Tag Archives: London Tradesman

Purse-Proud Title-Page Mongers

Robert Campbell, in his London Tradesman of 1747 had some pungent things to say about the relationship between authors and publishers, or booksellers.

The Bookseller is another Branch depending on the Printer. Their Business is, to purchase original Copies from Authors, to employ Printers to print them, and publish and sell them in their Shops; or to purchase Books from such as print them on their own Account, or at auctions, and sell them at an advanced Price: But their chief Riches and Profit is in the Property of valuable Copies. The Author, generally speaking, has but a very trifling Sum for his Trouble in compiling the Copy; and finds himself treated with an abundance of Slights by many of the ignorant Part of the Trade, who are sure to depreciate his Performance, though never so well executed; with no other intention but to beat own his Price. It is not One in Ten that is Judge of any more than a Title-Page; and though they take Time to peruse the work offered to then, yet they seldom dip farther than the Title: If that and the Subject is popular, they trouble their Heads no more about the Manner of the Performance. Yet, when the Author comes for an answer, after many affected Delays, the wise Bookseller tells him, with a Sneer, It will not do; the Subject is not interesting enough; and it is but indifferently performed: But, adds he, I do not care if I run the Risk of Printing it, if you will take so much —Perhaps, not the Tenth of what was asked, nor so much as a Hackney-Clerk would get from so many Sheets of Writing. Authors are generally poor, and perhaps know not where to get a Dinner without disposing of their Work, and therefore are necessitated to comply with hard Terms, and put up with the ungentleman-like Treatment of the purse-proud Title-page Monger. (128—129)

For more of Campbell’s fulminations, see:

Campbell on Education;

Campbell on Painting, and

Campbell on Mathematical Instrument Makers.

For a modern analysis of the eighteenth-century book trade and the power dynamics involved, see

Raven, J (2007). The Business of Books. Booksellers and the English Book Trade. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Campbell on Mathematical Instrument Makers

Campbell’s London Tradesman naturally does not include mathematician as a trade, but he does, in Chapter 55, get around to mathematical instrument makers. We will have occasion to look at mathematical instruments, and, in particular, sectors, later on, so herewith is his brief chapter on the subject.

CHAP. LV. Of the Mathematical and Optical Instrument, and Spectacle-Maker.

The Mathematics-Instrument-Maker makes all kind of Instruments constructed upon Mathematical Principles, and used in Philosophical Experiments: He makes Globes, Orrerys, Scales, Quadrants, Sectors, Sun-Dials of all Sorts and Dimensions, Air-Pumps, and the whole Apparatus belonging to Experimental Philosophy. He ought to have a Mathematically turned Head, and be acquainted with the Theory and Principles upon which his several Instruments are constructed, as well as with the practical Use of them. He employs several different Hands, who are mere Mechanics, and know no more of the Use or Design of the Work they make, than the Engines with which the greatest Part of them are executed; therefore the Master must be a thorough Judge of Work in general.

The Optical-Instrument-Maker is employed in making the various sorts of Telescopes, Microscopes of different Structures, Spectacles, and all other Instruments invented for the Help or Preservation of the Sight, and n which Glasses are used. He himself executes very little of the Work, except the grinding the Glasses: He grinds his Convex-Glasses in a Brass Concave Sphere, or a Diameter large in proportion to the Glass intended, and his Concave-Glasses upon a Convex Sphere of the same Metal: His Plane-Glasses he grinds upon a just Plane, in the same Manner as the common Glass-Grinder, mentioned Chap. XXXII, Sect. 4. He grinds them all with Sand and polishes them with Emery and Putty. The Cases and Machinery of his Instruments are made by different Workmen, according to their Nature, and he adjusts the Glasses to them.

It is a very ingenious and profitable Business, and employs but a few Hands as Masters. The Journeymen earn a Guinea a Week, and some more, according as they are accurate in their Trade. Such a Tradesman designed for a Master ought to have a pretty good Education, and a penetrating Judgment, to apprehend the Theory of the several Instruments he is obliged to make, and must be a thorough Judge of such Work as he employs others to execute. A Youth may be bound to either of these Trades any time between thirteen and fifteen Years of Age, and does not require much Strength.

From the dry text, I get the impression that he does not know much about this business, nor care very much. You might argue that he was just tired by Chapter 55, but he is back to form in the following Chapter, on shagreen, trunk, and box makers.

So, I hear you ask, who were these instrument makers? Fortunately, Mortimer’s Universal Director of 1763, has the answer: Optical and Mathematical Instrument Makers

