Book Enthusiasts Celebrate Arrival of Kelmscott Chaucer at Mark Samuels Lasner Collection

Printing scholars, librarians, book collectors, UD faculty, and students toast the Mark Samuels Lasner Collection’s landmark acquisition


Mark Samuels Lasner speaks to the crowd on May 11, 2016.  (Kelmscott Chaucer in the foreground.)

William Morris was one of the most consequential cultural figures in nineteenth-century Britain.  He was also a noted printer, and a rare copy of his greatest published work now makes its home in the Mark Samuels Lasner Collection, on loan to the University of Delaware Library.  Friends of the Collection gathered on the afternoon of Wednesday, May 11th to toast the acquisition of Morris’s 1896 The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer Now Newly Printed, commonly called the Kelmscott Chaucer.

Kelmscott Chaucer

The Kelmscott Chaucer, Mark Samuels Lasner Collection, on loan to the University of Delaware Library. The book is seen here in a slip cover made of William Morris fabric by Robert Patterson-Smith’s daughter.

The Kelmscott Chaucer is one of the most famous examples of fine printing.  It is highly sought after by collectors today. The copy recently acquired by the Mark Samuels Lasner Collection is one of only fourteen copies inscribed by William Morris, in this case to Robert Catterson-Smith, who worked with Morris and Edward Burne-Jones on the book’s illustrations.  Around sixty people assembled at the Morris Library on the University of Delaware campus to toast the arrival of the Chaucer.  Guests celebrated with champagne, cake, hors d’oeuvres, and speeches by Mark Samuels Lasner and William Morris scholar William S. Peterson.  They also viewed a special exhibition of other materials drawn from the Mark Samuels Lasner Collection that offered further perspectives on the life of Robert Catterson-Smith and the work of William Morris’s Kelmscott Press.  See photographs from the event below.


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