King's College London
Exhibitions & Conferences
The printed page

Charles Whittingham at the Chiswick Press

Opening showing wood engravings of a bearded vulture; and other aquatic birds, including wild swansOpening showing wood engravings of a bearded vulture; and other aquatic birds, including wild swansThe influence of Bewick’s History of British birds is plainly discernible in this reproduction of a work printed at the Chiswick Press by Charles Whittingham the elder (1767-1840) in 1831.

By this time the use of wood engraving as a means of book illustration was well established and Whittingham, in partnership with the publisher John Sharpe, printed a number of reasonably priced illustrated books aimed at the growing urban middle-class market

Whittingham was an innovative printer, eager to make use of the latest technical advances. He was one of the first printers to install an iron press, capable of printing an entire sheet at a single impression, at his premises.

He was also largely responsible for the introduction of the overlay in the printing process; this was a piece of thin card which was pasted to the tympan (the part of the printing press between the platen and the sheet of paper to be printed) so as to achieve a more consistent pressure of ink to paper across the surface of the wood block. Whittingham is also believed to have manufactured his own ink.

The Zoological Society of London was founded in 1826 by Sir Stamford Raffles.  Its Zoological Gardens, the world’s first scientific zoo, were inaugurated two years later in London’s Regent’s Park and proved immensely popular with the general public. The tail-piece on the left-hand page in the image above shows wild swans (now generally known as Whooper swans) and other aquatic birds in the Zoological Gardens.

ARCHIOS™ | Total time:0.0491 s | Source:cache | Platform: NX