  • Adams, George, Mathematical Instrument-maker to his Majesty. Fleet-Street.
  • Ayscough, James, Optician. Ludgate-Street.
  • Bennet, John. Crown-court, near Golden-square
  • Bird, John. Strand, near the New Exchange-buildings. This ingenious Artist has improved several Astronomical Instruments; and the new Astronomical Instruments in the Royal Observatory at Greenwich were made by him.
  • Dollond, Peter, Optician to his Majesty and the Duke of York, and sole Maker of the Refracting Telescopes, invented by the late Mr. John Dolland, who obtained his Majesty’s Royal Letters Patent for the said invention. Strand, near Exeter-‘change.
  • Gilbert, John, Tower-hill.
  • Gregory, Henry, Mathematical Instrument-maker. Leadenhall-street, near the East-India-house.
  • Heath and Wing, Mathematical and Optical Instrument-makers; inventors of the new Theodolite for Surveying of Land; and of the Pantographer for Copying of Drawings. Strand, near the Savoy-gate.
  • Hill, Nathaniel, Globe-maker and Map-engraver. Chancery-lane, Fleet-street.
  • Johnson, Samuel, Optician. Ludgate-street.
  • Lincoln, Charles. Cornhill, near the Poultry.
  • Manning, Charles. Wapping-wall.
  • Martin, Benjamin, Optician and Mathematical Instrument-maker; inventor and improver of several Mathematical Instruments, and author of “The General Magazine.” Fleet-street. This Artist reads Lectures on Experimental Philosophy.
  • Nairne, Edward, Optical and Mathematical Instrument-maker. Cornhill, opposite the Royal Exchange.
  • Scarlett, Edward, Optician. Near St. Anne’s Church, Soho.
  • Short, James, A.M. F.R.S. and Acad. Reg. Suec. Soc. Optician, solely for Reflecting Telescopes. Surry-street, Strand. The six-feet Newtonian Telescope, In the Royal Observatory at Greenwich, was made by this Artist.
  • Sisson, Jeremiah. The Corner of Beauford-buildings in the Strand.
  • Stedman, Christopher. Leadenhall-street.

Related Posts:

Campbell on Painting

Campbell on Education

Campbell on Book-Sellers

Campbell on Education

Robert Campbell’s The London Tradesman was published in 1747. As his subtitle stated, he produced “A Compendious view of all the trades, profession, arts, both liberal and mechanic, now practiced in the cities of London and Westminster”. It is a great place to go if you want to know what an Upholder did, or what are the requirements to be a Mantua-maker, “It requires a vast Stock of Patience to bear the Tempers of most of their Customers, and no small Share of Ingenuity to execute their innumerable Whims”. I don’t know how popular his work was at the time, but his compendious view and robust prose have made him one of the go-to guys for commentators on 18th century trade. He does unfurl sentences in an 18th-century manner, though, so quoting him can get extensive quite rapidly. Campbell’s target audience was more than modern scholars. Besides a description of the various trades, he also wanted parents to buy the book to see what trade little Jane of Johnny should go into, “Calculated for the instruction of parents and instruction of youth in choice of business”. To this end he espoused (at length) an interesting philosophy of education. John Locke is often cited as important in the thinking of 18th-century education, but his advice was intended for the upper classes. Campbell was aiming at those whose children would go into trade. His position can be summarized as that all men are created unequal. There are many different trades and they require different skills and inclinations. Different people are differently endowed with tendencies towards different skills and wise parents will observe their children carefully and act accordingly. Chapter One of his work is entitled, “Advice to Parents, to study and improve the Genius, Temper, and Disposition of their Children, before they bind them Apprentices”. Campbell rails against the sad state of parenting in the world, “It must be lamented, that Parents, for the most part, are guided in the Management of their Offspring by a Set of Notions in no measure conducive to promote the great Ends of Life, the Happiness of Society, or the Prosperity of those to whom they have given a wretched Being: Pride, Avarice, or Whim are the chief Consellors of most Fathers, when they are deliberating the most serious Concern in Life, the Settlement of their Children in the World”. To instruct the parents who bought his book in the right way of raising children, Campbell used the metaphor of the garden. Children are like small plants, and the wise gardener trains up different plants according to their strengths and natures.

Man, in all respects, is like a Plant, and requires both in Mind and Body the same Culture and tender Care that is necessary for a mere Vegetable: The skillful Gardener knows the Disposition of his Plan, the Soil proper to nourish it, the Diseases and Casulaties to which it is liable; watches is several Changes, forwards its Growth, or checks its Luxuriancey, as Discretion directs him: In the same manner, the wise and tender Parent endavours to discover the Disposition of his Child, encourages the Grwoth of every Virtue that discovers iteself in its Infant Mind, stifles the Growth of Error, Obstinacy, and Self-Will, checks the luxuriant Over-flowings of Fancy, and gently guides the Understanding to Objects prper for its Enlargement. When the Parent has observed the Mind take a Bent to any particular Study, he ought to be carefule to obbserve if it is the natural Product of the Soul; if it owes its Original to Nature, or to Chance of Accident. Children naturally mimick every Thing they see, and are fond of imitating every Thing new that occurs … When by this String the Parent has found out the Natural Bent of the Mind, and thus distinguished it from the wanton Sallies of the Infant Imagination, of accidental Impressions, they are then to cultivate its Growth, check all Weeds that may stifle it, and guard against all Casulaties that may retard its Perfection. They are by no means to endavour to divert it, but improve it to the bset Advantages; and in its Education study every Thing that may improve it: Nature and Art thus co-operating, the Production must be perfect and arrive at Due Maturity.

There is more, much more, and he fully develops his arguments, of which I have given but a taste here. I find such a stance on eductation in 1747 really quite remarkable. Do read the book: you will not regret the couple of hours you lose dipping into it. You can use the link below.

See also:

Campbell on Book-Sellers