Hammersmith, London: The Kelmscott Press for Macmillan Co., 1893. One of 500 copies on paper (with five on vellum not for sale), and the first of the octavo-format Kelmscotts with a woodcut title. This is the first issue, with the uncorrected text. Peterson A17. 8vo (8 1/4 x 5 1/4 inches; 210 x 133 mm). 40 leaves. Title and first text page set within elaborate woodcut borders; smaller woodcut borders and initials throughout the text. Printed in red and black. Golden type. Original limp vellum, citron silk ties preserved; publisher's green board slipcase, gilt-lettered on one side (one joint split and with old tape repair). Provenance: Frederick Macmillan (1851-1936), British publisher (bookplate designed by Harry Soane, 1879, with Macmillan family motto from Virgil: 'Miseris Succurrere Disco' ["I learn to succor the distressed"]) – with Bernard Quaritch Ltd (their collation note). Item #405995
A remarkably well-preserved copy, with only slightest age-darkening to the spine, and the noted wear to the slipcase.
THE PUBLISHER'S COPY: With the bookplate of Frederick Macmillan. The son of Daniel Macmillan, a founding partner of the venerable bookselling and publishing firm, Frederick Macmillan joined the firm in 1876. He took particular interest in the New York branch of the business, which in 1890 became a separate firm. Of the fifty-three published works printed by Morris' Kelmscott Press, only two books listed publishers other than the press itself: 'Maud' and Dante Gabriel Rossetti's 'Ballads and Narrative Poems' (Ellis & Elvey, 1893). The present is a most distinguished association copy, then, having been in the collection of one of its publishers.
'Maud' was commissioned by Macmillan & Co and made a handsome profit for Morris. Four errors in text were noted soon after publication, and were corrected with cancellans in the second issue. The borders were specially designed for the book, and were used again in the Keats and one of them appears in The Sundering Flood. Peterson's index of association copies in the Bibliography of the press does not record any owned by Frederick Macmillan. The census of copies of the Kelmscott Chaucer, however, records his copy (no. 3.131, sold Christie's, 23 April 1918, current whereabouts unknown). ABPC and RBH do not record any Kelmscotts with Frederick Macmillan's provenance, including the present book.