Fonds GB 0210 BIRING - Birdsall Bookbinding Company Collection,

Identity area

Reference code



Birdsall Bookbinding Company Collection,


  • 1823-1986 (predominantly 1880-1962) / (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

0.657 cubic metres (21 boxes, 6 box files, 3 volumes, 1 roll, 5 framed items)

Context area

Name of creator

Administrative history

Birdsall & Son, Northampton, was one of the main bookbinding firms in Great Britain from the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century. In 1792 William Birdsall ([c. 1750]-1826) bought the bookselling and bookbinding business of John Lacy & Son in Northampton. The business also included a stationery section, a post office and a circulating library. William Birdsall was followed in the business by his sons, Robert and James, and later by James's widow, Ann, who sold the business in 1844 to William's great-nephew, Anthony Birdsall the elder (1819-1893). The bookbinding side was expanded during this period, becoming the firm's main activity. Anthony Birdsall was succeeded by his son, Richard (1842-1909), under whose aegis the premises were twice enlarged and reorganised in 1882 and 1888. Of Richard Birdsall's three sons, it was Anthony Birdsall the younger (1877-1972) who was chiefly responsible for maintaining the family tradition of fine binding, especially following the early death of Herbert Birdsall in 1924. The company finally ceased trading in 1961.

Archival history

The company records and papers were destroyed or dispersed following its dissolution and passed into various hands.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Purchased from Patrick King Rare Books, Stoney Stratford, 1982, and from Mr Archie Veryard, Northampton, 1991.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Birdsall family papers and records of Birdsall & Son Bookbinders, including personal papers, 1889-1972, photograph albums, [c. 1886]-1918, albums of press cuttings, 1856-1960, rubbings of miscellaneous printed books, 1823-1942, glass negatives, [c. 1862]-1904; miscellaneous finishing tools and samples of binding work, 1902-1949, and a framed testimonial presented to Richard Birdsall on the occasion of his marriage, 1872.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling

Action: The company's archives represent an important part of the history of bookmaking, and were collected by the National Library of Wales on that basis, although there are no important links to Wales. All records purchased by the National Library of Wales have been retained..


Accruals are not expected.

System of arrangement

Arranged by type into the following boxes: Box 1, Photograph albums; Box 2, tool sketches, design layouts and binding rubbings; Box 3, tool trials and samples; Boxes 4-6, printed books; Box 7, addresses by the Mayor of Northampton and others; Box 8, finishing tools, designs, samples; Item 9, album of binding rubbings; Boxes 10-14, binding rubbings and articles on the history of bookbinding; Box 15, press cuttings; Item 16, catalogue cuttings of armorial bindings; Box 17, documents relating to history of the company; Boxes 18-19, photographs of bindings; Box 20, photographs of illuminated addresses; Box 21, photographs of the factory and staff; Box 22, printed trade catalogues and articles on the trade; Boxes 23-24, albums collected by Andrew Birdsall' Box 25, Material collected by Anthonay Birdsall; Box 26, Birdsall family papers and books; Box 27, family photographs; Boxes 28-29, negatives of family photographs; Box 30, historical material assmebled by Archie Veryard; Items 31-35, framed bindings and other documents.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Readers consulting modern papers in the National Library of Wales are required to sign the 'Modern papers - data protection' form.

Conditions governing reproduction

Usual copyright regulations apply.

Language of material

Script of material

Language and script notes


Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

A hard copy of the catalogue is available at the National Library of Wales.

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Related descriptions

Notes area


Title supplied from contents of fonds.

Alternative identifier(s)

Virtua system control number


Project identifier


Access points

Name access points

Genre access points

Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru = The National Library of Wales

Rules and/or conventions used

Description follows ANW guidelines based on ISAD(G) 2nd ed.;AACR2; and LCSH


Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

January 2003


  • English



Archivist's note

Compiled by Richard Burman for the ANW project. The following source was consulted in the compilation of this description: NLW, Birdsall Bookbinding Records.

Accession area

Related people and organizations

Related genres

Physical storage

  • Text: Birdsall Bookbinding Company Collection.