THE English poet and essayist Robert Southey, describing, in the guise of a Spaniard, the manners and morals of his countrymen, noted in 1807, that 'there is, perhaps, no country in which the passion for collecting rarities is so prevalent as in England.' This passion was turned by large numbers of affluent nobles and gentlemen towards bibliophily and the amassing of large libraries. The collectors were roughly divided into two types: those with a disciplined and scholarly approach and those who collected in the abstract sense, among whom 'there had sprung up a kind mania for purchasing black letter volumes, although the purchasers themselves, from year's end to year's end, did not read, far less write, fifty pages consecutively. Among such people, it must be owned, the bibliographical propensity though it had, indirectly, good results, was nearly as absurd as the ci-devant ''tulip-madness" in Holland. To enhance these treasures there arose a widespread demand for binding and rebinding which native craftsmen were unable to meet, both qualitatively and quantitatively, for according to John Henry Bohn, an immigrant bookbinder from Germany who set up shop in London in 1795, 'at this time bookbinding in this country had fallen to a low ebb, and the advent of the German workmen was generally welcomed'.
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