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National Library of Wales
Birdsall Bookbinding Company collection

Reference code(s): GB 0210 BIRING

Held at: National Library of Wales

Title: Birdsall Bookbinding Company Collection

Short Title: Birdsall Bookbinding Company collection

Creation date(s): 1823-1986 (predominantly 1880-1962)

Level of description: Fonds

Extent: 0.657 cubic metres (21 boxes, 6 box files, 3 volumes, 1 roll, 5 framed items)

Name of creator(s): Birdsall & Son Bookbinders, Northampton


Administrative/Biographical history: Birdsall & Son, Northampton, was one of the main bookbinding firms in Great Britain from the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century. In 1792 William Birdsall ([c. 1750]-1826) bought the bookselling and bookbinding business of John Lacy & Son in Northampton. The business also included a stationery section, a post office and a circulating library. William Birdsall was followed in the business by his sons, Robert and James, and later by James's widow, Ann, who sold the business in 1844 to William's great-nephew, Anthony Birdsall the elder (1819-1893). The bookbinding side was expanded during this period, becoming the firm's main activity. Anthony Birdsall was succeeded by his son, Richard (1842-1909), under whose aegis the premises were twice enlarged and reorganised in 1882 and 1888. Of Richard Birdsall's three sons, it was Anthony Birdsall the younger (1877-1972) who was chiefly responsible for maintaining the family tradition of fine binding, especially following the early death of Herbert Birdsall in 1924. The company finally ceased trading in 1961.


Scope and content/abstract: Birdsall family papers and records of Birdsall & Son Bookbinders, including personal papers, 1889-1972, photograph albums, [c. 1886]-1918, albums of press cuttings, 1856-1960, rubbings of miscellaneous printed books, 1823-1942, glass negatives, [c. 1862]-1904; miscellaneous finishing tools and samples of binding work, 1902-1949, and a framed testimonial presented to Richard Birdsall on the occasion of his marriage, 1872.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement: Arranged by type into the following boxes: Box 1, Photograph albums; Box 2, tool sketches, design layouts and binding rubbings; Box 3, tool trials and samples; Boxes 4-6, printed books; Box 7, addresses by the Mayor of Northampton and others; Box 8, finishing tools, designs, samples; Item 9, album of binding rubbings; Boxes 10-14, binding rubbings and articles on the history of bookbinding; Box 15, press cuttings; Item 16, catalogue cuttings of armorial bindings; Box 17, documents relating to history of the company; Boxes 18-19, photographs of bindings; Box 20, photographs of illuminated addresses; Box 21, photographs of the factory and staff; Box 22, printed trade catalogues and articles on the trade; Boxes 23-24, albums collected by Andrew Birdsall' Box 25, Material collected by Anthonay Birdsall; Box 26, Birdsall family papers and books; Box 27, family photographs; Boxes 28-29, negatives of family photographs; Box 30, historical material assmebled by Archie Veryard; Items 31-35, framed bindings and other documents.

Conditions governing access: Readers consulting modern papers in the National Library of Wales are required to sign the 'Modern papers - data protection' form.

Conditions governing reproduction: Usual copyright regulations apply.

Finding aids: A hard copy of the catalogue is available at the National Library of Wales.

Detailed catalogue


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information: The company's archives represent an important part of the history of bookmaking, and were collected by the National Library of Wales on that basis, although there are no important links to Wales. All records purchased by the National Library of Wales have been retained.

Accruals: Accruals are not expected.

Archival history: The company records and papers were destroyed or dispersed following its dissolution and passed into various hands.

Immediate source of acquisition: Purchased from Patrick King Rare Books, Stoney Stratford, 1982, and from Mr Archie Veryard, Northampton, 1991.



Note: Title supplied from contents of fonds.

Archivist's note: Compiled by Richard Burman for the ANW project. The following source was consulted in the compilation of this description: NLW, Birdsall Bookbinding Records.

Rules or conventions: This description follows ANW guidelines based on ISAD(G) second edition, AACR2, and LCSH.

Date(s) of descriptions: January 2003

Birdsall (Firm) | Archives
Birdsall family | Photograph collections
Bookbinders | England | Northampton
Photograph albums | England | Northampton

Personal names
Birdsall family , of Northampton

Corporate names
Birdsall (Firm)

Northampton (England)

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