Kirkman's musical instruments and literary connections
In 1786 Thomas Jefferson wrote 'get Kirkman to make for me one of his best harpsichords'. Thomas Jefferson draftsman of the Declaration of Independence later became the third President of the United States of America. Jacob and his nephew Abraham Kirckman from whom Robert Kirkman is directly descended were harpsichord makers and together with Jacob Kirckman the composer and organist at St. George's, Hanover Square, were subscribers to Dr Charles Burney's History of Music, 4 volumes, first published in 1776. Dr Burney wrote for Rees's Cyclopaedia that Jacob Kirckman was worth £200,000 upon his death in 1792. Leopold Mozart together with his young son Wolfgang Amadeus visited Kirckman while on a trip to London in 1764. George Eliot, novelist, bought a Kirkman Grand Piano in 1861.
The Kirkman family were famous London makers of harpsichords and pianos. Joseph Kirkman & Son, Pianoforte makers, 3 Soho Square, established 1730. Jacob and Abraham Kirckman harpsichord makers to King George 11 and Queen Charlotte, wife of King George 111. Joseph Kirkman Grand Pianoforte makers to Queen Caroline and H.R.H. The Prince Regent. Joseph Kirkman Jnr Grand Pianoforte makers to Queen Victoria and the Queen of Portugal. Abraham Kirkman of Blackwell Hall, Chesham, great x3 grandfather of Robert Kirkman and son of Joseph Kirkman had a fine engraved bookplate showing the family coat of arms here reproduced.
Antiquarian Bookseller since 1961
Robert Kirkman worked for a leading London firm of antiquarian booksellers for 25 years of which he was Managing Director for ten years. During those years he had the opportunity to meet many famous book collectors and handle numerous literary treasures. A complete set of the original elephant folio edition of John James Audubon's Birds of America, a complete canon of the ornithological works of John Gould, Second, Third and Fourth folios of Shakespeare, books from the library of Sir Winston Churchill to mention just a few. In 1988 Robert Kirkman branched out on his own dealing in English Literature, Old English Bibles, First Editions of Sir Winston Churchill, interesting editions of John Bunyan, fine literary Sets of famous authors. Since 1988 Robert Kirkman has handled the great 'He' and 'She' Bibles of 1611, all of the first editions of Sir Winston Churchill including the elusive 'Mr Broderick's Army' in the original wrappers, books from the library of Sir Winston Churchill, Third Edition of Pilgrim's Progress, 1679, albeit incomplete, and in 1999 purchased on behalf of a customer at auction an exceptionally fine complete Second Folio Shakespeare of 1632 ... to mention just a few.
In many respects Robert Kirkman still remains a general bookseller buying and selling books in most subjects including some specialities, English Literature, Old English Bibles, John Bunyan, Sir Winston Churchill, Literary Sets. From time to time fore-edge paintings, important first editions of English Literature, Signed Limited Editions and colour-plate books of natural history. A small stock of prints including Fores' Sporting Prints and other restrikes.