(Hammersmith: Kelmscott Press, 1895). 148 x 102 mm. (5 7/8 x 4 1/8"). Two volumes. FIRST EDITION, ONE OF 600 SETS on paper (and 12 on vellum).
Original holland-backed blue paper boards, paper labels on spines. Decorative woodcut initials, elaborate woodcut title as well as full white vine border on first page of text. Printed in red and black in Chaucer type. Front pastedown with book label of Laurence Hodson (printed for him at the Kelmscott Press). Peterson A-35; Sparling 35; Forman 161. AN EXTREMELY FINE COPY, the fragile bindings with almost no signs of wear, and the interiors pristine.
This is an extraordinarily fine copy of the set Morris himself considered "quite the most charming things issued from [his] press." This prose narrative, based on the Anglo-Danish romance of Havelok the Dane, was nearly abandoned by Morris after he tried twice, unsuccessfully, to produce a version in verse. The printing here is especially charming because of the small format, gothic typeface, and very wide margins: the page has the feeling of a Medieval pocket-size prayer book. The borders designed specially for this work were used only one other time. This is by no means a rare book, but it is almost always found in rather dumpy condition. Former owner Laurence W. Hodson (1864-1933) was the heir to a brewery fortune and a major patron of William Morris and other figures in the Arts & Crafts Movement. In 1896, he hired Morris and Company to redecorate his home, Compton Hall in Wolverhampton, for which Morris' last wallpaper, "Compton," was designed and named. He acquired an extraordinary library that included an outstanding collection of Kelmscott Press and Vale Press books and ephemera. Volumes from this library are notable for their superb—sometimes virtually untouched—condition. (CJW1802)
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PJP Catalog: 74.205