3. Charles Roach Smith's Publications

A survey of books published on archaeology in the first half of the nineteenth century shows that by the middle of the nineteenth century a small number of publishers, including Murray, Bohn, Pickering and Longmans, was responsible for producing many of the best-known volumes on archaeology in this period (see Scott 2013b, section 3). Well-known books on continental, and particularly world, archaeology appear in this period, notably in the 1840s and 1850s. The quantity of books on British archaeology published during this period is nevertheless impressive, although unsurprising given the flowering of local archaeological and antiquarian societies at this time, and the importance of archaeological pursuits as a marker of social and intellectual status in this period (Levine 1986; Hoselitz 2007; Sweet 1997; see Hingley 2007 for discussion of the content of Archaeologia). Many of these were produced independently through subscription, using local printers (see Sweet 1997 for a comprehensive study of urban histories in the eighteenth century). Smith is notably prolific and the majority of his works were published for subscribers only. While he achieved a considerable degree of success in the production and distribution of his volumes, as with the majority of individuals working on the archaeology of Britain he did not have the support of a commercially oriented publisher. This was due in part to his own desire for editorial control, but undoubtedly also to the increasing preference of leading publishers, such as John Murray, for 'exotic' subjects that would appeal to the widest possible audience (Scott 2013b). The challenges facing Smith in this respect are articulated in a review of Illustrations:

The careful and laborious compilation before us, illustrated with the best appliances of art and at very considerable expense, has been enabled to see the light by subscription; for Mr Roach Smith has learnt by painful experience how limited is the interest in the subject it refers to, and how little chance there would be of adequate remuneration for the mere costs of publication by the ordinary method of sale (Saturday Review of Politics, Literature, Science and Art, Jan 7, 1890, 9, 219)

While the priorities of commercial publishers gave Smith little choice but to publish through subscription, he was also unimpressed with the skills and motivations of publishers (Scott 2013b). He is similarly scathing about the selection policies for antiquarian journals:

Not unfrequently it happened that a council was composed of members interested in only one subject, who would be tempted to undervalue the labours of their colleagues who worked in a different field (Smith 1848, vi).

Also, regarding the circulation of these volumes: 'The Archaeologia circulates but little beyond the very confined range of the Society of Antiquaries; and, on the continent, it is almost unknown' (Smith 1854b, viii). He is horrified at the lack of respect shown through the sale of volumes for pennies and the discovery by a friend of 40 back issues of Archaeologia at a grocery store for 18 pence a volume (Smith 1854b, vii–viii).

Smith nevertheless contributed a significant number of articles and letters to Archaeologia in the decade 1840–49 (49 articles and letters), which undoubtedly helped to establish his reputation, but his contributions declined steeply thereafter (11 in the period 1850–59 and two in 1860–69). He also regularly contributed to many other local and national journals (Rhodes 1992; 2004), including the journal of the British Archaeological Association and the Numismatic Chronicle, and 'Antiquarian Notes' in the Gentleman's Magazine (1865–68). Having become disillusioned with the squabbling in the BAA, he resigned his Secretaryship in 1849 and resigned from all subscribing societies in 1852 (Rhodes 2004; Briggs 2009, 226). From the 1850s he increasingly focused his efforts on his own publications (see Scott 2013b, section 4.2).

From the 1840s until his death in 1890, Smith not only produced volumes on British archaeology and antiquities, but also on sites and antiquities in France and Germany; these include illustrations of sites and antiquities, many of which were drawn by the talented artist Frederick W. Fairholt (Smith 1883, 218-26). They represent some of the finest scholarship on Roman Britain in the mid-nineteenth century. He took care to record meticulously all forms of evidence (Rhodes 1991 and 1992; 2004; Hobley 1975; Henig 1995, 186) and was ahead of his time in many respects; for example, drawing comparisons between archaeology and natural sciences, including geology (Smith 1852a, 108; Smith 1868, 1); links which many of his contemporaries eschewed (Rowley-Conwy 2007, 113–20). For example, he recognises the potential of archaeolozoological and botanical data to provide insights into the nature of daily life in past times (Sweet 2015; Zimmerman 2008; Hingley 2008, 237 on the growing interest in daily life): will be admitted to be of general interest, and worthy of further inquiry and research, as shewing the sorts of food commonly used, the mode of life, and character of the people. With a view to engage, on future occasions, the cooperation of naturalists, and to direct notice to a collateral branch of archaeology, as connected with a sister science, as well as for the sake of immediate comparison (Smith 1850, 105).

The prefaces and appendices to Smith's volumes reveal that he was writing for both a British and an international community, working to establish archaeology as a scientific discipline in the face of governmental and institutional apathy; as highlighted by Genette (1997, 221), a key function of the preface 'is to provide the author's interpretation of the text or, if you prefer, his statement of intent…'. Smith consistently takes advantage of these opportunities to detail the shortcomings of the Government and the Society of Antiquaries with respect to national antiquities, and to record and praise the contributions of key supporters, despite his criticism of such formalities in archaeological volumes (Smith 1854b, 213; Smith 1852a, appendix; Effros 2012, 86). The paratextual devices in Smith's volumes also include lists of affiliations to societies both in Britain and Europe, emphasising the nature and extent of his intellectual connections, and especially the honours accorded him by European learned societies:

Honorary Member of the Society of Antiquaries of France, Denmark, Spain, Normandy, Picardy, the West of France, the Morini, Scotland, Newcastle upon Tyne, the Society of Emulation of Abbeville, the Numismatic Society of London, the Archaeological Societies of Chester, Cheshire and Lancashire, Bury and West Suffolk, Scarborough, Mayence, Wiesbaden, and Sinsheim (Smith 1852a, title page)


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