Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books
A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology

 Previous item  Up One Level Next item

Mearne, Samuel ( 1624-1683 )

An English publisher, bookseller, and bookbinder, about whom little definitive knowledge exists. While Mearne's name is associated with the splendid COTTAGE STYLE , some authorities have expressed doubts that he actually bound any books himself, but rather that the famous Mearne bindings were executed by the Dutch bookbinder Suckerman, and that Mearne was a publisher, not a bookbinder. It has been established, however, that Mearne's second apprenticeship was with Jeremy Arnold, a bookbinder and it is therefore argued that he must have learned the craft, the question being how many books he actually bound. It is probably unlikely that he would have taken the time to bind books following the Restoration, because he quickly became an important figure in the book trade. Mearne acquired the posts of Stationer and Bookseller to the King, and thereafter became Master of the Stationers' Company. It is probably reasonable to assume, however, that, considering his knowledge of bookbinding, he would have continued to take an interest in the work of his bindery.

Regardless of its origin. the cottage style came to be regarded as distinctively English, and attained a popularity which endured with minor variations until the first quarter of the 19th century, thus lasting for a longer period than any other style of book decoration.

Mearne's second son, Charles, was his partner from 1678, and when Charles Mearne died in 1686 the shop seems to have gone to Robert Steele, one of Samuel Mearne's apprentices, who is last recorded in 1710. Steele's daughter, Jane, then took over the business, and was in turn followed (in about 1718) by THOMAS ELLIOTT . The same set of tools can be traced from Samuel Mearne to Elliott, by way of Charles Mearne, Robert Steele, and Jane Steele.

At one time the most elaborate of the Restoration bindings were attributed to Samuel Mearne. See also: RECTANGULAR STYLE . (109 , 253 , 347 )

[Search all CoOL documents]