The Domestic and International Trade of an Eighteenth-Century Dublin Bookseller: John Archer (1782-1810).


Throughout the eighteenth century Dublin was the second city of the three kingdoms, it was the seat of parliament, with a university and law school, a centre of trade and commerce, with particular emphasis on trade with Europe and America. Dublin was renowned for its bookshops, whose main income came from the reprints of London editions sold on the local market. Trade restrictions and the English Copyright Act meant that exports of illicitly reprinted books to Great Britain were prohibited from 1739 and exports to America were not legal until 1778.[2]

From the late seventeenth century Dublin printers and booksellers became prominent in the commercial life of the city. The establishment of the Guild of St Luke the Evangelist in 1670, as the guild of cutlers, painters, paper-stainers and stationers, gave Dublin printers and booksellers certain trading privileges and a place in the economic development of the city.[3] In the course of the eighteenth century a large number of booksellers carried on an extensive trade based on locally reprinted books, original printings and imported stock. Many of the large Dublin booksellers of the last quarter of the eighteenth century were wholesale dealers, supplying Dublin and provincial booksellers with stock. The scale of this wholesale trade in books meant a substantial financial investment, but large fortunes could be made in this way.

London was the main centre for the importation of books, periodicals and stationery in the eighteenth century, with a sharp increase in imports after the Act of Union in 1801. The extension of the Copyright Act to Ireland, as part of the Union, ended the lucrative trade in reprints, and demand for modern literature was satisfied from then on by the London book trade.

The importation of foreign language books, especially French and Italian, was a component of the book trade of most major Dublin booksellers throughout the eighteenth century. There was a perceptible shift in the market from the early to the later century, in the first half of the century continental imports were made up of expensive scholarly works in literature and the sciences, aimed at the wealthy intellectual. In the second half of the century a broader-based readership demanding the fashionable works of the Enlightenment developed, though the demand for serious works of literature, scientific and scholarly publications did not cease to be an important part of the market.

The major book importers of the last quarter of the century traded with London suppliers and directly with continental publishing centres in France, Switzerland and the Netherlands. Luke White had an account with the Société Typographique de Neuchâtel,[4] while Richard Edward Mercier traded with Wild and Altheer at Utrecht,[5] and John Archer and Antoine Gerna travelled abroad to purchase books and negotiate terms in person.[6]

By the late eighteenth century foreign language books could be purchased in most Dublin bookshops, smaller retailers purchased their stock from a Dublin importer, or through importers in London. A system of sale-or-return operated with London suppliers, but in practical terms such a system could not be carried on with continental suppliers. This system operated in favour of the smaller bookseller by cutting down on the risk factor. This emphasises all the more the entrepreneurial nature of the large-scale importation of continental editions and the level of financial risk involved. The specialists in the field of foreign language imports in the last quarter of the century could boast of a large turnover and could display a breadth of stock not equalled at any other time during the century. They could tap into a market of educated readers with a cosmopolitan taste in literature.

The career of John Archer, one of the more prominent Dublin booksellers of the late eighteenth century, illustrates the range and scale of bookselling during this period. His trade centred around bookselling, publishing and importation, he does not appear to have been a printer. He operated in the Dame Street area for his entire career, first at Crampton Court from 1782 to 1787, then at 80 Dame Street from 1788 to 1800, and finally, from 1801, at the Commercial Buildings, erected in 1798 on the site now occupied by the Central Bank.[7] Archer’s name appears on over 100 titles in the period 1782-1800, as the sole publisher of a work, as one of a group of publishers, or as a selling agent for London-printed works.[8]

He began his career in Dublin about 1782 in the firm of Archer and Cawthorne, booksellers, stationers and lottery office keepers, buying, selling, valuing and exchanging books.[9] Their shop, the Established Book-Shop, at 18 Crampton Court, at the ‘Corner of the Narrow Passage leading into Essex Street’, was the premises formerly occupied by the bookseller, Luke White. It is likely that Archer came to Dublin from the London trade, George Cawthorne was a bookseller in the Strand, and he may have been Archer’s partner in the Dublin venture.[10] It is not clear where he served his apprenticeship, the ledgers of the leading London based bookselling firm of William Strahan, note on 7 July 1761 that they took on an apprentice called John Archer, who was freed in 1768.[11]

