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Private Press Book - The Kelmscott Chaucer - The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer Now Newly Imprinted

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Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery

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Basic Information

Accession Number:1934P675
Collection:Fine Art Prints and Drawings
Date:1896 - 1896

Maker Information

Assistant:Douglas Cockerell - View biography for Douglas Cockerell
Assistant:R Catterson-Smith - View biography for R Catterson-Smith
Book binder:TJ Cobden-Sanderson - View biography for TJ Cobden-Sanderson
Designer:William Morris - View biography for William Morris
Engraver:W H Hooper - View biography for W H Hooper
Illustrator:Sir Edward Burne-Jones - View biography for Sir Edward Burne-Jones
Photographer:Sir Emery Walker - View biography for Sir Emery Walker
Publisher:Kelmscott Press - View history


Inspired by Morris' love and admiration for the concept of the medieval book, where text was handwritten and illuminated or printed with wood engraving illustrations, bound in leather, clasped over wooden bands (in particular, Giovanni Boccacio's 'De Claris Muliebribus' printed in 1473, of which Morris had a copy). The first of the three types used for the Kelmscott Chaucer, the Troy type, appears in early specimens for 'The Franklin's Tale' from 'The Canterbury Tales', which dates from June 1891.

The earliest designs for the Kelmscott Chaucer date to February 1893 when Morris produced plants and ornament designs for the border as well as the title page. Burne-Jones produced the illustrations, 87 in all (in which 85 are extant and in the Fitzwilliam Museum). The book was printed at the Kelmscott Press, Upper Mall, Hammersmith.

Morris announced that four different styles of binding would be produced for the text, the most luxurious edition of 48 bound in either full or half pigskin white leather at the Doves Bindery from a design by Morris; Birmingham's edition is one such copy. Included in the inside front cover are various newspaper clippings.

Presented by Colonel Harold Wilkinson, 1934.

Further Information

Production Period:19th century
School/Style:Arts and Crafts Textile
Medium:87 woodcut illustrations on Perch paper, bound in full white, tooled pigskin.

Associated People


Height:435 mm
Width:300 mm
Depth:87 mm