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Last edited by Violet
December 4, 2011 | History

Chiswick Press

This private printing press was a forerunner of the private presses started by William Morris and others later in the 19th century. It was founded by Charles Whittingham (1767-1840) who had acquired a patent for extracting tar from old ropes. The hemp was pulped to produce a paper with a strong and silky finish while the tar was used to produce printing ink.

In 1810 Whittingham took out a lease on High House (demolished 1880) in Chiswick Mall which he equipped as a printing works with a paper mill next door. The riverside location was probably selected because of its proximity to the draw dock where barge loads of old ships' ropes from London and other dockyards could be unloaded.

In 1818 Chiswick Press moved to larger premises at College House, Chiswick Mall.

After Whittingham's death his nephew, Charles Whittingham (1797-1876) took over the business and continued printing at Chiswick until 1852 when he moved the Chiswick Press to its other office in Tooks Court, Chancery Lane.

Chiswick Press specialised in the production of small dainty volumes, noted for their woodcut engravings. The books were printed by hand on iron presses (one of the presses belonging to the Chiswick Press is now in Gunnersbury Park Museum).

The Whittinghams not only pioneered a movement towards finely produced books at reasonable prices but also to smaller-sized books which were easy to fit in a pocket. They thus posed a threat to other publishers of the time which favoured big books at big prices.

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December 4, 2011 Edited by Violet Edited without comment.
December 4, 2011 Edited by Violet Edited without comment.
December 4, 2011 Edited by Violet Added new photo
December 4, 2011 Edited by Violet Added new photo
October 6, 2008 Created by ImportBot initial import