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Tradition and transformation in 19th century bookbinding

Voyages de Gulliver dans les Contrées Lointaines / Jonathan Swift. Museum no. Circ-186-1948

The 19th century was a time of great change in European bookbinding. Social and educational reform of the previous century had led to increased levels of literacy which in turn resulted in a greater demand for books from a much wider public. The book industry responded to this demand by seeking cheaper and quicker methods of […]

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“And spare his golden bindings”: the enduring appeal of Robert Burns

The works of Robert Burns; with his life, by Allan Cunningham. Books, published London: James Cochrane and Co., 1834.

Robert Burns (1759-1796) is widely considered to be Scotland’s national bard. His poetry celebrates aspects of farm life, traditional culture, class distinctions, and religious practice (alongside an infamous love for the lasses and the drink). Burns Night is celebrated around the world each year on his birthday (25th January). Let’s join in these celebrations by taking […]

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A Shifting Snow Maiden

The Little Daughter of the Snow, illustrated by G. I. Narbut, 1906, NAL pressmark 36.BB.1.

Anyone with small children will know that snow maidens have had a resurgence in popularity in the last few years thanks to a certain ubiquitous Disney film, but this is only the latest in a long history of snowy maidens in folk and fairy stories. In this blog I’m going to look at the Russian […]

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The Tower of Babel – Shop of the Day 109

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The Tower of Babel – Shop of the Day 109 Return of the Sunday service and a nod to the religions of London.  Plaistow, East London today and one of 59 book shops in London.  Green St, E13. ©Barnaby Barford 2014

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May Day, Mayday!

May Day, Hyde Park By Underground

For most of us May Day (not to be confused with the international distress call mayday) just means a bank holiday and a chance to recharge our batteries. Perhaps an opportunity to visit a museum? Or maybe surf the net for interesting and informative blogs?. . . The earliest May Day celebrations date back to pre-Christian times. In […]

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The Tower of Babel – Shop of the Day 11


The Tower of Babel – Shop of the Day 11 Carrying on the theme of dual purpose premises.  This is a fantastic shop – one of my favourites.  It is in Thornton Heath near Penge – SE25.  Get your hair cut while you get your tyres changed – laudable use of time! ©Barnaby Barford 2014

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The Tower of Babel – Shop of the Day 10


The Tower of Babel – Shop of the Day 10 I can’t believe it’s Sunday again, this blog is making the time count down even faster.  So keeping with the Sunday theme here is a great example of one of my favourite types of shops.  A dual purpose outlet. That’s not a very catchy way of […]

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Ian Fleming : Bibliophile

Photograph of Ian Fleming

Ian Fleming died fifty years ago on 12 August 1964, succumbing at the age of 56 to what he termed the ‘Iron Crab’ of heart disease, after a life spent with the same intensity as his enduring hero James Bond. The character shares most of his creator’s enthusiasms – cocktails, casinos, the Caribbean, scrambled eggs, […]

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