National Archives
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The National Archives marks the centenary of inheriting COPY 1 records

A commemorative event at Stationers' Hall today marks 100 years since The National Archives inherited the collection of photographs and artwork which makes up the COPY 1 record series.

The National Archives' collections will be exhibited and reunited with earlier records from the Stationers' Hall for the first time in a century.

The COPY 1 collection

The collection includes more than 150,000 commercial posters and labels and over 250,000 photographs dating from the middle of the 19th century to the early 20th century.

Among the collection are works by some of the most accomplished photographers of the day, including Peter Henry Emerson, Felice Beato and Eadweard Muybridge, as well as thousands of amateur snapshots reflecting almost every aspect of Victorian and Edwardian society from theatre and entertainment to popular sports.

Registering copyright

The Stationers' Company had been the place to register copyright since 1554 following the advent of mass printing. When photographs were granted copyright protection for the first time in 1862, anyone wishing to secure the copyright for their images had to register them with the Stationers' Company in London.

This process continued for half a century until the 1911 Copyright Act abolished the need for registration at Stationers' Hall. In 1912, photographs from the Stationers' Company collection were sent to the Public Record Office (now called The National Archives), where they have remained ever since.

Explore our collection

You can browse images from the series through our image library advertising showcase and on our Flickr page. Material from the COPY 1 series is also available to view in the reading rooms at Kew for anyone with a reader's ticket.

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