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Rare Gift Enhances Fine Press Book Collection at DePaul

by Michelle McCoy 5/7/2013 11:21:00 AM

Thanks to the generous donation of Bruce and Suzie Kovner, DePaul University’s Special Collections & Archives welcomes the addition of the Pennyroyal Caxton Bible, masterfully illustrated by Barry Moser, to its fine press collections. DePaul holds number 135 of 400 copies.

The Bible’s two volumes contain exemplary artistic and craft achievements. Reinvigorating a long tradition of illustrated Bibles that had been lost over the course of the 20th century, Moser spent four years designing and engraving the 232 illustrations for the Pennyroyal Caxton’s New and Old Testaments. These are additionally impressive in that it is the first completely illustrated Bible in over one hundred years and many of the subjects are modeled after people Moser knew.

Relief engraving by Barry Moser for the Pennyroyal Caxton Bible.
The Pennyroyal Press has received additional recognition for other aspects of its design, construction and craftsmanship. The typographic achievements include a newly designed and handcrafted type modeled after the 16th century letter forms of Robert Granjon as well as an entirely new Hebrew typeface called Le Bé Hebrew. The paper was specifically crafted in a family tradition by Zerkall Paper Mills in Germany. Using a traditional letter press, the hand printing of the pages took three years to complete. The details extend to the hand-crafted vellum bindings and the 24-karat edged paper.

The Pennyroyal Caxton Bible belongs to a community of fine press books with similar hand-crafted printing techniques. DePaul’s Special Collections & Archives holds a selection of fine press titles in a variety of genres and includes works from such historic craft publishers as the Kelmscott Press and the Golden Cockerel Press, as well as works being produced by contemporary artists and houses such as Nawakum Press.
Sire DegrevauntNorfolk Isle and the Chola WidowBirth of Christ from the Gospel According to St. Luke

William Morris’s Kelmscott edition Sire Degrevaunt is an example of the elegance of fine press books that exemplifies the English Arts and Crafts movement from the end of the nineteenth century with its hand-formed type modeled on the incunabula of the fifteenth century and emphasis on ornate artistic expression. Responding to the mechanization of contemporary book-production methods, Morris re-engaged the public with the “book-as-an-object” by accentuating all aspects of craftsmanship from paper quality to type to binding. In the current wake of electronic book readers and digital copies, the movement begun by Morris and other early fine press publishers has assumed new momentum with the Pennyroyal Caxton that not only captivates collectors, artists and book appreciators, but asks us to reexamine how we receive information.

For more information on DePaul’s Fine Press Books, or the Pennyroyal Caxton Bible, contact SPCA at or stop by Special Collections & Archives at the Richardson Library, Room 314.

Bible. English. Authorized. 1999. The Holy Bible: containing all the books of the Old and New Testaments. North Hatfield, Mass. : Pennyroyal Caxton Press, 1999. (2 vols.) No. 135 of 400. SpC. 220.52034 B582p1999 Gift of Bruce and Suzie Kovner.

The Birth of Christ from the Gospel According to St. Luke. Waltham Saint Lawrence, Berks. : Golden Cockerel Press, 1925. SpC. 232.921 B582B

Melville, Herman. Norfolk Isle & the Chola Widow / Herman Melville; wood engravings by Rik Olson; introduction by John Bryant. Deluxe ed. Santa Rosa [Calif.] : Nawakum Press, 2011. SpC. 813 M53cw2011

Sire Degrevaunt. [Edited by F. S. Ellis after the edition printed by J. O. Halliwell from the Cambridge MS., with some additions & variations from that in the library of Lincoln Cathedral. Hammersmith, Eng., Kelmscott Press, 1896]. SpC. 821.2 D321e 1896


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