[ The Original Society of Papermakers, Maidstone. ] 72 printed items

The Original Society of Papermakers, Maidstone, Kent [ James Bourke and R. Robertson, Secretaries ]
Publication details: 
Mainly printed by R. W. Burkitt, Maidstone, Kent. Three dating from 1901, the other 69 from between 1920 and 1929.
SKU: 18693

An interesting collection of material relating to trades unions in the paper industry, and a scarce survival. The University of Birmingham, which holds a small collection of pre-twentieth-century material relating to the Original Society of Papermakers, notes that 'Few records have survived, including papers kept by chance and found within later correspondence'. The entry for that collection neatly sums up the history of the Society: 'Most probably arising from wage disputes at the end of the C18th, the Original Society of Papermakers was founded in 1800 as the trade union for workers in the hand-made paper business. Early factional disputes and trade pride prevented the OSP from expanding into machine-based mills. Consequently membership dwindled to just 83 by 1947 when the Executive Council sought a merger with the NUPBPW which was achieved in 1948.' More detail regarding to the Society can be found in C.J. Bundock's 'The Story of the National Union of Printing, Bookbinding and Paper Workers' (Oxford, 1959), but the main source of information is Jean Stirk's 'Industrial Relations in a Craft Trade: The Original Society of Papermakers 1800-1948' (Studies in Paper History Vol. 4, BAPH, 1999). 72 items, 69 of which are conventionally-printed, stapled and uniform in layout, the other three being duplicated. The collection is in fair condition, with most items lightly aged and worn, a handful exhibiting heavier wear and closed tears. The greater part addressed by R. Robertson, Secretary, to 'Brothers in Trade', most from the Sun Inn, High Street, Maidstone, Kent, and a number from 13 Peel Street, Maidstone. The collection can be grouped as follows. ONE: Three circular bulletins, 1901, by James Bourke. Totalling 36pp. 12mo. Dealing with resolutions, reproducing correspondence, discussing a conference with lists of delegates. TWO: 53 circular bulletins, 1920-1929. Ranging between 16 and 2pp., 12mo. Giving details of topics including: details of 'Members Unemployed'; the register of births of apprentices; reports of 'Days' Wages' for various jobs; committee resolutions; correspondence; conference reports; election details; auditors reports and balance sheets; results of votes; benevolent fund; funeral claims; umpires' decisions in benefit claims. Issue of 2 June 1920 carries the obituary of James Sharp of Maidstone, whose company was founded in 1805. A number of issues from 1920 deal with a dispute between the OSP and the Papermakers' Association of Employers of Carded Labour, regarding rates of pay, reproducing correspondence. Issue of 5 July 1922 reports a 'great amount of unemployment that has prevailed in the Trade during the past 18 months or so, during which time mills have experienced very long laystills', and attacks 'the latest “stunt” devised by the Ministry of Labour […] the payment of what they term “Unconventional Benefit,” that is, benefit which has not been paid for'. Issue of 12 August 1924 discusses 'some intimidation of men at one of the mills'. THREE: Seven Benevolent Fund Reports by R. E. Smith, Secretary, dating from between 1921 and 1929. Between 6 and 7pp. FOUR: Three duplicated typed circulars, two dating from 1927, both 1p., folio, and giving details of a committee meeting. FIVE: Two Special Circulars, both from 1923. Each 7pp. SIX: Three reports, one headed 'Financial Position' (1922, 4pp.) and two 'Financial Statement' (1927 and 1928, 8pp. Each). SEVEN: Auditors' balance sheet for half year ending December 1922. EIGHT: Set of proposed 'Revised Rules'. 8pp. Undated [1920].