Friday, June 24th, 2016...6:26 pm

Son of The heroism of King George

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It has already been a busy summer. I had the great good fortune last week to take another Rare Book School course, The Stationers’ Company to 1775, taught by the extraordinary Ian Gadd. Now, you may ask, what the heck is The Stationers’ Company? Basically, it is what today we would call a guild, which oversaw the book trade from the beginnings of printing in London. Among other fascinating archives, the Company kept a “Register” of most books (and some music) printed, entering the date and identifying the alleged “copy” [copyright or privilege] holder.

This is all very well I hear you cry, but what does this have to do with The heroism of King George? As part of my research project, I read through the entire Register microfilm from 1799 to 1804, just to get a flavor of what kind of music might be entered there, if any. Imagine my surprise when I ran across this entry.

Sheridan Stationers Company entry
Regular readers will recall that the fateful date of the Georgian assassination attempt was May 15, 1800. And here we have a Fr.(?) Mortimer, registering on June 6th a text for the additional verse which had originally caught my eye. Fast work! You’ll see that the entry is signed by a George Greenhill, who rose to the exalted level of treasurer of the Company, and would have taken in the nine copies and fee for registration. No doubt his London Book Trades link gleaned information from other Company archives, which would provide information about Greenhill’s rise through the Company, as well as birth and death dates and other interesting biographical information. You can see where the Company archives provide a goldmine for print researchers of the early modern period!

I was surprised to find so much music registered between 1799 and 1804 (sometimes more even than books) especially since engravers don’t generally seem to have belonged to the guild. Most of what I saw were popular English songs, increasingly patriotic as the Napoleonic Wars heated up. No doubt I’ll find out more about how the music trade intersected with the Company as I look deeper, but for the moment I just wanted to share this entry for Sheridan’s new verse. The world just gets smaller and smaller.

[Thanks to Andrea Cawelti, Ward Music Cataloger, for contributing this post.]

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