George Routledge publisher

How to identify the publication date of his undated books

George Routledge was a publisher who lived in England from 1812 to 1888. He was born in Cumberland and initially ran a bookshop in Carlisle. He moved to London in 1833 and opened a bookshop there in 1836. He started publishing a few works from his bookshop, until he established himself as a full time publisher in 1843. George Routledge specialised in reprinting cheap editions of books, particularly for reading while travelling on the railways of 19th century Britain. Routledge’s Railway Library, introduced in 1849 for 1 shilling and sold at W H Smith bookstalls on station platforms, revolutionised the printing and publishing trade in Britain, by making cheap and affordable books both widely available and socially acceptable. The Routledge imprint has survived to the present day.

While Routledge published some books that have a date printed on them, particularly in the earlier years of his career, many of his books are undated, particularly in the last 30 years of the 19th century. However, there is enough information around to help us to assign a date or date range from dated books to those that do not have a specific date printed on their title page. A simplified version of this appears on a separate page as my George Routledge Timeline

Common combinations of business names and London addresses

George Routledge’s publishing company operated under several different names and out of several different addresses over the years. Although there are some variants that will be found, the list below shows the commonest form of the company name and address of the London business for each year from 1836 to 1925, as they appear on the title page of Routledge’s publications. The numbers in brackets are the street addresses, which sometimes were printed in full, but often the number was omitted.

  • 1836-1843 George Routledge 11 Ryders Court, Leicester Square, London
  • 1843-1851 George Routledge and Co., (36) Soho Square, London
  • 1852-1858 George Routledge and Co., Farringdon Street
  • 1858-1859 Routledge, Warnes and Routledge, (2) Farringdon Street
  • 1860-1864 Routledge, Warne and Routledge, (2) Farringdon Street
  • 1865 Routledge, Warne and Routledge, Broadway Ludgate Hill
  • 1865-1866 George Routledge and Sons, Broadway Ludgate Hill
  • 1866-1878 George Routledge and Sons, The Broadway Ludgate
  • 1879-1886 George Routledge and Sons, Broadway Ludgate Hill

The “Routledge, Warnes and Routledge” name introduced in 1858 represented George Routledge, his two brothers in law Frederick and William Henry Warne and his eldest son Robert Warne Routledge. This became “Routledge, Warne and Routledge” in 1860 after William Henry Warne left the company. The change to “George Routledge and Sons” in 1865 occurred when George’s younger son, Edmund Routledge, joined the firm and Frederick Warne left to start his own publishing house. Frederick Warne & Co eventually became the publisher of Beatrix Potter in 1902, when Frederick Warne’s son Norman Warne developed a close friendship with the author of Peter Rabbit. In the late nineteenth century, Routledge books were often reprinted and reissued by Frederick Warne & Co.

From 1854 to 1886, the address of the New York office was often printed below the London address. From 1887 to 1902, New York address no longer appeared on the title pages. All of the years from 1887-1890 start LONDON | George Routledge and Sons. and from 1890 onward LONDON | George Routledge and Sons Limited.

  • 1887-1888 Broadway, Ludgate Hill | Glasgow and New York
  • 1889-1892 Broadway, Ludgate Hill | Glasgow Manchester and New York
  • 1892-1897 Broadway, Ludgate Hill | Manchester and New York
  • 1895-1902 George Routledge and Sons Limited, Broadway Ludgate Hill
  • 1900-1912 George Routledge and Sons Limited, Broadway House, Ludgate Hill
  • 1903-1925 London | George Routledge and Sons, Limited |New York E.P. Dutton and Co.
  • 1913-1925 London | George Routledge and Sons, Limited | Broadway House 68-74 Carter Lane E.C.

The Routledge colophon

Before 1900, some kind of graphical device would be occasionally printed on a Routledge title page This was relatively uncommon until 1903 when a standard “decorated R” colophon was introduced to the title page. This was used consistently until 1920, and then less commonly until 1923. The design is shown below.

Routledge Colophon 1903-1923

How to identify an undated Routledge Book.

I suggest that the following eight step process is the simplest approach.

