Ohio History Journal

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1829-1899. -

Robert Clarke was a native of Annan, Dumfreeshire, Scot-

land, where he was born May 1st, 1829. He came with his parents

to Cincinnati in 1840 and was educated in the public schools of

Cincinnati and at Woodward College. For a short time he was

bookkeeper for William Hanna and then followed his bent by

becoming interested in a little second-hand book-store near the

corner of 6th and Walnut streets.

The story of his subsequent life is the history of the famous

Robert Clarke Company of which he was the founder. The origin

of this firm dates back to the 50's when books were of less import-

ance in the western community than were lumber, flat-boats and

pork. Its birth-place was in the little second-hand book-store

in Sixth street above mentioned, where Mr. Robert Clarke was one

of the proprietors, and where he began his education in "Amer-

icana" that early made the firm an accepted authority on any

question pertaining to American publications. In 1858 Robert

Clarke & Co. assumed its firm name and succeeded H. W. Derby

& Co. as book-sellers. From book selling to book publishing was

and easy and natural step, and for nearly half a century the pub-

lication of books of the better class in all departments of literature

has been carried on by this firm. In 1894 the partnership was

incorporated as The Robert Clarke Company, with a board of

directors-composed of Robert Clark, R. D. Barney, John W.

Daley, Howard Barney and Alexander Hill. The directors of

this company were all members of the old firm.

The wonderful collection of American publications issued

by this firm caused Justin Winsor in his "Narrative and Critical

History" of America to say; "The most important American lists

at present issued by American dealers are those of the Robert

Clarke Company of Cincinnati."

Mr. Clarke was a constant reader and hard student all his life,

not only of the contents of books, but a connoisseur of their form

and exterior. He was not merely a successful bibliophile, but he

was a veritable living cyclopedia on bibliography. It is doubtful