BOOKBINDING IN 18TH CENTURY WALES The bookbindings of 18th century Wales would not be sought after for their artistic merit. England, Scotland and Ireland can boast of bindings that are a tribute to art and craftsmanship during that period; there are distinctive styles, and bookbinders of the calibre of Roger Payne achieved renown in their lifetime. In Wales, the binding of books was merely a utilitarian means of preventing sheets from falling apart; any attempt at decoration was minimal and if a bookbinder achieved renown it was for activities other than bookbinding. There was no tradition of visual art and men with artistic talents had to seek fame and fortune outside Wales, as did Richard Wilson and Thomas Jones of Penkerrig. Moses Griffith was an exception in gaining local patronage but then his patron, Thomas Pennant, was an excep- tional man. The book-trade in Wales was still in its infancy; commercial printing did not start there until 1718 when Isaac Carter printed two ballads on his press at Trefhedyn near Newcastle Emlyn. Apart from some surreptitious printing by recusants in Wales, Welsh books had been produced hitherto mainly in London, with a few in Oxford and Cambridge, and after 1695 in Shrewsbury and Chester. They had been heavily subsidised by gentry and clergy and editions were small as the literate public was small in number. Trefhedyn was not a commercial centre and Isaac Carter soon moved his press to Carmarthen, then still a flourishing port. Meanwhile Nicholas Thomas had established a press at Carmar- then and the town remained the most important centre in South Wales for printing throughout the 18th century. Shrewsbury catered for North Wales. By 1800, however, the growth of literacy and increasing affluence stimulated the book-trade to such a degree that every town of note had its printing-press. Although a certain amount of patronage by gentry and clergy continued, the most popular means of publishing was by subscrip- tion. The onus for acquiring subscribers lay on the author, though obviously he could utilise the distribution net-work used by the printers. Subscribers usually paid half the price of a book beforehand and half on receipt, unless the book was large enough to be issued in parts, in which case parts would be paid for as they appeared. The binding of books was the responsibility of the