While we monitor the ever-changing situation, we hope to be able to hold meetings at the Society of Antiquaries, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BE, from February 2021 under tightly controlled circumstances and details will be published nearer the time. An email with updates will be sent to members and a notification will be added to the Society’s website about two weeks before each meeting.

The lectures in November, December, and January will be held online via Zoom. They will begin at 5.30 p.m., and there will be an opportunity for virtual socialising after the lectures.

The Annual General Meeting will now take place via Zoom on Tuesday, 20 October 2020, at 6 p.m. The business of the meeting will be preceded by the Presidential Address, delivered by Margaret Lane Ford and entitled Bookselling and Bibliography. Following the meeting there will be an opportunity for virtual socialising.

Those wishing to attend the AGM should book their place by signing up via this link. The Zoom link to the meeting will be sent out shortly before the event.


20 October 2020



You can watch a recording of this event here.


17 November 2020


Adrian Edwards, Insights into the King’s Library of George III

During his long life, George III (r. 1760­–1820) amassed one of the most significant book collections of his age. The books are today housed in a purpose-built tower at the heart of the British Library. This talk will consider the formation of the collection, how it has been moved around over the past two-and-a-half centuries, and the range of materials it contains. Special focus will be placed on the findings of two recent pieces of research: World War II book losses and subsequent replacements, and the range of Americana that King George acquired, both before and after the Revolution.


You can watch a recording of this event here.


Tuesday, 15 December 2020


David Shaw, Paper for octavos: Innovation in early sixteenth-century book production

Medieval paper makers produced paper in four distinct sizes. Paul Needham has identified several variants used by fifteenth-century printers and another variant introduced by Aldus Manutius for his octavo classics. These paper sizes, new and old, continued in use in the sixteenth century.


You can watch a recording of this event here.


19 January 2021

Alison Walker, The Sloane Printed Books Project

The collections of Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753) – books, manuscripts, natural history specimens and artefacts – were the foundation of the British Museum. His approximately 45000 volumes of printed material, now mostly at the British Library, were not kept together, but mingled with other collections: in addition, many were disposed of as duplicates between 1787 and 1820. The project has identified Sloane’s books at the BL and elsewhere, and created an online catalogue www.bl.uk/catalogues/sloane/.


You can watch a recording of this event here.


16 February 2021

Stephen Clarke, Horace Walpole and W.S. Lewis: A Collector Revealed

W.S. (‘Lefty’) Lewis combined the roles of obsessional collector and scholarly editor of Horace Walpole. This lecture, which follows the exhibition ‘Rescuing Horace Walpole: the Achievement of W.S. Lewis’ at the Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University, considers issues of personality, methods and circumstances that combined to create one of the great single-author collections of the twentieth century, with exceptionally rich supporting material.


You can watch a recording of this event here.


16 March 2021

Rachel Jacobs, Waddesdon Manor: A Rothschild Collection

This talk will present an overview of the Waddesdon collection of printed books, manuscripts and bookbindings, including its highlights alongside its lesser known ‘working library’. It will discuss the formation of the collection, its display within the Manor and its subsequent growth, and it will also look at some more recent acquisitions.


You can watch a recording of this event here.


20 April 2021

Graham Pollard Memorial Lecture

Edward Wilson-Lee, ‘Hernando Colón and the Universal Library Machine’

This lecture will give a brief overview of the extraordinary bibliographical project of Hernando Colón, natural son of the explorer Columbus, who set out to build a library that would focus on printed works and would contain a copy of every book in every language and in every subject. As well as sketching the contents and organisation of the library, the lecture will briefly consider the implications of Hernando’s projects for our understanding of the early modern book world and the role of library catalogues within it.


18 May 2021

Homee and Phiroze Randeria Lecture

Mirjam Foot, New movements in French twentieth-century binding design: the importance of patronage

In the first half of the twentieth century, a group of designers in France, initially encouraged by an enlightened patron and book collector, started to produce wonderfully varied, and often amazingly beautiful designs for bindings, applying to books and bindings the philosophy and artistic skills that had inspired their drawings, engravings or etchings, as well as their designs for furniture and Pklceramics. They chose the best forwarders and finishers to carry out their designs, producing the most stunning results. Their work was mostly, but not entirely, intended for discerning collectors.

This talk will concentrate on this group of designers who worked mainly in Paris until c. 1960.


Summer visit: details will be announced in The Library for March 2021.


Karen Limper-Herz

Hon. Secretary


Panizzi Lectures

Please note that the 2020 series has been postponed until 2021 when Cynthia Brokaw will deliver the lectures. Dates will be confirmed in early 2021.