the Grolier Club. These and other similar records are primary source material in provenance research, and the history of bookselling and book collecting.

Gift of Jacques Vellekoop, 1997.