The Purdue Exponent. Lafayette: Purdue University, May 16, 1895.

While a student at Purdue University, Rogers had contributed designs and initials for a number of campus publications and he continued to do so for some years after he graduated in1891. This cover of May 1895, while not nearly as sophisticated as his design work of even a few years later, does display his fascination with ornamentation and his fondness for complex borders. It was certainly reminiscent of some of the designs of William Morris for the Kelmscott Press.

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Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592). Essays of Michael, Lord of Montaigne. Written by him in French and done into English by John Florio. Edited, with Bibliography and Notes, by George B. Ives. Boston: The Riverside Press, 1902-04. 3 volumes. 265 copies.

Montaigne’s Essays was the most monumental book that Rogers produced for The Riverside Press. Indeed, he designed a new type-face for it but was dissatisfied with the its design from the time he saw the first proofs and had several letters recut. A sixteen-point type, it was based on Nicolas Jenson’s Eusebius (1470), with his Suetonius (1471) consulted for models of the capital letters. While he believed that Jenson had indeed produced the ideal, he conceded that modern readers would require alterations of set and alignment. Still, Montaigne type was used for five Riverside Press editions.


Edmund Spenser (1552?-1599). Prothalamion: Epithalamion. Boston: The Riverside Press, 1902. 419 copies.

Spenser’s Epithalamion, a hymn of love perhaps written in celebration of his marriage to Elizabeth Boyle in 1594, was first published with his Amoretti in 1595.  As they were light-hearted pieces so was Rogers’ typographical treatment of them. He had discovered in a corner of the Riverside Press composing room a transitional type called Brimmer, which had been ordered from England several years earlier. Brimmer was later recognized by Stanley Morison as Bell, originally produced for Bell & Stephenson in 1788. Rogers used the italic for Prothalamion and complemented it with red decorations on India paper taken from drawings by Edwin H. Blackfield.

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Pierre de Ronsard (1524-1585).  Songs & Sonnets of Pierre de Ronsard. Selected & Translated into English Verse by Curtis Hidden Page. Boston: The Riverside Press, 1903. 425 copies.

The first Riverside Press edition was Sonnets and Madrigals of Michelangelo (1900), but the first of these limited editions to be chosen as one of the BR ‘Thirty’ was Songs & Sonnets of Pierre de Ronsard. The BR ‘Thirty’ books were listed chronologically and this book was item 101 in the Grolier Club exhibition of 1938, meaning that at least one hundred books had preceded it. It was set in Caslon Italic type, a face Rogers considered conventional and rather boring but which was one of the few available to him. The Ronsard did, however, provide him with the opportunity of using some of the elaborate and decorative type ornaments which became a hallmark of his later designs. 


Geoffrey Chaucer (d. 1400). The Parlement of Foules. Boston: The Riverside Press, 1904. 325 copies.

For Chaucer’s Parlement of Foules Rogers chose a lettre batarde, a Gothic type which had to be imported from France. It was printed in black, red, and blue, with gilded initials and, as a small octavo, was a considerable contrast to the Montaigne. It, however, pleased Rogers very much and he chose it as one of his favourite ‘Thirty’. Chaucer’s poem involves three eagles contending for the most beautiful female and the debate amongst the fowls which ensues. In the end the female gets to decide. This may refer to Anne of Bohemia and her several suitors. It is perhaps best remembered for its opening line: ‘The lyf so short, the crafte so long to lerne’, but the text invites a fanciful typographic treatment.


Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375). Life of Dante. Now Translated from the Italian by Philip Henry Wicksteed. Boston: The Riverside Press, 1904. 265 copies.

Boccaccio’s Life of Dante was set in the first typeface designed by Rogers, ‘Montaigne’.  The Dante, a great large quarto, was well suited for the Montaigne type and remains a handsome book with Rogers’ noble depiction of Dante on its title-page. It was chosen as a BR ‘Thirty’.

Part One 1895-1905