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Lot 102: MORRIS, William (1834-1896). A Note by William Morris on His Aims in Founding the Kelmscott

Valuable Printed Books and Manuscripts, including Maps and Atlases

by Christie's

November 16, 2005

London, United Kingdom

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Description: MORRIS, William (1834-1896). A Note by William Morris on His Aims in Founding the Kelmscott Press together with a short description of the press by S.C. Cockerell, & an anonotated list of the books printed thereat. Hammersmith: Kelmscott Press, 1898.

8° (205 x 143mm). Printed in Golden type, title and first page with woodcut foliate border and illustration by Morris after Burne-Jones, text printed in red and black, woodcut foliate initials by Hooper after Morris, woodcut press device after Morris [Peterson 'Printer's marks' no.1]. Original holland-backed blue boards [by J. & J. Leighton] (lightly browned at edges), late 20th-century cloth box. Provenance: Sir Sydney Carlyle Cockerell (1867-1962, inscription 'To St John & Cicely Hornby from SC Cockerell 19 March 1901' and tipped-in autograph letter signed from Cockerell to Hornby, 17, Rosemont Road, Richmond, Surrey, 19 March 1901, 1 page on bifolium, 8vo, presenting the copy to:) -- Charles H. St John and Cicely Hornby (bookplate).

ONE OF 525 ON FLOWER PAPER, PRESENTED BY THE EDITOR SYDNEY COCKERELL TO ST JOHN HORNBY, FOUNDER OF THE ASHENDENE PRESS: 'Here is the little book, which it gives me special pleasure to send to you and Mrs Hornby as you are likely to be almost the only persons, except booksellers and collectors, who will care to plod through my dull account of the Press'. Cockerell, secretary of the Kelmscott Press and Morris' literary executor (who supervised the Kelmscott Press after his death), fittingly chose A Note by William Morris as the final Kelmscott Press publication. The frontispiece was originally executed in the 1860s for an unfinished work, The Earthly Paradise. Morris' essay on the press first appeared in Modern Art, a Boston magazine, in 1896; Peterson describes it as an 'undeniably important document', noting Newdigate's comment in 1924 that it is 'one of the three books that every student of English book-production ought to read' (Peterson, Kelmscott Press. A History, Oxford: 1991, p.3). The work was edited by Cockerell and supplemented by his 'annotated list' which is the first bibliographical conspectus of the press's work. The book includes a clipped Morris signature tipped in, presumably by Cockerell (who frequently did this; cf. lot 101 for another example). Cockerell forged strong links with Hornby after the closure of the Kelmscott Press; he assisted Hornby in designing a new type fount for the Ashendene Press, and his wife Florence Kingsford illustrated one Ashendene publication, The Song of Songs. Hornby greatly admired William Morris and it is apt that the text which inspired him to set up the Ashendene Press should be presented to him by Cockerell, a central figure in the history of the Kelmscott Press, who saw the Ashendene Press as a worthy sucessor and praised the Ashendene Dante as 'easily the most beautiful and imposing book of modern times, next after the Kelmscott Chaucer'. It is possible that Cockerell (who was, with Ellis a trustee of the Kelmscott Press), gave this volume to Hornby when he became a trustee following Ellis' death in 1901. Limited to 537 copies. Peterson A53; Tomkinson 'Kelmscott' 53; Ransom 'Kelmscott' 53.

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