Frederic W. Goudy


Circa 1890

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American Arts and Crafts-style illuminated manuscript on vellum by the designer credited with leading the American revival in hand-lettering.

  • Frederic W. Goudy (American).
  • Ecclesiastes, or, The Preacher.
  • n.p, [circa 1890s].
  • 112 pages.
  • Signed by Goudy on the title page.
  • Original full brown goatskin, elaborately gilt-embossed floral borders, central medallion gilt-embossed within interior, gilt-embossed corners within frame with burgundy goatskin doublures with gilt-bordered blue-ground central and corner piece cutouts ornamented with leather filigree work and top and bottom edges gilt.

One of the best-known American type designers of the 20th century, Goudy made an in-depth study of letterforms and their history. Many of his typefaces and book designs are directly informed by his historical research, from examples of the Italian Renaissance, to German blackletter, to Roman monumental capitals. Goudy began his artistic career as a lettering artist; his student, the type designer Oswald Cooper, credited Goudy with beginning the American revival in hand-lettering.

Goudy was greatly influenced by William Morris, who studied medieval arts and early printing in an ambitious project to re-evaluate every aspect of book production; Morris's Kelmscott Press was the inspiration for Goudy's own Village Press. This manuscript is clearly a production in the same spirit, forming a detailed study in the making of an illuminated manuscript, and bound in a manner informed by manuscript-era techniques in the Middle East, such as the Timurid and Safavid styles (though with certain conscious departures, like the lack of the otherwise characteristic flap).

Condition Report

Star iconVery Good
Like New

Wear consistent with age and use.

Joints and one part of border on rear board repaired.

Filigree work partially rubbed away on rear pastedown only.

A few blanks have come apart from their paired neighbors.

A couple instances of cracking at gutter.


Height: 8.25 inches / 20.96 cm
Width: 5.5 inches / 13.97 cm


First Edition, Signed




Americana, Religion, Fine bindings, Vellum

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