The Daniel Press: Pioneer of the English Private Press Movement' on view at the Grolier Club
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The Daniel Press: Pioneer of the English Private Press Movement' on view at the Grolier Club
Richard Watson Dixon. Odes and Eclogues. Printed at Oxford by Henry Daniel, 1884. Collection of The Grolier Club.

NEW YORK, NY.- The Daniel Press occupies a unique place in the history of private printing. Active in Frome, Somerset in the 1840s and 1850s and in Oxford from 1874 to 1906, the press founded by the Reverend C.H.O. Daniel (1836-1919) is, in some ways, a forerunner of the English private press movement, and in other ways, quite independent of it. The few dozen books produced by Daniel and his family for a small circle of literary friends are modest – even old-fashioned – in appearance; yet in their scale, distribution, and careful selection of literary content, layout, and typography, they far surpass other amateur printing ventures of the period. The Daniel Press thus represents an important bridge between Victorian parlor press printing of the mid-nineteenth century and the Arts and Crafts private press movement of the 1890s.

This exhibition, curated by Grolier Club Librarian Meghan Constantinou, offers a survey of the Daniel Press from its earliest days in Frome to the modern works it has inspired. Particular attention is paid to the ‘golden years’ of the 1880s and early 1890s, when Daniel’s revival of the Fell Types, his switch from a table press to a large Albion press, and the expansion of his literary networks gave the works a more sophisticated appeal. It is organized by theme, each shedding light on the press from a different angle, including Fell Types, Printing and Production (highlighting the substantial contributions of Emily Olive Daniel), The Garland of Rachel, Oxford Literary Circle, Bibliography, Sales and Distribution, Daniel’s Private Library, and Afterlife and Inspiration.

Items on display have been drawn from the Grolier Club’s rich holdings, recently enhanced by the surprise discovery of twenty uncatalogued Daniel Press books donated by Frederick Coykendall in 1939. The exhibition is rounded out by a loan of nearly twenty books, prints, photographs, and ephemera from the remarkable Mark Samuels Lasner Collection, University of Delaware Library, Museums and Press, including the Garland of Rachel – an extremely rare book of poems written by well-known Victorian authors such as Lewis Carroll in honor of Daniel’s eldest daughter. Additional items were lent or donated by Club members Philip R. Bishop, H. George Fletcher, Jon A. Lindseth, Charles Lovett, George Ong, and John Windle.

Sponsored by the Grolier Club Committee on Modern Fine Printing, the exhibition will be on view in the Club’s second-floor gallery from December 2, 2021 to February 12, 2022. An illustrated checklist, designed by Jerry Kelly, was produced with the generous support of the Grolier Club and John Windle.

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The Daniel Press: Pioneer of the English Private Press Movement' on view at the Grolier Club

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