As is sometimes the case with the history of fine arts printing; they are sometimes the story of one person, whose zeal and enthusiasm created a business almost single-handedly. The world of fine art printing perhaps lends itself more so to hours of quiet work compositing, type-setting, and printing, and these solitary figures seem to imprint the force of their personality on the books that they help produce.
Such a figure was Charles Whittingham, one of the earliest of the modern printers, who began his trade as a printer at the young age of 22, in 1789. At the time (just after the heyday of the Northern European Enlightenment) the spread of privately-owned printing presses had now embedded themselves across Europe and Britain, but had yet to filter down to become the ‘hobby presses’ that William Morris championed.
Whittingham was a daring figure. He approached the engineer-printer William Caslon (whose company still exists to this day, and who gives his name to the Caslon serif typefaces that are much revered in the book trade) for a small loan, enough to set up a printing machine in a garret in Fleet Street. He published finely-produced editions of poetry, garnering the attention of the major publishers of the day – only to refuse to sell them in stock to the publishers, instead selling them personally ‘at auction’ in a local coffeehouse! Despite his snub of the larger publishers, the Chiswick’s Press fine use of ornamentation became much sought-after, and itself was one of the key inspirations for William Morris’s own, elaborate and elegant designs. The Chiswick Press opened formally in 1811, when Whittingham had amassed enough clients to make the business viable. They continued concentrating on illustrated books for the first part of its career, before the Press was inherited by Whittingham’s nephew (confusingly also named Charles Whittingham) which continued to operate through the latter half of the nineteenth century, before moving out of the family and continuing as an independent printing works.
The finest pieces of the Chiswick Press are its early books of with full illustrations from woodcuts, although throughout its varied career there are many interesting works. Pay attention to the ornamentation used in a Chiswick book, used most often in the frontis matter, the chapter pages and the title page. The use of motifs, emblems, and decorative elements ensures this Press a place in history, although the tradition has fallen out of habit currently.
Squier, E. G.,. Information On The Coal Mines Of The River Lempa. Chiswick Press (1856). Republic Of San Salvador, Central America. Private And Confidential. 1856.
Morris, Rev Richard. A Funeral Sermon. Chiswick Press (1858). Preached In The Church Of Eatington In The County Of Warwick Sunday, January 11, 1857, On The Death Of Evelyn John Shirley Esq, D.C.L. - Ettington
Gray, Thomas. Poems And Letters.. Chiswick Press (1867). Preface By Horace Walpole
Shirley, Evelyn Philip. Lower Eatington. Chiswick Press (1869). Its Manor House And Church.
Cole, Alan S. Catalogue. Chiswick Press (1874). Edited By Alan S. Cole (1846-1934); The Special Loan Exhibition Of Decorative Art Needlework Made Before 1800; For The 700 Items Catalog Documents; The First Comprehensive Public Exhibition Of Decorative Needlework Held In Great Britain And Europe (Spring Of 1873); 95 numbered copies.
Gray, Thomas. Poems And Letters.. Chiswick Press (1874). Fore-Edge Painting
Forrest, William. The History Of Grisild The Second. Chiswick Press (1875). A Narrative In Verse Of The Divorce Of Queen Katharine Of Arragon. Now Edited, For The First Time, From The Authorős Ms. In The Bodleian Library, By The Rev. W.D. Macray
Percy, Thomas. Reliques Of Ancient English Poetry. Chiswick Press (1877). Consisting Of Old Heroic Ballads, Songs, And Other Pieces Of Our Earlier Poets, Together With Some Few Of Later Date. Edited, With A General Introduction, Additional Prefaces, Notes, Etc., By Henry B.Wheatley; 3 volumes.
Harvey, Francis. Catalogue Of The Library At Brook House, Park Lane. Chiswick Press (1878). Belonging To Sir Dudley Coutts Majoribanks, Baronet Of Guisachan, M. P; 25 copies printed on handmade paper.
Niven, William. Ilustrations Of Old Warwickshire Houses. Chiswick Press (1878). 31 Copper Etchings, With Descriptive Notes; 75 small paper and 25 large paper copies were printed.
