History of Printing and Fine Press
During the 1890s William Morris—the famous Victorian Pre-Raphaelite, socialist, and intellectual—decided to print books as they had been done during the first years of printing, that is, with type cast by hand, paper made by hand, and blocks of wood cut by hand. His efforts resulted in the establishment of the Kelmscott Press, named after his place of residence near London. Morris thus became the founder of a fine press movement that has lasted more than one hundred years. BYU Special Collections is pleased to own some handsome examples from Morris’ Kelmscott Press.
In addition to these works, Special Collections has many examples from the Doves Press, the Ashendene Press, the Eragny Press, the Vale Press, and the Essex House Press, all done between 1900 and 1930 in England.
To broaden this collection, Special Collections has compiled examples of fine printing from more than 400 different presses located in the United States and in Great Britain. The 5,000 examples of fine press work owned by BYU date from 1892 to the present. Faculty and students in art and design share an interest in these wonderful examples of hand press work.
Special Collections has also acquired almost all of the works produced by the Grabhorn Press of San Francisco, the Arion Press of San Francisco, the Pennyroyal Press of Massachusetts, and the Bird and Bull Press located in Pennsylvania. During the 1960s, BYU’s fine printing collection, as well as many others included in Special Collections, benefited from the gracious expertise and friendship of David Magee, a book dealer from San Francisco. In fact, the collection’s foundation was established with the purchase of the Grabhorn Printers’ collection from Mr. Magee.