Waltham Saint Lawrence: Golden Cockerel Press, 1929-1931. Gill, Eric. Limited Edition. Hardcover. Four volumes, complete, no. 457 of 500 copies, folio size, 773 total pp., with Autumn 1927 and Spring 1928 announcements (serving as prospectus). Near fine. Item #19020101
An astounding edition of Geoffrey Chaucer's (c. 1343-1400) classic work, replete with wood engravings by the inimitable Eric Gill (1882-1940), printed by Robert and Moira Gibbings. A truly significant publication from the Golden Cockerel Press, and demonstrates the skill and creativity characteristic of its output. Gill, along with Robert Gibbings (1889-1958), who owned the Press from 1924 to 1933, illustrated numerous books produced by the Press, and Gill in particular illustrates this edition of Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales" with admirable aplomb.
Published after nearly three years of work, with over 150 new wood engravings by Gill, as well as foliated borders on every page and initial capitals printed in colour; the text is from noted British philologist Walter William Skeat (1835-1912), and is an example of the Press's unceasing dedication to fine printing and book illustration during the twentieth century's golden age of private press printing.
Offered with the set are both the "Autumn 1927" and "Spring 1928" GCP announcements, which together serve as a prospectus for "The Canterbury Tales". The work was originally announced in the Autumn 1927 list thus: "At the request of many subscribers, there is now in preparation an edition of 'The Canterbury Tales', by Geoffrey Chaucer, uniform with 'Troilus and Criseyde' recently published. These will be in several volumes, and will again be richly embellished throughout with engravings by Mr. Eric Gill. A special paper bearing a unique watermark is being made, and as before a few copies will be printed on vellum. Further details will be announced later." The "Spring 1928" announcement provides all the details one expects in a prospectus, including the original purchase prices of 25 Guineas (120 Guineas for the vellum copies), with a sample page from the Wife of Bath's Tale, with a foliated border by Gill.
___DESCRIPTION: Quarter brown leather with patterned paper boards, the spine with five raised bands and gilt lettering, top edge gilt, fore- and bottom edges uncut, binder's stamp "S & S London" (Sangorski & Sutcliffe) on the paste-down endpapers, initial capitals printed in red and blue, decorative borders on every page, head- and tailpieces, as well as full- and half-page wood engravings by Eric Gill throughout all four volumes; Caslon Old Face type, Batchelor handmade paper, folio size (12.5" by 7.75"), pagination: Volume I: [i-iv]  2-150 [151-152]; Volume II: [i-ii]  2-188 [189-190]; Volume III: [i-iii]  2-196 [197-198]; Volume IV: [i-iii]  2-218 [219-220] [1 colophon], one of 500 copies, this number 457. Tasteful prior owner bookplate on the front paste-down endpapers of Volumes I-III (inexplicably not in Volume IV).
The "Autumn 1927" announcement consists of two sheets folded once to form eight pages, staple-bound, with a wrap of bright coral with the title on the cover within a frame by Gill, rubber-stamped on the bottom margin of the front wrap is "Dulau & Co. Ltd. / 32 Old Bond Street / London, W.1." and loosely laid in is a single sheet printed "With the compliments of Dulau & Co., Ltd. [same address]", "Cockerel A" on p. 8; measuring 9.5" by 6.5". The "Spring 1928" announcement is one sheet folded once to four pages, with "Cockerel B" (engraved by David Jones) on the front, printed with a sample page from "Canterbury Tales" featuring a foliated border engraved by Gill; measuring 12" by 7.5"; it also includes mention of "The Four Gospels", "The Ladies Handbook of Etiquette", and "Abd-er-Rhaman in Paradise". The "Spring 1928" announcement is a single sheet folded once to four pages, with details on the set on the front page, details on "The Four Gospels" and "The Ladies Handbook of Etiquette" on the second page, the sample page from "The Canterbury Tales" on the third page, and the final page mentioning "Abd-er-Rhaman in Paradise" and several other works; measuring 12" by 7.5".
___CONDITION: Volumes are near fine; with clean boards, the patterned paper unrubbed, straight corners without rubbing (several had professional restoration to address light rubbing), strong, square text blocks with solid hinges, the interiors are clean and bright, and entirely free of prior owner markings; very minimal rubbing to the heads and tails of the spines, else fine. The "Autumn 1927" announcement is very good overall, the wraps with minor soiling and edge wear and the afore-mentioned rubber stamp on the front wrap from Dulau & Co., and a shallow vertical crease throughout. The "Spring 1928" announcement is also very good, with minor foxing and soiling, without wear except for two tiny (quarter-inch) closed tears to the top edges.
___CITATIONS: Chanticleer no. 63; Eric Gill no. 281; "Autumn 1927" announcement Cock-A-Hoop no. XXIII; "Spring 1928" announcement Cock-A-Hoop no. XXVI.
___POSTAGE: Please note that this is a large and heavy set, and therefore additional postage will apply; please inquire for details.
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