Those of you who collect British card games would have noticed that the vintage games normally have "Registered or Entered' at Stationer's Hall on the box and/or the rules. This appeared to represent a basic form of copyright. I have researched a little on the subject to see if I could unearth a some more information on the subject
The Worshipful Company of Stationers was formed as a Guild in 1403. In 1557 it was granted a Royal Charter which gave it control of publications and the Registry was begun some time later. Some of Shakespeare’s plays were registered with them. The Company was legally required to enforce the registered owner’s works by pursuing imitators and confiscating their copies of the stolen work. The legal requirement to register with Stationer’s Hall was removed in 1912 but registration did continue as favoured by members and others. The Registry closed in 2000.
I always thought that the records for games were destroyed in the Blitz. I was half-right. The building was burnt to the ground on the 15th October1940 but the records had been moved to strongrooms under the Public Records Office. The records are not yet available on-line. My colleague asked them about accessing them in 1998 but was told that would not be possible. Now he has asked them if they will appear on-line and they were keen to do that but could give no date (the reason - no money, of course).
Those of you who would like to do your own research, try to obtain a copy of this book: The Stationers' Company by Cyprian Blagden, published by Stanford University Press in 1977.
Thanks to Rex Pitts, without whose help this article would not have been possible.