Archer’s business quickly expanded and he began to produce an annual sale catalogue of his stock, with prices affixed. One of his earliest catalogues, that of 1785, contained 10,000 volumes. This catalogue is not extant, but an advertisement was carried in the Volunteer’s Journal in January 1785 listing a selection of the larger format books, in folio and quarto. Catalogues cost 6d. which ‘was allowed in the smallest purchase’. He described his stock as ‘the First Variety of Scarce and Valuable Books in Dublin; including every New Publication, at Reduced Prices’.[12] The titles listed included volumes of the Irish Statutes, Bibles, Dictionaries, and books on history and antiquities.

In the early years of his business Archer had imported stock from England, in 1786 he went to London and Oxford where he purchased ‘an extensive variety in all Branches of Literature’ for which he intended to issue a sale catalogue.[13] Archer and other Dublin booksellers met and socialized with their English and Scottish counterparts in both Dublin and London, in this way facilitating trade and leading to co-operation on reprints.[14] Expansion of his business is evident in 1788 with the move to a more prominent location at 80, Dame Street. The area of Dublin from Skinner Row along Dame Street to the gate of Trinity College, with the alleys and courts off Dame Street included, contained a notable density of bookshops. This was the fashionable centre of the retail book trade in the late century which had extended from its original centre around Skinner Row. Those booksellers whose businesses were in the ascendant moved to properties in this area as their next step towards greater commercial success.

Archer’s catalogue of 1788 of ‘the most elegant editions in the English language, with a few valuable French, Latin and Greek Authors’ formed only part of his extensive stock. The books were ‘all in boards, uncut, and in proper condition for binding’. Books were often offered for sale in boards, as private library owners frequently opted for uniform bindings to adorn their bookshelves. Certain collectors had their own crests and symbols stamped on the binding, for example the Putland family used the symbol of the elephant, stamped in gilt, on the spines of their books. Archer addressed himself to ‘those Gentlemen who may wish to have their favourite Authors bound agreeable to their own taste, or to match particular sets of books’.[15]

Archer offered a variety of bindings to the buyer of The young lady’s pocket library, or parental monitor in 1790 and 1791, ranging from a plain binding at 3s.3d. to ‘Red Morocco leather, gilt over, with silk strings’ for 6s.6d. These volumes, advertised in November and December of the year, were considered ‘A proper Present for the Ladies’.[16] Archer also undertook binding work for his customers, but it is not clear if this work was carried out in a bindery of his own, or contracted out to commercial bookbinders in the city.


Several Dublin booksellers dealt in secondhand books, some were imported from abroad, while others were purchased in parcels or as a complete library. Secondhand books were offered for sale as part of a regular bookshop stock, or sold by auction. Archer was involved in this aspect of the business from his earliest years, when he offered to buy and exchange books. In 1785 he advertised for secondhand stock, offering ‘the highest prices for Parcels of Old Books, or will give Books in Exchange’. By 1788 he continued to appeal to the public, stating that ‘being desirous to enlarge his Library, will give the utmost value, in ready money, for any parcel of Books’.[17] By the end of the decade Archer had certainly enlarged his bookstock, his catalogue for 1789, priced at 6½d., contained over 20,000 volumes ‘in most languages and parts of Literature’.[18]

After the death of the Hon. Denis Daly, M.P. in 1791 Archer and William Jones purchased his renowned library from the family for £2,300. They ‘hoped to derive both reputation and profit from their purchase’.[19] Auction catalogues were printed for the proprietors, Archer and Jones, and went on sale for 2s.8½d. in March 1792 for the May sale. The catalogues were distributed to booksellers in Cork. Belfast, Britain and the continent.[20] The collection was auctioned in Dublin by James Vallance on 1 May 1792 and following days. Lord Charlemont described the sale to his correspondent, Edmond Malone in London, as follows:

you judged right respecting the sale of our poor friend’s books. They have, I believe, sold for almost the double of what the family got for them. During the week of the auction the Dublin world was book mad. All men bought, they who could and they who could not read, and the prices were more than London would have afforded. I am glad of it for two reasons, because Archer is an honest man, and deserved success for the more than Irish spirit of his enterprise, and because four Scotch and two English booksellers were disappointed in their impudent expectation of finding Ireland a land of ignorance, where the best books might be purchased for a trifle.[21]

The proprietors, Archer and Jones, made a clear profit of nearly £1,200 on the sale.

