Wolverhampton Printers

Thomas Smith

The next recorded printer is Thomas Smith who, Lawley says, was established by 1760. Mander says there is no support for the statement but "as Smith may probably have succeeded the Unetts there is reason for a much earlier date". There is no support for that statement but Mander does tell us that the Unetts were stationers and bookbinders and that Sara Unett carried on the business after George Unnet’s death and that she died in 1767. Lawley suspects that Smith may have been apprenticed to George and Mary Wilson. His business premises were in High Street. The date of 1760 comes from his first known book, an anonymous compilation of Christian works, in two volumes.

In 1767 a copy of the Messiah was printed by "Smith and Bridgewater" but this is the only know reference to Bridgewater, the next book, in 1769, being by T. Smith alone. This was Bunyan’s "Pilgrim’s Progress" and is said by Lawley to be "the best specimen of early local typography" and to contain "copperplate etchings of exceptional beauty". (It is, of course, unlikely that Smith produced the copperplates and by no means certain that he would have printed from them.  Thye could have been printed by a specialist printer and bound into the book with Smith's printed pages). Its preface was written by the Reverend B. Clements, the first minister of St. John’s. It may therefore be that the production of the book was promoted locally. Lawley also claims to have seen a business card printed by Smith, which would be concrete evidence of jobbing printing in the commercial field. How long Smith continued as a printer is not known.

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