Eric Gill’s Most Powerful Book
GOLDEN COCKEREL PRESS. Four Gospels of the Lord Jesus Christ. According to the Authorized Version of King James I. With Decorations by Eric Gill. Waltham Saint Lawrence in Berkshire: Printed and published at the Golden Cockerel Press , 1931.
Limited to 500 numbered copies, of which this is one of 488 copies on handmade paper. This copy being number 204. Folio (13 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches; 334 x 235 mm.). [3, blank], [1, imprint], 268, [1], [1, blank], [1, colophon], [1, blank] pp. With sixty-four wood-engraved initial letters and illustrations by Eric Gill (counting the initial “N” on p. 8 and the lettering which goes with it as one illustration, although they are actually from two separate blocks). Printed by Robert and Moira Gibbings in Golden Cockerel type (designed for the Press by Eric Gill) on Batchelor handmade paper with special watermark of a dove and the initials G.C.P.

Original publisher’s half white pigskin gilt over maize buckram boards by Sangorski & Sutcliffe. Gilt spine with raised bands. Top edge gilt, others uncut. Spine very slightly darkened. Upper outer corner of top board slightly bumped. An very nice copy, free from the usual foxing on the boards and very clean text.

“Conceived in the fruitful mind of Robert Gibbings, this is the Golden Cockerel book usually compared with the Doves Bible and the Kelmscott Chaucer. A flower among the best products of English romantic genius, it is also surely, thanks to its illustrator, Eric Gill, the book among all books in which Roman type has been best mated with any kind of illustration” (Chanticleer).

Gill’s biographer, Fiona MacCarthy, describes The Four Gospels as “the culmination of [Gill’s] work for the Golden Cockerel Press and...the example which experts and collectors...have always viewed as the height of his achievement. To describe it as a series of engraved initial letters for the Bible text, though strictly correct, gives little idea of the richness and complexity of Gill’s own contribution. The decorative letters do not just embellish the text, they play upon it and develop it, to the point at which distinctions are blurred. Are they lettered illustrations? Or illustrated letters? The two things flow together with a rhythm, a control and an exhilaration which brings one back inevitably to Gill’s own definition of creative energy: the exuberance of nature, the urine of the stallion, the spiritual field” (Eric Gill: A Lover’s Quest for Art and God, pp. 243-245).

The Artist & the Book 122 (“This is probably Gill’s most powerful book”). Chanticleer 78. Gill 285. Ransom, Private Presses, p. 298.

HBS # 68190 $15,000