Archer acted as publisher on several occasions, either on his own, or with a group of other Dublin booksellers. The large printing firm, Graisberry and Campbell, printed several of his publications during the 1790s.[22] Archer also acted as selling agent for a number of works printed in London, and his name appears in the imprint on the title pages. He was the Dublin agent for an edition of Oliver Goldsmith’s The vicar of Wakefield, printed in London in 1800, and sold by booksellers in England and Scotland. He was involved with the sale of a series of publications, under the title General View of Agriculture of various English counties, printed in London, and sold by regional booksellers in England and Scotland.

Many of Archer’s own editions were published by subscription, for example, his edition of Pennant’s Some account of London, published in 1791.[23] It was a reprint of the London edition, selling at a much more moderate cost, the price to subscribers was 11s.4½d. in boards, or 13s. ‘neatly bound’, compared with the London price of £1.9s.3d. in boards, Archer added that ‘his edition shall in every respect be superior’. This work was accompanied by engraved plates, which Archer was careful to draw to the attention of intending purchasers. The volume, in royal octavo, was ‘printed on fine paper, and enriched with all the Plates of the Author’s last edition’. This engraving work was to be carried out in Dublin, and Archer sought the approval of his customers for this project, ‘It is needless to point out the utility of an effort to improve the arts of printing and engraving in this kingdom, the public sensible of their importance, will not, it is presumed, hesitate to give it an effectual support’. Specimens of the engraved plates could be viewed at Archer’s bookshop.[24] Several of the engravings were done by Henry Brocas, and his name appears as one of the subscribers to the volume.[25] Archer’s edition attracted 388 subscribers, including 16 booksellers in Dublin, Cork and Belfast, taking multiple copies, ranging from five to twenty-five.

It was at Archer’s bookshop in 1791 that a group of intellectuals met ‘to read the newspapers, new publications, and the memoirs of transactions of the Philosophic Societies, both foreign and domestic’. On 10 May of that year the group, under the chairmanship of Richard Kirwan, the renowned chemist, decided to form a ‘Society having a Library and a Reading room of its own’.[26] This became the Dublin Library Society, which was to continue until 1881. The first committee of the society met at Archer’s until June 1791, when they rented rooms for the new library at 6, Eustace Street, the shop of James Vallance, the book auctioneer. The fact that Archer’s was the resort of such literary people suggests the range and quality of his stock, which would be of interest to them, and the accommodation which his premises could provide for gatherings of this type.

The Irish aristocracy and landed gentry spent much of the year in their townhouses in Dublin, or travelling to London, Bath or the continent, but those who were resident in Ireland spent a substantial amount of time at their country estates. Books and other luxuries were purchased throughout the year. Archer’s catalogues were aimed at this dispersed bookbuying public. In his catalogue of 1793 he addressed himself to ‘Persons residing in the Country, or elsewhere, who may favour the Proprietor with Orders’, and requested them to order by quoting the number and the first word of the title, to ensure that they received the correct edition.[27] Country house accounts have a very poor survival rate, but from the existing evidence it can be shown that the wealthy bookbuyers were not expected to purchase ‘for ready money only’ but could instead charge purchases to their standing accounts and pay quarterly or half yearly.

Archer gave credit to these larger customers. This is illustrated by the Clonbrock Papers which contain nine booksellers’ accounts from 1800 to 1806.[28] They cover the purchase of books for the library of Lord Clonbrock of Ballinasloe, Co. Galway.[29] The accounts show a substantial expenditure on books in this short time span, Archer was paid £61.15s.1d. in June 1801; £46.3s.11d. in March 1802; £94.4s.8d. in March 1803; £45.10s. in February 1805 and £89.19s.9d. in September 1806. Credit on this scale suggests a large and prosperous business with a very large turnover. Lord Clonbrock’s account with John Archer covered both books and binding.

