Important acquisitions

Public confession of Christ illustrated, and the obligations to it stated. A sermon preached at Newton of Mearns 5th of September, 1780. being [sic] a day of solemn fasting and covenanting

Author Ramsay, James
Title Public confession of Christ illustrated, and the obligations to it stated. A sermon preached at Newton of Mearns 5th of September, 1780. being [sic] a day of solemn fasting and covenanting
Imprint Glasgow: John Bryce
Date of Publication 1780
Language English
Notes An interesting insight into the late 18th-century Scottish book trade is provided by this rare pamphlet, one of only three known copies. James Ramsay, 'Minister of the Gospel in Glasgow' here says that he is only putting his sermon into print because of 'the importunate request of many of the hearers in different Congregations'. It was printed by John Bryce of Glasgow, and sold 'at his shop opposite Gibson's-Wynd, Saltmarket'. Bryce took the opportunity at the back of the book to list other 'pamphlets' which he also printed and sold, and which he thought might appeal to the purchasers of Ramsay's sermon. Besides some other sermons, these 'pamphlets' inclued 'A Defence of National Covenanting' and 'The Form of Process used in Kirk Courts, with relation to scandals'. Their prices range from two pence to the most expensive, a 'Weavers Pocket Companion' at sixpence. Bryce adds 'Considerable allowance will be given to those who take quantities, either for selling or giving away.' From this we can deduce that Bryce is not just selling to readers, but to other booksellers, chapmen, and perhaps also to ministers and others who might buy his pamphlets to give away, perhaps as part of a religious exercise. Bryce also lists religious books, whose prices range from one shilling and sixpence to 'fine copies' of a bound ten-volume set of Ralph Erskine's Practical Works, at 'two pound sterling'. Finally, Bryce uses the empty space at the end of the text of Ramsay's sermon to advertise 'Proposals for Printing by Subscription, twenty eight Lectures on the first, second, and third Chapters of Matthew, and to the 14th verse of the fourth' by Reverend William Mair, a recently-deceased popular preacher. These proposals 'may be had' from a list of booksellers around the country, from Stranraer to Edinburgh - one wonders if these booksellers participated in a regular network of such proposals, and if Stirling and Perth were the closest towns to Mair's home territory with booksellers. Bryce duly published Mair's sermons the next year. The volume contains no evidence of being a subscription publication. Perhaps the call for subscribers was unsuccessful but Bryce, or Mair's anonymous editor thought it worth proceeding with the publication anyway. Only two copies survive, which may suggest the demand for Mair's sermons was not strong, or perhaps it was, after all, only produced in a limited print run. From this one pamphlet, therefore, we can see John Bryce at work as printer, publisher, bookseller and supplier to other sellers, and the relationships that existed between the ministers who wrote the religious texts which formed such a large part of the 18th-century Scottish book trade, their publishers, and their readers from the buyers of cheap sermons to those who wanted 'fine copies' of theological discourses.
Shelfmark AP.1.209.026
Acquired on 08/07/09
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