- Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers
The Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers (better known as the Stationers' Company) is one of the Livery Companies of the City of London. The Stationers' Company was founded in 1403; it received a Royal Charter in 1557. It held a monopoly over the publishing industry and was officially responsible for setting and enforcing copyright regulations until the passage of the Statute of Anne in 1709.
Its members are all involved with the modern visual and graphic communications industries that have evolved from the original trades of the Company. These include printing, papermaking, packaging, office products, engineering, advertising, design, photography, film and video production, publishing of books, newspapers and periodicals and digital media. Its principal modern purpose is to provide an independent forum in which its members can advance the interests (strategic, educational, training and charitable) of the industries served by the Company.
In 1403, the Corporation of London approved the formation of a Guild of stationers. At this time, stationers were either text writers, lymners (illuminators), bookbinders or booksellers who worked at fixed positions (stationarius) round the walls of St Paul's Cathedral. Booksellers sold manuscript books that they or their employees had copied. They also sold the writing materials that they used. Illuminators illustrated and decorated manuscripts.
Printing gradually displaced manuscript production and, by the time that the Guild received a royal charter of incorporation on May 4, 1557, it was in effect a Printers' Guild. In 1559, it became the 47th livery company. It was based in Peter College, which it bought from St Paul's Cathedral. During the Tudor and Stuart periods, the Stationers were legally empowered to seize "offending books" that violated the standards of content set by the Church and State; its officers could bring "offenders" before ecclesiastical authorities, including the Bishop of London and Archbishop of Canterbury. Thus the Stationers played an important role in the culture of England as it evolved through the intensely turbulent decades of the Protestant Reformation and toward the English Civil War.
The Stationers' charter, establishing a monopoly on book production, ensured that once a member had asserted ownership of a text (or "copy") no other member would publish it. This is the origin of the term "copyright". Members asserted such ownership by entering it in the "entry book of copies" or the Stationers' Company Register. The Register of the Stationers' Company became one of the most essential documentary records in the later study of English Renaissance theatre. (In 1606 the Master of the Revels, who was responsible for licensing the performance of plays rather than their publication, acquired some overlapping authority over publication as well; but the Stationers Register remained a crucial source of information after that date too.) To be sure, enforcement of the rules was always a challenge, in this area as in other aspects of the Tudor/Stuart regime; and plays and other works were sometimes printed surreptitiously and illegally.
In 1603, the Stationers formed the English stock, a joint stock publishing company funded by shares held by members of the Company. This profitable business gained many patents of which the richest was for almanacks including Old Moore's Almanack. The business employed out-of-work printers and disbursed some of the profit to the poor.
In 1606, the Company bought Abergavenny House in Ave Maria Lane and moved out of Peters College. The new hall burnt down in the Great Fire of 1666 along with books to the value of about £40,000. It was rebuilt. Its present interior is much as it was when it reopened in 1673. The Court Room was added in 1748 and in 1800 the external façade was remodelled to its present form.
In 1695, the monopoly power of the Stationers' Company was diminished, and in 1710 Parliament passed the Copyright Act 1709, the first copyright act.
Registration under the Copyright Act 1911 ended in December 1923; the Company then established a voluntary register in which copyrights could be recorded to provide printed proof of ownership in case of disputes.
In 1937, a Royal Charter amalgamated the Stationers' Company and the Newspaper Makers Company, which had been founded six years earlier, into the Company of the present name.
Stationers' Hall is in Ave Maria Lane near Ludgate Hill. The building and hall date from circa 1670. The hall was remodelled in 1800 by the architect Robert Mylne. It was designated a Grade I listed building on 4 January 1950.
- Augustine Matthews
- Edward Allde
- George Eld
- Nicholas Okes
- Peter Short
- Richard Field
- Thomas Cotes
- William Stansby
- Authorized King James Version
- Edmund Evans
- Eyre & Spottiswoode
- George Faulkner
- George Mudie (Owenite)
- John Cleave
- Printing patent
- Thomas Cautley Newby
- ^ Patterson, Lyman Ray (1968). Copyright in Historical Perspective. Vanderbilt University Press.
- ^ Chambers, E. K. (1923). The Elizabethan Stage. 4 Volumes, Oxford, Clarendon Press; Vol. 3, pp. 160-77, 186-91.
- ^ Details from listed building database (199293) . Images of England. English Heritage. accessed 23 January 2009
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