The Transactions of the Geological Society of London represent the Society’s earliest systematic publication, instigated as a result of a decision made by a Special General Meeting in 1810 to capture the more significant communications of the Society. First published in 1811, the emphasis was on quality of content and production. The earliest volumes were privately financed by a small group of Society members and commercially published by the printers, William Phillips.
Although scientifically successful the Transactions did not pay their way and in 1822 Series Two was launched, financed by the Society and using cheaper production techniques. For the first time the publication was made available at a modest discount to members, but sales were still insufficient to deliver a satisfactory return to the Society.
One problem with the Transactions was their irregular and occasional publication schedule, resulting in significant delays in the publication of scientific papers. By 1856, some 11 years after the first publication of the more regular Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London (QJGS), the Transactions were discontinued. QJGS was published continuously until the 1970s, when it became the Journal of the Geological Society
, published six times a year.
During the publication period, 1811 to 1856, the Transactions featured almost 350 papers, many of which have become classics. Complete print sets of the Transactions are now rare but online versions, captured to the highest electronic standards, are now available via the Society’s Lyell Collection