To my knowledge this is the first time that William Morris’ borders and large capital letters have been redrawn by hand in eps vector format. All the borders and a large part of the capital letters from the Kelmscott Chaucer have been drawn on a Wacom tablet using only the pen tool in Adobe Illustrator.
The Kelmscott Chaucer.
The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, Now Newly Imprinted.
More than a classic text book, the Kelmscott Chaucer was conceived as a celebration of the art of bookmaking. Many consider it the most beautiful of modern books. Printed in limited edition like all the books printed by William Morris; only 425 copies on paper and 13 on vellum were imprinted. Today a copy on paper sale for anywhere from 60 to 70 thousand dollars and not long ago one copy on vellum was purchaser for environ half million dollars.
It contains 87 illustrations from Edward Burne-Jones, 14 large borders and (at my count) 17 small borders, plus many illuminated words and initial letters; William Morris designed all the borders and illuminated initial letters.
In many books I find that the small borders that are used around the 87 Burne-Jones’ illustrations are 18 and not 17. I examined end counted them more than one time and I can find only one explanation to this miscount:
The borders as all the images and initials in the book where transferred on wood with a photographic process and then engraved by W. H. Hooper. There are two borders that are the same but reversed left to right. Is it possible that during the photographic process one of the plates was reversed and imprinted twice on the woodblocks? …and engraved twice. The drawing for the borders are so similar that I myself by mistake draw twice two of the small borders without realizing that I had already done them.
It can be verified in this images that those two borders are exactly the same and the image has been reversed left to right. It is also interesting to note the little variations in the hand of the engraver, but doesn't make it for two different borders.
If I am wrong I will be glad to the person that will correct me and I will add that border to the collection.
William Morris started working on the project of the Geoffrey Chaucer volume in 1892, in 1893 he was already working on the borders and the illuminated capitals. R. Catterson-Smith and C. Fairfax Murray transferred all the pencil illustrations from Burne-Jones to ink drawings suitable for engraving, then after approval by Burnes-Jones they were engraved by W. H. Hooper. The engraving of each of these 87 images took one week.
Four year later, May 8, 1896 all pages were printed and the publication date was set for June 26.
On the second day of June 1896 the binder delivered the first two copies finished to Morris, one for Burnes-Jones, one for himself.
Four months later, on October 3, he died at the age of 62.