Ephemera: Trade Card

John March (fl.1712-1726; d.1726)

John March is a little known mapseller, bookseller, and publisher working in Exeter, the county town of Devon, south-west England. He flourished between 1712 and 1726, the year of his death.

This trade card gives some idea of the range of goods that a provincial bookseller and stationer would offer to the public:

Sold by / IOHN MARCH / BOOKSELLER at y.e SIGN of / the BIBLE a Little Below S.t / Martins Lane in EXON. Who / Sells all Sorts of Navigation, / Books, Sea Charts, Waggoners / and Mathematical Instruments / for Sailors. Paper Books of all / Sorts, as well Royal and Demy / Royal ones for Merchants, as / others. Also Maps and Prints of / all Sorts, for adorning Rooms / & Stair Cases, &c. Likewise, great / variety of all Sorts of Painted / Paper, for Hanging of / Rooms and Clossets. / N.B. He buys all Sorts of Old Books / particularly CLERGYMENS or / GENTLEMENS Studies.

An interesting feature – in common with contemporary antique map-dealers – is the dual emphasis on the functional nature of maps, for example the sea-charts, and the decorative element, as wall display.

What is unknown, and would greatly add to our understanding of the mechanics of the book trade of the period, is how much stock of maps, charts and prints such a bookseller would carry, whether a minimum stock capable of servicing only the most frequent requests, backed up by the ability to order a wide range of materials from London publishers, or whether a more ambitious range of items could be had.  I would assume that in the majority of cases, only a very basic stock would be available.

Certainly it is from this period onwards that the London map- and print-dealers, such as the Bowles family and Henry Overton started to produce more extensive catalogues of stock, distributed as separate entities rather than as leaves in books.  One might see this as a method for them to promote their wares through an expanding network of small booksellers and stationers nation-wide

A search through “Books with Devon Imprints” a handlist to 1800, compiled  by Ian Maxted turned up numbers of books published for or sold by March.  In the main, these were religious in nature, and a brief sampling is listed below: 

Robert Atkins’ The Sin And Danger Of Popery… which was printed by Edward Farley and sold by John March, Bookseller near the Great Conduit, Exeter, 1712.

John Mortimer An Esasay, To The Pious Memory Of The Late Reverend Divine, Mr. George Trosse…, printed by Farley for March, 1713.

Benjamin Reed A Reply To A Pamphlet, Entituled, A Caveat Against The New Section Of Anabaptists…, printed by Farley for March, and sold by John Morphew in London, 1714

Hubert Stogdon A Defence Of The Caveat Against The New Sect Of Anabaptists…, Joseph Bliss for John March, sold by John John Clark in London, 1714.

A variation is William Lily’s Supplement To The English Introduction Of Lily’s Grammar… For The Use Of The School In Exon…, printed by G. Bishop for March in 1719

The imprint of this book carries the first reference to the address “At The Bible Near St. Martins Lane In The High Street” found on this trade card, which presumably dates from between 1719 and 1726.

It is in this period that – for map historian’s purposes anyway – that his most interesting venture falls.  In 1677, Richard Izacke’s ‘Antiquities Of The City Of Exeter …’ was published, with the imprint “London Printed By E. Tyler And R. Holt, For Richard Marriott, At His Shop At The Sign Of The Temple By The Inner Temple Gate, Fleet Street. 1677.”  A second edition followed in 1681.

In 1723, Izacke’s son re-edited the book, and continued the account up to 1722.

Remarkable Antiquities / OF THE / CITY / OF / EXETER. / Giving an Account / Of the Laws and Customs of the Place, / the Offices, Court of Judicature, Gates, Walls, / Rivers, Churches, and Immunities: The / Titles and Privileges of the several Incorporati- / ons: with their distinct Coats of Arms Engrav’d / on Copper Plates. / TOGETHER WITH / A Catologue of all the BISHOPS, MAYORS / and SHERIFFS, from the Year 1049. / Originally collected by RICHARD / IZACKE, Esq.r; heretofore Chamberlain there- / of: and now improv’d and continued to the / Year 1722. by SAMUEL IZACKE, Esq; / the present Chamberlain. / To which is now added, / A correct MAP of the said CITY, to- / gether with the GUILDHALL and CONDUIT. / [rule] / LONDON: / Printed for Edward Score, John March, and Natha- / niel Thorne, Booksellers in Exon: and Samuel / Birt, in Ave-Mary-Lane. London, MDCCXXIII.

The book contained a little plan of Exeter, drawn and engraved by Sutton Nicholls, measuring 253 by 167mm: 

A True Plan / of the City of / EXCESTER. / [double rule] / Drawn & Ingraven by / Sutton Nicholls.

A fourth edition appeared in 1724, with the same map. Nathaniel Thorne’s name has disappeared from the imprint.

Remarkable Antiquities / OF THE / CITY of EXETER. / Giving an ACCOUNT of / The LAWS and CUSTOMS of the Place; The / Offices, Court of Judicature, Gates, Walls, Rivers, / Churches, and Immunities; The Titles and Pri- / vileges of the several Corporations, and their / distinct Coats of Arms finely engraven on / Copper-Plates: With a Catalogue of all the / BISHOPS, MAYORS, and SHERIFFS, / from the Year 1049, to 1677. / [rule] / Originally Collected by / RICHARD IZACKE, Esq.; / heretofore CHAMBERLAIN thereof. / [rule] / The Second Edition. / [rule] / Now very much Enlarged, and Continued / to the Year 1723,  by / SAMUEL IZACKE, Esq; / the present CHAMBERLAIN thereof. / [rule] / To which is also Added, / A New and Correct MAP of the said CITY, with a / PROSPECT of the CATHEDRAL, curiously en- / graven on Copper-Plates: And the Freeman’s OATH / both Honorary and Common. / [rule] / LONDON, / Printed for EDW. SCORE and JOHN MARCH / Booksellers in Exon, and SAMUEL BIRT, in Ave- / Marie-lane, / London. 1724.

The fifth edition, described as the “Third Edition” on the title-page, was printed for Samuel Izacke, and does not have the name of the printer or any bookseller. 

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