The Bellew family of Mount Bellew, Co. Galway, built up their library in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The Bellews were Catholic gentry who did not conform during the penal laws, yet managed to retain their status and estates throughout the eighteenth century. The sons of the family were educated in France, and many had careers on the continent, in the church, the army and as merchants. The Irish branch of the family was prominent in the flour trade.[30] Christopher Dillon Bellew dealt with John Archer where he had a book account from 1790 to 1810. Bellew paid all or a portion of his book account every three to six months, it was paid by ‘Draft at 61 Days’ or ‘by a note payable in three months’. Bellew’s expenditure on books increased during the period of the account from £11.15s.7d. in August 1790 to £210 in April 1802. In January 1804, 1805 and 1806 the account was paid with drafts of £200 for each year.

Archer kept what amounted to a reading profile of his customers and purchased books with this in mind. He wrote to Bellew that he had sent him books ‘I think within your reading’ and ‘I will immediately on receiving them make out a catalogue of such as strikes me to be within your line of reading, and send it to you’.[31] He also sent books on approbation, in September 1801 Bellew was sent a ‘selection from a valuable Collection of English, French and Latin Books which are just come to hand’ and subsequent invoices show that Bellew took many of them.[32] Archer acted as agent for Bellew, in 1799 he charged Bellew for ‘advertising Lanesboro in Dublin Evening Post’ and ‘advertising Maylough to Galway, ditto’. He also acted for Bellew at book auctions held by James Vallance and R.E. Mercier, bidding for agreed items, but only purchasing them if they were good value.[33] When Archer went abroad to purchase books in 1799 he took orders from Bellew, and on his return in December 1799 he promised to send Bellew a catalogue of some of the new French books purchased on the continent.[34] From as early as 1792 Archer wrote of books imported for Bellew which included Fleury’s Histoire ecclésiastique in 37 volumes quarto at £8.10s.7½d.[35] Archer bought for Bellew in London and arranged for binding the books.[36] Bellew also purchased books from R.E. Mercier in Dublin in 1800, but it is not clear if they were from one of his auctions, or from his bookstock. Archer wrote to Bellew in April 1800 apologising that ‘through mistake the parcel from Mercier was not packed’.[37]

Among his customers John Archer numbered the Edgeworth family of Edgeworthstown, Co. Longford. Maria Edgeworth, writing to her Aunt Mary from France in 1802, recommended her to purchase and read Madame de Genlis’ Petits romans ‘and those are to be found by Darcy, if he be not drunk, at Archer’s, Dublin’.[38] The Edgeworth family clearly kept an account at Archer’s and Darcy is likely to have been a servant or agent who was given the errand of collecting the books.

George Moore of Moore Hall, Co. Galway, was another account holder at John Archer’s. He was the son of an exiled merchant from Alicante who returned from Spain in 1790 and built Moore Hall. George was born in Spain where the family prospered in the manufacture of iodine, made from kelp shipped from Galway, and the export of wine to Ireland. He built up the library at Moore Hall in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.[39] In August 1806 Archer sent a case of books for George Moore with a consignment for C.D. Bellew.[40] Archer was bookseller to His Excellency, the Earl of Hardwicke, the Lord Lieutenant, in 1802-3, this suggests a hierarchy within the trade and places Archer towards the top of that hierarchy.

The 1790s saw Archer’s trade with the continent expand and develop, he went abroad in person to fulfill orders for his clientele. His catalogue of 1791, priced 6½d., contained over 20,000 volumes in various languages ‘including an uncommon variety of rare books and every new Work of approved Merit published here and abroad’.[41] In October 1791, after the purchase of books in London ‘the most capital collection of Books ever imported, at once, into this kingdom’, he went to Paris and other centres on the continent to procure ‘the most valuable, rare and expensive works’ and he expressed his willingness to take commissions from customers.[42]

In July 1792 he once again set out for London, Paris and Venice ‘for the purpose of enlarging his present extensive Collection of Books’, the books purchased would form his new ‘Catalogue of the Most Valuable and Curious Books ever offered for sale in this kingdom’ which he hoped to publish the following winter.[43] The fruits of this buying expedition are to be found in the extensive sale catalogue of 1793, which contained nearly 30,000 volumes to be sold in 5,418 lots.[44] Archer spent four months on the continent from August to November 1799 where he took commissions for books, purchasing French books for Christopher Dillon Bellew and probably also for other customers.[45] In 1801 he issued a priced catalogue devoted to French and Italian literature containing 564 titles in continental editions.[46]

