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Hammersmith: Kelmscott Press, 1892. ONE OF 500 COPIES. Hardcover. 302 x 213 mm (11 7/8 x 8 3/8"). Three volumes. Translated by William Caxton. Edited by F. S. Ellis. ONE OF 500 COPIES. Original publisher's holland-backed light blue boards, paper label on spines, edges untrimmed, one volume UNOPENED. In a (somewhat soiled and damaged but still intact) custom-made felt-lined wooden box covered in white buckram, brown morocco label. Elaborate woodcut title (the first designed by Morris) and first page with full borders, two other woodcuts and two full borders designed by Edward Burne-Jones, large and small decorative woodcut initials, printer's device. Front endpaper of first volume with tipped-on printed slip reading, "IF this book be bound the edges of the leaves should only be TRIMMED, not cut. In no case should the book be pressed, as that would destroy the ‘impression'; of the type and thus injure the appearance of the printing. W. MORRIS." Sparling 7; Peterson 7; Tomkinson, p. 109. Tips of board corners with small paper losses, minor soiling to two covers, first volume with a half dozen gatherings faintly yellowed (and two openings with minor browning to tail-edge margin), but still A VERY ATTRACTIVE COPY, the second (unopened) and third volumes about as fine as one could hope for, and the set as a whole much more sturdy, fresh, and clean than what one would normally expect from a copy of this notoriously fragile item. This is an excellent copy of the insubstantially made but lovely Kelmscott Press edition of Voragine's extremely popular 13th century compilation of saints' lives and legends, grouped according to the liturgical calendar. In 1890 William Morris had acquired a 1527 edition of the "Golden Legend" printed by Wynkyn de Worde, and was so charmed with the work that he determined to make it the first book printed at the Kelmscott Press. He preferred to use the Caxton edition for his text and borrowed a copy from Cambridge, which was transcribed by hand by Phyllis Ellis, the daughter of Morris' editor F. S. Ellis. Because of difficulty in procuring the large paper suitable for such a work, Morris' own "Story of the Glittering Plain" became the first Kelmscott book off the press, and the "Golden Legend" became the seventh--although it was the first Medieval work Morris printed and the first in such a large format. The publisher was Bernard Quaritch, who drove a hard bargain, Morris and Ellis agreeing to take no compensation for their work beyond some complimentary copies. This title is more and more often found rebound, and when it does appear in its original binding, it is usually in a pretty sorry state.
      [Bookseller: Phillip J. Pirages Fine Books and Mediev]
Last Found On: 2013-07-20           Check availability:      Biblio    


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