Thursday, August 4, 2011

Kelmscott Press -- Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Works. Edited by F.S. Ellis. Hammersmith: Kelmscott Press, 1896.

2° (421 x 288mm). Chaucer and Troy types, printed in black and red, woodcut title, borders and initials by C.E. Keates, W.H. Hooper and W. Spielmeyer after William Morris, 87 woodcut illustrations by W.H. Hooper after Edward Burne-Jones. (A very few faint scattered spots, mostly in the margins.) 20th-century morocco, spine lettered in gilt, turn-ins ruled in gilt, top edge gilt (extremities lightly rubbed, rear free endpaper and terminal blank creased.) Provenance: Castlecraig Library (label with the motto 'Fax Mentis Honestae Gloria') -- Sir John Galvin (gift inscription dated 1965 on front free endpaper, to): Mr. & Mrs. Ermanno Barisone.

'THE FINEST BOOK SINCE GUTENBERG' (Franklin). One of 425 copies on paper from an edition of 438 copies only. The Chaucer is the supreme achievement of the forty-year artistic collaboration between Burne-Jones, William Morris and the Kelmscott Press: 'the final chapter of co-operation; the venture in which their particular talents are combined for the last time, and to spectacular effect' (Robinson). It is the largest and most highly praised of all the Kelmscott books, which Burne-Jones famously referred to as 'a pocket cathedral - it is so full of design'. Earliest plans for the work date to 1891 but printing of the book did not begin until August 1894, and it was only issued to subscribers in June 1896. Ermanno Barisone (1934-2009), the last owner of this copy, taught medieval English at Genoa University for over thirty years, and was recognised as the foremost Chaucer scholar in Italy. Franklin, Private Presses, p.192; Peterson A40; Robinson, William Morris, Edward Burne-Jones and the Kelmscott Chaucer; Sparling 40.

Price Realized £33,650

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