Archer’s importation business was considerable at the commencement of the nineteenth century. In April 1802 he expected 2,000 volumes from London by the end of the week.[47] This period marked the high point of his bookselling career. He was expanding his business, especially in the area of book importation, and he advertised that he wished to make his shop ‘a Repository of the Literature of Europe’.[48] At this time, too, there is a notice of his second marriage, to Miss M. Priest of Salisbury St, London.[49] They had at least three sons, William (b.1805), Robert (1806-1820), and Edward (b.1808), all of whom attended Trinity College.[50]

The French Revolutionary Wars ended with the Peace of Amiens in March 1802, to the great relief of merchants whose business interests were affected by the state of war, and the consequent danger to shipping. In April 1802 Archer’s advertisement headed ‘Price of Books Reduced!’ appeared in the press, and he announced:

Peace having lowered the rates of Insurance, Freight, Carriage, and other Expenses attending the Importation of Books; and the Duty on Paper being in part taken off, by the Legislature, J. Archer, desirous that his Customers should benefit by the same, has determined to sell, in future, all Books he may import from Great Britain at the original prices, free of any advance or charge whatever.[51]

His last trip to the continent took place in the summer of 1802 when he went to France and Germany ‘for the purpose of collecting the choicest publications of the Continent and to form such connexions there as must in future secure to his customers every possible Accommodation in his line, on Terms the most advantageous to them’.[52]

Irish and British visitors had taken the opportunity of travelling to France after the peace was signed in March 1802. One report estimated that by September there were no fewer than 16,000 visitors in Paris from England and Ireland.[53] The peace came to a sudden end in May 1803, the outbreak of hostilities took many by surprise and they were detained in France as aliens until after the first Peace of Paris in 1814. Among those detained were Lovell Edgeworth, brother of Maria Edgeworth, and James Edward Devereux of Carrigmenan, a member of the Catholic Committee for Co. Wexford. In a letter of June 1803 to Lord Clonbrock Archer requested payment of his book account as he was ‘so unfortunate as to have books to the value of near £1500 in France, and all paid for’ as his books were impounded in France.[54] Some of his books were released and in August 1803 he wrote to C.D. Bellew ‘I have been unfortunate, only a part of the Books that I expected from France are arrived, the remainder to the value of near £700 paid, are detained in France’.[55] The state of war, accompanied by the detention of his books created a credit squeeze for Archer. In January 1804 in gratitude for the payment of his bill, he wrote to Bellew ‘nothing could be more timely than your recollection of me, for during the whole of my life, I never was so much in want of money – my french Books lie very heavy on my hands and as yet I have not recd. any acct. of those I expected from France, but, I hope they are safe’.[56]

Importation of continental books from this time until his retirement was through London and Archer charged for them as follows: ‘the foreign books are priced according to Mr Lunn’s Catalogue with 12 p.ct. advance – the English or London printed articles are at in general the publication prices’.[57] The steady decline of Archer’s importation business was apparent from this time, in June 1807 he stated: ‘there is very little novel in the book way … and business cannot be worse’ and by July he wrote: ‘Its my intention to visit London by the end of August to cloase accts. the greater part of them I shall never open again. Business is so very bad I am completely discovering my stock exceeding heavy’ and by December ‘the London Booksellers had drained me of the last shilling’.[58]

In 1809 and 1810 Archer’s business was conducted by his son from his first marriage, Charles Palmer Archer.[59] Charles had his own bookshop in Dame Street until 1827 when he was termed ‘His Majesty’s Bookseller in Ireland’.[60] Archer was clearly ill as Charles wrote to Bellew in August 1809 ‘there being no likelyhood at present of Mr Archer’s being able to attend to business’.[61] Archer retired from business in 1810 and died in July 1811.[62] His stock was sold by auction by Thomas Jones on 12 November and following days, presumably to raise money for his widow and young sons from his second marriage. The extant catalogue covers only part of his stock, amounting to 3,000 volumes, containing continental as well as Dublin and London imprints.[63]

