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Richard Dalton (c. 1715–1791) by Johan Zoffany, c. 1765–8 [with his wife, Esther de Heulle, and their niece Mary de Heulle] © Tate, London, 2004

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Dalton, Richard (c. 1715–1791), art dealer and librarian, was the son of the Revd John Dalton of Darlington, co. Durham, and younger brother of the Revd John Dalton, rector of St Mary-at-Hill, London. Dalton was apparently apprenticed to a coach-painter at Clerkenwell, London...

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Gulston, Joseph (1744/5–1786), book and art collector and connoisseur, was the eldest son of Joseph Gulston (1693/4–1766), a successful loan contractor with mercantile interests in Lisbon, and his wife, Mericas Sylva (1714/15–1799), the daughter of a Portuguese merchant. His father became MP in turn for ...

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Edward Harley, second earl of Oxford and Mortimer (1689–1741) by Michael Dahl © Copyright The British Museum

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Harley, Edward, second earl of Oxford and Mortimer (1689–1741), book collector and patron of the arts, was born on 2 June 1689, the only son of Robert Harley, first earl of Oxford and Mortimer (1661–1724), politician, and his first wife, Elizabeth (d...

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William Herbert (1718–1795) by William Say, pubd 1809 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Herbert, William (1718–1795), bibliographer and printseller, was born on 29 November 1718, the second of five children of Thomas Herbert (c.1691–1721), a dyer and hosier of Gravel Lane, Southwark, and his wife, Sarah (d. 1748). His parents were Londoners and Presbyterians. What is known of his first thirty years derives from ...

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Richard Mead (1673–1754) by Allan Ramsay, 1747 Coram Foundation, Foundling Museum, London; photograph National Portrait Gallery, London

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Mead, Richard (1673–1754), physician and collector of books and art, was born at Worcester House, Stepney, Middlesex, on 11 August 1673, the eleventh child of thirteen of Matthew Meade (1628/9–1699), a nonconforming minister, and his wife, Elizabeth Walton (d. 1707). Matthew Meade...

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Sir William Musgrave, sixth baronet (1735–1800) by John Raphael Smith © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Musgrave, Sir William, sixth baronet (1735–1800), administrator, print collector, and antiquary, was born on 8 October 1735 at Hayton Castle, Cumberland, the sixth of the seven children of Sir Richard Musgrave, fourth baronet (c. 1701–1739), and his wife, Anne, née Hylton (1697–1766)...

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(Charles William) Dyson Perrins (1864–1958) by unknown photographer © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Perrins, (Charles William) Dyson (1864–1958), book and porcelain collector and benefactor, was born in the parish of Claines, near Worcester, on 25 May 1864, the only son of James Dyson Perrins (1823–1887) and his wife and cousin, Frances Sarah (d. 1918), daughter of ...

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Smith, Joseph (1673/4?–1770), book collector and patron of the arts, was probably born in 1673 or 1674 (at his death in Venice in 1770 he was said to be ninety-six). Nothing is known of his antecedents; he used a coat of arms of the family of ...

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Sotheby family (per. 1778–1861), auctioneers and book collectors, came to prominence in the book trade in the mid-eighteenth century with John Sotheby (1740–1807). The Sothebys stemmed from Pocklington in Yorkshire, where a nineteenth-century wall plaque in the local church of All Saints...