Historic Book Person of the Week #16 & #17: Mr. Coke and Mr. Guthrie

Today’s post is in honor of the booksellers on their way to Boston for the annual Antiquarian Book Fair (at the Hynes Convention Center, starting this Friday). The image features two Scottish booksellers, William Coke of Leith and John Guthrie of Edinburgh. Coke “was known to travel to Edinburgh three or four times in one day for the purpose of supplying the orders of his customers; and he would have performed the journey to obtain a sixpenny pamphlet.” That’s dedication to the trade and his customers.

On the right is John Guthrie, who is praised because “unlike modern open-air merchants, who pace the length of their stalls from morning till night, making idle time doubly tedious, he was constantly engaged in some useful employment–knitting stockings, working onion nets, or in some way or other having his hands busy…”

Hopefully the booksellers will be too busy this weekend to have any time to work on their onion nets.

You can read more about the two booksellers in John Kay’s A series of original portraits and caricature etchings, available online at Archive.org.

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