Ruskin, John. Notes By Mr Ruskin On His Collection Of Drawings By The Late J. M. W. Turner. Chiswick Press (1878). Exhibited At The Fine Art Societys Galleries; Also A List Of The Engraved Works Of That Master Shown At The Same Time
Lacaita, Sir J.P. Catalogue Of The Library At Chatsworth. Chiswick Press (1879). [ Of The Duke Of Devonshire ]; 200 small-paper copies; total edition of 250 copies; total 4 volumes
James, John Kingston. Day Dreams. Chiswick Press (1879). (Baronet, 1784-1869); To Which Are Added Some Translations From The Italian
Gray, Thomas. Poems And Letters.. Chiswick Press (1879). Illustrated with four mounted original albumen photographs
Mayo, Charles Herbert. Bibliotheca Dorsetiensis. Chiswick Press (1885). Being A Carefully Compiled Account Of Printed Books And Pamphlets Relating To The History And Topography Of The County Of Dorset; 350 copies
Byron, George Gordon Lord. Fugitive Pieces. Chiswick Press (1886). A Facsimile Reprint Of The Suppressed Edition Of 1806; 100 copies signed by the printer.
Barrere, Albert. Argot And Slang. Chiswick Press (1887). A New French And English Dictionary Of The Cant Words, Quaint Expressions Slang Terms And Flash Phrases. Used In The High And Low Life Of Old And New Paris; 675 copies; Frontispiece drawn by Godefory Durand.
Gray, Thomas. Poems.. Chiswick Press (1887). Illustrated By Charles And E. Radclyffe; 675 copies; Frontispiece drawn by Godefory Durand; 4 steel engravings being a frontispiece portrait by Freebairn
Cibber, Colley. An Apology Fo The Life Of Mr. Colley Cibber. Chiswick Press (1889). A New Edition With Notes And Supplement By Robert W. Lowe. With Twenty--Six Original Mezzotint Portraits By R. B. Parkes, And Eighteen Etchings By Adolphe Lalauze; In Two Volumes; Monastery Hill Binding; 510 copies printed
Campion, Dr. Thomas. The Works. Chiswick Press (1889). Edited By A.H. Bullen; 400 copies; 120 large paper copies
Horne, Herbert. Diversi Colores.. Chiswick Press (1891). Poems. Title-Page, Colophon And Typographical Design By The Author; 250 copies.
Wiel, Alethea. Two Doges Of Venice. Chiswick Press (1891). Being A Slight Sketch Of The Lives And Times Of Tomaso Mocenigo And Francesco Foscari; 500 copies.
Solon, M L. The Ancient Art Stoneware Of The Low Countries and Germany.. Chiswick Press (1892). Gres De Flandres and Steinzeug, Its Principal Varieties, And The Places Where It Was Manufactured During The XVITh And XVIITh Centuries; Two Volumes; Illustrated with 25 copperplate etchings and 210 illustrations in the text, drawn by the author; 300 copies
Catullus, Gaius Valerius. The Attis Of Caius Valerius Catullus. Chiswick Press (1892). Translated Into English Verse, With Dissertations On The Myth Of Attis, On The Origin Of Tree-Worship, And On The Galliambic Metre By Grant Allen (Formerly Postmaster Of Merton College, Oxford); 60 copies.
Redgrave, Gilbert R. Erhard Ratdolt And His Work At Venice. Chiswick Press (1894). A Paper Read Before The Bibliographical Society, November 20, 1893, By Gilbert R. Redgrave; Erhard Ratdolt, German Printer From Augsburg (1442–1528); illustrated Monographs No. I; 350 copies.
Proctor, Robert. Jan Van Doesborgh. Chiswick Press (1894). Printer At Antwerp; An Essay In Bibliography. Illustrated Monographs No. II
Pater, Walter. Essays From The Guardian.. Chiswick Press (1896). The Guardian; 100 copies
Ellis, Frederick Startridge. The History Of Reynard The Fox. Chiswick Press (1897). Turned Into English Verse By F.S. Ellis., With Illustrative Devices By W. Crane
Morris, William. An Address Delivered. Chiswick Press (1898). At The Distribution Of The Prizes To Students Of The Birmingham Municipal School Of Art On Feb. 21, 1894.
