Woodcut title of "The tale of Beowulf" with gothic lettering designed by William Morris. Published in 1895 by the Kelmscott Press as a limited edition of 300 copies.
We have just started the enviable task of cataloguing SCOLAR’s extensive set of beautifully printed and finely bound private press books. The Cardiff Rare Books Collection contains several thousand of these works, produced by fine presses such as the Kelmscott Press, Essex House Press, Golden Cockerel, Ashendene and Doves Press. Many smaller British presses are also represented in the collection, as is the work of private presses in Europe and the United States, with examples from the Bremer Presse in Munich and the New York’s Harbor Press.
Walt Whitman's "Song of the Broad-axe" with woodcuts by Wharton Esherick (Centaur Press, 1924)
The private press movement flourished at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, beginning in 1890 with the founding of the Kelmscott Press by William Morris. An offshoot of the Arts and Crafts movement, which advocated fine craftsmanship and high quality materials over mechanized mass production, the private presses produced books using traditional printing and binding methods, with an emphasis on the book as a work of art as well a source of information.
Morris himself was greatly inspired by medieval illuminated manuscripts and the Kelmscott style of fine presswork was to have considerable influence on the work of later presses such as Ashendene and Doves.
Pages from "The tale of Beowulf" (Kelmscott Press, 1895)
In July we noted that we had added two books to the Human Genetics Historical Library collection that commemorated the centenary of the birth of Darwin. An additional item has now been added which complements the other two. As with the others, this copy was originally presented to the University by Miss P. J. Parker.
Published also in 1909 by Cambridge University Press, this is the Order of the proceedings at the Darwin Celebration, held at Cambridge June 22-June 24, 1909: with a sketch of Darwin’s life. According to the preface, the Senate contributed £500 towards the celebrations, and another £500 was received from an anonymous benefactor. The commemoration had a programme of events which included a reception at the Fitzwilliam Museum, a banquet in the New Examination Hall, several garden parties and exhibitions. The events had specified dress codes, and even at the garden parties Morning dress and Academic robes were de rigeur, whilst members of the senate were instructed to wear “Hoods and Bands and Doctors will wear Scarlet.”
Charles Darwin and his sister Catherine
“The voyage of the Beagle has been by far the most important event in my life, and has determined my whole career.”
The Sketch of Darwin’s life follows along the lines of the Epitome in Darwin and Modern Science, and assistance was given by Francis Darwin in its preparation. Detailing the milestones of Darwin’s life it includes quotes from his autobiography and his letters, and several photographs and prints.