Jewels in Her Crown: Treasures of Columbia University Libraries Special Collections

Exhibition Themes > Printing History & Book Arts > 10. Kelmscott Press

10.  Kelmscott Press.  Specimen copy of the Kelmscott Chaucer. Pigskin binding. J & J. Leighton, 1896. RBML, Book Arts Collection

In addition to a regular copy of the Kelmscott Press's edition of the works of Chaucer, bound in half-holland paper, the Rare Book and Manuscript Library also owns this specimen binding, made for William Morris by J. & J. Leighton, the text block made up of mostly repeating sheets from the print run of the book. Morris's wish was that the binding be executed in 15th-century style, using pigskin over oak boards, with blind-tooling. The tools were cut specially for this binding, and were based on designs found on two incunables owned by the British Library, the Apocalypse block book and the Richel Bible. According to Sir Sydney Cockerell in his "List of All the Books Printed at the Kelmscott Press," in A Note by William Morris on his Aims in Founding The Kelmscott Press, this was the only design executed by Leighton's. It was then used by the Doves Bindery to bind forty-eight copies, including two printed on vellum, in full white pigskin.

Purchased with the American Type Founders Company Library & Museum, 1941

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