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The Distribution of Almanacks in the Second Half of the Seventeenth Century by Cyprian Blagden
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Page 107

The Distribution of Almanacks in the Second Half of the Seventeenth Century
Cyprian Blagden

NATURE HAS ARRANGED THAT, WHERE THE odds against survival are heavy, the seeds or the eggs through which survival is achieved are proliferated; in the world of the printed word, human activity achieves a corresponding balance by destroying a very high proportion of the books which are produced in the greatest quantities. This must surely be a cause for rejoicing in the twentieth century—so far at least as contemporary production is concerned; but it can be a cause of difficulty, and even of error, when we move back 250 years or more and are forced to rely, for instance, on a single mutilated copy of a school book or even on hearsay for our knowledge of a once widely distributed and frequently handled publication. The study of Literature is probably unaffected by this; but our understanding of what people were reading is made more difficult. Moreover, with the destruction of popular literature went (though for somewhat different reasons) the almost total destruction of the records of its manufacture and distribution; and the survival of quantitative evidence dating back into the seventeenth century is rare enough to be exciting.

It happened that, in 1603, the Stationers' Company received from James I the sole right of printing—amongst other popular books—Almanacks and Prognostications; and there has survived one of the ledgers[1]—a Stock Book dating from sixty years later—in which were maintained the basic records of the trading company within the Company. For the first twenty-four years of the Stock Book's use a detailed account was kept of the almanacks delivered to the Treasurer, the 'manager' of the English Stock of the Stationers' Company; from these details, and from such other contemporary evidence as I have been able


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to find, I want to show the size and importance of one kind of popular book production during the reigns of Charles II and James II.

A certain amount of information about the Company's policy in the production and sale of almanacks from 1603 can be found in the Court Books,[2] and there are useful items of information in the Treasurer's Journal which covers the years from 1653 to 1698. Mr Bosanquet has written, in general terms and out of his great experience of handling surviving examples, an account[3] of almanacks during the seventeenth century. I will therefore concentrate upon the quantitative detail which survives in the Stock Book and try to answer as many as possible of the following questions: How many copies of each almanack were printed in London and how many almanacks sold well enough to be reprinted? What proportions remained unsold? Which were printed at Cambridge and in what quantities? What evidence is there for other printing of almanacks—either in London or elsewhere, either surreptitious or legitimate? What were the costs of setting and printing the texts and of printing the plates, and what was the price of paper? How much were the authors paid? At what prices did the Treasurer sell to London booksellers and what prices did country booksellers and the public normally pay? Finally, what profit did the almanack monopoly earn for the partners in the English Stock?

The answers to some of these questions are simple and can be given most easily in tabular form. But, since it would be fatiguing to supply all the figures in all the years for which they are available, I have, in Table I, shown the details of first printings, reprints and unsold copies for nine years only—for the first three years, for the next three (which are also the first three after the Fire) and for the last three. The year at the head of each column is, of course, that for which and not in which the almanacks were printed.

In order to provide a complete picture for one almanack and an indication of the steadiness of the almanack business (the evidence being available for a much longer period), I have, in Table II given the numbers printed of Andrews for all but two of the twenty-four years; and in Table III the value, at wholesale prices, of all the almanacks delivered to the Treasurer from the winter of 1663/4 to the winter of 1713/4, the last of the Stuart era. Table IV lists those almanacks which appeared after 1669 and disappeared before 1685, and which therefore do not find places in Table I.


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Table II. Total deliveries of Andrews' Almanacks, 1664-1684

1664  12,500  1672  15,000  1680  27,000 
1665  12,500  1673  21,000  1681  not known [4]  
1666  10,000  1674  17,500  1682  not known  
1667  10,000  1675  17,500  1683  30,000 
1668  14,500  1676  30,000  1684  25,000 
1669  15,000  1677  25,000  1685  25,000 
1670  15,000  1678  30,000  1686  25,000 
1671  16,000  1679  30,000  1687  20,000 

Table III. Value, at wholesale prices and to the nearest £, of all almanacks delivered to the Treasurer, 1663/4-1713/4

