On this day, 24th March 1834, William Morris was born.
William Morris was the leading member of the Arts and Crafts movement and founded the Kelmscott Press in 1890.
The Works of Geoffrey Chaucerpublished by the Kelmscott Press in 1896, was considered by many the most beautiful book of he nineteenth century and is an outstanding example of nineteenth-century book production.
The paper was hand made to replicate the quality of Bolognese paper made in 1473 and a special ink was imported from Hanover. The volume contains 87 woodcut illustrations designed by Sir Edward Burne-Jones and 26 large woodcut initials and numerous borders designed by William Morris. It was luxury item which only the wealthy could afford - only 425 standard copies were produced, plus 13 volumes on vellum which sold for 120 pounds.
The State Library of New South Wales holds a Rare book copy of the Kelmscott Chaucer which was purchased by the Mitchell Library in 1921.
Cover of The May Queen and other poems by Alfred Lord Tennyson.
Rubricated and illuminated. Colophon: “This manuscript, selected poems of Alfred Lord Tennyson, The May Queen, The sea fairies,The beggar maid, Hero to Leander, and Dora was designed, written out, and illuminated by Alberto Sangorski for Messrs. R. Rivière & Son bookbinders & booksellers to H.M. King George V. London. This manuscript will not be duplicated. This manuscript was executed by me [signed] Alberto Sangorski London A.D. 1912.”– P.  “The miniature illustrating the poem of The beggar maid was taken from the painting done by Sir Edward Burne-Jones in the Tate Gallery London. The miniature illustrating the poem of Hero to Leanderwas taken from the painting done by Lord Leighton, P.R.A. The miniature in the title page of Lord Tennyson was taken from the painting by Sir Hubert Herkomer, R.A. (and is copyright)”– P.  Miniature of Tennyson, three miniatures of the May Queen, miniature of the Beggar Maid, miniature of Hero, two miniatures of Dora are initial-signed by Sangorski, and some are dated 1912. Full blue morocco, inlaid and gilt in an over-all design with semi-precious stones and seed pearls, mounted on upper cover. Beige morocco doublures, inlaid with red, white and green morocco and gilt. Silk protective guards interleaved between some pages. All edges gilt. Stamp-signed on upper doublure: “Bound by Riviere & Son”. In silk-lined green morocco folding case.
Courtesy of Rare Book Collection, Detroit Public Library
King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid (1884). Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones (British, 1833-1898). Oil paint on canvas. Tate.
The African king Cophetua sits at the feet of a beggar woman. He had disdained women until he met her and fell in love at first sight, vowing to make her his queen. This is the moment when love transcends class and reason. Burne-Jones was partly inspired by Alfred Tennyson’s poem The Beggar Maid. He also believed in the transforming power of the act of looking and thought of the eyes as windows of the soul.
The Folio Society Facsimile of the Works of Geoffrey Chaucer -
Originally designed and printed by the Kelmscott Press - 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 - often described as the most beautiful printed book in the English language - a wonderful folio sized volume [weighs 7.5kg unwrapped]