Monday, October 3, 2011

Toward a bibliography of books published by Francis Cogan, bookseller (part 2)

(updated October 7, 2012 with a correction from a reader about the publication history of A Proposal Humbly Offer'd)

In the previous essay, I discussed Francis Cogan's frequent use of fictitious imprints and trade publishers at a time when his career was beset by financial problems. This essay discusses the problem of identifying books which Cogan published but did not have his name on the imprint. I used a number of strategies to look for them: Stationers' records, printer's records, bookseller trade sales and contemporary newspaper advertisements. I will discuss each in turn.

One step in protecting a copyright is to enter a book in the register of the Stationers Company. Perhaps Cogan registered some books that he published without his name? In Cogan's case, however, the Stationers' records are of little help. Cogan's name appears in the register as the owner of two books only, both by Hoyle—the treatises on Backgammon and Piquet. In both cases, Hoyle was listed as a joint owner of the copyright and the books bear Cogan's imprint. 

The business records of a small number of 18th century printers survive. One of these is Bowyer ledger, reproduced and analyzed by Keith Maslen and John Lancaster (see References). In those records, we find that Bowyer did some printing for Cogan, and some of those books do not have a Cogan imprint. One example is A Proposal Humbly Offer’d to the P-----t, for the More Effectual Preventing the Further Growth of Popery, Dublin printed. London, re-printed for J. Roberts in Warwick-Lane, 1731. Dublin versions can be found here and here. J. Roberts is one of the trade publishers identified by Treadwell. The Bowyer ledgers show the book to have been printed for Coggan and Worrall. [Aside: Cogan's name was originally spelled Coggan; Thomas Worrall and Cogan were both apprenticed to bookseller Robert Gosling.] The Bowyer ledgers similarly identify another five Cogan books.

Bookseller trade sales are, as the name suggests, sales of books and copyrights open only to members of the London book trade. When beset with financial difficulties, Cogan sold some of his copyrights at a sale on September 10, 1745. The sale was largely unsuccessful and after his bankruptcy, there was a second sale on July 10, 1746 to raise money for his creditors. That second sale lists more than 60 copyrights owned by Cogan, though the short titles in the sale catalogue can be maddeningly difficult to identify.

Let us consider some examples. The 1746 catalogue indicates Cogan owned a full share of a book listed as Expediency of One Man's Dying. In this case, it was  atypically easy to identify the book as a book as ESTC T11784, The Expediency of One Man’s Dying to Save a Nation from Perishing, by C. Thurloe (1742) . From ESTC, we find the imprint of the book is "printed for T. Cooper," one of the trade publishers identified by Treadwell.

The catalogue also has an entry Hanover Heroes, a pamphlet by the Reverend Mr. Miller.  This is presumably ESTC  T106595, a 17 page folio called The H-r heroes: Or, A song of triumph. In laud of the immortal conduct, and marvellous exploits of those choise spirits...By a H--N--R--N. ESTC gives the author as James Miller, though I don't know the basis for their attribution. Ironically, the imprint is "London: Printed for W. Webb, near St. Paul’s, [1744]." So, after Cogan and Hoyle were pirated under the false imprint W. Webb, we find Cogan using the same imprint a year later!

Less clear is the listing of a half share for Seventeen Hundred Forty-one, a Poem. Could this be ESTC T83796, a book titled Seventeen hundred forty-two. Being a review of the conduct of the new ministry the last year, with regard to foreign affairs, also printed for T. Cooper, 1743? Not having seen the book, it's not clear to me that the ESTC title is a poem, but I could find no closer match. I share this example to show the difficulty in matching up the more than sixty abbreviated titles in Cogan's trade sale catalogue with the ESTC. Despite the difficulty, I feel I have identified nearly all of the trade sale descriptions, though some of the identifications are speculative.

Another way to attribute books to Cogan is through contemporary advertisements in newspapers or books. For example, Cogan offered The Universal Librarian and An Account of the Princes of Wales in the May 31, 1751 issue of The General Advertiser. Both books are "printed for" Francis Cogan. The advertisement continues:
where also may be had, An Account of the Baptism, Life, Death, and Funereal of the most Incomparable Prince Frederick-Henry, Prince of Wales. By Sir Charles Cornwallis, Knt. His Highness's Treasure.
That title was easy to find in ESTC, but there it bears the imprint "printed for J. Freeman." Freeman is a fictitious name, one Cogan also used in publishing a work by Eliza Haywood, also identified from the trade sale catalogues. What is it about the book thats would dissuade Cogan from using his name?

All in all, I have identified more than 180 books that Cogan published or sold. I'm happy to share the list and the reasons for my attributions with any scholar who wishes to take the work further. What I'm really curious about is why Cogan so frequently disguised his identity, particularly late in his career when he was in financial difficulties. Was he taking on more "dangerous" books? Someone would have to read all the books and understand how the books would have been perceived in contemporary London. That is a job for someone else—I have much more work to do on Hoyle!


Keith Maslen and John Lancaster, The Bowyer Ledgers: the printing accounts of William Bowyer, father and son, reproduced on microfiche; with a checklist of Bowyer printing 1699-1777, a commentary, indexes and appendixes. London: The Bibliographical Society, 1991.