Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Socialism for the 1% or for 1 cent

A title page for "The Manifesto of the Socialist League."We recently complemented our outstanding collection of Kelmscott Press books with this simple publication annotated by William Morris and E. Belfort Bax. Unlike Morris's lavish Kelmscott productions, The Manifesto of the Socialist League (London: Socialist League Office, 1885) was designed and priced at a penny to reach the masses. For his Kelmscott Press books, Morris designed his own types, had them hand cut and cast, secured woodcut illustrations from people like Edward Burne-Jones, executed his own decorative borders, and printed it all on beautiful handmade paper. His books were critiques of modern industrialization and homages to an idealized past where workers were craftsmen closely connected to the fruits of their labors.

A detailed illustration of a man reading in a garden.
Physically, the pamphlet is a jarring contrast to the Kelmscott edition of The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer (Hammersmith: Kelmscott Press, 1893), but even more so when you see the receipt. Our copy of the Kelmscott Chaucer was originally purchased by C. F. Richardson, a member of the Dartmouth English department. The 1897 receipt shows that Richardson paid $160 for the text block, then an additional $104 for the deluxe binding produced at the Doves Bindery. Adjusted for inflation, that $264 is the equivalent of around $6,800 today.

A receipt for the Kelmscott Chaucer.
To see the pamphlet ask for Rare HX11.S63 M26 1885. For Morris's Kelmscott Chaucer, ask for Presses K299c.

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