The founding of Schiffer Publishing was a gradual process started when the research for Chester County, Pennsylvania, Inventories 1684-1850, by Margaret Schiffer, was discovered in a box in a basement in 1973.
After closing their antiques business in Exton, Pennsylvania, each day, Peter and Nancy would come home and work on preparing the books at their kitchen table. As their family grew, they began to write and produce a few books a year and sell them at the antique shows where they showed their inventory of antiques. The company gradually brought out books on clocks, county history, ceramics, ironwork, mirrors, and miniature furniture.
Printing of the early books was farmed out to private printers and, when the print-runs were deemed sufficient, to Science Press in Ephrata, Pennsylvania. As the books inventory grew and storage in the basement of the antiques shop was filled to capacity, after digging out the basement for more headroom, the barn on the farm where the Schiffers lived in West Chester, was converted in 1980, to relocate both the antiques shop and offices and a storage facility for books.
Family members worked together in the antiques business while growing the publishing efforts. In 1984, Peter became the first employee of Schiffer Publishing and in 1985 Nancy became the second. Publishing grew and more employees were hired for distinct responsibilities; typesetters, editors, and shipping room workers joined the team. In the same year, a separate warehouse building was constructed at the West Chester farm to store the growing books inventory.
By 1992, publishing was growing well, and a new facility was built in Atglen, Pennsylvania, where it resides today, with offices and a larger and more efficient warehouse. The focus of the team became books in niche areas of interest with high-quality information and excellent images. Art papers and special bindings were used more frequently to produce useful references for long-lasting use. The catalogs of Schiffer books grew in size and diversity of subjects. Military history became a separate catalog with its own editors and audience. Arts and crafts how-to books became a distinct subject area. Lifestyle, New Age, architecture, interior design, regional, and supernatural subjects grew in numbers as editors concentrated on their specific areas of expertise. Books for children emerged and found a new audience.
In 2009, Cornell Maritime Press/Tidewater Publishers, of Centreville, Maryland, was acquired, bringing to Schiffer Publishing more books in many of its previous interest areas as well as new subjects: for example, texts for the Maritime academies and industries, Chesapeake Bay regional titles for adults and children, and historical books about the mid-Atlantic states. The subjects continue to expand.