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Grolier Club Exhibitions

Fell Types

The Fell types are a group of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Dutch and French types brought to Oxford in the 1670s by the Reverend John Fell, principal founder of the Oxford University Press. In the 1870s, while Daniel was searching for types appropriate for the early English texts he wanted to print, he learned that the old Fell punches and matrices were still extant in the Press storeroom. With the assistance of Press Controller Horace Hart, he had four different founts and a selection of ornaments recast which he would use in dozens of books over the next 30 years. This revival inspired other private press printers, such as C.H. St. John Hornby and Francis Meynell, to experiment with the types and also led to important works of scholarship by Hart and Stanley Morison, among others.

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Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon (1609-1674). The History of the Rebellion and Civil Wars in England, Begun in the Year 1641. 3 vols. Oxford: Printed at the Theater, 1702-1704. Vol. 1.

The Fell types were the main typographic resource used by the Oxford University Press between the 1670s and the mid-18th century. The Earl of Clarendon’s immensely successful History of the Rebellion, set in Fell Great Primer roman and italic, is a particularly impressive example of the work produced in this period.

Generously lent by H. George Fletcher

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Photo credit: Nicole Neenan

Horace Hart (1840-1916). Notes on a Century of Typography at the University Press, Oxford, 1693-1794. Oxford: Printed at the University Press, 1900.

Horace Hart joined Oxford University Press as Controller in 1883 and supplied founts of Fell types to Daniel and other private printers. Hart’s own interest in the history of the types culminated in his Notes on a Century, which uses recast types to partially recreate the seven original Fell specimens produced by OUP between 1693 (shown here) and 1794. Decades later, Stanley Morison still deemed this work essential to the study of typography.

Gift of Horace Hart, 1900


Photo credit: Nicole Neenan

John Milton (1608-1674). Three Poems of John Milton. [Hertfordshire]: Ashendene Press, 1896. Edition of 50.

C.H. St. John Hornby, founder of the Ashendene Press, became inspired by the works of the Daniel Press while a student at Oxford. This edition of Milton in Fell Great Primer is one of ten books Hornby printed in Fell types between 1896 and 1901. In his bibliography, he expressed preference for the “rugged distinction” of the Fell types in comparison to the “more refined and commonly used types of Caslon.”

Gift of C.H. St. John Hornby, 1896

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Photo credit: Nicole Neenan

Letter from C.H. St. John Hornby to “the President of the Grolier Club,” (i.e. Samuel Putnam Avery), June 17, 1896.

Hornby’s letter presents this copy of Milton’s poems, along with another Ashendene Press publication, to the Grolier Club, stating, “The only interest that I can claim for them is that they are genuinely amateur productions, as the type has been set up and the printing done entirely with my own hands. Amateur printers are, I believe, a rarity – I only know of one other in England, Mr. Daniel, of Worcester College Oxford – and I thought, therefore, that my small volumes might not be unacceptable to a Club of Book lovers like yourselves.”


Photo credit: Nicole Neenan

Ashendene Press. Specimens of Type used at the Ashendene Press. [Chelsea: Ashendene Press, 1925].

In 1901, inspired by a visit to the Kelmscott Press, Hornby replaced the Fell types with his own proprietary Subiaco typeface, based on the gothic rotunda-style type used by the first press in Italy. In 1925, he added Ptolemy, derived from a fifteenth-century German model.

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Photo credit: Nicole Neenan

Alice Meynell (1847-1922). Ten Poems, 1912-1915. Westminster: Romney Street Press, 1915. Edition of 50. 

Between 1915 and 1919, before Francis Meynell opened the Nonesuch Press, he operated the Romney Street Press in his dining room, using a tabletop press and Fell English cast types. This book of poems by the printer’s mother, Alice Meynell, is one of only two works produced in this period. The elegant initials are rubricated by Edward Johnston. Accompanied by the original prospectus.

Fell Types at the Daniel Press

Daniel limited his use of the Fell types to four founts: small pica roman, small pica italic, English black letter, and double pica italic. Small pica roman was by far the favorite and most often selected for ordinary use. English black letter was used in only six books (five of which were by the poet Robert Bridges), and double pica italic in only two. The majority of the 33 ornaments in use at the Press were also Fell.

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Robert Bridges (1844-1930). The Growth of Love. Oxford: Printed by H. Daniel, 1889. Edition of 22.

Daniel used Fell small pica roman in the first edition of this collection of sonnets by Robert Bridges, printed in a strictly limited edition of 22 copies. Due to high demand, he printed a second edition of 100 the following year, using English black letter. Aside from some minor corrections, the textual content is the same in both editions. The roman version became an instant rarity and has been highly sought by collectors ever since.

Mark Samuels Lasner Collection, University of Delaware Library, Museums and Press

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Photo credit: Nicole Neenan


Robert Bridges (1844-1930). The Growth of Love. Oxford: Printed by H. Daniel, 1890. Edition of 100.

Purchased 2020

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Photo credit: Nicole Neenan

T. Herbert Warren (1853-1930). (Hesperides) All amidst the Gardens Fair … [Oxford: H. Daniel, 1895].

This poem by Sir T. Herbert Warren, classical scholar and President of Magdalen College, was written in honor of the Daniels’ daughters, Rachel and Ruth. The large Fell double pica italic, used here for the first time in a Daniel book, lends the work a distinctive appearance. Emily Daniel sewed each copy by hand with silk thread.

Purchased 2020

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Photo credit: Nicole Neenan

Richard Watson Dixon (1833-1900). Odes and Eclogues. Oxford: Printed at Oxford by Henry Daniel, 1884. Edition of 100. 

The combination of Fell small pica italic and type ornament headpieces lends this edition of Canon Dixon’s Odes and Eclogues an elegant appeal. Madan described this work as the first in which Daniel used ornament “freely.” The painted initial is by Emily Daniel.

Gift of Frederick Coykendall? 1939