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Published: Hammersmith: The Kelmscott Press, 1893

Stock code: 110283

Price: £5,000

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First Kelmscott edition, one of 300 copies on paper, uncommon in this condition with the silk ties intact: “They are, incidentally, the most fragile part of the Kelmscott books and are broken on many copies” (Peterson p. xxxvi). The main text reproduces the second edition of Ralph Robinson’s English translation, first published in 1551. Morris’s “compromisingly Socialistic introduction” (Peterson) notably led an Eton master to cancel an order of 40 copies which he intended to distribute as prizes, though the entire run nonetheless sold out before the year’s end. There were also eight copies on vellum.

Octavo. Original limp vellum, yapp edges, title gilt to spine in Troy type, green silk ties, untrimmed. Printed on Flower paper in Chaucer type designed by William Morris, with shoulder notes and occasional lines of text in red; 2 woodcut borders (4 and 2), colophon vignette and 3-, 5-, 6- and 10-line initials throughout, all engraved by William Harcourt Hooper after designs by Morris. Woodcut bookplate of J. W. R. Brockelbank (1869-1926, rector of Longbridge Deverill, Wilts) to the front pastedown. A little light foxing to fore edge as usual, very small marginal spot to sig. A3 not affecting next, short (20 mm) closed tear to bottom edge of sig. B7 just touching woodcut border, nonetheless internally crisp and clean, tightly bound in a fresh example of the original vellum. An excellent copy.

Bibliography: Peterson A16

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