The Catnach Scrapbook is a large album that contains many of the proofs for woodblocks and engravings used by James Catnach in his broadsides circa 1820s.
The broadsides were publications that focused on the more sinister and sensational occurrences of the time. The scandal sheets chronicled murders, violence, funerals, political plots and disasters, illustrated with crude and graphic woodcuts. Many would argue that it was the predecessor to tabloid publications of today, although the publisher never classified it as a newspaper in order to avoid steep taxes.
Sales of the sheets reached their peak during the 1820s as several scandal and disasters followed each other in quick succession. One notable example from the period featured the conviction of Arthur Thistlewood, who was the last man to be hanged and beheaded in England.
The scrapbook held here at St Bride was presented to the library in 1956 and is significant as an example of the use of stock blocks in a publication.