Upper Mall, Hammersmith: Kelmscott Press, 30 August 1894. First edition. Original publisher's blue linen-backed boards. One of 525 copies on paper, with red and black text in Chaucer type. A bit of bumping to corners and a small smudge to the lower front board. Lovely and square. 130 pages, measuring 100 x 140mm. Internally bright, fresh, and unmarked, retaining the classic reds and whites of Morris' printing. An excellent, just about Fine example.
Morris drew on early Latin tales that were translated into English in the late fifteenth century as inspiration for The Tale of Emperor Coustans and of Oversea. These two tales provided a chance for Morris to continue exploring morality and medieval culture, themes that run throughout the books that the Kelmscott Press produced. "‘The Tale of the King Coustans’ is the most straightforward of the group; it illustrates the idea that it is impossible to prevent the fulfilment of destiny" (Faulkner). "The second story in the Kelmscott edition, ‘The History of Over Sea’, has a more complicated and dramatic plot, involving, as the title suggests, a good deal of travel" (Faulkner). Morris and the Kelmscott Press remain bedrocks of English book arts and fine printing, and the present volume is an attractive example of the Press's aesthetic and intellectual identity. Near Fine (Item #3976)