Peter Berwind Schiffer, 60, who parlayed a family background in farming and antiques into a specialty publishing business, died Dec. 19 of a heart attack.

Mr. Schiffer, who was born in Bryn Mawr, ran Schiffer Publishing Ltd., a Chester County company that "grew from the kitchen table," said his wife of 35 years, Nancy Nutt Schiffer. It began when he saw a need in the mid-1970s to bring back some out-of-print niche books, his wife said.

"At first, we had no idea what we were doing," Nancy Schiffer said. "We never set out to create the company; it just evolved."

The business, which operates from the Schiffer farm in Atglen, employs about 25 people, Nancy Schiffer said. The books' subjects range from antiques and collectibles to military history, reflecting Mr. Schiffer's interests.

"As long as it was the best of what it was, that's what interested him," Nancy Schiffer said.

Mr. Schiffer was a graduate of Goddard College. He was 19 when he was hit by a car while changing a tire on his way to school in Vermont, his wife said. She said he was determined that the accident, which led to the loss of a leg, would not hold him back.

"It didn't make him handicapped; it made him determined," she said.

Several years ago, her husband's quest for excellence landed the pair in a welding class in Philadelphia because Mr. Schiffer wanted to understand the process better.

"The quality of workmanship was so important to him," his wife said. "He wanted to be able to recognize it."

In addition to his wife, he is survived by his mother, Margaret Berwind Schiffer; a sister, Susan Berwind Schiffer; and two sons, Herbert and Peter.

Funeral services will be private. Donations may be made to the American Friends Service Committee, 1501 Cherry St., Philadelphia 19102, or a Quaker meeting.

Contact staff writer Kathleen Brady Shea at 610-696-3021 or kbrady@phillynews.com.