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HE CHARLES WHITTINGHAMS, Uncle and Nephew, were creditors of our age, or, at least, of those among us who confess a liking for comely books. There is

a real debt of thankfulness still owing them, and a considerable balance of it will be carried forward to the account of generations which are yet to come trooping along with Time. Chance has somehow left unrecorded until now the annals of this worthy pair of English printers, and the pity of it is that few men now living can recall particulars of them, and of these few none was intimate with the senior or the junior. The Whittinghams appear to have been modest men, retiring in disposition, and uncommunicative in personal affairs. Save their works, which are sought by collectors, and save the establishment they founded, hardly a memorial of them is extant. A box of musty ledgers; a bundle of faded, disconnected memoranda ; an unassorted budget of family traditions, for the most part fragmentary and inconsequent; and a brace of half-remembered bookseller's legends, comprise the meager stock from which a chronicle can be persuaded. The equipment is scanty, and the venture made at the risk of falling on the near side of desire. For though the theme is ample enough, — the Whittinghams having firmly established the art of fine printing in England, and having been the first to urge the observance of good taste, the love of beauty, and the aid of perfect craftsmanship in every mechanical detail of book production, - not more is here attempted than to set down for the diversion of them that have a fondness for fair volumes an appreciation of the Uncle and the Nephew, who served their art as loyally in London as Aldus and the Didots, as Plantin and the Elzevirs, had served it in Venice and in Paris, at Antwerp and at Amsterdam.


As « The Uncle” and The Nephew” the Whittinghams are still spoken of by their descendants, by the few bookmen whose memories stretch back to them, and by collectors who discriminate in imprints. It is easier thus to distinguish them, because both men had the same Christian name. Charles the Uncle was the founder of the Chiswick Press; Charles the Nephew was trained by the Uncle, endured a brief partnership with him, and then set up for himself in Took's Court, near Chancery Lane, in London, bringing thither in 1852 the Chiswick interest, which he had inherited at his uncle's death in 1840. The Nephew continued the sole direction of the business until 1860, when he took a partner who relieved him from the cares of management. In 1876 he died, and the famous printing-house passed into other hands, although it retains to this day the Whittingham name.

Such legends as are uncovered give the Charles Whittinghams a character for gravity, even for grimness, which one with difficulty brings into line with their genius as craftsmen. They were silent men who “scorned delights and lived laborious days.” The slightest account of pleasures is revealed in their story. For their day and trade the Whittinghams became rich men; and though they lived well enough, they lived simply, and with a daily dignity that was puritanical in its repression of small joys. They made beautiful books, and for these they had a tender love,

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