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Thursday, 2 July 2020

Do You Know Anything About Renwick of Otley (no, this is not about Medieval heraldry!)

There are many problems when it comes to tracking down defunct publishers. Renwick of Otley, with an office in Fleet Street it says in the books (probably letter drops) is one such publisher. Nothing comic book related but I have some of their hard back boys' books and to be honest sellers and dealers know nothing about the company. It has taken a month of solid searching to piece together bits and pieces for an upcoming article in Comic Bits

Problems: apart from the printer and the Fleet Street address there is absolutely no information what-so-ever. No date. Also, I have only two that carry inscriptions and these are important in a number of ways.

Firstly: "To Jimmy. Happy Chistmas 1959" helps date it straight away. The owner writing "This book belongs to ---------, 1956" again dates it. Dating is an important aspect. However, knowing that Auntie Joan and Uncle Bert gave the book to Jimmy gives it a sort of connection with tghose people (do not panic -I am not now going to try to trace the former owners!).

One person I bought a book from told me that he had owned it over 50 years and that his gran had given it to him -she having been born in 1878.  Now that is an added bonus for a bibliophile: from printers to shop to purchaser and then on to child.

I had, as I wrote, found out a few small pieces of information from book and online research but wanted to find out more. I thought "Try the British Library!"  So off went an email (I am not travelling by two buses to post a letter under current circumstances):

"Hello. I have several hardback books/annuals for children published by Renwick of Otley. I can find no details of the company and their books are undated ranging from 1920s to mid 1950s. "Fleet Street, London EC4" is one address: therewas an office there likely a letter drop. The books were "Printed by William Walker & Sons (Otley) Limited" that in the books is followed by "Printerdom, Otley". Do you have any information on the company? If it helps their titles included Our Boys' Tip Top, Our Boys Tales and Our Boys Best of All -similar titles for Girls. Thanks in advance -Terry"

Well, when I wrote that email I thought that the books were rare but then realised I only thought so because sellers were saying that!  I felt a real ass when I realised that -falling for the biggest con selling line on Ebay!  As it turns out there are a lot of these books out there.  But today I received a reply from the British Library:

"Hello Terry Hooper,
Thanks for your enquiry.
Since the discussed books were published after 1914, your enquiry is under the subject area of Humanities so I'm transferring it to my colleagues in the Humanities Reference Service Team.
You will be contacted in due course.
Kind regards, "

Seriously. What the--- "undere the subject area of Humanities"??  Before you ask there are several Reference Service Teams but none really explain what they cover. I am guessing I will need to wait longer to be told "We know nothing"! 😁

Wait unless someone out there has any information?  If you have then please get in touch. Like I wrote; nothing comic related just a curiosity to find out more about the company.

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