At the inaugural auction held today at Bloomsbury Auction House, 6 W. 48th Street, an undisclosed phone bidder paid $180,000, including the auctioneer's commission, for The Kelmscott Chaucer, a complete works for Canterbury Tales author, Geoffrey Chaucer, published in 1896. Only 48 copies of the book, bound in full pigskin, remain today. With type and decorative borders designed by William Morris, one of the greatest English designers of the 19th century, it has added value as an art piece.Bidding opened at $60,000 in the standing room only saleroom, with 10 additional bidders on the phone.Kelmscott Press is viewed as the summit of the private press movement. The Kelmscott Chaucer is considered the finest typographical achievements of the 19th century.
Bloomsbury Auctions was founded in 1983 and is headquartered in London with salerooms in Rome and New York. It began as a book auctioneers but has grown steadily and today specializes in not only books, but also printed and written material embracing prints, maps, watercolors, photographs and collectables.
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