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[BKARTS] Kelmscott Chaucer gift

For immediate release:

April 7, 2004


PORTLAND, OR - Multnomah County Library's John Wilson Room is the
recipient of a major gift of three rare books from the private
collection of Portland philanthropist and library supporter Helen
Malarkey Thompson. The John Wilson Room (located at the Central Library
in downtown Portland) contains more than 10,000 books, manuscripts,
photographs and other rare and historic print materials, making them
available for research, education and enjoyment by the community.

The three books were produced by the Kelmscott Press, founded by William
Morris in England in 1891, and include the three-volume Golden Legend
(1892), the two-volume The Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye (1892),
and the massive The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer (1896).

The Chaucer is especially noteworthy because it is the culminating book
of the Kelmscott Press, printed just before Morris died and is
considered the major publication of the English Arts and Crafts
Movement. It contains more than 550 pages of beautiful handset printing
and 87 prints printed directly from Edward Burne-Jones's woodblocks. The
library's copy is the only copy in the Pacific Northwest and also only
one of two known copies having variant binding apparently produced by
the Doves Bindery, the major significant English bindery of the time. As
such, it is a particularly important example of the most influential
book of the private press movement.

"With the addition of Helen's gift, especially the remarkable Kelmscott
Chaucer, the Wilson Room's already significant collection of private
press books, is substantially strengthened. The Chaucer will be forever
the stellar gem of our book arts collection, and will continue to
influence printers and book artists for centuries ahead. Multnomah
County Library is extremely fortunate to have this jewel, and to benefit
from the generosity of Mrs. Thompson," says Jim Carmin, John Wilson Room

In making the gift to the library, Thompson, a 90-year-old Portland
native and lifelong book lover hopes that "the community in which I've
lived all my life will now enjoy this fine book that I've greatly
enjoyed in my collection since the 1970s." She chose the library as the
benefactor of her gift because of the Wilson Room's strong collection of
fine and private press materials, and Carmin's great interest in the
Kelmscott Press.

Thompson was introduced to the John Wilson Room by the Library
Foundation, the private non-profit organization which raises and manages
funds to assure a great library that reaches and serves all people in
Multnomah County. Thompson had key involvement in sponsoring the
foundation's annual gala. Surrounded by books all her life, Thompson
began serious collecting in the 1940s with a focus on English private
press books, illuminated manuscripts, and illustrated children's

The John Wilson Room is located in the Central Library, 801 S.W. 10th
Ave., in Portland. Hours are Tuesday 2:30 - 5:30 p.m.; Wednesday 3:30 -
7 p.m., Friday 9:30 a.m. - 1:30, Saturday 2:30-6:00.

 <mailto:jimc@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> Jim Carmin, John Wilson Room, 503.988.6287
<mailto:terrilyn@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> Terrilyn Chun, Public Relations,

   Jim Carmin
   John Wilson Room Librarian
   Multnomah County Library
   801 SW 10th Ave.
   Portland, OR 97205
   503-988-6287 (phone)
   503-988-5226 (fax)

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