“Private” Presses and the Golden Cockerel Press

Most owners of printing companies print what they are paid by publishers to print.  But, think of how much fun it would be to be able to just print what you wanted, when you wanted.  Of course, you’d want to make a profit, but to really be able to design and print a really fine book with that being the real goal….

Private presses do that, and some of the treasures in the Rare Book Room were printed at a noted turn of the (twentieth) century English firm, the Golden Cockerel Press.  Established in London in 1920, the Golden Cockerel Press had three owners during its history, but the most notable was Robert Gibbings, under whose leadership it became known as one of the fine private presses.  Beautiful typefaces, handmade paper, woodcuts and engraved illustrations…all are represented in our Golden Cockerel Press editions, and Davidson can thank Dr. Harold Marvin, class of 1914, for donating to us many of the beautiful limited edition volumes he collected.

Adam and Eve title page with a rooster in the middle of the pageThe Golden Cockerel Press’s first printed volume was A. E. Coppard’s Adam & Eve & Pinch Me (1921).

Four Gospels illustration, a man, Jesus, wearing a black robe leaning down to tough a person laying dwon, also wearing a black robe. The picture is intertwined inside of the word "NOW"Eric Gill, British sculptor and wood engraver was commissioned to design a set of typefaces for the printing of The Four Gospels (1931), one of the most desired by collectors of the Golden Cockerel Press’s volumes.











Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (1929-1931), Pushkin’s Tale of the Golden Cockerel (1937), Keat’s Endymion (1947)… all are represented in our Golden Cockerel Press collection.


Thanks, Dr. Marvin!


Canterbury Tales illustration, four knights with swords, 3 of them unsheathed, ready to strike a man on his knees who is praying at an alter as a hand from above is giving him something.

Pushkin Cockerel, a picture of two pages of a book, on the left page there is an image of a man's who is bald but has hair on the sides with two flags on either side of him and a black rooster on his head

Endymion illustration, plants and leaves all around the letter 'A'. The title of the chapter, "THING OF BEAUTY IS A JOY FOR EVER"

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