The deputation withdrew.
Depution from Stationers' Company.
The following gentlemen attended as a deputation
from the Stationers' Company :—
|Mr. J. J. Miles, Master.|
|Mr. John Miles||Wardens.|
|Mr. C. Layton|
|Mr. C. R. Rivington, Clerk.|
3279. (Chairman to Mr. J. J. Miles.) I believe
you come here as representing the Stationers' Company?—Yes.
3280. I believe there are some facts which you wish
to lay before the Commission ?—Yes. If you would
allow me I think it would save the time of the Commission if I ask our clerk to reply to the questions. He
has all the information so much better at his fingers'
3281. (To Mr. Rivington.) I understand that you
are prepared to show that there are some peculiarities
in the constitution of your Company?—I am.
3282. You have duties imposed upon you by Act
of Parliament, is not that so?—Under the Copyright
3283. Will you state what those duties are?—I
may mention that that is not the special peculiarity of
our Company. I must go back, if you will allow me,
to a date before the incorporation, but I will not keep
your Lordship many minutes. The Stationers' Company was incorporated in 1556, but it had existed for
upwards of a century or a century and a half before
as a society or brotherhood, consisting exclusively of
persons employed in the production of other than
official books. The members were printers and they
had a common stock. Each member put a certain
sum of money into a common stock; the work was
divided amongst the members and the productions
sold at a profit, and a certain portion of the profit was
distributed amongst the members of the Company. In
1556 the Company was incorporated and clothed with
certain powers as to the controlling of printing and
books issued. Then, of course, the Company became
a corporation, but the old body existed, and trading
has existed and been carried on separate from the
Company as a corporation from that time until the
present day, and it is continued, so that in the Stationers' Company there are really two bodies; there
is the corporation of the Stationers' Company and the
partners in the stock, which is called an English stock.
Formerly there were several stocks; there was a
Latin stock, an Irish stock, a ballad stock, and a
bible stock. The stock existing now is an English
stock. About 1601 the Company obtained a grant
from the king giving them the exclusive right of
printing certain publications, and that was amalgamated with the English stock. This stock has a
capital of between 41,000l. to 42,000l., which is held
amongst 306 members of the Company. The capital
is divided into certain shares which are held just in
the same way as the shares of ordinary companies,
and the profits of the stock and property belonging to
the stock are appropriated thus : A certain amount is
distributed amongst the poor of the Company (it used
to be 100l. a year, but now it is 400l. a year), and
after paying that the nett profit is divided by way of
dividend which is paid each half year. The members
of the Company under the byelaws have a power of
disposing of the shares to their widows but to no
other persons. Upon the death of a person who has
not disposed of his share to his widow the amount is
paid out, and an election takes place among the
members of the Company to that vacant share. If the
share is bequeathed to the widow, the widow can take
the share and enjoy the profits during her life, and
upon her death that share is then disposed of in the
same way as I mentioned before.
3284. (Sir Sydney Waterlow.) Then, as a matter
of fact, each member subscribes capital towards what
is called the English stock just as in the case of a
joint stock company?—Not each member of the Company, but each partner. The members in the trading
stock are only a certain number of the liverymen.
3285. And the capital thus raised by that select
number of the liverymen is a trading capital used in
printing and publishing books at the present time ?—
3286. And that monopoly enjoyed by the Company
from the charter granted by the King was a monopoly
for printing bibles and almanacks?—Almanacks and
3287. Of course that monopoly has ceased many
years?—That monopoly has ceased many years.
3288. The Company still continue operations?—
They still continue operations and publish school books.
3289. Can you tell the Commissioners what is, in
round numbers, the amount of corporate money beyond that belonging to the English stock?—The
money belonging to the corporation is all set out in
the detailed returns which I had the honour to submit
to the Commissioners. The property belonging to
the English stock consists of this trading capital and
investment of certain profits which were accumulated
and not wholly distributed amongst the partners. At
the time that the Stamp Duty was repealed, a large
sum of money was received by the Company, and that
was invested, and the produce of that was divided
amongst the partners as part of the profit.
3290. Is the membership of the Company still
limited to persons connected with the trade?—Exclusively to persons connected with the trade, and to
persons born free. So particular are the Company as
to that, that if any application is made from any person who is not a member of the trade, it is not even
submitted to the court.
3291. Is the Company practically carrying on at
the present time all the duties imposed upon it by the
original charter?—Yes. Of course the duties relating to the controlling of printing are obsolete at the
present day, but the Company bind a very large number of apprentices, as many as between 100 and 200 a
year; and those bindings are all bonâ fide bindings,
the apprentices actually serve their time to printers
or booksellers. The Company have the administration of the charities which are exclusively confined to
members of their trade. They have nothing to do
with persons outside their trade with regard to their
charities. They have various duties under the Copyright Acts. Indeed there is now a Bill pending
before the House of Commons to increase those duties
very considerably by requiring registration of all engravings at Stationers' Hall.
3292. Do the Company derive any profit as a Company from the fees taken under the Copyright Act ?—
None at all. Far from deriving any profit they are at
a considerable expense; it is no pecuniary advantage
to the Company.
3293. (Mr. Firth.) On the first page of your return,
speaking of your charter, which you say is destroyed,
you say that it purported to establish a corporation to
control the printing and publication of books. I think
this Company was established by Queen Mary, apprehending, as she says, much ill to the State and Holy
Mother Church, and giving you absolute control and
sole power to print and publish books; is not that so ?
—It was incorporated.
3294. Giving you the monopoly?—At that time,
3295. And under that monopoly you destroyed
many thousands of books?—A very large number.
3296. As to almanacks of which you spoke, your
almanack monopoly began, I think, in the reign of
James I.?—Yes, that is so.
3297. And that lasted for 150 years, I think?—
Until the middle of the last century.
3298. How many almanacks do you publish now?
3299. Old Moore's Almanack you publish, amongst
the rest, I think?—Yes.
3300. And do you still continue your prophecies in
3301. With respect to Stationers' Hall, do you consider that Stationers' Hall carries out the object set
out in the statute of George III., that it tends to the
greater encouragement of the production of literary
works of lasting benefit to the world?—That is a
matter of opinion.
3302. I ask you your own opinion?—It is a subject I have not considered.
3303. You have not considered whether your own
Stationers' Hall has that effect?—The Company perform all the duties cast upon it, I believe.
3304. Is there an index or register kept at Stationers' Hall?—There are four different registers kept