William Humphrey (Biographical details)

William Humphrey (publisher/printer; printmaker; British; Male; 1745 - 1810)

Also known as

Humphrey, William; Humphreys, William

Address

1765: near New Street, St. Martin's Lane (CS p. 715) Nov 1771- 15 June 1774: The Shell Warehouse, opposite Cecil Court, St Martin's Lane June 1774-October 1778: Gerrard Street, Soho 1776-88: 227 Strand (often in combination with 18 New Bond Street) April 1777-March 1778: 70 St Martin's Lane September 1780-1785: near Temple Bar, Strand (occasional variant on 227 Strand) 1786: Lancaster Court (occasional) 1801: 4 Rupert Street

Biography

Print publisher and seller, caricaturist and occasional mezzotinter, dealer in portraits, exhibition promoter. Brother, and initially associate, of Hannah Humphrey (q.v.) and of George Humphrey. Won a Society of Arts premium for an etching by an artist under 24 in 1764; premium for a mezzotint 1765 (CS p. 715) and 1766. Began as publisher of prints, especially caricatures (of which he made some himself), and was first publisher of Gillray. Later moved into dealing in older prints, with a line in portraits which he imported from the Continent. Expanded into natural history and curiosities (see advertisement below), doubtless in association with his broother George who was a leading figure in the area.

Advertisement in BL 1850.c.10(147) dated in pen 1 May 1783: "W. Humphrey, printseller, no.227 Strand, near Temple-Bar, most respectfully acquaints the public, that he has formed a Museum of Natural and Artificial Curiosities, consisting of more than 500 specimens of uncommon quadrupeds, birds, fishes, insects, corals, shells, fossils, and miscellaneous articles, from the new-discovered countries in the South Sea, among which are very strange idols &c. the whole forming an assemblage exceeding rare and beautiful; and that he means to exhibit them upon the following liberal plan: every purchaser of a shilling print (of which he has the greatest choice) is presented with an admission ticket to the rooms, gratis, where the least curious observer will be highly gratified, and the naturalist and philosopher find ample amuseument.. Opens every day at nine in the morning. Descriptive catalogues may be had at 6d each." Trade card in Banks Collection (D,2.3380) and Photograph of the same card in Heal Collection (Heal,100.37) advertise "W. Humphrey, Printseller &c. No.227 Strand, London." Heal's annotations on mount: "Original in Banks Collection. Dated 1785. Other cards in Banks Collection are W: Humphrey No.51. New Bond St. dated 1786. W. Humphrey No.18. Old Bond St. dated 1789 (D,2.3381)."

Bibliography

Chaloner Smith (25 nos)
Information from Tim Clayton;
Sauer