Wednesday 24 April 2019

On the Origins of the Kelmscott Chaucer Typeface

Letters from the 15th Century:
On the Origins of the Kelmscott Chaucer Typeface

A Study, with Specimen Leaves, of the Influence of the Early
German Printers on William Morris’ Masterpiece.

This unique leaf book combines three elements—a significant private press production, a substantial
scholarly commentary that contributes to a further understanding of printing history, and a collection
of five leaves: one from the Kelmscott Press “Works of Geoffrey Chaucer” and four from books issued by German printers Morris most admired.

Written and issued by Phillip J. Pirages, the essay has been produced by gifted professionals; the
study addresses a topic of significance to typophiles in a considerably more thoroughgoing way than
has been done before; and the assemblage of leaves represents a powerful visual reinforcement of the

The text will present information about Morris’ life and library, pull together previous relevant
observations in an entirely new way, and provide remarks about the early printers and the leaves
included as part of this production. Most important, the study will show, as objectively as possible,
likenesses between the early letterforms and those of the Chaucer by comparing each of Morris’ letters with each of the corresponding letters in the typefaces of Schoeffer, Mentelin, Zainer, and Koberger. And because of the assemblage of leaves, readers will not only be able to learn from the text about the influence on Morris of his typographic forebears, but also to compare with their own eyes the resemblances between the Kelmscott leaf and the leaves from four centuries earlier.

For more information, visit and enter inventory number
ST15039 in the search box on the top right side of the home page.
Please contact us to reserve a copy at 503-472-0476 or

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