Private Press Books at St John’s College

The Mosher Presss

Most of St John’s College’s private press books come from English presses, but there are a few exceptions. One of these is a copy of Algernon Charles Swinburne’s Heptalogia printed by The Mosher Press in Portland (Main) in 1898.

Algernon Charles Swinburne, The Heptalogia (Portland, Maine: Thomas B. Mosher, 1898) Shelfmark: W15/SWI

The US publisher Thomas Bird Mosher (1852-1923) was influenced by the English private press movement and founded the first private press in the US in 1891. Mosher’s aim was to print beautifully designed books of high quality at a low price to make them affordable. It has to be said that this edition of Swinburne’s Heptalogia is not among the press’s significant publications. Yet, the provenance of St John’s copy takes us right back to where we started: a previous owner noted that he came to own the book through his correspondence with William de Morgan (1839-1917), a lifelong friend of William Morris. Although perhaps more remembered as a novelist today, as an artist de Morgan belonged to the Pre-Raphaelite circle as well as the Arts and Crafts movement. Our copy includes a signed autograph letter from de Morgan to Ernest Hedger, dated 17/7/1912. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find out the identity of Hedger.

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