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The Odyssey of Homer. London: Printed and published by Emery Walker, Wilfred Merton, and Bruce Rogers, 1932. 530 copies.

Although his name did not appear in the book, T.E. Lawrence translated The Odyssey into English prose for this edition. Lawrence anticipated requiring two years to complete the translation but it took him four and his correspondence with Rogers was so extensive that it was published in 1933. The translations arrived in installments and as each arrived it was typed and delivered to Cambridge University Press for composition in 16-point Centaur. It was printed on a special hand-made paper in a slightly grey tone, water-marked with a Greek galley. The ink he took from William Savage’s 1822 formula using balsam of copaiba, an oily resinous substance which provided a depth of black without gloss. For decoration BR made drawings derived from figures on Greek vases for gold roundels that would be printed at the beginning of each of the twenty-four ‘books’ and on the title-page.  The Odyssey is regularly cited as among the most beautiful books ever produced. He proudly included it in the BR ‘Thirty’.

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Geofroy Tory (ca. 1480-ca. 1533). Champ Rosé, Wherein may be Discovered the Roman Letters that were made by Geofroy Tory and Printed by him at Paris in his Book called Champ Fleury. New Rochelle: Peter Pauper Press, 1933.

Champ Rosé, a kind of poor man’s Champ Fleury, was designed to lift people’s spirits during the Depression. Each letter was given a separate page and the whole book was printed in red. In his introduction, written in a witty archaic manner, he explained that ‘while pondering upon these Antique letters it came of a sudden into my memory that I had purposed to set them forth again (but maugre Maistre Tory’s descriptions) in a little book, for those other lovers of goodly letters who in these times of hardship and distress might perchance be not able to possess themselves of the greater and more costly work’. He also added ‘one little device of my own’ and explained that Tory believed all Roman letters to be fashioned from ‘I’ and ‘O’, which together formed a paean of joy and triumph: ‘IO’. He would in 1933 have added a third letter, which he supplied for a three-dimensional ‘IOU’. Champ Rosé seemed too slight for inclusion in the BR ‘Thirty’.


Aesop’s Fables. Samuel Croxall’s Translation, with a Bibliographical Note by Victor Scholderer and Numerous Facsimiles of Florentine Woodcuts. New York: Limited Editions Club, 1933. 1500 copies.

Aesop’s Fables was Rogers’ first Limited Editions Club book (of twelve he would eventually produce) and he had it printed on Barcham Green paper by Oxford University Press, hand set in Fell types. He designed a printer’s fist to point to the moral of each tale and redrew or retouched the forty-two Florentine woodcuts. It was a revival of an abandoned project he had planned with Wilfred Merton. He signed all fifteen hundred copies, not without some protest, and liked the book so much he chose it as one of the ‘Thirty’. He remarked that, ‘Most of my books turn out so differently from what I’ve looked for – they seem studied and hard. I visualize them much more loosely. But this one is just right in that respect’.

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Stanley Morison (1889-1967). Fra Luca de Pacioli of Borgo S. Sepolcro. New York: The Grolier Club, 1933. 390 copies, 7 copies on large paper.

Luca de Pacioli was a fifteenth-century Franciscan friar chiefly remembered as the author of De divina proportione (1509) with its section on the roman alphabet, likely influenced, by his friendship with Leonardo da Vinci. It was this section that Bruce Rogers proposed for production to The Grolier Club in 1932, with an extensive introduction by Stanley Morison. Pacioli was actually printed in London during Rogers’ stay there. He had the book set in 18-point Monotype Centaur in a tall quarto format on hand-made paper by Batchelor. The florets used as ornaments were cast by Goudy and the twenty-three majestic capital letters were printed in their original size of 3 ¾ inches in an intense black ink. Four full-page alphabets by Giovanni Antonio Tagliente (d. 1527) and Giambattista Palatino (d. 1575) were also printed to illustrate Morison’s postscript on inscriptional letters and their relationship to type design. The initial letters and the title-page border were taken from Pacioli’s Summa de arithmetica and printed in red. Both the black and the red inks were made to order using balsam of copaiba and took over a week to dry. Pacioli became, of course, a stalwart member of BR ‘Thirty’.  


Thomas More (1478-1535). Utopia. Done into English by Ralph Robynson. New York: Limited Editions Club, 1934. 1500 copies.

Utopia was the second book Rogers designed for the Limited Editions Club. It was first published in Latin in Louvain in 1516 and the first English translation was made by Ralph Robynson (b. 1521) in 1551. Although there have been many English editions since, the LEC chose to base its own on the first English one, with an introduction by H.G. Wells (1866-1946) which lamented the perversion of the word ‘Utopian’. Rogers chose Linotype Janson for setting and printing at the Rudge plant in Mount Vernon, a tall octavo printed on French laid paper and bound in a Frederic Warde pattern paper with a vellum back. It had two woodcuts retouched by BR. The title-page border was constructed of type ornaments angled to create an intricate pattern and printed in dark red. The head-pieces, initials, and the colophon were all designed from the same ornaments. It was a handsome book, but failed to make it into the ‘Thirty’.

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The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments: Translated out of the Original Tongues and with the former Translations diligently compared and revised by His Majesty’s special Command. Oxford: Printed at the University Press, 1935. 1000 copies and 200 copies on large paper.

This Bible began with a request from King George V for a lectern edition suitable for presentation to a memorial chapel being erected by the Canadian government on the battlefield of Ypres. Humphrey Milford at Oxford University Press took up the challenge to produce something that would both serve the needs of the church and be a noble example of printing. Executed in a modified 22-point Centaur, the text is contained in 1238 pages. Other modifications were made, including new capitals for the three-line and five-line initials. It was printed in a general edition of one thousand copies, but Rogers was allowed to have two hundred copies printed on dampened hand-made Batchelor paper measuring 18 ¼ x 13 inches and available in either one or two volumes (the copy displayed in this exhibition). The Oxford Lectern Bible represents the full flowering of Bruce Rogers’ genius as a designer of books and would normally be placed at the head of BR ‘Thirty’.

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William Shakespeare (1564-1616). The Comedies, Histories & Tragedies of William Shakespeare. New York: Limited Editions Club, 1940. 37 volumes. 1500 copies.

George Macy offered Rogers a commission in 1935 to design an edition of Shakespeare’s plays to be printed and bound in thirty-seven volumes, one for each play. The text was to be based on the First Folio and thus a large format was proposed. Each play was to have a full-page frontispiece and illustrations for the opening of each act by a different artist to be chosen by Macy. The typographical design would, however, remain consistent throughout the volumes. The Lanston Monotype Machine Company in Philadelphia created an 18-point Janson in a close facsimile of the original, but Rogers did not like the Italic and instead used a new cutting by Sol Hess, correcting some letters himself and adding swash capitals. Rogers had paper specially made for printing, and commissioned decorated paper for the bindings based on wallpaper discovered in the Oxford house where Shakespeare had possibly stayed on his trips to Warwickshire.

Part Four 1931-1940