“ONE OF MORRIS’ FINEST DESIGNED TITLES”: BEAUTIFUL KELMSCOTT PRESS EDITION OF REYNARD THE FOXE, 1892
[CAXTON, William]. The History of Reynard the Foxe. Hammersmith: Kelmscott Press, 1892. Tall quarto, original full limp vellum, yapp edges, original silk ties. Housed in a custom clamshell box. $8200.
Splendid limited Kelmscott Press edition of Reynard, set from Caxton’s 1481 English translation of the ancient Dutch tale, one of only 310 copies, in the original vellum.
Reynard the Foxe, translated from the Dutch, was "perhaps the most popular of Caxton's translations down the ages" (Deacon, 149). In his preface he disclaims, "If anything be written herein that may grieve or displease man, blame me not, but the fox, for they be his words and not mine." The Kelmscott Press was founded in 1891 by William Morris, Pre-Raphaelite painter, designer, architect, and printer. "Morris sought to revive what he saw as the purity of the first century of printing, and to produce what he described as books which 'would have a definite claim to beauty… and be easy to read" (Feather, 152). His "passionate craftsmanship was the spark which ignited a 50-year renaissance of bookmaking in England, on the Continent, and in the United States" (Art of the Printed Book, 36). The Kelmscott printing of Reynard contains "one of Morris' finest designed titles" (Forman, 164). Text printed in black and red Troy type, with full woodcut ornamental border around the title-page opening, numerous partial borders and elaborate eight-line initial letters. This is one of 300 copies printed on paper from a total edition of only 310. Ransom 10. Peterson A10. Small owner stamp.
A few instances of mild embrowning to text; original vellum unusually lovely. A nearly fine copy of this impressive production.