An Inquiry into the Nature and Form of the Books of the Ancients




Special Collections Z269 A763 1837


London: Richard Groombridge


Roger Payne (1738-1797) started his career proper as a bookbinder when he and his brother, Thomas, took over their father’s bookbinding business in Eton after his death in 1759. In 1766 Payne travelled to London and established, with the help of the bookseller Thomas Payne (no relation), his own bookbinding business in Leicester Square. Despite his propensity for drink and life-long ill-health, Payne developed a great reputation as a craftsman binder. His finishing was impeccable and he took great care to match the decoration on the cover to the content within. In this engraving Payne is portrayed in his ragged clothes, a tall man with hollow cheeks and staring eyes, hunched over a book he is working on in the press. Books and shavings lay on the floor while the window-sill and fireplace are strewn with various glue and ale pots. John Nichols laments in The Gentleman’s Magazine that Roger Payne ‘lived without a rival, and, we fear, has died without a successor’ (GM 1797).


Cab 4 Roger Payne.jpg


John Andrews Arnett, “An Inquiry into the Nature and Form of the Books of the Ancients,” | OUR Heritage, accessed December 4, 2023,