Fine Press Materials in Special Collections
Scope and Content
A fine press is a printing establishment that adheres to particularly high standards in terms of the skill of the workers, the choice of materials, and the overall design of the books ultimately produced. As a consequence of these high standards, print runs – i.e. the number of copies of a book that are printed – tend to be very low. There is often, in addition, an emphasis on traditional printing technologies and techniques. The modern fine press movement is usually considered to have begun with the Kelmscott Press, established by William Morris in 1890-1891 as part of the broader Arts and Crafts movement. Morris founded his press in opposition to the ever increasing mechanization of printing over the course of the 19th century, which Morris believed was accompanied by a decline in printing standards. The spirit of the fine press movement continues in the ongoing revival of the techniques of letterpress printing, but the movement itself is usually dated to the years 1891-1939.