ATGLEN, Pa. (ACNI) – Peter Berwind Schiffer, 60, who founded a book publishing empire based on collecting, hobbies and other special interests, died on Dec. 19 of a heart attack. He was 60 years old.
Born in 1948 in the Philadelphia suburb of Bryn Mawr, Peter Schiffer owned and operated Schiffer Publishing Ltd. from a farm in Atglen, Pa., approximately 20 miles east of Lancaster, Pa. According to his wife of 35 years, Nancy Nutt Schiffer, the business “grew from the kitchen table” upon Peter’s realization that there might be profit potential in resurrecting out-of-print books.
Schiffer was a graduate of Goddard College in Plainfield, Vt. At age 19, Schiffer was struck by a car while changing a tire en route to school. The accident resulted in the loss of a leg. “It didn’t make him handicapped; it made him determined,” Nancy Schiffer told the Philadelphia Inquirer.
“As long as I knew him, Peter was always very absorbed in his business,” said Dale Kelley, publisher of Antique Toy World and a friend of Schiffer’s since the 1970s. “He loved books, and he loved publishing. If we had dinner or talked on the phone, the subject was always books.’
“I remember when he first got started, Peter only had about a dozen books in print,” Kelley continued. “Now his main catalog contains hundreds of pages and thousands of books. And there are other more-specialized catalogs, as well. Peter was extremely dedicated and hard working. He started from scratch like everybody else.”
Peter Schiffer also co-wrote several books, including The Brass Book, American, English, and European: 15th Century to 1850, Miniature Antique Furniture, Antique Iron: Survey of American and English Forms Fifteenth through Nineteenth Centuries, and Chinese Export Porcelain: Standard Patterns and Forms, 1780 to 1880.
Schiffer Publishing Ltd. currently employs around 25 people. Its specialties include books about antiques, architecture and design, arts and crafts, collectibles, lifestyle, military and aviation history.
Schiffer is survived by his wife, Nancy; his mother, Margaret Berwind Schiffer; a sister, Susan Berwind Schiffer; and two sons, Herbert and Peter.
A private funeral service was held. The family asks that donations in Peter Schiffer’s memory be sent to American Friends Service Committee, 1501 Cherry St., Philadelphia, PA 19102, or alternatively to a Quaker Meeting.
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