Claudin, A. The First Paris Press. Chiswick Press (1898). An Account Of The Books Printed For G. Fichet And J. Heynlin In The Sourbonne, 1470-1492.
Macfarlane, John. Antoine Verard. Chiswick Press (1899). Bibliographical Society Illustrated Monograph No. VII; 300 books printed
Morris, William. Some Hits On Pattern-Designing. Chiswick Press (1899). A Lecture Delivered At The Workingmans College, London, On December 10, 1881; 2000 copies.
Macfarlane, John. Antoine Verard. Chiswick Press (1900). Illustrated Monographs No. VII
Morris, William. Architecture And History, And Westminster Abbey. Chiswick Press (1900). Two Addresses; A Paper Read Before The Society For The Protection Of Ancient Buildings On July 1, 1884.
Gilbert, William. On The Magnet, Magnetick Bodies Also, And On The Great Magnet The Earth. Chiswick Press (1900). Colchester, Physician Of London; A New Physiology, Demonstrated By Many Arguments and Experiments; 250 copies
Norcross, Frank W. A History Of The New York Swamp. Chiswick Press (1901). The Shoe And Leather Reporter
Morris, William. Art And Its Producers, And The Arts and Crafts Of Today. Chiswick Press (1901). Two addresses by William Morris to the National Association for the Advancement of Art
Belcher, John. Later Renaissance Architecture In England. Chiswick Press (1901). Macartney, Mervyn; A Series Of Examples Of The Domestic Buildings Erected Subsequent To The Elizabethan Period; 2 vols.
Cobden-Sanderson, T.J. Ecce Mundus. Chiswick Press (1902). Industrial Ideals And The Book Beautiful
Smith, Logan Pearsall. Trivia. Chiswick Press (1902). Printed From The Papers Of Anthony Woodhouse, Esq.; 300 copies printed.
Blunt, Wilfrid Scawen. The Seven Golden Odes Of Pagan Arabia, Known Also As The Moallakat. Chiswick Press (1903). Translated From The Original Arabic By Lady Anne Blunt. Done Into English Verse By Wilfrid Scawen Blunt.
Cockerell, Sydney Carlyle. A Psalter And Hours Executed. Chiswick Press (1905). Before 1270 For A Lady Connected With St. Louis, Probably His Sister Isabelle Of France, Founder Of The Abbey Of Longchamp, Now In The Collection Of Henry Yates Thompson. With Photographs Of All The Miniatures By Emery Walker.
Byron, George Gordon. Astarte. Chiswick Press (1905). Milbanke, Ralph [Earle Of Lovelace]; A Fragment Of Truth Concerning George Gordon Byron, Sixth Lord Byron; Recorded By His Grandson; 200 copies
Bourdillon, F.W. The Early Editions Of The Roman De La Rose. Chiswick Press (1906). Illustrated Monographs No. XIV
Jones, Henry Arthur. The Hypocrites. Chiswick Press (1906). A Play In Four Acts
Monk, C H. Nulli Secundus. Chiswick Press (1907). The Record Of The Coldstrem Guard Dedicated By C H Monck Colonel Commanding
Wilkinson, Neville R. Wilton House Pictures. Chiswick Press (1907). Containing A Full And Complete Catalogue And Description Of The Three Hundred And Twenty Paintings Which Are Now In The Possession Of The Earl Of Pembroke And Montgomery At His House At Wilton In The County Of Wiltshire: Illustrated By Seventy-Two Reproductions In Photogravure Of The Most Celebrated Pieces Together With An Introduction By Sidney Earl Of Pembroke And Montgomery A History Of Wilton House And Other Matters; 300 copies; 2 volumes
Mckerrow, Ronald B. Printers and Publishers Devices In England and Scotland 1485-1640. Chiswick Press (1913). (Bibliographical Society Illustrated Monographs No. XVI).
