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John Bagford, bookseller and antiquary

Milton McC. Gatch


JOHN BAGFORD was born in London, lived his sixty-five or sixty-six years there, and was buried in the city in May 1716. From at least 1686 until his death, he was at the centre of the London book trade, involved both in the dispersal of existing collections and the formation of a number of the great libraries. Among those he helped to build were three that became the backbones of two great public collections: the libraries of Robert Harley and Hans Sloane which, together with the collection of Sir Robert Cotton, became the core of the British Museum, and John Moore's hbrary, which King George I bought in 1714 and presented to the University Library in Cambridge. At least two nineteenthcentury bibliophile historians believed that Bagford's own collections, known chiefly for their wealth of title-pages from early printed books, were created by ripping these pages from sound copies of the books to which they belonged; they heaped opprobrium on him as a 'wicked old Biblioclast' and 'the most hungry and rapacious' of book and print collectors.

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