News | September 3, 2014

Rare Letterpress Shakespeare by the Folio Society on Exhibit at NYC’s Center for Fiction

September 2, 2014—New York, NYThe Folio Society announced today that the only complete collection of its Letterpress Shakespeare editions outside of the United Kingdom, will be on display to the public at the Center for Fiction through the end of the year.

The Center for Fiction ( is located at 17 E. 47th Street (between Fifth and Madison) in New York, and hours are as follows: Monday through Thursday: 10:30am to 7:30pm; Friday: 9:00AM to 5:00pm, and Saturday: 11:00am to 3:00pm.

Since the First Folio in 1623 there have been countless editions of Shakespeare's works. The Folio Society wanted to do something unprecedented: to design an edition so pure, so simple, that the beauty of the text could be fully appreciated - an edition that would be as timeless as the text itself. The project was to occupy some of the Europe's finest book designers, typesetters, paper-makers, printers and binders for eight years.

The starting point was the text. Rather than keep text and commentary together, The Folio Society decided to put them in separate volumes. Out went the elements that clutter the page: footnotes and textual variants. All that remained was Shakespeare's words. Alongside the leather-bound primary volume is an annotated Oxford University Press edition, edited by eminent Shakespeare scholar, Stanley Wells.

“There was never any doubt about what printing process to use,” said Joe Whitlock Blundell, Production Director at The Folio Society. “For all the benefits of modern technology, letterpress is still unmatched in the visual and tactile pleasure it affords the reader. It would be slow, it would be expensive, it would be laborious, but it would give a beauty to each page, the beauty of fresh type crisply pressed into mould-made paper, which no other printing process could match.”

The Folio Society found four printing firms who had the necessary enthusiasm and expertise to produce the Letterpress Shakespeare: Hand & Eye Letterpress in London, Logan Press in Northamptonshire, Stan Lane's Stonehouse Fine Press in Gloucestershire and Offizin Haag-Drugulin in Germany - a firm that gained its reputation printing the first editions of Franz Kafka and Thomas Mann. When the printing was complete the type was melted down, never to be used again. The intricate and skilled task of casting and setting the hot metal type by hand fell to Stan Lane, a master compositor and type caster who has worked with letterpress for over 50 years.

The Center for Fiction, founded in 1820 as the Mercantile Library, is the only organization in the United States devoted solely to the vital art of fiction. With all of its resources, including an exceptional book collection, beautiful reading room, expanding website, and ever-growing array of creative programs, the Center seeks to serve the reading public, to build a larger audience for fiction, and to create a place where readers and writers can share their passion for literature. Considered to be one of the most beautiful and welcoming spaces in New York by members and guests, the Center’s historic building was built in 1932, and designed by Henry Otis Chapman. For more, please visit:

For over 65 years The Folio Society has been publishing beautiful illustrated editions of the world's greatest books. There are hundreds of Folio Society editions currently in print covering fiction, biography, history, science, philosophy, children's literature, humor, myths and legends and more. Exceptional in content and craftsmanship and maintaining the very highest standards of fine book production, Folio Society editions are created to last for generations. Folio Society titles are also available for purchase online at, by phone: 1 (866) 255-8280 and at selected retailers.  The Folio Society is located at 44 Eagle Street London WC1R 4FS.