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Archibald Constable

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Category: Literature
Reference No: 8266
Status: Available
Price: £15.00
  Archibald Constable

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Scottish publisher, bookseller and stationer, most famous as the publisher of Sir Walter Scott’s works.

After working as an apprentice for an Edinburgh bookseller, Constable launched his own business as dealer in rare books in 1795. After buying the Scots Magazine in 1801, in November 1802 he issued the first number of the Edinburgh Review, with the help of Sir Walter Scott and others

Constable became famous for the generosity of his terms to authors. Writers for the Edinburgh Review were paid at an unprecedented rate, and Constable offered Scott 1000 guineas in advance for Marmion.

In 1805, jointly with Longman & Co., Constable published Scott's Lay of the Last Minstrel, and in 1807 Marmion.

He broke with Scott in 1808, but in 1813 there was a reconciliation.

In 1812 Constable, bought the copyright of the Encyclopædia Britannica, adding the supplement (6 vols, 1816-1824) to the 4th, 5th and 6th editions. In 1814 he bought the copyright of Scott’s Waverley. This was issued anonymously; but in a short time 12,000 copies were sold.  Scott's other novels following in quick succession.

In 1826 Constable’s business went bust, to the tune of £250,000 (a colossal sum in those days), but the following year he started afresh and began Constable's Miscellany of Original and Selected Works. This consisted of a series of original works, and of standard books republished in a cheap form, thus making one of the earliest and most famous attempts to popularize high-quality literature.

Constable’s son Thomas took over the running of the business on his father’s death.

This is a fine, bold ink signature, probably cut from a letter, on a 2.75" x 1.75" piece. In very good condition. RARE.