Craig, Edward Gordon. School For The Art Of The Theatre. Chiswick Press (1913). Preliminary Prospectus, March 1913
Benson, Robert. Catalogue Of Italian Pictures. Chiswick Press (1914). At 16, South Street, Park Lane, London And Buckhurst In Sussex Collected By Robert And Evelyn Benson; 125 copies
Westwood, A. Catalogue Of The Books In The Library At The Assay Office. Chiswick Press (1914). Birmingham, 1914; 250 copies
Usher, James Ward. An Art Collectors Treasures. Chiswick Press (1916). Illustrated And Described By Himself. Being A Record, Historical And Descriptive, Of The Art Collection Formed By James Ward Usher (Of Lincoln) 1886-1914; Three hundred copies printed.
Bosanquet, Eustace F. English Printed Almanacks And Prognostications. Chiswick Press (1917). A Bibliographical History To The Year 1600
Gay, John. The Beggars Opera. Chiswick Press (1922). An Introduction By Oswald Doughty, Lecturer In English, University College, London, Twenty-Eight Plates In Collotype And A Facsimile Title Of The First Edition; 1000 COPIES
Gay, John. Trivia. Chiswick Press (1922). With An Introduction And Notes By Wh Williams; The Art Of Walking The London Streets; 1000 copies
Jackson, Herbert. European Hand Firearms Of The Sixteenth, Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries. Chiswick Press (1923). A Treatise On Scottish Hand Firearms By Charles E. Whitelaw; 550 copies.
Walpole, Horace. Journal Of The Printing-Office At Strawberry Hill. Chiswick Press (1923). Now First Printed From The Ms. Of Horace Walpole. With Notes By Paget Toynbee; 650 copies
Sumner, Heywood. Excavations In New Forest Roman Pottery Sites. Chiswick Press (1927). With Plans And Illustrations Of The Construction Of The Pottery Kilns, And Of The Different Wares Made, And Of A Potters Hut
Williamson, Henry. Tarka The Otter. His Joyful Water-Life And Death In The Country Of The Two Rivers. With An Introduction By Hon.Sir John Fortescue.. Chiswick Press (1927). His Joyful Water-Life And Death In The County Of The Two Rivers. With An Introduction By The Hon. Sir John Fortescue; 100 hand-numbered and signed copies on hand-made paper.
Bilgeri, Georg. Colonel Bilgeri’S Handbook On Mountain Ski-Ing. Translated, With Notes By Major Harold Holme.. Chiswick Press (1929). Translated, With Notes By Major Harold Holme.
Hewins, W A S. The Royal Saints Of Britain. Chiswick Press (1929). From The Latter Days Of The Roman Empire. Showing Genealogical Connections, Relation Of The Early Saints To Glastonbury And Characters In The Arthurian Romances.
Goodland, E S. The Book Of Remembrance Of The 5Th Battalion (Prince Alberts) Somerset Light Infantry. Chiswick Press (1930). H L Milsom; The Great War 1914-1919; 500 copies
Davies, Rhys. The Stars, The World, And The Women. Chiswick Press (1930). With A Foreword By Liam Oflaherty; And An Illustration By Frank C. Pape. Introduction by Liam OFlaherty; 550 copieds signed by Davies.
Benson, Stella. Christmas Formula And Other Stories. Chiswick Press (1932). Foreword By Geoffrey West. No.11 Of The Furnival Books; short stories with a frontispiece wood engraving by Clare Leighton, and an introduction by Geoffrey West.; 550 numbered copies signed by Benon.
Shelley, Percy Bysshe. Adonais. Chiswick Press (1935). An Elegy On The Death Of John Keats; 250 Numbered Copies
Siren, Osvald. Early Chinese Paintings. Chiswick Press (1938). A.W. Bahr Collection; 750 copies.
Sassoon, Siegfried. Early Morning Long Ago.. Chiswick Press (1941). 50 copies printed for Siegfried Sassoon and Geoffrey Keynes.
J. A. Billmeir Collection. Scientific Instruments (13Th-19Th Century). Chiswick Press (1955). The Collection Of J. A. Billmeir C.B.E. And A Supplement To A Catalogue Of Scientific Instruments In The Collection Of J. A. Billmeir, Esq., C.B.E.
Lisney, A.A. A Bibliography Of British Lepidoptera. Chiswick Press (1960). 1608-1799. 500 copies