Kelmscott Press  

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The Birth of Venus (detail), a 1486 painting by Sandro Botticelli
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The Birth of Venus (detail), a 1486 painting by Sandro Botticelli

In January 1891, Morris founded the Kelmscott Press at Hammersmith, London, in order to produce books by traditional methods, using, as far as possible, the printing technology and typographical style of the fifteenth century. In this he was reflecting the tenets of the Arts and Crafts movement, and responding to the mechanization and mass-production of contemporary book-production methods and to the rise of lithography, particularly those lithographic prints designed to look like woodcuts.

He designed two typefaces based on fifteenth-century models, the Roman "Golden" type (inspired by the type of the early Venetian printer Nicolaus Jenson) and the black letter "Troy" type; a third type, the "Chaucer" was a smaller version of the Troy type. He also designed floriated borders and initials for the books, drawing inspiration from incunabula and their woodcut illustrations. Selection of paper and ink, and concerns for the overall integration of type and decorations on the page, made the Kelmscott Press the most famous of the private presses of the Arts and Crafts movement, and the main inspiration for what became known as the "Private Press Movement". It operated until 1898, producing more than 18,000 copies of 53 different works, comprising 69 volumes, and inspired numerous other private presses, notably the Vale Press, Caradoc Press, Ashendene Press and Doves Press.


Publications

Among the works issued by the Kelmscott Press were:

  • William Morris, The Story of the Glittering Plain (1891)
  • William Morris, The Defence of Guenevere and other Poems (1892)
  • William Morris, A Dream of John Ball and A King's Lesson (1892)
  • Raoul Lafevre, The Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye (1892)
  • William Shakespeare, The Poems (1893)
  • William Morris, News from Nowhere (1893)
  • William Caxton (trans.), The History of Reynard the Foxe (1893)
  • William Caxton (trans.), The Order of Chivalry (1893)
  • Guilelmus, Archbishop of Tyrel, The History of Geoffrey of Boloyne (1893)
  • Sir Thomas More, Utopia (1893)
  • Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Sonnets and Lyrical Poems (1893)
  • Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Ballads and Narrative Poems (1893)
  • Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Hand and Soul (1894)
  • Wilhelm Meinhold, Sidonia the Sorceress (1894)
  • William Morris, The Story of the Glittering Plain (1894)
  • Algernon Charles Swinburne, Atalanta in Calydon (1894)
  • An American Memorial to Keats (1895)
  • Sir Percyvelle of Gales (1895)
  • William Morris, The Life and Death of Jason (1895)
  • Geoffrey Chaucer, The Works (called the Kelmscott Chaucer) (1896)
  • William Morris, The Earthly Paradise (1896)
  • Sir Ysumbrace (1897)
  • William Morris, The Story of Sigurd the Volsung and the Fall of the Niblungs (1898)

The Kelmscott Press edition of The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, with decorations by Morris and illustrations by Burne-Jones, is sometimes counted among the most beautiful books ever produced. Full-scale facsimiles of the Kelmscott Chaucer were published by the Basilisk Press in 1974 and by the Folio Society in 2002. More modest facsimiles were published by World Publishing in 1964 and Omega Books in 1985.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Kelmscott Press" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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