Rudolph Ackermann (born 20 April 1764 in Stollberg, Electorate of Saxony and died on 30 March 1834 in Finchley, London) was an Anglo-German bookseller, inventor, lithographer, publisher and businessman who opened a shop at 101 The Strand. The “Repository of Arts” became a most fashionable place for the upper classes of London to visit.
The shops was not only the first art library in England but also the ﬁrst to be lit by gas ‘which burns with a purity and brilliance unattainable by any other mode of illumination’.
Beginning in 1813, Ackerman held soirées each Wednesday attended by the great and good, many of whom were attracted by the fact that he was a prominent employer of aristocrats and priests who had ﬂed the French Revolution. As well as selling books, prints, fancy goods and artists’ materials, it was for many years the ‘meeting place of the best social life in London’. You could browse through the books and prints to learn about the latest designs for clothing or interiors, tea and lectures were offered, and you could be seen to be sophisticated in your taste. Ackermann kept his shop absolutely elegant and up-to-date.
Besides his plate books, Ackermann was best known for the periodical he started in 1809, The Repository of Arts, Literature, Commerce, Manufactures, Fashion and Politics, a major historical source of information on Regency fashion and a treasure trove for modern makers of Jane Austen period dramas.
The shop remained as a popular spot until it closed in 1856.
While technically numbered as “next door” at number 100, his shop is now home to the legendary restaurant, Simpson’s.
Text based on an article in the book “Lost London” available for purchase from Amazon.