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Cope Collection, Special Collections, Hartley Library: Handbills

The Cope Collection includes books, pamphlets, journals, prints, photographs and postcards on all aspects of life in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.


Printed handbills rival newspapers and pamphlets in the immediacy with which they provide a link to the past, but given the transitory importance of the information they conveyed, most were soon discarded meaning that few examples survive today. 

Used on a daily basis to advertise meetings, events and entertainments as well as the goods and services available in the local area, handbills proliferated during election campaigns, being used by rival candidates both to inform and to misinform the electorate. 

Handbills often contain information unavailable elsewhere and being the work of local printers, they also provide tangible evidence of the output of the local press.

Cope Collection Handbills

The two large volumes of handbills contain over 300 individual items dating from the last quarter of the eighteenth century into the early years of the nineteenth century. Political flyers promoting or attacking candidates in the various Parliamentary Elections of this period predominate, but there are also notices relating to public order, the endeavours of local charitable organisations and advertisements for patent medicines and entertainments.  

The individual handbills are listed in the PDF files below.      

The volumes are shelved at Rare Books Cope double folio SOU 06.5 and can be ordered for use in the Archives and Rare Books Search Room. 

Collections of Ephemera

Sir William Chamberlayne announces he will be a candidate in the Southampton by-election of March 1818 (Cope Handbills v.2 no.35)

Rare Books Cope double folio SOU 06.5 


Handbills are also available in other local collections: