4.2.1 Accuracy and rigour: Charles Roach Smith as author and editor

While the works listed in Table 1 were published by J.R. Smith, Roach Smith's volumes were funded by subscription and he appears to have maintained editorial control. Lists of subscribers are included in many of his works. His Illustrated Catalogue proved particularly popular: 'published by subscription, an Illustrated Catalogue of 193 pages … The impression, which was large, soon became exhausted, for it was well received, and I have been pressed to print a second edition' (1886, 224). It is likely that it was necessary to obtain funding through subscription because the publisher could not, or did not wish, to take on the risk for volumes for which the production costs were high and the market small. It is also clear that Roach Smith was distrustful of government and national institutions and their priorities, and was passionate about accuracy and editorial rigour, which he felt was lacking in the case of many journals and contemporary volumes. He believed passionately in access to education for all, and greatly admired the philanthropy of his wealthy acquaintances, such as Joseph Mayer, who founded a free library for Bebington in 1866, while criticizing the apathy of many individuals and institutions,

'It is the age for education; the legislature propels it; and all admit that it should be universal. Yet we see large and wealthy towns resisting the establishment of Free Libraries as they resist other necessities both for the bodily and mental salus populi'. (1883, 74)

He is critical of the levels of expertise and decisions taken by national institutions. For example, in relation to the British Museum's refusal to purchase the Faussett Collection of Anglo-Saxon grave goods. he wrote:

'The Trustees refused to purchase. It was in vain that individuals, and Societies qualified to judge, represented the national importance of such a unique collection; the Trustees were not to be persuaded … Why not, it is impossible to understand; for they were incompetent to judge rationally for themselves'. (1883, 68)

He is similarly critical of superficial patronage of archaeological projects and publications:

'I have ever considered it a blemish upon English scientific, literary, and artistic institutions that they should have so little self-dependence as to feel it necessary to place the phantom of patronage over their muster-rolls. There is a patronage, however, which is real and irrespective of position; which supports by munificent gifts of money or its equivalent, and this alone the independent mind should acknowledge' (1883, 38-9)

Roach Smith was equally unimpressed with the skills and motivations of publishers. This is clear in his description of events surrounding his reading of a paper by his friend and fellow archaeologist Thomas Bateman:

'This paper was given to two Societies (BAA and SAL) by me; but it was not printed by either; and shared the fate of numerous others. Subsequently, however, Mr Bateman himself did what the Societies themselves could not or would not do; and the facts that were recorded have been made generally known at Mr B's individual cost. This is one of the many instances of the incapacity of Societies, and the punitive injury they inflict upon archaeology. They preoccupy the ground; they find fault; they profess and cajole their members and others to write or cater for them. But the meetings being served, the papers are thrown by as of no further use, or if printed are printed in abridged state with imperfect illustrations; and edited probably by persons quite incompetent to understand them'. (C.R. Smith Nov 2nd, 1857, Strood)
(Vestiges of an Antiquarian, July 2009, Accessed: 13 November 2012).

He strongly believed in the importance of publishing discoveries as quickly as possible e.g. criticising the Neapolitan authorities for their inability to publish the remains at Pompeii in a timely fashion: 'The Neapolitan authorities in the true spirit of jealousy and narrow-mindedness, insisted on their right to be the first to publish, though they were the last in promptitude' (1886, 217).

In publishing his works for subscribers, and in maintaining editorial control, Roach Smith was able to ensure that his work was published in a timely fashion, and with the accuracy and rigour which he valued so highly. The volumes were advertised and reviewed in newspapers and journals throughout the country (e.g. Anon 1854), although he could not market his work on the same scale as contemporaries such as Layard, who benefitted from the marketing skills and resources of a major commercial publisher (Bohrer 1992). Roach Smith also sold volumes himself and information about the format and price of some of these is listed on a flyer in the back of Vol. III of his Retrospections in the University of Leicester Library, with a note of thanks to the purchaser:

Mr C Roach Smith Has on hand a very few copies of some of his works which he can offer at the following prices: Inventorium Sepulchrale by the Rev Bryan Faussett In 4to with 20 plates, some coloured; and many woodcuts; at £2 2s od subscribers price. Illustrations of Roman London 4to with 41 plates, and 3 extra, some coloured; and many wood cuts £2 12 s 6d Catalogue of Mr Roach Smith's Museum of London Antiquities. Illustrated by Plates and Wood cuts, 8vo, long since out of print, 15s, one of larger size 2ls. The Antiquities of Richborough, Reculver and Lymne, richly illustrated by Fairholt, sm 4to 21s. Report on Excavations at Lymne, illustrated sm 4to, a sequel to the foregoing, 2s 6d. Collectanea Antiqua: the 7th volume can be supplied at 30s: and a few of the other volumes can be made up at the same price. Apply to Mr Roach Smith at Temple Place, Strood, Kent. July 15th 1887.

In maintaining editorial control, Roach Smith was able to produce works that represent some of the finest archaeological scholarship of the day. He was presented with a medal in appreciation of this contribution to archaeology just before his death in 1890 and his valiant efforts to preserve and promote interest in British archaeology were reported and celebrated in newspapers across the country (e.g. Anon 1853).


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