Fine Press Classics
Illustrated with wood engravings by Paul Nash, David Jones and Eric Gill. At least 500 sets are available with matching numbers from the limitations of 750 and with an advantageous postage rate.
Fine Press Classics
The Fine Press Tradition
Between the First and Second World Wars, a new generation of publishers drew on developments in art and technology to build on, and in some ways to challenge, the Arts and Crafts tradition of fine printing from the pre-war years. At the forefront of this movement – the so-called ‘heroic age’ of the private press – were the pioneering Nonesuch and Golden Cockerel presses.
The Folio Society now presents facsimiles of three highly sought-after masterpieces from these two publishers, all classics of illustrated book production, originally published between 1924 and 1926, and sure to become collectable in their own right. Each volume is a perfect marriage of an Old Testament text with wood-engraved illustrations: Paul Nash’s abstractions evoking the mysteries of Creation recounted in Genesis, David Jones’s Christ-like figure embodying the Book of Jonah’s reluctant prophet, and Eric Gill’s eroticism enriching the sensual Song of Songs.
The Golden Cockerel Press was founded in 1920 as an idealistic rural co-operative, hand-printing books ‘without recourse to paid and irresponsible labour’. After the inevitable financial failure of this venture, the Press was taken over by Robert Gibbings, a driving force behind the newly established Society of Wood Engravers. Strictly limited editions continued to be hand-set initially in Caslon – the most popular typeface of the private press movement – and later in a bespoke typeface, specially commissioned from Eric Gill; then hand-printed on handmade papers and even vellum. Under Gibbings, the more business-like Golden Cockerel led a renaissance in wood-engraved illustration, setting the highest standards of book production while retaining its original craft-orientated spirit.
The Nonesuch Press, founded in London by Francis Meynell in 1923, was a very different venture. Meynell deliberately avoided a house style (preferring instead that people noticed a striking book and only later recognised it as a Nonesuch volume), and used an extremely eclectic range of typefaces, creating books that ranged from the historically inspired to the strikingly modern. While Nonesuch books were often designed and proofed on a handpress, they were then commercially printed by organisations including the Curwen Press and the Oxford and Cambridge University Presses. Meynell’s self-declared mission was to show that ‘mechanical means could be made to serve fine ends’, describing himself as an architect of books rather than a builder, combining the aesthetic ideals of the traditional private press with twentieth century industrial production, ‘for those among collectors who also use books for reading’.
Each volume has been reproduced from a copy of the first edition and printed on Corolla Book Laid Ivory paper. The format is 10¼" × 7½". The editions are limited to 750 numbered copies.
Accompanying each volume is a four-page essay by Sebastian Carter, formerly of the Rampant Lions Press, now editor of Parenthesis, the Journal of the Fine Press Book Association. These essays, specially commissioned for our facsimile editions, give essential background to each of the original publications. The solander boxes were designed for our facsimiles. They are bound in coloured papers and are inset with an engraving from the book. The front and spine of each solander is blocked in gold foil.
28 pages, set in Rudolf Koch’s Neuland type, with 12 wood engravings by Paul Nash, and printed in black ink throughout. Bound in black cloth blocked in gold with a burnt orange printed paper dust wrapper. Because of the heavy black illustrations and text, the pages are doubled over as ‘French folds’ to eliminate show-through, exactly as the first edition.
20 pages, set in Caslon type, with 14 wood engravings by David Jones, and printed in black ink throughout. Bound in oatmeal cloth blocked in gold with a taupe printed paper dust wrapper.
44 pages, set in Caslon type, with 19 wood engravings by Eric Gill; printed in black ink with the title page illustration and some initial letters picked out in red. Bound in oatmeal cloth blocked in gold with a taupe printed paper dust wrapper.