Joseph Wharton Lippincott Jr., former president and chairman of J.B. Lippincott Co., died January 25 in Bryn Mawr, Pa. He was 88. A descendant of Joshua Ballinger Lippincott, who founded the house in 1785, Lippincott joined the family firm in 1937 after graduating from Princeton. He began working in production, served in the army during World War II and returned to the company in 1945 as a production manager. In 1951, he was named secretary of the company and rose to executive v-p before being named president of Lippincott in 1958, after the retirement of his father.

The company was noted for trade books as well as scientific, medical and school texts, and under Lippincott it expanded rapidly. In 1977, the house was acquired by Harper & Row and folded into Harper's operations. Lippincott remained on the Harper & Row board until 1987, when the company became HarperCollins. The Lippincott unit was eventually sold to Wolters Kluwer where the name continues as a division of the European publishing house.