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Kelmscott-Goudy Albion Press, 1891



The Kelmscott-Goundy Albion Press was manufactured by Hopkinson and Cope in 1891. The Albion style of press was invented by Richard Whittaker Cope sometime around 1820. This particular Albion press has a long and well-documented history, including formerly being owned by famous figures such as William Morris and Frederic W. Goudy.


  • Creation: 1891


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to researchers, but must be handled and used with the supervision of a curator.

Biographical / Historical

If not for the thick irons band wrapped around its cheeks, Albion Press no. 6551 might have slipped into obscurity like so many distinguished machines before it. The bands, as Sir Emory Walker recalled in 1932, were “added for extra strength” for the printing of William Morris’s edition of The Works of Geoµrey Chaucer… in 1896. It is with William Morris, the father of the English Arts and Crafts Movement, that Albion no. 6551 began its fabled career. Morris acquired the press in 1895, the second of two larger Albion presses. It is thought that he first employed both presses to print the Kelmscott Chaucer, but when the oversized, floral pages of the Chaucer proved challenging to the press, the frame of no. 6551 was reinforced with the heavy bands to ensure a true impression.

If the iron bands mark the press’s beginnings, the miniature Liberty Bell placed atop its finial testifies to how far the 3,000 pound, cast iron giant has traveled. The Liberty Bell was added to the press in 1962 by one of its last owners, J. Ben Lieberman. An ardent believer in the freedom of the press and an enthusiastic hobbyist printer, Lieberman would encourage visitors to his home in New Rochelle, New York to ring the bell after pulling a broadside from the press. The Liberty Bell also confirms that this English export had, by that time, lived most of its life in the United States and was now very much an American printing press.

From the exhibition "Albion no. 6551: The Wanderings of the Kelmscott-Goudy Press," RIT Cary Graphic Arts Collection, October 2015 through January 2016.


30 square feet Item(s) (situated on a pallet) : 3,100 lbs ; 72 x 60 in


From the Collection: English

Custodial History

The Kelmscott-Goudy Albion Press has a well-documented history of past owners. Manufactured in 1891, William Morris purchased the press from Hopkinson and Cope in 1894 and owned it until his death in 1896. C.R. Ashbee of Essex House Press bought the remnants of the Kelmscott Press materials in 1898. The press changed hands again on April 1, 1913 when Washington Herbert Broome of the Old Bourne Press bought it. After retiring, he gave the press to his secretary Miss Nellie Platt (Mrs. Anderson). In 1920, she passed it to Mr. James Guthrie of Pear Tree Press (it is unclear if she gave or sold it to Mr. Guthrie). It was bought by Frederic W. Goudy in 1924, and he brought it to America. He set it up in Anderson Galleries in New York City for two weeks before moving to Marlborough-on-Hudson. Mr. Goudy did not own the press long before he sold it in the summer of 1925 to Mr. Spencer Kellogg, Jr. of Aries Press in Eden, NY. The press was put in storage in 1928 before being purchased by Melbert B. Cary, Jr. on March 24, 1933. Mr. Cary installed it in New York for his Press of Woolly Whale. In 1941, it was bequethed to Mr. Cary's pressman, George Van Vechten. Around 1961 it was sold to J. Ben and Elizabeth Lieberman at Herity Press, New Rochelle, NY. It finally reached RIT in December 2013 when RIT purchased it at an auction.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased at auction from Christie's on December 5, 2013, with funds from RIT alumnus Brooks Bower. Jethro Lieberman was the seller.


James Moran, "Printing Presses: History and Development from the Fifteenth Century to Modern Times," Berkeley, University of California Press, 1973.
Reynolds Stone, "The Albion Press: an essay first published in the Journal of the Printing Historical Society, no. 2, 1966, with supplements of 1967 and 1971," London: Printing Historical Society, 2005.

Physical Facet

style: hand press

Physical Facet

material: cast iron, elements in steel, wood, and brass; modern repaired components made of machined aluminum (platen hanging wedge) and brass (pressure wedge in the piston)

Physical Facet

bed dimensions: 33.5 x 25.625 in.

Physical Facet

platen dimensions: 21 x 29 in.

Physical Facet

inside chase dimensions: 16.25 x 22.5 in.

Physical Facet

serial number: 6551


Repository Details

Part of the Cary Graphic Arts Collection Repository

Rochester NY 14623 US
(585) 475-2408