The early years of the nineteenth century were bad ones for Dublin booksellers. As a result of the Union the reprint trade collapsed, putting many booksellers out of business, but more significantly for Archer, the readership declined as many prominent families closed up their Dublin houses and moved to London. The early nineteenth century saw a large number of private libraries coming up for auction as their owners left the city. In the eighteenth century the bookbuying public consisted of the nobility, gentry and emerging middle classes, after the Union the political and cultural focus for the gentry shifted to London, and the market for luxury goods declined. The professional and merchant middle classes now formed the core of the book market, with some large country house accounts still remaining. It was in the early nineteenth century that many Catholic families returned from the continent and began to assemble libraries at their country estates.

The importance of Archer’s bookselling business can be assessed in relation to that of Luke White, the leading Dublin book importer of the late eighteenth century. Both issued stock catalogues containing tens of thousands of volumes, White from 1777 and Archer from at least 1785.[64] Both carried an extensive stock of continental literature, especially in French and Italian, and both traded directly with continental suppliers, White with the Société Typographique de Neuchâtel and other suppliers, and Archer trading personally with continental publishing centres. White was active in reprinting popular titles from London and continental editions, as sole publisher or with a group of booksellers. His name occurs in the imprints of over 370 books between 1776 and 1797.[65] Archer’s publishing record was more modest, just over 100, and consisted mostly of reprinted English language editions. White, however, diversified his business interests, giving up the retail book trade in 1793 to concentrate on the wholesale book trade and book importation, he invested in property and became involved in finance, thus laying the foundations of a substantial personal fortune. Archer’s bookselling business suffered greatly in the early nineteenth century as a result of the Union and the Napoleonic wars.

Archer’s business interests in the book trade were substantial in the 30 years of his working life and point to the scale of bookselling in Dublin at this period. Archer was only one of many Dublin booksellers whose trade was international in scope, whose investment in the trade was considerable, and whose returns reflected that heavy investment. The speculative nature of the international trade is obvious, as fortunes were made, as in the case of Luke White, and lost, in Archer’s case.

Specialisation in the continental book trade, in the early eighteenth century, and more particularly in the last quarter of the century, provides evidence of a sufficient demand for imported continental literature among bookbuyers. It also points to the diversity on offer to the Irish reading public as booksellers sought to import the latest and best publications from the continent, through their contacts in Paris, Amsterdam, The Hague, Vienna, Neuchâtel and Utrecht. Irish bookbuyers were able to support the Dublin book trade in its publishing and bookselling activities. The foreign language book importers catered solely for the domestic market which was sufficient to keep several booksellers with extensive undertakings in business throughout the century.

All images courtesy of Dublin City Library & Archive ( )

[1] An earlier version of this article was first published in Dublin Historical Record, XLIX, no. 2 (Autumn 1996), pp 94-105.

[2] British Copyright Act 1709 (8 Ann, c.19, Great Britain, in force 10 Apr. 1710); Importation Act 1739 (12 George II, c.36, Great Britain, in force 20 Sept. 1739). In 1778 some Irish goods, including books, were allowed to be exported directly to the colonies (18 George III, c.55, Great Britain). M. Pollard. Dublin’s trade in books 1550-1800 (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1989), pp 66-109.

[3] National Library of Ireland: Mss 12,121-12,125 Records of the Guild of St Luke the Evangelist, vols I-V, 1670-1785.

[4] Hugh Gough, Hugh ‘Book Imports from continental Europe in late eighteenth-century Ireland: Luke White and the Société Typographique de Neuchâtel’, Long Room, 38 (1993), pp 35-48.

[5] Anthologia Hibernica, 4 vols (Dublin, R.E. Mercier & Co., 1793-94), i, June 1793, p. 450.

[6] Dublin Chronicle 24 July 1788. Gerna offered to execute commands in Paris for ‘Gentlemen in the book line’.

[7] Wilson’s Dublin directories 1783-1809.

[8] The Eighteenth-Century Short Title Catalogue (ESTC) lists Archer in the imprint of 104 titles, but additional titles may be located in libraries which have not yet been added to the ESTC.

