A Statement of Invoice from Roger Payne (1739-1797), English bookbinder

Statement of invoice prepared by Roger Payne for binding The Holy Bible containing the Old Testament and the New. Edinburgh: James Watson, 1715. (Ex) 5179.1715. Ms. stored apart from the book in Manuscript Collection C140, Box 37, folder “Payne.’

In rare book libraries, fine bindings made with great skill are often encountered simply on their own, with little sense of their maker other than a name.  Extraordinarily, on a rare occasion, one finds a description of the binder’s work in his own words.  Such is the case with the undated statement of billing from Roger Payne illustrated here.

Scheide Librarian, Eric White, has said of Payne: ‘Roger Payne (1738–1797), perhaps the most famous of all English bookbinders, was well known both for his exquisite gold tooling and his squalid lifestyle. He worked at Eton beginning in the late 1750s, then at London with the support of the bookseller Thomas Payne (no relation). There he served many illustrious patrons,’ including Dr. Benjamin Moseley, Michael Woodhull, C.M. Cracherode, and the second Earl Spencer.

A near contemporary of Payne, the Rev. Thomas Frognall Dibdin (1776-1847) described Payne’s invoices as ‘original and diverting,’ ‘replete with the garrulous chit-chat of an old stager of four score; in parts resembles a Coach-maker’s account,’ and ‘loquacious and … original specimens of arithmetical compositions.’

Our reaction today is to treat the invoices more fair-mindedly as rare contemporary documentation showing what was regarded as valuable at that time.  In this and other statements (at least, another 13 are known and transcribed; see list below) Payne draws our attention to factors crucial to making the binding.  In this instance, he covers these factors starting from the outside of the book to the inside.  But for purposes of getting a sense of his process, the following comments cover from the inside of the book to the outside.

The first of these factors includes the time and effort taken to clean, unwrinkle, mend and otherwise prepare the pages of the text block: ‘Some few places had a little writing ink I took it out safe.’  Then, he draws our attention to the materials of the binding  ‘back lined with Russia Leather under the Blue Morocco cover very strong’  or ‘sew’d with silk on strong & neat bands.’  He’s stating these terms about materials because he knows that binders can choose cheaper components such as linen thread or lining the spine with paper. Lastly he sets forth details about the finishing of the binding ‘all the gold impressions  … worked first plain afterwards work’d in Gold & Double Gold used thro ye whole Work.’  He sums up the work, and in this case his summary occurs initially, with the words ‘Bound in the best manner’ or, in the example illustrated here, ‘finished in the Richest & most elegant Taste  Richer & more exact than any Book that I have ever Bound.’

At the left upper corner of the statement of billing is a diagram of the lettering on the spine. It appears in just this format on the book itself, an edition of the Authorized Bible printed at Edinburgh in 1715 (ESTC T91151). The binding has the initials ‘T P’ on the front cover.  These are those of publisher and antiquarian bookseller Thomas Payne, who served at Roger Payne’s guardian (supplying ‘regular pecuniary assistance’) during the physical decline of his later years.  The total cost for the binding is £ 2.1.6.

The Holy Bible containing the Old Testament and the New. Edinburgh: James Watson, 1715. Ex 5179.1715 Spine height: 19 cm. Larger image














Ownership history

1877 – Ellis & White, booksellers, London,  item 61* in catalogue 41: Catalogue of Valuable Books comprising Many Volumes of great Rarity and Curiosity, including Early Printed Books n English, Latin, German, Italian, & Flemish: Rare Old English Poetry; Some very Remarkable  Volumes Illustrated with Wood Engravings of an Early Date, &c. &c.’ Priced at £42





1890  – Sale of the books of Sir Edward Sullivan, at Sotheby’s, London, 19 & 27 May 1890, lot 770.  Sold to James Bain Ltd. for £62

1892  – William Lorings Andrews, Roger Payne and his art. A short account of his life and work as a binder.  (New York, 1892), p. 31 states that the book is the possession of a New York collector

1895 – Illustrated in Robert Hoe’s One hundred and seventy-six historic and artistic bookbindings dating from the fifteenth century to the present time pictured by etchings, artotypes, and lithographs after the originals selected from the library of Robert Hoe (New York, 1895)

1911 – Sale catalogue of the Library of Robert Hoe, April 24 and ff., lot 297.   Cyrus Hall McCormick (Princeton class of 1879) purchased the book at the sale for $900

1936 – C. H. McCormick dies in 1936 and the books pass to his widow, Alice Marie Holt McCormick.  She later remarries and becomes Alice H. Brown (Mrs. Marshall Ludington Brown.)

1948 – Alice H. Brown gifts the books of her first husband C. H. McCormick to the Princeton University Library.

