The Canterbury Tales – Geoffrey Chaucer


The Canterbury Tales – Geoffrey Chaucer


Title: The Canterbury Tales
Author: Geoffrey Chaucer, JU Nicolson (trans), William Caxton (illus)
Publisher: Oxford University Press/The Franklin Mint, 1981/1985 (Oxford Library of the World’s Great Books series, limited edition). Impossibly rare and out of print.
Condition: Hardcover. Just about flawless. Looks like it was never read.

SKU: canterbury-oxford-franklin Categories: , , Tag:

This book features:

  • Full top-grade leather binding
  • Genuine 22k gold gilt to all edges, front design, spine, and back
  • Marbled endsheets
  • Satin bookmark, sewn-in
  • Hubbed spine with raised bands
  • Smyth-sewn binding for durability
  • Premium acid-neutral archival paper that will not yellow


The Franklin Library, the publishing division of The Franklin Mint, was of course, at one time, the nation’s largest publisher of great books in fine bindings. Founded in 1973, it ceased publishing in 2000. Its early editions ~ fully bound in genuine premium-grade, hand-cut leather, selected for quality of grain and texture ~ were designed and bound by The Sloves Organization, Ltd., an affiliate of the mint, whose bindery was one of the few in the world devoted exclusively to the crafting of fine leather books.

Printed from 1981 to 1985,* the Oxford/Franklin volumes are gorgeous ~ absolutely stunning in their production qualities. Oxford University Press, in fact, specially chose the publishing division of The Franklin Mint to design and produce its World’s Great Books series because of Franklin’s unsurpassed skill in achieving a premium-quality product: each Oxford book must also be ‘a wonder’ in the finest of bookbinding traditions and, if possible, exceed Franklin’s high standard. By that prestigious election, Franklin thus was also doubly honored and formally recognized for the awesome reputation it had achieved in the publishing world throughout the decade of the 1970s.

It is because of that ‘brief, shining moment’ in publication history that these fine classic Oxford/Franklin editions generally surpass anything else ever produced either before or after that time by any of today’s renowned publishing giants. Relatively few titles in the multi-edition Great Books series were given the fabulous full-leather treatment; most were quarter-bound volumes ~ very lovely indeed by the lights of their own publication merits ~ but still unable to boast the same ‘Rolls Royce’ elegance of their full-leather counterparts.

About Chaucer:

GEOFFREY CHAUCER (1343–1400) is often credited as the father of English literature and the first writer to privilege the vernacular over Latin or Anglo-French in England. A diplomat and court official he gained the patronage of John of Gaunt for whom he wrote the Book of the Duchess, a lament for Gaunt’s first wife Blanche. Chaucer translated and adapted many of the European courtly romances, giving his own distinctive interpretation. His tragedy Troilus and Criseyde remains one of the most moving poetic romances of literature, but it is for his Canterbury Tales with their entirely original English setting and mixture of bawdy humour and romance that he is best remembered. Buried in Westminster Abbey, his tomb became the first in what is now known as Poets’ Corner.

About The Canterbury Tales (from Wikipedia):

The Canterbury Tales (Middle English: Tales of Caunterbury) is a collection of over 20 stories written in Middle English by Geoffrey Chaucer at the end of the 14th century, during the time of the Hundred Years’ War. The tales (mostly written in verse, although some are in prose) are presented as part of a story-telling contest by a group of pilgrims as they travel together on a journey from Southwark to the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral. The prize for this contest is a free meal at the Tabard Inn at Southwark on their return.

About the illustrator (William Caxton):

William Caxton (c. 1422 – c. 1491) was an English merchant, diplomat, writer, and printer. He is thought to be the first English person to work as a printer and the first to introduce a printing press into England, which he did in 1476. He was also the first English retailer of printed books; his London contemporaries in the trade were all Flemish, German, or French. In 2002, he was named among the 100 Greatest Britons in a BBC poll.