£  £  £ 
1663/4  2,506  1680/1  3,062  1697/8  2,728 
1664/5  2,651  1681/2  2,903  1698/9  2,816 
1665/6  2,418  1682/3  3,418  1699/1700  3,024 
1666/7  2,650[5]   1683/4  3,212  1700/1  3,199 
1667/8  2,688  1684/5  3,189  1701/2  3,200 
1668/9  2,333  1685/6  2,993  1702/3  3,225 
1669/70  2,241  1686/7  3,081  1703/4  3,202 
1670/1  2,487  1687/8  3,107  1704/5  3,214 
1671/2  2,537  1688/9  2,877  1705/6  3,069 
1672/3  2,582  1689/90  3,281  1706/7  2,960 
1673/4  2,455  1690/1  3,248  1707/8  2,904 
1674/5  2,521  1691/2  2,990  1708/9  3,067 
1675/6  2,519  1692/3  3,170  1709/10  2,763 
1676/7  2,685  1693/4  3,112  1710/1  2,767 
1677/8  2,645  1694/5  3,064  1711/2  3,694[6]  
1678/9  2,605  1695/6  3,017  1712/3  4,150 
1679/80  3,015  1696/7  2,910  1713/4  4,397 


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Table IV. Almanacks which were alive only after 1669 and before 1685

Rate per  
Name   Wing no. A   Began   Ended   1,000 
Atkinson  1305  1670  1677  £8  not printed 1675 
Smith  2395  1673  1675 
Oxford  2676  1673  only  10  also 8 reams of Sheet almanacks 
London  1925  1673  1674 
Episcopal  2633  1674  1678 
Country  1928  1675  1677 
Shepherd  1381  1675  1678 
Seaman  2371  1675  1677  Author recd. £2 2s.  
Royal  --  1675  1678  10 
Crawford  1497  1676  1677 
Lord  1927  1678  only 
Peter  2102  1678  only 
Yea & Nay  1947A  1678  1680  Author recd. £6 4s.  
Readman  2242  1680  only  Supplied from Cambridge, 1684, &c.mmat; £10 
Kirby  1856  1681  1682  1,797 unsold copies 
Johnson  1851  1683  only[7]  
Hill  1822A  1684  only 
Salmon  2314  1684  only 

In Table I, I have added, for each three-year period, a column for the rate per 1,000 at which the almanacks were sold by the Treasurer, and I have marked with asterisks those quantities printed, under a series of agreements, by the Printer to the University of Cambridge. (I have also done this in Table IV.) It will be noticed that most of the almanacks fall into one or other of two main categories: 'blanks' and 'sorts'; the former were half a sheet (eight pages) longer than the latter and had the first two sheets rubricated, as compared with the first only; they also gave a whole opening, rather than a single page, to each month. The resulting blank spaces were used for private entries and provided the name for this category;[8] it is possible that variety in 'sorts' developed while there was still only one 'blank', but it can be seen in Table IV that new almanacks tried out during the reign of Charles II were almost all 'blanks'.


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In Table I, I have also given a column for the amounts (taken from the Journal) paid annually to authors, at the beginning and at the end of the period: a few copies of each almanack were also bound up for presentation to authors, who usually received, in addition, a number of stitched 'offprints'. The normal rate for authors of 'sorts' was £2 throughout the century; as early as 1631 Braithwaite[9] was grumbling at the payment, but sixty years later Mr (?William) Leybourn was content to compile half a dozen or more at forty shillings a piece. For others, however, the rate varied—perhaps with the success of the product the previous year; the 1658 arrangement with William Lilly, for instance, was that he should receive £60 if the sales of his almanack reached 20,000. John Tipper, writing to Humphrey Wanley in November 1703,[10] told him that the Company never paid the author for the first year of a new almanack (though he had been given 100 copies as a present) but that 'if it comes to be printed another year, then they will give me proportionate to what they give others'.

The first of the questions to which answers cannot be given in the Tables concerns surreptitious printing, and only the vaguest answer is possible. In the Journal there are scores of references to the buying in of counterfeit almanacks, to the payment of informers and to legal action against pirates. It is obvious that, when 20,000 copies of a book are being distributed within a few weeks, it cannot have been difficult for a pirate, with the connivance of a wholesaler, to feed another 5,000 to the market; since, as I shall show, there was also good profit to be earned by almanack publishing, both opportunity for and temptation to piracy existed; but the extent cannot even be guessed at. The most flagrant case I have found was the printing of almanacks at York in the early part of the period; this was the chief subject discussed, as a result of journeys to the north, at the last meeting of the Court before the Fire; it was the only subject minuted after the first—but informal—post-Fire meeting. In the end the two York stationers, Francis Mawburn (who admitted to distributing 4,000 almanacks, with twenty different titles,[11] and some sheet almanacks) and Richard Lambert paid the English Stock respectively £65 and £24, early in 1667. The heaviness of the fines reflects either the enormous quantities unlawfully produced or the Company's determination to give a sharp lesson to


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stationers in the city which had recently received official permission to have a press, or both.

