King's College London
Exhibitions & Conferences
The printed page

William Pickering and Chancery Lane

Title page and frontispiece portrait of Francis BaconTitle page and frontispiece portrait of Francis BaconThe item featured here is volume 16, part 1 of a multi-volume collection of the works of Francis Bacon (1561-1626).

The volumes were published by William Pickering (1796-1854), a local publisher and bookseller based at 57 Chancery Lane from 1823 onwards. Volumes 12-16 of this work were printed at 21 Tooks Court, off Chancery Lane, at the print shop of Charles Whittingham (1795-1876).

Charles Whittingham has been described by Janet Freeman as ‘the finest English commercial printer of the nineteenth century’. He used a traditional iron hand press, instead of the steam-powered printing machines used by many large commercial print shops, and focused on producing small editions featuring attractive designs and accomplished presswork.

William Pickering’s sales office and publishing house specialised in the antiquarian book trade, classic and contemporary works of literature and religious works. Works published by Pickering often feature a dolphin and anchor device, emulating the device of the celebrated scholar-printer Aldus Manutius (c1452-1515).

Pickering and Whittingham became acquainted following Whittingham’s move to the Tooks Court print shop in 1828. They became business associates and close friends, with William Pickering sending the majority of his work to Tooks Court, and eventually providing more than half the print shop’s business.

The image shows a frontispiece portrait of Francis Bacon; and the publisher’s imprint can be found at the bottom of the page. This edition of the work was edited by the jurist and writer Basil Montagu (1770–1851), a member of Gray's Inn.

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