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.