King's College London
Exhibitions & Conferences
The printed page

The century guild hobby horse

Woodcut title page, with an inset portrait of a knight set against a forest with doves flying, designed by Selwyn ImageWoodcut title page, designed by Selwyn ImageThe Century Guild hobby horse was a quarterly literary and artistic journal, founded in 1884 as a mouthpiece for Arthur Heygate Mackmurdo’s Arts and Crafts organisation, the Century Guild.

It initially received bad reviews and did not reappear until 1886, when it met with a better reception. The journal, which ceased publication in 1892 (though a successor publication, entitled simply The hobby horse, ran for another two years), had a considerable influence on the private press movement, as it placed a high value on the art of printing.

Mackmurdo (1851-1942), conceived the Century Guild as a means to ‘render all branches of Art the sphere no longer of the tradesman but of the Artist’, and, like William Morris, by whom he was clearly inspired, he included printing within this remit.

The Century Guild hobby horse was edited by Herbert Percy Horne, an architect, designer and member of the Century Guild, and its production was carefully overseen by Emery Walker at the Chiswick Press.

The journal was printed on handmade rag paper and the illustrations included woodcuts and the then newly developed technique of photogravure (an illustrative process which combines photography and etching, used to create high quality reproductions of works of art). Contributors to the journal included Christina Rossetti, Oscar Wilde, Matthew Arnold and Ford Madox Brown.

The image above shows a reproduction of the journal’s woodcut title page, designed by Selwyn Image (1849-1930).

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