at Grinnell College Special Collections & Archives

Month: June 2021

Kelmscott Press Day

This Saturday June 26, 2021 is International Kelmscott Press Day, marking the 130th anniversary of the founding of the prolific press and the 125th anniversary of the press’s most famous work: the Kelmscott Works of Geoffrey Chaucer. The Salisbury House Library Collection is home to volumes of Kelmscott Press and other of Morris’ contemporaries in the private press movement of the late 19th century. William Morris and Kelmscott Press were leaders of the arts and craft movement which challenged the mass production of the Industrial Revolution with an emphasis on aesthetics and beauty. Elements of the romantic era, medieval books, and appreciation of craftsmanship are prominent in their works. 

From Salisbury, 20 full Kelmscott volumes join Grinnell College rare book holdings to total 26 Kelmscott works, including 2 Kelmscott Chaucers! Completed in 1896, the Salisbury Chaucer is one of 40 bound by Doves Bindery. The white pigskin binding was designed by Morris. This copy also has signatures laid in from William Morris, illustrator Edward Burne-Jones, and engraver W.H. Hooper. 

You can learn more about William Morris and the Kelmscott Press and find digital events and projects from around the world to mark the anniversary online at The William Morris Society and learn more about the Kelmscott Chaucers around the world from the Updating the Kelmscott Chaucer project.

Tilting at windmills

The Second Part of the History of Valorous and Witty Knight-errant, Don Quixote of la Mancha.
Miguel Cervantes. 
London: Edward Blount. 1620. 
96.4633

Printed in 1620 as the second part of the story of Don Quixote, this book has had a life! Although the text block is sewn, it is not bound, laying in what first appears to be a leather case. Upon closer inspection, the wrapper is even more of a surprise—it is manuscript waste! (Learn more about recycled materials in historical book bindings) The sewing of the book is visible and through some segments of the text block, there appear to be thin wooden pegs. Blank pages at the back of the book have notes dated from the 1770s, but taking a closer look at the manuscript waste wrapper, at least four different hands are visible. Where in the world are copies of it’s sibling, Part One? We can’t wait to learn more about this book! 

Book bound-with mysteries

Volpone: or, the Fox 
Ben Johnson
London: T. Johnson. 1714 
97.4606

This book was gifted to Carl Weeks “in memory of Rotary [Club] friendship” from B.R. MacHatton. Within the simple leather binding are a few surprises—it is a bound-with (or sammelband) meaning multiple, disparate works were bound together. This was a common practice for historical books when items were bought directly from a printer; a number of titles of the same size could be collected over a number of years before going to a bindery, which makes for some interesting finds! A 1714 copy of the Ben Johnson play Volpone, or The Fox, is followed by a 1713 Discourse of Free Thinking, and a 1720 printing of  another play, The Siege of Damascus by John Hughes. And at page 55 of the second title, a pressed butterfly! How long this butterfly has been pressed in the pages remains a mystery. Can you help identify what type of butterfly it is? When this book visits a book conservator, we will remove the specimen to have it further examined and encased in preservation safe material to not cause any further damage to the book.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén

css.php
The views and opinions expressed on individual web pages are strictly those of their authors and are not official statements of Grinnell College. Copyright Statement.