In addition to the surreptitious printing of the Company's copies, there was the legitimate production of other almanacks—in Dublin; in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow; in Oxford and Cambridge; and even in London, where Raven's and a Welsh almanack were printed under licence. Moreover, the Seymour family laid claim to certain almanacks,[12] as part (I suppose) of the School Book Patent; and there was a trickle of near-almanack publishing,[13] which hoped to cash in on the demand without quite infringing the Company's monopoly.

Unfortunately, the vouchers from which the Journal was posted have been destroyed and there are seldom sufficient details, against the payments to printers, to tell what work was being paid for. The most one is told—and this very seldom—is that, in 1668 for instance, Milbourn was paid at the rate of 3s. 4d. each for twenty reams of Booker and forty-five of Trigge, and that Bruges was paid £9 13s. 4d. for twenty-nine reams of Saunders; or that in 1673 Lilliecrap received £7 10s. for twenty reams of Dade and, two years later, Bruges £12 for thirty-two reams of Andrews.[14] These are all post-Fire prices and the rates per ream, which work out at 3s. 4d., 6s. 8d. and 7s. 6d., are obviously inadequate figures upon which to base any general estimate of cost. Luckily Dr Thomas Yate, Principal of Brazenose College, Oxford, and Bishop Fell's efficient lieutenant,[15] has left some estimates he made about 1671 for printing at Oxford a three-sheet book almanack in octavo. He took paper at 4s. a ream (allowing 10% for wastage), composing and printing at 2s. 6d. a ream and rolling-press work at 4d. per 1,000. If we accept Yate's figure for paper (which is occasionally confirmed in the Journal), drop the charge for the rolling-press (since the crude illustrations in the London almanacks must have been printed with the text) and bear in mind the facts that the Company rubricated two of the three sheets and often employed more than one printer for the same almanack, the Journal figures make more, if not


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complete, sense, and we can compile the following tentative estimate for 10,000 copies of a 'blank'[16] almanack at post-Fire rates:                  
£  s.   d.  
66 reams of paper &c.mmat; 4s.   13 
composing and printing 
&c.mmat; 3s. 4d. for 2 rubricated sheets 
&c.mmat; 2s. 6d. for remaining sheet  15 
copy money, say  10 
total  30  15 
wholesale price &c.mmat; £8 per 1,000  80 

I have worked out that, over the ten-year period 1673/4—1682/3, the total expenditure by the English Stock on paper, printing and authorship was 38.2% of the total value, at wholesale rates, of all books and almanacks delivered to the Treasurer; 38.2% of £80 is £30 11s.d. My figure for the printing of 10,000 'blanks' could be varied considerably by altering the sum paid to the author or the ratio of that sum to the number printed; and it is only put forward tentatively.[17] I am inclined to think that I have underestimated the rates for printing, which would mean that the profit on books, which took months to accumulate, was (quite understandably) greater than that on almanacks which was earned in a few weeks—assuming that the length of credit on each kind of business was the same. The possibility that I have overestimated the profit on almanacks is, to some extent, supported by Richard Head who, in The English Rogue,[18] estimates that the Company cleared, in the early 1660s, over £1,000 a year from the sale of almanacks. 'But a knavish printer,' he goes on, 'lately outwitted them, for he printed a great number of almanacks, and though he printed but two sorts, yet they served for all the other sorts [an ingenious


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method of dealing with the 'sorts', and not so far from the Company's], only altering the title page, at the beginning, and the last sheet which we call the prog, or prognostication. These almanacks he affording cheaper than ordinary, as indeed well he might [a telling phrase], he sold off a good number of them, which was to his gain and their great hindrance, but he is lately discovered, and how they will deal with him I know not.' For once we know more than Richard Head; but his account of the York piracy suggests that the profit of the English Stock (out of which, of course, came handsome dividends to the partners) was greater than private booksellers normally made and that there was some foundation for the usual complaint that monopolies led to high prices. If, however, my calculations are right, the annual profit on almanacks was much nearer £1,500 than £1,000, and we know that it remained, until well into the second half of the nineteenth century, what Christopher Barker had called it in 1582 (when it was still going into the pockets of Watkins and Roberts) 'a pretty commoditie toward an honest mans lyving'.

