William (1834) Morris (1834 - 1896)

Lot 186: MORRIS, William (1834-1896) and the KELMSCOTT PRESS -- Geoffrey CHAUCER (?1340-1400). The


March 3, 2004
London, United Kingdom

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Description: MORRIS, William (1834-1896) and the KELMSCOTT PRESS -- Geoffrey CHAUCER (?1340-1400). The Works, edited by F.S. Ellis and W.W. Skeat. Hammersmith: Kelmscott Press, 1896.

2° (423 x 287mm). 'Perch' paper. Double column. Chaucer type (text) and Troy type (some titles). Shoulder- and side-notes and some text printed in red. Half-title and woodcut title by W. H. Hooper after William Morris. 87 woodcut illustrations (Peterson count) by W.H. Hooper after Edward Burne-Jones, woodcut borders, frames, ornaments and initials by Hooper, C.E. Keates and W. Spielmeyer after Morris. Brown morocco by C. and C. McCleish, covers panelled in gilt and blind, front cover lettered 'The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer Kelmscott,' spine lettered in one compartment and dated at foot, the remaining compartments with geometrical ornament, top edges gilt, others uncut (a few light scuff marks).

FINE COPY OF 'THE MASTERPIECE OF THE KELMSCOTT PRESS' limited to 438 copies, this one of 425 copies on paper, at twenty pounds. 'Of the thirteen books illustrated by Burne-Jones for the Kelmscott Press, the Chaucer is the largest in size and in range, and it is deservedly the most highly praised of all Kelmscott books. The text was printed in black and red; the Chaucer type was set in double column, with headings to the longer poems in the Troy type. Thirteen copies were printed on vellum.' As Dreyfus notes, Burne-Jones famously referred to the Kelmscott Chaucer as '"a pocket cathedral - it is so full of design." Much of its design was from the hand of Morris, who complemented the set of 87 Burne-Jones illustrations by designing a woodcut title, 14 large borders, 18 different frames round the illustrations, and 26 large initial letters' ('William Morris: Typographer', pp.87-88). Sparling 40.
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