GOLDEN COCKEREL PRESS,

(1920 - 1961)
 “The world of the engravers of Golden Cockerel books give the Press its greatest distinction and made a whole period of woodcut revival”

Set up by an idealistic group of craftsmen led by Hal Taylor in 1920, the Golden Cockerel Press intended to publish books which were to be the best in terms of literature, illustration and production.  Their plan was to produce high quality editions in small print runs of, generally, 350 or 500 copies, each finely bound, generally by Sangorski and Sutcliffe. Although the cooperative did not last long, the ethos behind its genesis remained and with Robert Gibbing and then Chris Sandford taking over the running of the Press in 1925 and 1933 respectively, they continued to produce  “examples of excellence … [the]  typography varied but always attractive, paper and binding giving pleasure each time, and a constant stream of experiment and achievement in book illustration.” 

The strongly held belief that woodcut illustration was the right medium for the printed page and the perfect balance with the correct typeface and handmade paper meant that the Press oversaw the flowering of a generation of artists who specialized in engraved wood blocks and copper plates.   During its heyday artists such as Eric Gill, Robert Gibbings and Eric Ravilious were all involved with the Press, and they were followed by notable artists Gwenda Stone, Dorothea Braby, Lettice Sandford and many more.  The apogee  of the Press’s creative output was reached between 1929 and 1931 which saw the production of two of the Press’s major works – the Canterbury Tales and the Four Gospels.

By 1961 the skilled craftsmen and materials necessary for fine book production had become too expensive and difficult to find, so the final owner, Thomas Yoseloff decided to close the Press down.

Humbert Wolfe summed up the impact of the Press, when he wrote “lovers of the fine arts owe a permanent debt of gratitude to the private printing presses, among which the Golden Cockerel takes a very high place indeed.”

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