How it all began

Benjamin Marks and Mark Cohen began bookselling in 1904, when they were both employed by the firm of Henry Sotheran Ltd an old established bookseller. Sotheran's are generally acknowledged as being the 'training school' for many of the leading booksellers of the 20th century.

When they decided to go into business together Mark Cohen reluctantly agreed to his partner's suggestion that the firm be called Marks & Co rather than Marks and Cohen and the pair set up shop in Old Compton Street before moving first to No. 108 and then 106 Charing Cross Road.



The facade of 108 Charing Cross Road has changed a great deal since the 1920's but some things remain the same as the picture on the right shows '108' is still a book shop.

 

108 and 106 (above) today, to the left and out of the picture is the Phoenix Theatre whose banner spans the the two shops.

 

 

The move to the shop next door came about when Marks & Co acquired the business of George W. Davis who traded from No. 106. Davis was an acknowledged expert on the works of Charles Dickens and with the purchase of this firm Marks & Co found themselves with possibly the best stock of Dickensia in London. In 1928, probably as part of the takeover deal, Marks & Co published a short bibliography of the The Pickwick Papers written by Davis


Cover of the Davis book


Marks & Co 'advert' inside back cover of the Davis book

The shop now had two areas of specialization the other being that of Freemasonry and the Occult and indeed a whole floor would be devoted to these subjects when the business moved to No. 84.
In addition Marks & Co held a good stock of general books plus bound sets of popular authors, topography, natural history and modern first editions.

Marks & Co 'advert' from Notes & Queries magazine dated June 28th 1924

The photograph above was taken in the 1930's and it shows the 'view' from '84' looking towards Cambridge Circus.
Click
on this picture to take a look at the outside of the shop.