Lot 139 of 252:
Kelmscott Chaucer bifolium  

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Lot closed - unsold
$15,000 - $25,000

Original proof printing of the first bifolium from the Kelmscott printing of Chaucer's works

Chaucer, Geoffrey


Kelmscott Press



4-page conjugate leaf, pp. [1]-2 & [15]-16. The first and third pages with large woodcut illustrations and elaborate woodcut borders; one oversize, five large and seven small woodcut initials. 42.5x29.3 cm. (16¾x11½").

Exceptionally rare and important proof bifolium - with variant typesetting - of the masterwork of the Kelmscott Press, the Kelmscott Chaucer. This proof page was typeset in 1893 in a very small number and distributed to William Morris's friends. It contains a variant typesetting of the text, eventually rejected by Morris. (The number of lines beneath the initial "W" was reduced from seven to six, with a ripple effect on the remainder of the text.) The bifolium comprises the first two pages of Canterbury Tales with a large and famous illustration featuring the author standing in a garden, a book in one hand, a pen in the other, and two pages from the Knight's Tale, with a large illustration of two men standing in a forest. In the opinion of many, this opening page of the Kelmscott Chaucer can be judged the most famous page in the history of fine typography. The rarest of all Kelmscott productions

Lot Amendments

Faint, mostly marginal foxing; fine.

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