(Hammersmith: Kelmscott Press, 1896-97). 235 x 165 mm. (9 1/4 x 6 1/2"). Eight volumes. ONE OF 225 COPIES on paper (and six on vellum.).
Original flexible vellum, flat spine with gilt titling, silk ties. Woodcut initials, 14 DIFFERENT ELABORATE WOODCUT BORDERS USED ON 60 PAGES (50 of these pages with full borders), printer's device on final page. Printed in red and black in Golden type. Peterson A-41; Sparling 41; Tomkinson, pp. 117-18. A BEAUTIFUL, BRIGHT COPY, with virtually no signs of use.
This is the ambitious Kelmscott version of Morris' long Chaucerian poem, first published in 1868-70. Like the "Canterbury Tales," this work, in Chaucerian meters, consists of a prologue and two dozen tales told at table (Chaucer's characters actually narrated 23). The storytellers here are Norse wanderers and elders of the nebulous city to which the Norsemen have retired. The tales (which alternate with Morris' lyrics on the English landscape) are either on classical subjects or from Norse and other Medieval sources. One of the more elaborately decorated Kelmscott titles, this is the only book in which any of the 14 "Paradise" borders appears. Our copy of this item--which is now less and less often to be found in appealing condition--is especially fine, with the silk ties entirely intact, without any signs of previous ownership, and with very clean, fresh bindings and leaves. This is clearly one of the most sought after of Kelmscott items: the last copy we can trace at auction, described as having "occasional light soiling but still a very good set," sold in 2017 (in a sale that would not have artificially ignited bidding) for 20,000 pounds (in excess of $25,000). (ST14419)
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PJP Catalog: RBMS18.016