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Document number: 5987
Date: 31 Aug 1847
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: THORPE Thomas
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Last updated: 10th February 2011

178 Piccadilly London August 31st


Having purchased some interesting Books and Manuscripts Illustrative of the Noble family of Talbot and its Alliances, likewise of the county of Wilts I have taken the liberty to enclose the Descriptions of them presuming they will interest you, Each Article is priced separately and I beg most Respectfully to add it will give me great pleasure to forward such as you would like to inspect, Relying upon your kind Indulgence,

I have the Honour to be Sir Your very Obedient Servant
Thomas Thorpe<1>

[address panel:]
pre-paid 4d
W. H. Fox Talbot, Esqre
Laycock Abbey


1. Whether WHFT purchased from this offering is not known, but Thorpe was a supplier to his friend, the madcap bibliophile, Sir Thomas Phillipps. Thorpe started as a baker in London but emerged as “among the most famous of the Strand booksellers of the earlier part of the present century …Thomas Thorpe was undoubtedly the giant bibliopole of the period. If anything striking or original occurred in the bookselling world, it was generally Thorpe who did it. Dibdin describes him as 'indeed a man of might.' His catalogues, continues the same writer, 'are of never-ceasing production, thronged with the treasures which he has gallantly borne off, at the point of his lance, in many a hard day's fight, in the Pall Mall and Waterloo Place arenas. But these conquests are no sooner obtained than the public receives an account of them, and during the last year only his catalogues, in three parts, now before me, comprise no fewer than 179,059 articles. What a scale of buying and selling does this fact alone evince! But in this present year two parts have already appeared, containing upwards of 12,000 articles. Nor is this all. On September 24, 1823, there appeared the most marvellous phenomenon ever witnessed in the annals of bibliopolism. The Times had four of the five columns of its last page occupied by an advertisement of Mr. Thorpe, containing the third part of his catalogue for that year. On a moderate computation, this advertisement comprised 1,120 lines. The effect was most extraordinary. Many wondered, and some remonstrated; but Mr. Thorpe was master of his own mint, and he never mentions the circumstance but with perfect confidence, and even gaiety of heart, at its success.' Thorpe issued catalogues from 1829 to 1851, and during one year alone, 1843, his lists comprised over 16,000 lots. In 1836 he removed from Bedford Street to 178, Piccadilly. Thorpe was the first merchant in autographs, and Sir Thomas Phillipps was one of the first collectors who flourished in the iniquity of the pursuit, and it was the latter who on one occasion purchased the entire contents of one of Thorpe's autograph catalogues.” William Roberts, The Book-Hunter in London. Historical and Other Studies of Collectors and Collecting. With Numerous Portraits and Illustrations (Chicago: A. C. McClurg & Co., 1895), pp. 241-242.