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WORKS OF GEOFFREY CHAUCER. From the Ellesmere manuscript of The Canterbury Tales and Professor W. Walter Skeat's editions of the other works [edited by F.S. Ellis, printed on the colophon leaf]
Hammersmith: Kelmscott Press, 1896. One of 425 copies of a total edition of 438. With FINE PROVENANCE, having been owned by George Abrams, "Master of Typefaces", an artist and type designer whose distinctive logotypes spelled out household names like B. Altman and Godiva Chocolates. With 87 wood-engravings designed by Sir Edward Burne-Jones, cut by W.H. Hooper after drawings by Robert Catterson-Smith, superb wood-engraved title page, fourteen very fine large borders, eighteen different woodcut frames around the illustrations, twenty-six nineteen line woodcut initial letters, and numerous initials, decorative woodcut printer?s device all designed by William Morris and cut by C.E. Keates, Hooper and W. Spelmeyer, with shoulder and side titles. Printed in red and black in Chaucer type, double column, headings to the longer poems in Troy type. Folio (424 x 289 mm), original Holand linen-backed blue paper boards, paper label on the spine, housed in a cloth case. iv, 556pp. A very handsome copy, the text is especially clean, crisp, fresh and bright, the binding with some professional and expert refurbishment. A VERY SPECIAL COPY, WITH PROVENANCE, OF THE FIRST EDITION AND A HANDSOME COPY OF WHAT IS CONSIDERED TO BE THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PRINTED BOOK IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE. The Kelmscott Chaucer is "the most famous book of the modern private press movement, and the culmination of William Morris's endeavor" (The Artist and the Book). "[F]rom first appearance, the Chaucer gained a name as the finest book since Gutenberg. It has held its place near the head of the polls ever since... The terms which critics used in the eighteen-nineties to welcome it simply show us what an impression Morris's printing made upon late Victorian bookmen" (Colin Franklin, The Private Presses, p. 43). Evidence of the esteem in which the book has been held lies in the fact that after the Second World War, during the rebuilding of Japan and its libraries, a copy of the Kelmscott Chaucer was the first book presented to the Japanese people by the British Government on behalf of the English nation. The Kelmscott Press produced forty-eight books in its brief life. Morris had toyed with the idea of a Shakespeare in three folio volumes; a suggestion for a King James version of the Bible was in his pending file; and preliminary work had begun on editions of Froissart and Malory, both of which would have formed a triumvirate with the Chaucer. But on October 3, 1896, Morris died, and for all intents and purposes the Kelmscott Press died with him, the Froissart and Malory unfinished. The Chaucer, regretfully, remained the only "titan" among Kelmscott books. Morris dedicated his life to poetry and the decorative arts, but he did not exhibit an active interest in the design and production of books until he was fifty-five years old. He died eight years later, but in that brief fragment of time he established a standard and prestige that still make him one of the most powerful and pervasive influences in book design in the English-speaking, English-reading world. This is George Abrams' copy, with his bookplate on the front pastedown. Mr. Abrams and his company, Alphabets Inc., worked with many of the largest advertising and printing agencies. Among his type designs are three known as Abrams Venetian, Abrams Augereau and Abrams Caslon. He created the cover logos for a number of popular magazines, notably the original one for Sports Illustrated in 1954. Others he designed included those for Newsweek (1968), The Saturday Evening Post (1965) and House Beautiful (1949). He was a bibliophile with a large collection of rare books and manuscripts, ranging from incunabula to the Russian avant-garde. He was active in the Grolier Club and the New York Typophiles, and was a fellow of the Pierpont Morgan Library and an honorary fellow of the London Society of Typographic Design. His brother was Harry N. Abrams, founder of the art books publisher by that name. There is earlier provenance of Robert Heysham Sayre, who was vice president and chief engineer of the Lehigh Valley Railroad. He was also vice president and general manager of Bethlehem Iron Company, precursor of Bethlehem Steel Corporation. The town of Sayre, Pennsylvania is named in his honor.
      [Bookseller: Buddenbrooks, Inc.]
Last Found On: 2017-06-22           Check availability:      IOBABooks    


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