Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Finding Aid for the Percy H. Muir papers, ca. 1919-1970
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (86.84 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Organization and Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms
  • Related Material

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Percy H. Muir papers
    Date (inclusive): ca. 1919-1970
    Collection number: 1430
    Creator: Muir, Percy H. (Percy Horace), 1894-1979
    Extent: 4 boxes (2 linear ft.) 1 oversize box.
    Abstract: Percy H. (Percy Horace) Muir (1894-1979) was a prominent twentieth-century antiquarian bookseller, book collector, and bibliographer. He joined the London antiquarian booksellers Elkin Mathews, Ltd. in 1930, and remained with this firm until his death. This collection contains materials relating to Muir's published and unpublished works, together with a small quantity of papers relating to Elkin Mathews. The collection is primarily comprised of Muir's loose-leaf notes on British imprints, together with the manuscript of an unpublished novel.
    Language: Finding aid is written in English.
    Repository: University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Department of Special Collections.
    Los Angeles, California 90095-1575
    Physical location: Stored off-site at SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact the UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.

    Administrative Information

    Restrictions on Access

    COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF: Open for research. Advance notice required for access. Contact the UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.

    Restrictions on Use and Reproduction

    Property rights to the physical object belong to the UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The UC Regents do not hold the copyright.

    Provenance/Source of Acquisition

    Purchase, Richard Ford, 1985.

    Processing Note

    Processed by Helen McManus in the Center for Primary Research and Training (CFPRT), with assistance from Kelley Wolfe Bachli, 2008.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Percy H. Muir papers (Collection 1430). Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.

    UCLA Catalog Record ID

    UCLA Catalog Record ID: 4233462 


    Born in London on December 17, 1894, Percy Muir began his career as a bookseller in 1920. He joined the London antiquarian booksellers Elkin Mathews in 1930, and would remain with that firm until his death in Norfolk on November 24, 1979.
    Muir was an influential figure among booksellers and book collectors around the world. As president of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association in Britain from 1945-1947, Muir chaired the first conference of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB) in 1947. He then served as president of the ILAB from 1950 until 1952. At the end of his term in this office, he was elected Life President of Honor.
    Muir's publications include several bibliographies and contributions to bibliographical journals such as The Library. He composed numerous letters, essays, and addresses on book collecting, including the immensely popular Book Collecting as a Hobby: Letters to Everyman (1944) and its sequel in 1949. Muir was a founding member of the Editorial Board of Book Collector, and wrote many reviews for this journal. His Minding My Own Business (1956) was both a history of the firm Elkin Mathews and an autobiographical account of Muir's career from the early 1920s to World War II.

    Scope and Content

    This collection contains materials relating to the published and unpublished works of bookseller, book collector, and bibliographer Percy Muir, together with a small quantity of papers relating to the antiquarian bookselling firm Elkin Mathews, Ltd.
    The bulk of this collection is comprised of Muir's loose-leaf notes on British imprints. Muir aspired to produce a dictionary of imprints that would trace the links between printing or publishing businesses over time. This project began ca. 1931, inspired by a client's query, and was apparently never completed to Muir's satisfaction. He discusses some preliminary findings in the 1933 essay "English Imprints After 1640," published in The Library, but the dictionary represented in this collection remains unpublished.
    Each "entry" in the imprints notes contains the following information: imprint (printing or publishing business) at head of page, followed by a list of publication dates, and the address at which the business was found at each date. These listings are corroborated with reference to various bibliographies and dictionaries of publishers.
    The collection contains the manuscript (178 handwritten pages) of an untitled and unpublished novel, the tale of a young man's entry into the book trade. The novel appears to be semi-autobiographical, although it is written in the third person.
    The imprints notes and novel manuscript are written on the verso of various earlier notes, manuscripts, typescripts, printed proofs, and calling cards. Of particular interest, and scattered throughout, are: Muir's 1954 work, English Children's books: 1600-1900 (the chapter entitled "A Monstrous Regiment" is particularly well-represented), in various stages from manuscript to printed pages; Muir's notes on European Music publishers, in a format similar to the British Imprints notes; and various anecdotes in Muir's hand. A lengthy fragment, in pencil, of a translation of Friedrich Chrysander's G. F. Händel can be found on the verso of p. 165-178 of the novel manuscript.
    Also included in the collection are several invoices from the Elkin Mathews business, and a suggested "arrangement of sold-cards."

    Organization and Arrangement

    Arranged in the following series:
    • 1) Imprints. (4.5 boxes)
      • Muir's loose-leaf notes for a dictionary of British imprints, arranged alphabetically by printer or publisher name.
    • 2) Unpublished Novel. (3 folders)
      • Muir's unfinished manuscript of a novel about a young man entering the bookselling trade.
    • 3) Business Records. (2 folders)
      • Invoices from Elkin Mathews, Ltd., arranged by date, and notes about the arrangement of sold-cards.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


    Muir, Percy H. (Percy Horace), 1894-1979--Archives.
    Antiquarian booksellers--England--Archival resources.

    Related Material