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Private Press Collection

This collection comprises all fifty-three publications of William Morris’s Kelmscott Press, including:

  • both paper and vellum copies of the press’s masterpiece, the 1896 edition of Chaucer’s Works
  • all of the major works of T.J. Cobden-Sanderson’s Doves Press1
  • thirty-five of the forty major publications of C.H. St John Hornby’s Ashendene Press (several scarce early works were obtained in 2012)
  • most of the output of the Essex House Press of C.R. Ashbee

The Library also possesses a volume of original drawings and designs for the masterpiece of the Essex House Press, The Prayer Book of King Edward VII (1903).

In addition there are smaller numbers of publications from the Daniel, Dun Emer/Cuala, Eragny, Golden Cockerel, Gregynog, Nonesuch (including the Nonesuch Dickens), Shakespeare Head and Vale Presses, and a selection of works from contemporary presses such as the Fleece Press, Gwasg Gregynog, the Incline Press of Oldham, the Rampant Lions Press, the Stanbrook Abbey Press and the Whittington Press.

There is also much ephemeral material such as announcements, prospectuses, catalogues and specimen pages. 

Altogether the collection provides a complete conspectus of twentieth-century British wood-engraving.

1The acquisition in 2003 of Goethe’s Auserlesene Lieder Gedichte und Balladen: ein Strauss (1916) leaves only four ephemeral, or possibly non-existent, items wanting from the collection.

See also

Finding aids

  • Recorded in general printed-book catalogue.
  • David W. Riley, '"A Definite Claim to Beauty": Some Treasures from the Rylands Private Press Collection', Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester, vol. 72, no. 2 (1990), pp. 73-88.


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