Thursday, July 12, 2012

W. H. Smith & Son's Subscription Library

As I've been cataloguing the books, I've come across a number marked as purchases from W. H. Smith & Son's Subscription Library of London.  Given the dates, I suspect that these books, the subjects of which range widely, came here with Dr. Arrowsmith.  

Founded as a news vender in 1792, W. H. Smith & Sons was handed down through generations of the Smith family.  In 1860, they began lending library which continued for 101 years.  The company itself is still in business.

While in London, Dr. Arrowsmith's address was 22 Gordon Square.  The lending library's main branch was located at 186 Strand.  According the Google Maps, Arrowsmith would have had only a 2.5 mile walk to exchange or purchase books. Here is the map of London showing a route from Gordon Square to the Lending Library.  The actual address of 186 Strand appears to have fallen to progress, so the route is an approximation.

According the advertisements of the day:
  1. This Library is established in connection with Messrs. W. H. Smith & Son's numerous Railway Bookstalls; it embraces all the most important Works of History, Biography, Travel, Fiction, Poetry, Science, and Theology, as well as the leading Magazines and Reviews.  
  2. It affords greater advantages to subscribers than any other existing library, from the fact that there are over 500 bookstalls in England and Wales, and to any of these Depots a subscriber may be transferred free of charge.  
  3. Subscribers can only change their Books at the Depot where their names are registered, but they may transfer the place of exchange by giving notice to the Clerk in Charge of the Depot at which they obtain their Books.  Of the current Periodicals one only at a time is allowed to a Subscription under Five Guineas, and Subscriptions will not be accepted if the supply is to consist chiefly of Magazines and Reviews.
  4. The Books are delivered at the Bookstalls, carriage free.  A Subscriber may exchange once a day; the Clerk in Charge will obtain from London any work in the Library (providing that the same is in Stock when the order reaches the Strand) which a Subscriber may desire to have.  Novels exchanged only in unbroken and complete Sets.
  5. London Subscribers transferring their Subscriptions to a Country Depot will be entitled only to the number of volumes which the country terms assign to the amount they subscribe; similarly, Country Subscriptions transferred to the London Termini become subject to the London Regulations.  See terms below, Section No. 1.
  6. Subscriptions may commence at any date, and are payable in advance at any of the Railway Bookstalls.
  7. Messrs. W. H. Smith & Son beg to impress upon their Library Subscribers the fact that, to insure the supply of the number of volumes desired, it is necessary, in all cases, to give a list comprising the titles of many more works than the number required for exchange....(prices and plans follow)

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