Sunday, 27 December 2020

A long history of law books


The ground and first floors of part of a Georgian brick building with sash windows. In the centre is an alley passing through the building, with a stucco frontage including a split pediment and scrolls painted white, and a light blue-painted frontage with two windows displaying law books.

Wildy and Sons bookshop in Lincoln's Inn isn't just located in a historical building; it is a historical business itself. It has been here since 1830, selling new and second-hand legal books to generations of lawyers (and publishing them for even longer). It has always been in Lincoln's Inn Archway, although other premises have been lost - its 1946 catalogue recorded how it lost not only warehouses but also a shop in the Cloisters, Temple to bombing during the Second World War. A new branch did later open nearby, on Fleet Street. More recently, Wildy's has gained a website which not only stocks a vast range of law books but also offers a same-day courier service in central London. 

While the Wildys have died out, their business partners for over a century, the Sinkins, continue to own the shop. WEB Sinkins started a card catalogue of law books in 1930; by his retirement in 1995, it had grown to 65,000 cards covering 5 centuries, and has been used by the Bodleian Library to help them catalogue their own early law books. 

Part of a shelf filled with old books with legal titles and a glass dome with a barrister's wig inside.

 The shop is a treasure trove of old and new law books, of course. It is also a wonderful building, and there are lots of items of interest dotted around its shelves as well. That makes it an irresistible stop for London history enthusiasts as well as lawyers - and among its extensive stock, there are sure to be at least a few books that interest you as well!



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