Miller, Thomas (1731-1804) (DNB00)

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MILLER, THOMAS (1731–1804), bookseller, born at Norwich on 14 Aug. 1731, was son of a pavior. He was apprenticed to a grocer, but when he commenced business for himself in 1755 his fondness for reading induced him to combine bookselling with his other trade. Unfortunately he settled in Bungay, Suffolk, where the demand for books was small. Moreover, his sturdy independence lost him the custom of many of the local magnates. His stock of books was very valuable, and he had an extensive collection of engraved portraits, and nearly a complete series of Roman and English silver and brass coins. He published catalogues of his collections in 1782 and 1790. In 1795, when the fashion was very general for tradesmen to circulate provincial halfpennies, he had a die cast, but an accident happening to one of the blocks when only twenty-three pieces were struck off, Miller, like a true antiquary, declined having a fresh one made. This coin (which is very finely engraved, and bears a strong profile likeness of Miller) is known to collectors by the name of the ‘Miller half-penny.’ As he was careful into whose hands the impressions went, they soon became very rare. In 1799 he became quite blind, but continued in business until his death, which took place at Bungay on 25 July 1804. His son, William Miller (1769–1844) [q. v.], is separately noticed.

Miller's portrait was engraved by E. Scriven from a miniature by H. Edridge.

[Nichols's Lit. Anecd. iii. 680, viii. 471; Gent. Mag. 1845, i. 102; Timperley's Encycl. of Lit. and Typogr. Anecd., 2nd edit.]

G. G.