"Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote/ The droghte of March hath perced to the roote…"
CHAUCER, Geoffrey. The Canterbury Tales. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1928.
Large 8vo., 8 vols; original holland-backed blue publisher's boards, contrasting paper label to spines printed in black and red; outer edges untrimmed; text printed in black throughout, title in red and black, with red and blue initials and marginal illustrations of figures in full hand-colour prolific throughout all volumes; with publisher's slip expounding the illustrations loosely tipped-in to volume I, and the spare paper spine labels inserted towards the back of all volumes; many pages unopened; a seemingly unread example in the original publisher's binding, with some light spotting to the prelims and endpapers, a few very small stains along the backstrip, and one slightly larger damp mark to the rear board of volume I; some darkening to the uncut outer edges; a superior set.
Limited edition of 375 copies of which 350 were for sale. This is an early example in that run, numbered 3 on Batchelor’s Kelmscott handmade paper, with calligraphic half-titles, title-pages, and contents pages in red and black by Joscelyne V. Gaskin.
A beautiful set, comprising The Canterbury Tales in three volumes, followed by The Parson's Tale/ Minor Poems, Boecii de Consolacione Philosophie, The House of Fame/ Minor Poems, Troilus and Criseyde and The Romaunt of the Rose. With hand-colored drawings of the Canterbury Pilgrims by Hugh Chesterman, taken from the Ellesmere Manuscript (now in the Huntington Library).
As well as Chesterman's figures, this set also contains miniatures in The Romaunt of the Rose redrawn by Lynton H. Lamb from a fourteenth-century French manuscript, MS. Egerton 881, at the British Museum. Other manuscripts from the Bodleian Library and Cambridge University were used for the illustrations to The Compleynte of Mars and A Treatise on the Astrolabe, as well as for two portraits of Chaucer. Woodcuts from Richard Pynson’s 1526 three-volume edition of Chaucer were redrawn by Lynton H. Lamb to illustrate A Parlement of Foules, Troilus and Criseyde, The House of Fame, and The Legende of Good Women, and woodcuts from Vincent’s early sixteenth-century Lyon edition of Boethius were adapted for De consolacione philosophie.
The Shakespeare Head Press Chaucer stands with the Kelmscott and Golden Cockerel editions as extraordinary examples of fine press printing. This is undoubtedly one of its highlights.