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Charles Davis (1693 - 1755)

RA Collection: People and Organisations

Bookseller, the fifth son of James Davis, a chandler in Hatton Garden, London, and his wife, Mary. Baptized at St Andrew’s, Holborn, London, on 5 February 1693. He was bound as an apprentice to the London bookseller Nathaniel Nowell on 8 November 1708 but was not freed as a member of the Stationers’ Company until 3 October 1727, (on which day he was elected to the livery of the company). However, Davis was active as a bookseller from as early as 1723 when, based in Covent Garden, London, he published his earliest surviving book catalogue on 3 December. In 1726 he was recorded in Hatton Garden and by 1728, when he took his first apprentice, he had a shop in Paternoster Row. He was also based in Holborn, opposite Gray’s Inn and later against Gray’s Inn Gate, and was a parishioner of St Andrew’s, Holborn, at his death.

At least until 1730 Davis may have had some working relationship with the printer Henry Woodfall. Ten catalogues pertaining to Davis’s business have survived, demonstrating that he was one of the earliest booksellers to retail libraries by priced catalogues. He was one of the earliest booksellers who issued priced catalogues of second-hand books. He also sold libraries by auction, among others that of Dr. John Hancocke and Thomas Rawlinson.

He was unmarried, and on 17 September his estate was granted to his two bookselling nephews, Lockyer Davis and Charles Reymers (respectively sons of his eldest brother James and younger sister Elizabeth), both of whom had served apprenticeships with Davis. Davis’s stock was sold off at auction on 21 April 1757; a unique copy of the sale catalogue, annotated with purchasers and prices in an unidentified hand, survives in the British Library. [Source: DNB]

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Born: 1693

Died: 31 August 1755

Associated books

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