The last questions to which I would like to find complete answers concern the rates at which country booksellers normally bought from the London wholesalers and the prices which members of the public paid. The evidence for transactions of this kind is extremely difficult to find, but some light is thrown on trade prices by a dispute between a Chester bookseller, Richard Thropp, and his London correspondent, Edward Dod; this led to a lawsuit in 1653.[19] From the evidence (and assuming that the English Stock rates were the same ten years before as they were in 1663) the following comparative figures can be given:

'sorts'  'blanks'  Gallen  Lilly 
s.   s.   s.   s.  
rate per 100 to wholesalers  10  12  14  37 
rate per 100 to retailers  10/8d.   13  17  46 
It also appears that some almanacks were supplied in small quantities, bound in sheep and clasped: Gallen &c.mmat; six for 2s. 9d., Booker (a 'blank') &c.mmat; four for 2s. 2d. and Goldsmith (8s. per 100 to wholesalers) at six for 1s. 10d. The binding rates for Gallen and Booker work out, respectively, at 3½d. and 5d. a copy; unfortunately, the list of binding prices, agreed in 1669, makes no mention either of almanacks or of clasping.

Competition for the country market must have been severe in the standard lines—'blanks' and 'sorts'—for the wholesaler to have been


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satisfied with such a small margin. The binding costs were high for single almanacks; but it is believed that many private customers used to have a dozen or more bound up together. The proportion of almanacks which survive in these bound sets is naturally large and may give a false picture of the numbers treated in this way; but many people must have bought them primarily as reference books or as 'desk' books, and only Rider, Gallen and Goldsmith were designed for carrying about, flat or rolled—the ancestors of our pocket diaries.

The alternatives in the method and cost of binding, as always in the seventeenth century, make it almost impossible to arrive at what we know as the published prices. Before the Fire, Anthony Wood normally bought 'sorts' at 3d. and 'blanks' at 4d. each and for Wharton (1658) he paid 6d.; these were probably interleaved and stitched; in December 1667 he paid 7½d. for Gadbury. Another Oxford customer, Dr Stringer, bought an almanack in 1651 for 2d. from Henry Cripps,[20] who, a year later, sold another almanack for 6d.! The post-Fire prices would be at least 25% higher; but this does not get us very far. If any reader of this article can direct me to booksellers' advertisements or private accounts which will throw any light on the mark-up, with or without the addition of binding, between wholesale and retail prices during the seventeenth century, I shall be grateful.

'Of necessity,' writes Mr Bosanquet at the beginning of the article to which I have already referred, 'an old Almanack, merely as an Almanack, must be a very dull book;' and he gives some splendid reasons in support of this statement. But he devotes the rest of the article to showing what interest and information lie hidden in almanacks. Moreover, he speculates about the numbers of copies printed. 'If the average edition,' he says, 'only consisted of from 1,500 to 2,000 copies, we have a total of from three to four millions for the century, and this must be well under the mark. Figures such as these, even though they do not pretend to be correct, show that no book in the English language had such a large circulation as the annual Almanack.'

This is as true as it is important, both for the effect of these little books on a population which was quite small and still far from literate, and for the sheer volume of business with which the book trade was able to deal in the few weeks before Christmas. But the really remarkable point is that Mr Bosanquet's estimate of quantity is true not for the whole century but for the ten years from November 1663. We cannot however multiply his estimate by ten and arrive thereby at a new figure for the century; although the almanack business was a profitable


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one when the Company took it over, it is most unlikely that the numbers printed approached those of 1664 until the effects both of the Civil War stimulus to printing and of the Restoration conditions for peaceful distribution could be felt together. 1665 was, in fact, a minor peak of a year, which was not equalled until 1683; it would be unwise to continue the line of the graph, which is astonishingly level during the period for which we have figures, backwards into the first half of the century, at anything like the same height; but further guessing would be valueless.

