The Four Gospels

Eric Gill

Preface by Robert Gibbings

One of the most beautiful and beloved books of the Private Press movement, and a showcase for Eric Gill’s engravings and typeface, The Four Gospels is reproduced as an exquisite new Folio Society edition.


The Golden Cockerel Press created some of the world’s most exquisite handmade limited edition books during its 40-year existence but The Four Gospels was its finest achievement. We have reproduced the rare original for your chance to own an exceptional piece of publishing history.

Production Details

Bound in blocked cloth
288 pages
Facsimile of the Golden Cockerel Press 1931 King James text
Ribbon marker
Gilded page tops
Blocked slipcase
11¾˝ x 8¾˝

A perfect marriage of image and text

One of the greatest artists of the 20th century, Eric Gill had previously collaborated with Press owner Robert Gibbings on several beautiful books when they set about creating an ambitious decorated edition of the four Gospels. The two men worked on the placement of illustrations, then the type was set, leaving space for Gill’s exquisite, dramatic and imaginative wood engravings. The result was one of the greatest achievements in bookmaking; a remarkable marriage of image and text.

‘Eric was the perfect collaborator. He was always ready to accept a suggestion, as he was capable of carrying it to a wonderful fruition’.

  1. Robert Gibbings, from the preface

Unmatched typography, revered by experts

Experts on type and design have always been united in their praise of Eric Gill’s typefaces. The Golden Cockerel type he designed specifically for the Press features his distinctive cleanliness and elegance but also a certain hand-drawn quality that recalls the pen-work of medieval scribes. The 500 copies from the original printing can be found in pre-eminent institutions and private collections around the world, including the Royal Collection (a copy was purchased by King George V), Boston University’s Silver Collection, the British Library and The Grolier Club.

We were privileged to be granted rare access to some of these copies in order to create our new edition, which perfectly reveals Eric Gill’s typeface and engravings: leaves curl into the space between paragraphs, swords hang down into the margin, and the symbols of the evangelists each hold up the title of their gospel. Bound in cloth decorated with a gold-blocked winged figure, the symbol of St Matthew, the volume is also encased in a blocked slipcase. Gilded page tops and a ribbon marker complete this fine edition.

About Eric Gill

Arthur Eric Rowton Gill, born in 1882, was an English sculptor, typeface designer and printmaker associated with the Arts and Crafts movement. He enrolled at Chichester Technical and Art School aged 15 and subsequently moved to London to train as an architect. Moving away from architecture, Gill studied calligraphy and masonry and began stone carving.

Gill was named Royal Designer for Industry, the highest British award for designers, by the Royal Society of Arts. He also became a founding member of the newly established Faculty of Royal Designers for Industry. He died in 1940.

About Robert Gibbings

Robert Gibbings was born in Cork in 1889. His father was a Church of Ireland minister. Gibbings gave up the study of medicine to take up art, enrolling at the Slade School of Art and then the Central School of Art and Design. He specialised in wood engraving and began to receive acclaim for his work in the 1920s. When the owner of the Golden Cockerel Press put the business up for sale, Gibbings took out a loan to buy it, taking over in February 1924. He went on to publish over 70 titles at the Press, including Eric Gill’s Canterbury Tales (1929–31) and The Four Gospels (1931). He was a pioneer of wood engraving and dominated and pushed the medium to the fore in his time. He died in Oxford in 1958.


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