[9] Freeman’s Journal, 24-26 Oct. 1782.

[10] George Cawthorne, bookseller in the Strand, London, d. 24 June 1804.

[11] British Library: Add MSS 4800-48918, Strahan archive

[12] Volunteer’s Journal, 24 Jan. 1785; 18 Feb. 1785.

[13] Dublin Journal, 9-11 May 1786.

[14] Richard B. Sher, The Enlightenment and the book: Scottish authors and their publishers in eighteenth-century Britain, Ireland and America (Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 2006), p. 452.

[15] Freeman’s Journal, 29 Nov.-2 Dec. 1788.

[16] The young lady’s pocket library, or parental monitor (Dublin, printed by Graisberry & Campbell for John Archer, 1790). M. Pollard, ‘Plain calf for plain people’ in Agnes Bernelle, ed. Decantations: a tribute to Maurice Craig (Dublin, The Lilliput Press, 1992), pp 177-86; p.185. Dublin Chronicle, 27 Nov. 1790; 22 Dec. 1791.

[17] Freeman’s Journal, 29 Nov.-2 Dec. 1788.

[18] John Archer, A catalogue of books (for 1789) … the sale begins 11th Feb. 1789. At the shop of John Archer, no. 80, Dame-street (Dublin, 1789).

[19] J.S.C., ‘Bookbuyers in the Olden Time’, The Irish Book Lover, 3, no. 10 (1912), pp 159-60. T.U. Sadleir, ‘An eighteenth-century Irish gentleman’s library’, Book Collector, 2 (1953), pp 173-76.

[20] Catalogue of the library of the late Rt Hon. Denis Daly which will be sold by auction by James Vallance on 1 May 1792 (Dublin, printed for the proprietors John Archer and William Jones, 1792). Dublin Chronicle, 24 Mar. 1792.

[21] The manuscripts and correspondence of James, First Earl of Charlemont, 2 vols, Vol. II 1784-1799, Historical Manuscripts Commission (London, HMSO, 1894), pp 193-94.

[22] Trinity College Dublin: Mss 10,314-10,316, Graisberry ledgers (1777-1785; 1797-1806); cash book (1799).

Vincent Kinane and Charles Benson, ‘Some late 18th- and early 19th-century Dublin printers’ account books: the Graisberry ledgers, in Peter Isaac ed., Six centuries of the provincial book trade in Britain, papers presented at the Eighth seminar on the British book trade, Durham, July 1990 (Winchester, St Paul’s Bibliographies, 1990), pp 139-50.

[23] Thomas Pennant, Some account of London, third edition (Dublin, printed for John Archer, 1791).

[24] Dublin Chronicle, 22 Dec. 1791; 19 Jan. 1792.

[25] Henry Brocas (1762-1837) was a landscape painter and engraver. As an engraver he contributed to several Dublin periodicals. From 1801 to his death in 1837 he was master of the Landscape and Ornament School of the Royal Dublin Society. Walter George Strickland, A dictionary of Irish artists, 2 vols (Dublin, Maunsel, 1913).

[26] Alexander MacWilliam, ‘The Dublin Library Society 1791-1882’ Short papers of the Bibliographical Society of Ireland, 2, no. 6 (1925), pp 120-31. John T. Gilbert, A history of the city of Dublin, 3 vols (Dublin, Gill & Macmillan, The Sackville Library (reprint), 1978), ii, pp 314-5.

[27] Archer’s Catalogue of Books for 1793. The sale begins on Wednesday, the 3d of April 1793 (Dublin, 1793).

[28] National Library of Ireland: Ms. 22,177, Clonbrock Papers, Booksellers accounts c.1800-1806, 10 items.

[29] Five are book accounts of John Archer, two are duplicate bills from James Carpenter and Co., Old Bond Street, London, one is from J. White and one has no date or bookseller’s name. James Carpenter was paid £166.5s.3d. to cover books purchased between October 1800 and May 1801. J. White was paid £142 in April 1801: – this included £31.10s. for the 70 volumes of the Beaumarchais edition of the Oeuvres of Voltaire in elegant bindings. An unnamed bookseller was paid £101.2s.6d. for 111 volumes of books.

