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Annotated Reference Guide to Collectible Books

Cresset Press

The Cresset Press was a fine art printing press established in the ‘second wave’ heyday of small presses, in the interwar period of 1927 to 1966. It became known for an elegant approach to traditional printing, recalling the Arts and Crafts Movement of William Morris, and specializing in fine art books with woodcut prints such as Gulliver’s Travels, Pilgrims Progress, and The Apocrypha.

The Cresset Press separated itself from the crowd of other independent printers by avoiding the modernist trends (exemplified by the Hogarth Press, for example) and instead focussing on a printing ‘tone’ that recaptured the early days of the hand press movement; fable, religion, ornamentation. This approach awarded it much respect, but little sales in the later years of the 1930s, as the bibliophile audience wanted younger, more modern, fiction output.

The Cresset Press was founded by the wealthy London philanthropist Dennis Cohen, whose private wealth he brought to bear on the press, employing literary and artistic consultants John Howard and James Shand to help him navigate the tricky contemporary wants and needs of a modern audience. The Cresset Press successfully took to fiction, and managed to garner some fame with the bestselling Southern Gothic writer Carson McCullers. It can probably be recognised now that none of Cresset’s later successes however, were ever so fine as their early work on fine art pieces such as Gulliver’s Travels or Pilgrim’s Progress.

When collecting, these earliest pieces (roughly 1927-1937) can be regarded as the most desirable, with some of their finest plate and woodcut illustration work. The most expensive of these can be prohibitively expensive Gulliver’s Travels, Paradise Lost for over six thousand US dollars. However, the lesser-known pieces from the same period such as John Nash’s A Shepherd’s Calander or D.H.Lawrence’s Birds, Beasts, and Flowers. Poems. Are all excellent investments, available for a few hundred USD. These all have the advantage of being works of art as well as literary merit, with unique woodcuts accompanying the text.

Lawson, William. A New Orchard and Garden. Cresset Press (1927). 650 copies

Kennedy, Scott Charles. The Chelsea Song Book. Cresset Press (1927). 21 drawings by Juliet Wigan

Markham, Gervase. The Pleasure of Princes or Good Mens Recreations. Cresset Press (1927). 650 copies

Bacon, Francis. The Essayes or Counsels Civill and Morall of Francis Lord Verulam Viscount St Alban. Cresset Press (1928). 250 copies

Cox, Nicholas. The Gentlemans Recreation. Cresset Press (1928). 650 copies%2B50 handprinted on vellum

Ovid, George Turberville. The Heroycall Epistles of the Learned Poet Publius Ovidius Naso. Cresset Press (1928). 375 copies

Homer,. The Iliad of Homer. Cresset Press (1928). 750 copies

Bunyan, John. The Pilgrim's Progress. Cresset Press (1928). 2 vols, 205 copies; wood engravings by Blair Hughes-Stanton and Gertrude Hermes

Herrick, Robert. The Poetical Works of Robert Herrick. Cresset Press (1928). 750 copies

Breton, Nicholas. A Mad World My Masters. Cresset Press (1929). 2 vols; 500 copies

Blome, Richard. Hawking or Faulconry. Cresset Press (1929). 650 copies

The Apocrypha. Cresset Press (1929). 14 wood engravings by Eric Ravilious, John Nash, Gertrude Hermes and others

Painter, William. The Palace of Pleasure. Cresset Press (1929). 500 copies plus 30 with 105 signed drawings by Douglas Percy Bliss

Warner, Sylvia Townsend. Elinor Barley. Cresset Press (1930). 380 copies

Spenser, Edmund. The Shepheardes Calendar. Cresset Press (1930). 350 copies

Johnson, A F. Decorative Initial Letters. Cresset Press (1931). 500 copies

Wolfe, Humbert. ABC of the Theatre. Cresset Press (1932).

Wells, H G. Experiment in Autobiography. Cresset Press (1934).

Richardson, Dorothy M. Clear Horizon. Cresset Press (1935).

Greene, Graham. The Basement Room and Other Stories. Cresset Press (1935).

Wells, H G. The New America: The New World. Cresset Press (1935).

Payne, Humfry. Archaic Marble Sculpture from the Acropolis. Cresset Press (1936).

Haldane, J B S. My Friend Mr Leakey. Cresset Press (1937).

Lehmann, John. Prometheus and the Bolsheviks. Cresset Press (1937).

Levy, Benn W.. The Poet's Heart: A Life of Don Juan. Cresset Press (1937).

Richardson, Dorothy M. Pilgrimage. Cresset Press (1938). 4 volumes

Greene, Graham. 24 Short Stories. Cresset Press (1939).

Sarton, May. Inner Landscape. Cresset Press (1939).

Rawlinson, H G. India, A Short Cultural History. Cresset Press (1943).

Pitter, Ruth. The Bridge. Cresset Press (1945).

Levertoff, Denise. Double Image. Cresset Press (1946).

Levertoff, Denise. The Double Image. Cresset Press (1946).

McCaskie, H B. The Poems of Francois Villon. Cresset Press (1946). lithographs by Edward Ardizzone

Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman. Cresset Press (1949).

Highsmith, Patricia. Strangers on a Train. Cresset Press (1950).

Niven, David. Round the Rugged Rocks. Cresset Press (1951).

Greenwall, Harry J. His Highness the Aga Khan Imam of the Ismailis. Cresset Press (1952).

Boyd, Martin. A Difficult Young Man. Cresset Press (1955).

Sander, Allegra. Men: A Dialogue Between Women. Cresset Press (1955).

Highsmith, Patricia. The Blunderer. Cresset Press (1956).

Hunter, Dard. Papermaking, The History and Technique of an Ancient Craft. Cresset Press (1957). 317 illustrations

Meinertzhagen, R. Middle East Diary. Cresset Press (1959).

McCullers, Carson. Clock without Hands. Cresset Press (1961).

O'Hara, John. Sermons and Soda Water. Cresset Press (1961). 525 copies signed by author

Fitzgerald, C P. Barbarian Beds, The Origin of the Chair in China. Cresset Press (1965).

Hogarth, William. Lichtenberg's Commentaries on Hogarth's Engravings. Cresset Press (1966).

Marlowe, John. Late Victorian: The Life of Sir Arnold Talbot Wilson. Cresset Press (1967).

Sansom, George. A History of Japan. Cresset Press.

Megroz, R L. The Real Robinson Crusoe. Cresset Press.