List of other statements of invoice by Roger Payne
Dibdin records and transcribed the following bills in The Bibliographical Decameron, London, 1817, vol. II, p. 511 ff.:

  1. Glasguae. MDCCXCV. (ESTC T86592): Dibdin, BD, II, p.512 (also transcribed in C. Davenport, Roger Payne [Chicago, 1929], p. 70, illustrated plate 31), undated original in the John Rylands Library. Invoice total £ 16.7.0
  2. Petrarch, described in Spenceriana, vol. 4, p. 141-143: Dibdin, BD, II, p.512-513 (also transcribed in C. Davenport, Roger Payne [Chicago, 1929], p. 71). Undated. Invoice total £ 4.7.0
  3. C[l]avis Astro[logiæ] Elimata, bound for Dr. Benjamin Moseley (ESTC R39993): Dibdin, BD, II, p.513. Undated. Invoice total £ 0.4.0
  4. Harmony of the World by Heydon London 1662, bound for Dr. Benjamin  Moseley (ESTC R16451): Dibdin, BD, II, p.514. Dated ‘1796, 11th’ Invoice total £ 0.10.6.  This book is held by the Scheide Library at Princeton and will be the subject of a future blog posting.
  5. Soul of Astrology, by Salmon, London 1679, bound for Dr. Benjamin Moseley (ESTC R6301): Dibdin, BD, II, p.514. Undated. Invoice total £ 0.9.6
  6. Vesalli Humani Corporis Fabrica, bill in possession of Edward V. Utterson: Dibdin, BD, II, p.514 (also transcribed in C. Davenport, Roger Payne [Chicago, 1929], p. 72). Undated. Invoice total £ 0.15.0
  7. Sandys Travels MDC.X. Wheeler and Spons Travels M.DC.LXXV, bill in possession of Edward V. Utterson (ESTC S121765 [1615 ed. and many later ed.] and ESTC R9388 [1682 ed.]): Dibdin, BD, II, p.515. Dated ‘Dec. 1st’ Invoice total £ 1.13.0

C. Davenport records the following bills in Roger Payne [Chicago, 1929], in addition to those noted above:

  1. Cambridge 1694 (ESTC R24132): Davenport, RP, p. 69, illustrated plate 29, undated original in the British Library. Invoice total £ 4.9.0
  2. Lilly’s Christian Astrology. London, 1695. Bound for Dr. Benjamin Moseley (ESTC R233955 [1647 ed. and several later ed.]): Davenport, RP, p. 73, (also transcribed in Sydney Glover, ‘A Famous Bookbinder …’, The Collector’s Magazine (London, 1905), p. 42) undated original in 1908 Sotheby’s auct. of the books of Lord Amherst of Hackney. Invoice total £ 1.3.6
  3. The Faerie Queene … MDXCVI (ESTC S117748): Davenport, RP, p. 74, illustrated plate 30, undated original in the British Library. Invoice total £ 2.10.0
  4. Mosaical Philosophy by Fludd. London, MDCLIX (ESTC R6980): Davenport, RP, p. 75, undated original in the British Library. Invoice total £ 1.13.6
  5. Heydon, Elhavarevna. London, 1665. (ESTC R8694): Davenport, RP, p. 76, undated original in the British Library, shelf mark C.66.b.1. Invoice total £ 1.18.0
  6. Plot (Robert). The Natural History of Staffordshire. Oxford, 1686. (ESTC R21986) Davenport, RP, plate 32, undated, original owned by booksellers John Tregaskis and Son, ca. 1929. Invoice total £ 4.14.6


Transcription of Payne’s statement of invoice

"" Letter’d in ye most exact Manner, exceeding rich small Tool Gilt Back of a new pattern studded in Compartments. The outsides finished in the Richest & most elegant Taste Richer, & more exact than any Book that I ever Bound.
The insides finished in a new Design exceeding elegant. Bound in the very best manner sew’d with silk on Strong & Neat Bands. The Back lined with Russia Leather under the Blue morrocco cover very strong & neat Boards.

The Finest Blue Morocco All The Gold Impressions except studds worked first Plain afterwards work’d in Gold & Double Gold used thro ^ye whole Work


Frontispiece was pasted very clumsy on another leaf I took it off & cleaned the paste off & mended 3 places. Title 1 piece

Jeremiah III. Proverbs XIX. Saint Matthew VIII ) Mended and several placed ruled where the pieces was put on.
A hole in ye printing have endeavour’d to make perfect by another Holy Bible. I cleaned all the printing part from ye other side required great care & time & several Back margins mended which cannot now be seen. ___ Some few places had a little writing ink I took out quite safe.


Roger Payne in his workshop. 














By S. Harding. Frontispiece to C. Davenport, Roger Payne (Chicago, 1929).

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