[30] Karen J. Harvey, ‘The family experience: the Bellews of Mount Bellew’ in T.P. Power, and Kevin Whelan, eds. Endurance and emergence: Catholics in Ireland in the eighteenth century (Dublin, Irish Academic Press, 1990), pp 171-197.

[31] National Library of Ireland: Ms. 27,293, Bellew Papers, Letters and accounts from John Archer, bookseller, to C.D. Bellew, 1790-1810; letters 8 Jan. 1805; 23 Jan. 1806.

[32] Ibid., letter 18 Sept. 1801.

[33] Archer purchased books for Bellew at the sale of the library of Dr William Newcome, Archbishop of Armagh, auctioned by Vallance from 31 March 1800 ‘almost every article of value in the Primate’s Collection, as yet, has sold above the value. I have purchased a few Books for you, but on reasonable terms’. Charles P. Archer, who conducted business during John Archer’s illness, mentioned that Thomas Jones, the auctioneer, had bought books for Bellew at the sale of Mr Caldwell’s library, which began on 3 May 1809. Bellew Papers, op. cit., letters 14 Apr. 1800; 13 May 1809.

[34] Ibid., letter 5 Dec. 1799.

[35] Ibid., account Sept. 1793-Apr. 1794.

[36] ‘I shall have a large Box of Books ready for you by the end of next week, consisting of Books from the list of Messrs Rivington London … which are now in the hand of the binder’. Ibid., letter 6 Apr. 1808.

[37] Ibid., letter 14 Apr. 1800.

[38] F.V. Barry, Maria Edgeworth: chosen letters (London, Cape, 1931), p.108.

[39] Joseph Hone, The life of George Moore (London, Gollancz, 1936); Joseph Hone, The Moores of Moore Hall (London, Cape), 1939.

[40] Bellew Papers, op. cit., letter 1 Aug. 1806.

[41] Dublin Chronicle, 31 Mar. 1791.

[42] Dublin Chronicle, 6 Oct. 1791.

[43] Dublin Chronicle, 28 July 1792.

[44] Archer’s Catalogue of Books for 1793, op. cit.

[45] Bellew Papers, op. cit., letters 20 July 1799; 5 Dec. 1799.

[46] A catalogue of French and Italian books, imported and sold by J. Archer, Bookseller, Commercial Buildings, Dublin, 1801.

[47] Hibernian Journal, 22 Apr. 1802.

[48] Hibernian Journal, 19 Apr. 1802.

[49] Freeman’s Journal, 21 Aug. 1802. Walker’s Hibernian Magazine (Sept. 1802). Henry Farrar, Irish marriages … in Walker’s Hibernian Magazine 1771-1812, 2 vols (London, Phillimore & Co., 1897).

[50] Alumni Dublinenses, ed. by G.D. Burtchaell and T.U. Sadleir (Dublin, Alex. Thom & Co., 1935). M. Pollard, A dictionary of members of the Dublin book trade 1550-1800 (London, Bibliographical Society, 2000).

[51] Hibernian Journal, 19 Apr. 1802.

[52] Hibernian Journal, 22 Apr. 1802.

[53] Freeman’s Journal, 7 Sept. 1802.

[54] Clonbrock Papers, op. cit., letter 15 June 1803.

[55] Bellew Papers, op. cit., letter 5 Aug. 1803.

[56] Ibid., letter 25 Jan. 1804.

[57] Ibid., letter 5 Mar. 1806.

[58] Ibid., letters 6 June 1807; 22 July 1807; 4 Dec. 1807.

[59] Charles Palmer Archer was freed by the guild in 1810, and later became Lord Mayor and M.P. for Dublin. Pollard, Dictionary.

[60] Wilson’s Dublin directories 1810-1827, first at 44, and later at 34 Dame Street.

[61] Bellew Papers, op. cit., letter 7 Aug. 1809.

[62] Pollard, Dictionary. Belfast News Letter, 19 July 1811.

[63] A catalogue of a valuable collection of books, being part of the stock of John Archer (lately retired from business) which will be sold by auction by Thomas Jones, 12 Nov. 1810.

[64] Independent Chronicle, 15 May 1777; Hibernian Journal, 3-5 Nov. 1777.

[65] ESTC online.


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