Last week I enjoyed having lunch with Joe Tucker, a longtime library friend and appreciator of fine presses, poetry, and letterforms. Over the years he and his late wife, Jean, have given many wonderful items to the WU collections, including a number of books from the Golden Cockerel Press. On this visit, he sent along two volumes—a Doves Press edition of Keats’s poetry (1915) with a handsome Doves binding of dark blue goatskin, the covers and spine compartments tooled in gold with a single fillet, and Housman’s A Shropshire Lad (1929), printed by the Alcuin Press.
The Keats is especially great for us because it complements what we’ve termed our “Triple Crown” Collection—the output of the Kelmscott, Doves, and Ashendene presses, along with process material, proofs, and correspondence acquired by the Libraries in 2000. We have two copies of the Keats in standard issue with limp vellum bindings. This one, with its binding designed by T.J. Cobden-Sanderson and dated 1915, provides additional information for scholars.
The department has a few Alcuin Press titles, but I have to admit that I’m not so familiar with this press. In trolling around our catalog and collections, I was surprised to find that our Manuscripts unit holds a small collection of Alcuin Press proofs and specimens. The collection, one of several included among the Isador Mendle papers, was purchased with funds donated in Mr. Mendle’s memory by his son and daughter-in-law. It's a nice group, and it includes a history of the Alcuin Press printed in a variety of typefaces.
So, Mr. Tucker has provided a second enjoyable afternoon—I’ve perused Keats and Housman, dipped into the holdings of another unit in my department, and learned more about another of the English fine presses. Thank you! And many thanks for continuing to enrich our collections.