  1. Look for the presence of the Routledge “decorated R” colophon. This dates the book to 1903-1923.
  2. Look at the name of the company on the imprint.
    • George Routledge indicates 1836 to 1843
    • George Routledge and Co indicates 1843 to 1858;
    • Routledge Warnes and Routledge indicates 1858 to 1859;
    • Routledge Warne and Routledge indicates 1860 to 1865;
    • George Routledge and Sons indicates 1865 to 1890;
    • George Routledge and Sons Limited indicates 1890 to 1945.
  3. Look at the form of the London address and decide which is the most likely block of years. This is hardest from 1865 to 1886, when the firm had moved to Broadway House at Ludgate Hill, but in certain blocks of years, a particular form of that address either dominates or is used exclusively.
    • 1836-1843 11 Ryders Court, Leicester Square
    • 1843-1851 (36) Soho Square
    • 1852-1864 (2) Farringdon Street
    • 1865-1866 “Broadway Ludgate Hill”
    • 1866-1878, “The Broadway, Ludgate”
    • 1879-1886 “Broadway, Ludgate Hill” with a comma following the Broadway.
    • 1887-1888Broadway, Ludgate Hill” | Glasgow and New York
    • 1889-1892Broadway, Ludgate Hill” | Glasgow Manchester and New York
    • 1892-1897Broadway, Ludgate Hill” | Manchester and New York
    • 1896-1902 “London” or “London and New York” | “Broadway Ludgate Hill”
    • 1900-1911 “Broadway House, Ludgate Hill” was used intermittently.
    • 1903-1925 London | George Routledge and Sons, Limited |New York E.P. Dutton and Co.and” and “&” were used interchangeably for both companies.
    • 1912-1925 “Broadway House 68-74 Carter Lane E.C.”
  4. Look at the form of the New York address, if present. The address is given specifically from 1854 to 1886, but does not usually appear between 1886 and 1902 for London publications.
    • Before 1854, only a London address will appear.
    • After 1854, any book which just has a London address, without any mention of New York, will be for publication in the UK only.
    • 1854-1859 18 Beekman Street. New York
    • 1859-1864 56 Walker Street. New York
    • 1864-1866 129 Grand Street. New York
    • 1866-1881 416 Broome Street. New York
    • 1881-1886 9 Lafayette Place New York
    • 1887-1902 New York (American only publications will still use 9 Lafayette Place)
    • 1903-1945 New York: E.P. Dutton and Co.
    • Note that:
      • A book with a New York address without a mention of a London address will be for publication in the USA only.
      • Some Routledge publications will give the New York address first and the London address second. These are mostly in the Lafayette Place period, and were probably sold in both countries, but originated in the USA.
  5. Look for the details of the printer, and check that this agrees with the date or date range that you have assigned from the publisher’s details. Most of Routledge’s books have the printer’s name and address in them, usually appearing at the foot of the final page of the text block, but occasionally elsewhere, such as on the verso of the title page or frontispiece and sometimes on a rear free end paper.
    • Here is an very incomplete list of British printers names and dates, drawn from both library records and books I have in my collection The date ranges given relate to printing of Routlege books.
    • 1847-1850 J. Billing, Printer, Woking, Surrey
    • 1830-1857 House of Richard Clay and Co Ltd, Bread Street Hill
    • 1857-1885 R. Clay, Sons, and Taylor, Printers, Bread Street Hill
    • 1885-1925 Richard Clay and Sons, London and Bungay
    • 1857-1901 Edmund Evans 4, Racquet Court, Fleet Street (there are several variations on the exact form of this address)
    • 1848-1866 Savill and Edwards, Printers, (4) Chandos Street, Covent Garden
    • 1867-1878 Savill, Edwards and Co., Printers, Chandos Street, Covent Garden
    • 1865-1887 Woodfall and Kinder, Printers, Milford Lane, Strand, London, W.C.
    • 1888-1900 Woodfall and Kinder, Printers, 70-76 Long Acre, London, W.C.
    • 1881-1886 Dalziel Brothers, Camden Press, London NW
    • 1882-1915 Ballantyne, Hanson and Co, Edinburgh and London
    • 1872-1902 Billing and Sons, Printers, Guildford, (Surrey)
    • 1888-1925 William Clowes and sons, Limited, London and Beccles
    • 1902-1907 London and County Printing Works, Bazaar Buildings, London, W.C.
    • c1890 Bradbury, Agnew, & Co LIMD., Printers, Whitefriars
    • 1902-1910 Bradbury, Agnew & Co LD, Printers London and Tonbridge
    • 1912- W.Jolly & Sons, Printers, Bridge Street, Aberdeen
    • 1924- 1930 Jas. Truscott and Son Ltd., London
    • Note: There is much overlap in dates as Routledge did not use any particular printer exclusively.
  6. Look for any inscriptions, book plates, and gift labels. Any dates that are written in give a date limit, as the book can not have been published after that date.
  7. Look at the block of publisher’s advertisements often found bound into the book as the last few pages. Every book mentioned has to have been published before, or possibly at the same time as, the book that contains the advertisements.
  8. Search for the book on putting in a date range based on what seems appropriate from steps 1 to 7 above. Enter Routledge into Keyword, then the book title and the author’s name. Often a good consensus on date is found, but any date shown in brackets may be unreliable.
  9. Look at the binding, and if the book has been rebound, for a binder’s ticket. If the book is still in the original publisher’s binding, does it look “right” for the period of publication that you have worked out in steps 1-8 above? Experience at looking at old books is essential here. If the book has been rebound and you can assign a date to the rebinding, this can give you a latest possible date of publication.

I am currently (April 2020) developing another page, on which I will show pictures of Routledge title pages covering the period 1840 – 1925. Watch this space!

Happy book hunting!

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