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Golden Cockerel Press

Wood engraving by Mary Groom showing Moses and his followers and entitled: The song of MosesWood engraving by Mary Groom entitled: The song of MosesRoses of Sharon was printed when the Golden Cockerel Press was headed by Christopher Sandford (1902-1983). The press underwent three changes of ownership, with Sandford’s ownership being the last.

It was set up in 1920 as a small co-operative in the village of Waltham St. Lawrence, Berkshire, by Harold Midgley Taylor (1893-1925), an unsuccessful fruit farmer. Taylor’s idealistic premise was that the press would print and publish books without paid labour.

In 1921 Taylor advertised in the Times literary supplement for ‘one or two interesting people, without family or other ties, having craft aptitude, adventurous inclination and a readiness for hard work’.

The Golden Cockerel Press changed hands in 1924 and then again in 1933 when Sandford took over. By 1933 it had developed into one of the finest private presses of the time but Sandford decided to close the operation and the press effectively became a publisher, outsourcing the printing to trade printers.

125 copies were made of Roses of Sharon with 10 bound in pigskin. When the book was published, one of the 115 copies cost £2 2s, the equivalent of around £95 today; from the outset these were highly prized items, obtainable only by the wealthy. The typeface used in the work is Perpetua, designed by Eric Gill (1882-1940) in 1925.

The opening reproduced here shows a wood engraving by Mary Groom (1903-58).

Every effort was made to contact the copyright holder for Mary Groom.

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