The Doves Press Bible
The English Bible.
Hammersmith, London, England: The Doves Press, 1903–1905.
Printed by Thomas James Cobden-Sanderson and Emery Walker at The Doves Press – Compositors: J. H. Mason, J. Guttridge, C. F. Greengrass – Pressmen: H. Gage-Cole, J. Ryan, T. Waller, A. Beaumont – Binding by Katharine Adams
The Doves Press in Hammersmith, London, launched fine printing in the twentieth century by producing some of the best exemplars of the era. Founded in 1900 by Thomas James Cobden-Sanderson and Emery Walker, Doves Press followed upon the book arts of nineteenth-century Arts and Crafts movement with which both men had been involved. Cobden-Sanderson was both influenced by and departed from the elaborate and historically-focused aesthetic established by William Morris at the Kelmscott Press. By contrast, Doves Press publications were more austere, noted for an elegant simplicity which the scholar Marianne Tidcombe credited as setting “the standard for printing in the twentieth century.”
Devoid of illustration, The English Bible captivates with layout and letterform. For Cobden-Sanderson letterform was crucial. In respect to printed works he asserted that “everyone having to do with the making of books should ground himself in the practice or knowledge of the Art of Beautiful Writing or Calligraphy.” In collaboration with his partner Emery Walker and Percy Tiffin, an employee of Walker’s firm, Cobden-Sanderson designed a new, proprietary type. Cobden-Sanderson and Walker based the Doves type on roman typefaces used by fifteenth-century Venetian printers Nicholas Jenson and Jacobus Rubeus, which they studied using then state-of-art photographic techniques. Cobden-Sanderson additionally employed the calligrapher Edward Johnston to design headings and initials for major works of the Press. When he received Johnston’s design for the opening of Genesis, Cobden-Sanderson wrote in his journal, “I am now quite satisfied with all our books. They are beautiful in their beautiful simplicity.”
The copy on display here is one of only two printed on vellum for the founders of the press. It bears the bookplate of Emery Walker.