In conclusion, I should like to mention again a factor which affected both the total number of almanacks in circulation and the decisions which the Stock-keepers made about the numbers to print for their stock each year; this factor is the quantity of almanacks surreptitiously printed. The figures in the 'unsold' columns for 1665 and 1666 in Table I, compared with those for the previous year, show clearly how well the size of the market was normally estimated[21] and how vulnerable the Company was to competition; Mawburn and Lambert were not discovering a wholly new public from York but, to an uncomfortable extent, biting into the existing market. The value of unsold almanacks tended to increase as the century grew older; in 1684 it was nearly £250 and by 1696 it was over £300. It therefore seems as if the evenness of the Company's production in a generally expanding market might be explained by the ever-present fear—and fact—of infringement. The attack might come at any point: in 1666 and 1667 it seems to have been aimed at Pond and Dove; and by the time the culprits have been discovered the damage has been done; piracy may only delay the sale of a book; it destroys the sale of an annual. In spite of its caution, the English Stock found itself landed each year with a few more reams of unsold[22] almanacks; but, aided by its caution, the Company clung to most of the profits to be made in this market under the changing conditions of the eighteenth century, and it was not until 1775 that Thomas Carnan succeeded in breaking the almanack monopoly.

Fold Out Chart Recto

Page Fold Out Chart Recto
Paid for Copy  Wholesale price per 1,000  1664  1665  1666  Post-Fire price per 1,000  1667  1668  1669  1670-1684  1685  1686  1687  Wholesale price per 1,000  Paid for Copy 
Name of Almanack  1664 ref. in Wing A  £  £  first impression  second impression  number unsold  first impression  second impression  number unsold  number printed  number unsold  £  number printed  number unsold  number printed  number unsold  number printed  number unsold  See Table IV  first impression  second impression  first impression  second impression  first impression  second impression  £  £  1687 ref. in Wing A  Name of Almanack 
Rider 12°  2248A  10  10,000  9,000  15,000  7,500  18,000}  2,000  10  20,000  22,500  25,950  350  30,000  7,000  30,000  3,000  30,000  5,000  10  10  --  Rider 12° 
Gallen 12°  --  10,000  12,000  12,000}  10  8,000  8,000  10,000  10,000  10,000  10,000  10  --  Gallen 12° 
Goldsmith 24°  --  16,000  300  10,000  200  10,000  2,800  12,000  13,000  15,000  200  20,000  4,000  20,000  3,000  20,000  2,000  --  1796  Goldsmith 24° 
Lilly 8°  1896  48  18.5  8,000  275  7,965  12,000  850  18.5  14,500  10,974  9,475  75  5,150  3,000  3,500  18.5  20  1438  Lilly 8° 
Wharton 8°  2655  18.5  8,000  1,300  7,000  1,080  7,000  2,000  -- 
Smith 24°  --  --  3,000  400  5,000  3,300  -- 
Gadbury 8°  --  --  --  18  6,000  2,538  3,000  50  last 1675  4,000  18  --  1942  Gadbury's Plot 
'Blanks' 8°  675  108  'Blanks' 8° 
Wing (Vincent)  2813  25,000  16,500  30,000  15,000  43,000  34  40,000  50,000  52,500  750  not 1673-9  6,000[*]   9,000[*]   8,300[*]   --  2778  Wing (John) 
Poor Robin  2183  18,000  8,000  25,000  4,000  75  20,000  100  20,000  22,500  25,000  18,000  18,000  18,000  1,500  2206  Poor Robin 
Saunders  2334  10  15,000  20,000  300  15,000  700  14,000  560  14,500  450  14,000  50  20,000  20,000  18,000  2357  Saunders 
Andrews  --  10,000  2,500  12,500  10,000  33  10,000  14,500  15,000  175  20,000  5,000  20,000  5,000  20,000  12  1283  Andrews 
Gadbury  1743  7,000  7,000  125  6,925  150  12,000  525  first 1677  20,000  5,000  20,000  3,000  20,000  3,000  40  1766  Gadbury 
Tanner  2501  --  12,000  12,000  100  12,000  100  12,500  14,500  15,000  2,300  14,000  12,000  12,000  10  2524  Tanner 
