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Largely owing to the efforts of Walter Arthur Copinger, who was supported by Richard Copley Christie, the Bibliographical Society was founded in London in 1892; he was the society's first president, and held the post for four years. His own work in the field, however, lacked accuracy.
The Society holds a monthly lecture between October and May, usually on the third Tuesday of the month at University College London.
The first fifty years of the Bibliographical Society were documented in the book The Bibliographical Society, 1892–1942: Studies in Retrospect. The Book Encompassed, a volume of essays marking the Society's centenary was published in 1992.
The objectives of the Society are:
- to promote and encourage study and research in the fields of:
- to hold meetings at which papers are read and discussed
- to print and publish a journal (The Library) and books concerned with bibliography
- to maintain a bibliographical library
- from time to time to award a medal for services to bibliography
- to support bibliographical research by awarding grants and bursaries
Library and archives
The Society has published a journal since 1893, originally entitled Transactions of the Bibliographical Society. In 1920 it took over publication of The Library (issued since 1889) and adopted that as the main title of the Transactions. (The Library was founded in 1889 by John Young Walker MacAlister.) The different series of the Transactions and The Library are:
- Transactions of the Bibliographical Society, vol. 1–15 (1893–1919)
- The Library, vol. 1–10 (1889–1898)
- The Library, Second/New series, vol. 1–10 (1900–1910)
- The Library, Third series, vol. 1–10 (1910–1919)
- The Library, Fourth series, vol. 1–26 (1920–1946)
- The Library, Fifth series, vol. 1–33 (1946–1978)
- The Library, Sixth series, vol. 1–21 (1979–1999)
- The Library, Seventh series, vol. 1– (2000– )
In 1937 at the start of the war, Harry Carter (typographer), Ellic Howe, Alfred F. Johnson, Stanley Morison & Graham Pollard started to produce a list of all known pre-1800 type specimens. This project was completed and published April 1940. Because of the war many libraries at the European continent were not accessible anymore.
The Society occasionally awards a gold medal for distinguished services to bibliography to individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the development of the subject and the furtherance of the Society's aims.
- Bibliographical Society of America
- Sir Frank Francis and Julian Roberts, former joint secretaries of the Society
- Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing
- Books in the United Kingdom
- Lee, Sidney, ed. (1912). . Dictionary of National Biography (2nd supplement). 1. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
- The Bibliographical Society, 1892–1942: Studies in Retrospect (London, 1949).
- Peter Davison, ed., The Book Encompassed: Studies in Twentieth-century Bibliography (Cambridge, 1992) ISBN 978-0-521-41878-2.
- "MacAlister, John Y. W." Who's Who: 1389. 1916.
- A list of Typespecimens, The Bibliographic Society, London, 1942, printed at the Oxford University Press
- "Gold Medalists". Bibliographical Society. Retrieved 29 April 2016.
- Bibliographical Society official website
- Transactions of the Bibliographical Society, 1893-, London: Bibliographical Society (HathiTrust)