4to (285 x 209 mm). Printed in Golden type in black and red, 35 reproductions of early woodcuts (process blocks by Walker & Boutall) printed on rectos only of 23 sheets, each with printed caption, printer's device. (Slight marginal staining from binding pigment upper corner.) A VARIANT BINDING, POSSIBLY UNIQUE (see below), original dark green limp vellum, tan silk ties, spine gilt-lettered in Golden type, yapp edges (some very light wear to pigment at extremities, tiny stain on lower cover, otherwise fine); half morocco slipcase. Provenance: Sydney C. Cockerell (1867-1962), private secretary to William Morris, English Museum curator (signed in ink and dated "S. C. Cockerell April 1898"); Edith Rockefeller McCormick (1872-1932), American Socialite (bookplate on verso of third blank leaf; sold Anderson Galleries, 23 February 1934, lot 308).
ONE OF 8 COPIES PRINTED ON VELLUM. SIGNED BY SYDNEY COCKERELL & WITH WILLIAM MORRIS'S SIGNATURE pasted inside lower cover. Original letterpress prospectus laid in.
IN A VARIANT BINDING not mentioned in Cockerell or Peterson, who both call for the work to be bound in quarter holland, with printed blue paper over boards. The present copy with characteristic Golden type gilt lettering on spine: "on the spines of the vellum bindings, Morris often used enlarged versions of the Golden and Troy Types" (Peterson p. xxxv). A few green vellum bindings by J. and J. Leighton of London for the Kelmscott Press are known. In his "Annotated List of All the Books Printed at the Kelmscott Press in the Order in Which They Were Issued", Cockerell mentions four copies of The Story of the Glittering Plain printed on vellum which "Mr. Morris had...bound in green vellum, three of which he gave to friends." The Estelle Doheny collection included a copy of The Floure and the Leafe... in a "possibly unique" vellum binding; that work was also only issued in quarter holland, but the Doheny copy was accompanied by a letter from Cockerell to H. Buxton Forman explaining that "no copies of the Floure & the Leafe were issued officially in vellum, but there was a man at Hinchley who used to get us to bind his copies of the half holland books in vellum" (see her sale, Christie's New York, 19 May 1989, Lot 2343).
One of 8 copies printed on vellum of a total edition of 233. At Morris's request, starting in October 1892, Cockerell spent several years studying and cataloguing Morris's collection of medieval manuscripts and incunabula; resulting from this project, Morris planned to issue a heavily illustrated catalogue of his library. After Morris's death, the project was abandoned. Rather than print the work elsewhere, Cockerell "decided to combine the illustrations of woodcuts that had already been prepared... with portions of an article by Morris, 'On the Artistic Qualities of the Woodcut Books of Ulm and Augsburg in the Fifteenth Century.' ...The book sold briskly before publication. 'There has been a great rush on the German woodcuts & they were all sold out last week,' Cockerell wrote to Leighton on 30 November 1897.'...A good many people have been left out in the cold, as orders keep coming in! I suppose it is the announcement that the Press is closing that has made people so eager'" (Peterson). Cockerell 49; Peterson A49.
Edith Rockefeller McCormick, daughter of John D. Rockefeller, married Harold Fowler McCormick, son of Cyrus Hall McCormick, and was prominent in Chicago social and cultural circles, supporting numerous social causes. She was a charter member of the Art Institute, supporting it both financially and with loans of works from her extensive art collection. McCormick also helped found the Grand Opera Company in 1909. A generous contributor to the Zurich Psychological society, she spearheaded the effort to have Carl Jung's writings translated into English. The sale of her library in 1934 included over 120 works by John Ruskin bound by the Doves Bindery, as well as 9 works printed on vellum by the Kelmscott Press.
AN EXCEPTIONALLY FINE COPY, RARE PRINTED ON VELLUM, IN A VARIANT BINDING: We trace no copies of Some German Woodcuts printed on vellum at auction; we find no other copy of this work thus bound in vellum.