Twelve Typed Letters and one Autograph Letter relating to the printing of the 'Society of Arts Journal', addressed to Sir Henry Trueman Wood and George Kenneth Menzies, Secretaries, Royal Society of Arts, together with one printed circular.

[PRINTING: FIRST WORLD WAR]William Archibald Clowes (1866-1937), Chairman, William Clowes & Sons Ltd, English printers
Publication details: 
10 August 1915 to 23 November 1917.
SKU: 5025

Clowes is an eminent firm of English printers, founded in London in 1803, and still thriving in Suffolk. The twelve typed letters are each one page, quarto, on the firm's Duke Street letterhead. The autograph letter is one page, 12mo, with mourning border. The collection in good condition overall, with a few items aged and lightly creased. Most items docketed and bearing the Society's stamp. All items except the circular signed by 'W A Clowes', who (he informs Wood in his first letter) has taken over from his cousin, Captain W. C. Knight Clowes (whose copy of the First Folio was subsequently bought by William Foyle). The collection provides an fascinating insight into the effect of the Great War on the printing trade, with Clowes reluctantly announcing repeated increases in costs. In the third letter (21 October 1915) he states: 'We wish to wait and see what the effect of Lord Derby's recruiting scheme will be on the printing trade, because if many more men are taken from it the cost of production will again be greatly increased [...] I am glad to say that for the moment we have a stock of the old Journal paper at the usual price'. Letter four (14 August 1918) warns of 'another large rise in wages in the London District in the near future', and letter five (27 March 1918) confirms 'the large increase in wages that the printing and binding trades have been compelled to grant their workpeople. All materials used in printing and binding have again risen and are still rising, [...] we shall be obliged to raise our prices to you for printing and binding by a considerable percentage'. Letter six (20 March 1918) responds to a complaint from Menzies regarding the printing of the Journal's wrappers: 'I [...] cannot in any way defend the printing. | I was having the matter thoroughly looked into before your letter came, and the type renovated'. He complains that 'labour is so scarce', but promises that he will be 'keeping an eye on it until it is done properly'. Letter of 13 June 1917 announces '15% extra on composition, machining and binding, owing to the increases in wages which took place previously to October 1916, and the large increase that took place then, and the still larger increase which had to be paid on this June 1st'. A printed circular announces another rise of 15%, from 31 October 1917, 'owing to the further increases in War Bonuses and the never ceasing increases in the cost of all materials'. On 28 March 1917 Clowes warns that the firm has 'only sufficient paper in stock to take us to about June 30th' and that 'prices will rise very sharply immediately owing to the great scarcity of materials'. In the handwritten letter, which ends the series, Clowes thanks Menzies for his 'kind letter of sympathy with us on the sad loss we have sustained by the death of my Cousin Mr Knight Clowes. I note with pleasure that you intend to insert a short obituary notice of him in your Journal. You may have seen the one in "The Times" for Wednesday last'.