THE ESSAYES OR COUNSELS CIVILL AND MORALL OF FRANCIS LORD VERULUM VISCOUNT ST ALBAN
Cresset Press, 1928
Designed and printed at the Shakespeare Head Press, Stratford-upon-Avon, UK, for the Cresset Press, London, UK.
Published in an edition of 250 standard copies and 8 copies on vellum.
Now this is a book! This impressive folio (which is too large for my shelves) was printed for the Cresset Press by the Shakespeare Head Press on Batchelor’s Kelmscott handmade paper, and beautifully bound by Sangorski & Sutcliffe in full vellum over boards, with gilt lettering on the cover and spine. To say that it’s a sumptuous production is a bit of an understatement. The pages, unillustrated except for occasional red-printed titles and initials designed by Joscelyne Gaskin, are typographically glorious. The classically proportioned, well-margined pages are a pleasure to just look at, let alone read.
I was really quite awestruck when I first saw a copy – the design and presswork are all-but faultless and the materials are of the highest quality. This is the kind of book I’d expect to see in the finest of private libraries, sharing shelf space with the cream of printing landmarks from across the years. This may not be one of your Doves or Ashendenes, which means that it may be viewed somewhat sniffily by some, but it really does stand shoulder to shoulder with the very best of them, and certainly makes many others pale in comparison.
Sadly, this level of book production is extremely scarce nowadays. The skills are still there, but the sheer cost of such materials and the artistic endeavour involved that’s needed to create such a high quality production is utterly prohibitive.
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