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Savage, William (1770-1843) (DNB00)


SAVAGE, WILLIAM (1770–1843), printer and engraver, born in 1770 at Howden in the East Riding of Yorkshire, was the younger son of James Savage, a clockmaker, descended from a younger branch of the family of Savage of Rock Savage in Cheshire. William was educated at the church school at Howden, and acquired considerable proficiency in geometry and mathematics. In 1790 he commenced business as a printer and bookseller in his native town, in partnership with his elder brother, James (1767–1845) [q. v.] In 1797 he removed to London, and about two years later, on the recommendation of Dr. Barrington, bishop of Durham, and of Count Rumford, he was appointed printer to the Royal Institution in Albemarle Street, London. For ten years he was assistant secretary to the board of managers, and also secretary to the library committee, secretary to the committee of chemistry, and superintendent of the printing office.

About 1803 Savage, while retaining his appointments, commenced business as a printer in London on his own account. In 1807 he was commissioned to print Forster's ‘British Gallery of Engravings,’ and his mode of executing this work at once established his fame. At that time printing ink in England was of inferior quality, and, realising the importance of his undertaking, Savage set himself to improve it by various experiments. He was finally able to make printing ink without any oil in its composition, which rendered it at once easier to manufacture and more serviceable for artistic purposes. He made known the results of his labours to the public in a work entitled ‘Preparations in Printing Ink in various Colours’ (London, 1832, 8vo). In recognition of his services, the Society for the Encouragement of Arts awarded him their large medal and a sum of money ‘for his imitations of drawings, printed from engravings on wood, with inks of his own preparing.’

From 1822 to 1832 Savage was occupied in arranging the materials which he had been collecting for nearly forty years for his ‘Dictionary of the Art of Printing’ (London, 1840–1, 8vo, in 16 numbers), a work of considerable authority on the practical parts of the craft.

Savage died at his residence at Dodington Grove, Kensington, on 25 July 1843, leaving three daughters. Besides the works mentioned, he was the author of: 1. ‘Observations on Emigration to the United States,’ London, 1819, 8vo. 2. ‘Practical Thoughts on Decorative Printing,’ London, 1822, fol. This work was illustrated by engravings from Callcott, Varley, Thurston, Willement, and Brooke. The edition was limited, and Savage roused some indignation by promising to destroy the blocks of his engravings for the benefit of his subscribers (Gent. Mag. 1815, ii. 303). Savage was also a good draughtsman, and there are four engravings from drawings by him in the part of Britton's ‘Beauties of England and Wales’ which relates to Yorkshire.

[Gent. Mag. 1844, i. 98–100, obituary notice by his brother James; Redgrave's Dictionary of Artists of the English School, p. 378; Timperley's Encyclopædia, p. 885.]

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