Pond  2145  --  24,800[*]   2,100  24,900[*]   4,075  22,850[*]   5,000  19,750[*] 14,725  14,000[*]   400  8,000[*]   6,000[*]   7,150[*]   --  2167  Pond 
Dove  1610  --  24,850[*]   2,900  24,900[*]   3,900  22,825[*]   6,000  22,500[*] 14,250[*]   11,000[*]   9,000[*]   7,000[*]   --  1632  Dove 
Booker  1350  12  10,000  5,000  15,000  15,000  33  7,500  10,000  11,900  1,875  last 1684 
Nunns  1993  --  6.6  4,000  700  5,000  200  5,000  1,000  -- 
Conyers  --  --  6.6  4,000  250  -- 
Swan  2472  --  5.6  7,900[*]   500  8,000[*]   150  7,950[*]   300  7.6  7,850[*]   1,150  4,700[*]   last 1684 
Heatly  --  --  5.6  5,000  250  -- 
Blagrave  --  --  5.6  5,000  1,100  -- 
Westly  --  --  --  7.6  5,000  1,900  only 1669 
Hooker  --  --  --  7.5  4,450[*]   2,325 
first 1671  6,000  6,000  6,000  1434  Coelson 
first 1672  20,000  20,000  18,000  1464  Coley 
first 1677  5,000  --  Protestant 
first 1678  15,000  5,000  20,000  3,000  20,000  10  2047  Partridge 
first 1683  3,000  --  Streete 
first 1683  3,000  3,000  3,000  --  --  Woodward 
5,000  4,000  3,000  1,500  --  1405  Chapman 
4,000  --  --  Crabtree 
'Sorts' 8°  600  'Sorts' 8° 
Dade  1554  10,000  4,000  12,000  4,000  900  10,000  300  11,000  1,175  8,000  8,000  6,000  6,000  6,000  1530  Dade 
Woodhouse  2843  10,000  4,000  12,000  4,000  1,450  10,000  500  11,000  1,550  8,000  10,000  10,000  10,000  10,000  --  2866  Woodhouse 
White  2749  10,000  4,000  12,000  3,950  800  10,000  400  8,000  25  7,900  9,900  8,000  8,000  8,000  5.75  2726  White 
Fly  1666  15,000  7,000  21,000  3,975  1,950  19,000  250  15,000  15,000  18,000  6,000}  6,000}  6,000}  1689  Fly 
16,000[*] 16,000[*] 16,400[*]  
Rose  2271  10,000  10,000  3,000  700  10,000  250  7,950  10,000  10,000  12,000  12,000  12,000  --  2294  Rose 
Trigge  2546  7,000  7,000  100  7,000  14,000  15,000  50  15,000  20,000  20,000  20,000  2569  Trigge 
Perkins  2077  10,000  12,000  10,000  1,400  8,000  100  8,000  9,950  12,000  12,000  12,000  2091  Perkins 
Swallow  2428  --  24,850[*]   24,900[*]   24,900[*]   3,500  24,850  7,325  18,500[*]   50  18,000[*]   16,000[*]   16,350[*]   --  2451  Swallow 
Neve  1973  8,000  10,000  200  10,000  2,900  7,000  50  7,000  375  6,000  850  last 1672 
Vaux  2622  6,000  6,000  200  5,950  1,200  -- 
Jinner  1847  --  4.6  8,000  -- 
Prince  --  --  4.6  4,000  -- 
Clarke  --  --  --  4,400[*]   100 
first 1680  3,000  3,000  1.5  1721  Fowle 
first 1683  6,000[*]   9,000[*]   8,200[*]   --  1508  Culpeper 
3,000  --  1584/5  Davis 
3,000  2597  Turner 
Total  --  --  --  337,400  60,000  9,600  376,165  45,425  18,255  361,400  35,100  --  327,400  27,185  325,674  6,396  288,675  8,575  360,150  26,000  345,000  17,000  351,900  13,000  --  --  --  Total 
'Sheet'  'Sheet' 
London  --  --  2.5  11,500  2,000  14,750  150  12,500}  750  14,450  15,500}  475  14,000  25,000  23,000  30,000  25,000  30,000  33,750  --  London 
Cambridge  --  --  2.5  14,900[*]   14,900[*]   150  14,950[*]   750  10,500[*]   15,500[*]   475  34,000[*]   35,500[*]   40,000[*]   --  Cambridge 

Notes: Rider and Gallen contained 1 sheet and 2 half sheets. Goldsmith and Smith contained 2 half sheets. Lilly and Wharton contained 6 sheets before the Fire. Lilly and Gadbury (1668-1675) and Gadbury's Plot contained 5 sheets.
'Blanks' contained 3 and 'Sorts' 2½ sheets. The London 'Sheet' Almanacks were compiled by Gadbury and Wing. The absence of a figure in the "Copy" column means not that no money was paid to the author but that I have been able to discover no evidence of payment.
For 1685-7 there are no details of unsold almanacks and, in the valuations for these years, books and almanacks are lumped together.
All 30 almanacks for 1687 were advertised in the Term Catalogue for Michaelmas 1686.



I am grateful to the Master and Wardens of the Stationers' Company for permission to use and quote from the Company's records.


Court Book C, up to 1640, has been edited by Professor Jackson, and published earlier this year by the Bibliographical Society.


The Library, 4th ser., X (1930).


The policy of not detailing the almanacks delivered, which was adopted permanently from November 1687, was in operation for the years 1681 and 1682.


Owing to the increase of prices as a result of the Fire, this figure represents a sharp drop in numbers printed, compared with the previous year. What is remarkable is that the drop was not much greater.


The impact of the new Paper Duties begins to be felt this year.


See note 4 above.


Almanacks were often interleaved before binding, as were Dr More's copies of Rider and Goldsmith which are in the University Library at Cambridge; and some, like Anthony Wood's copies of 'blanks' and 'sorts' (in the Bodleian), were bound with blank leaves at either end.


Eustace F. Bosanquet, English Printed Almanacks and Prognostications . . . to 1600 (1917), p. 10, n2.


Original Letters of Eminent Literary Men, ed. Sir Henry Ellis (Camden Soc., 1843), pp. 304 ff.


Northern Merlyn, English, Farmer, Rivers, Lagg, Sparrow, Pigeon, Friend, Fligg, Little John, Atkeson, Ranger, Robyns, Poor Tom, Maudlyn, Eagle, Pheasant, Brown, Prettyman and Beatrice. Mawburn's fine had been fixed at £95.


See Wing nos A2219A and A2706; and C. S. P. Dom. Add. 1660-85, p. 445 mentions the Company's case, ?1674, against Seymour and Larkin for printing almanacks.


See Wing nos A1805/7, A2387/8 and A2826/7.


At this time a printer's name usually appears on the title-page and (I should guess) denotes the printer of the first two sheets; the third sheet—and, in 'sorts', the half sheet—was very often printed by another, whose name seldom appears. From 1670 Lilliecrap's name appears on the title-pages of Dade; Milbourn's name is intermittently associated with almanacks, but never with either Booker or Trigge; I have found no mention of Bruges.


For an account of him see Print and Privilege at Oxford, by J. Johnson and S. Gibson (1946); and for his estimates see Oxford University Archives, S.E.P. 11*, 7.


The calculation for 10,000 'sorts', in which only the first sheet was rubricated, would be:

£  s.   d.  
55 reams of paper &c.mmat; 4s.   11 
composing & printing  &c.mmat; 3s. 4d. for 1 sheet  13 
&c.mmat; 2s. 6d. for 1½ sheets 
copy money 
total  20  15  10 

Similar calculations could be made for Lilly and Wharton, and, with modifications, for those in 120 and 240.


Some confirmation of my estimate is provided by a statement (in the Waste Court Book for 7 Jan. 1668) that Robert White had printed 6,650 copies of the Protestant Almanack for Mr Ponder at a cost of £19 17s. 6d. This works out at almost exactly £30 for 10,000. No charge for authorship would be included in this figure; but to offset this there was about one third more paper and printing, since the Protestant Almanack, 1668, was, as Mr Neil Ker has kindly verified for me from the Magdalen College copy, of four sheets and not of three.


1928 reprint, p. 384.


See the article by Mr Stewart-Brown in The Library, 4th ser., IX (1929).


Bodley, MS Jesus Coll. B.147.


In some years there were three impressions of certain almanacks.


But not completely worthless; a ream of waste often fetched as much as 2s. 6d., and more in times of shortage.


denotes "printed at Cambridge"; the evidence for this differentiation comes, in some cases, from sources other than the Treasurer's Stock Book. The drop in the 1669 total was due to the Treasurer's habit (only discovered ten years later) of selling on his own account almanacks printed at Cambridge! This habit accounts for the lack of reference to Whiting; Ephemeris (Wing A 2762). The odd quantities of many of the Cambridge figures are caused by the keeping back of some almanacks for sale at and near Cambridge. The Vincent Wing series ended in 1672; the John Wing series, printed at Cambridge, began in 1680.

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