The Apocrypha, Cresset Press (1929)

{This article is from Books and Vines contributor Neil.}

The Apocrypha (from the Greek word meaning ‘hidden’/’hidden away’/’obscure’) are those books of the Bible that are not regarded by some as canonical, but are usually included anyway as they are viewed as ‘books proceeding from godly men’.  They were found in early manuscripts and early printed editions as part of the Old Testament and were first published as a separate section (between the Old and New Testaments) in Luther’s Bible of 1534.  All English language versions of the Bible printed in the sixteenth century had a section for the Books of the Apocrypha.  From the seventeenth century until today some Bibles have omitted the Books of The Apocrypha.

Whether as part of the Bible, as a volume containing all the Books of The Apocrypha, or as individual Books, there have been countless editions published over the years.  The stories contained within The Apocrypha have also inspired many paintings, reliefs and sculptures as well as works of art in other media.  This is not surprising as some of the books are quite imaginative, such as TobitJudithSusanna, and Bel and the Dragon (an ancient example of a detective story).

This handsome edition of The Apocrypha was published by the Cresset Press in 1929 with the printing being done at the Curwen Press. Wood-engraving in the UK was enjoying a ‘Golden Era’ which is well reflected in this edition.  Each of the fourteen Books of the Apocrypha begins with a large wood-engraved frontispiece done by some of the leading engravers of the time, as follows:

Dennis Cohen (1891-1970), who was an early member of the Double Cown Club, founded the Cresset Press in 1927.  Between 1927 and 1931 he published a number of fine books, paying scrupulous attention to matching fine hand-press work with enterprising illustrations and high production standards.  He commissioned some of the finest presses, printers and artists of the day to produce his books.  The best known production from the Cresset Press is Gulliver’s Travels illustrated by Rex Whistler.  Other notable books produced by Cresset were The Pilgrim’s Progress illustrated by Gertrude Hermes and Blair Hughes-Stanton, the folio of Bacon’s Essays printed at the Shakespeare Head Press containing, arguably, Bernard Newdigate‘s finest typography and The Apocrypha shown in this article.  When the market for expensive books collapsed in the early thirties, the Cresset Press turned to general publishing.

About the Edition

  • Published by the Cresset Press in 1929
  • Printed at the Curwen Press
  • Printed in 14pt Baskerville on mould-made paper
  • Bound in full vellum
  • 334mm x 220mm
  • 420pp
  • 480 copies


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The Apocrypha, The Cresset Press, Spine and Cover
The Apocrypha, The Cresset Press, Title Page
The Apocrypha, The Cresset Press, List of Wood Engravings
The Apocrypha, The Cresset Press, List of Wood Engravings Part 2
The Apocrypha, The Cresset Press, Sample Illustration #1 with Text
The Apocrypha, The Cresset Press, Sample Text #1
The Apocrypha, The Cresset Press, Sample Illustration #2 with Text
The Apocrypha, The Cresset Press, Sample Illustration #3 with Text
The Apocrypha, The Cresset Press, ‘Printed At’
The Apocrypha, The Cresset Press, Limitation

3 thoughts on “The Apocrypha, Cresset Press (1929)

  1. I have to agree with our Delphic Oracle–this would be an edition of the Apocrypha I would like to own–though I prefer the Bible not to be illustrated.

  2. Another stunning book , with a veritable Who’s Who of great early twentieth century wood-engravers. Illustrations #2 (Gertrude Hermes), #4 (Leon Underwood) and #12 (Eric Jones) are especially notable, to my eye.

    Although most private presses over the centuries that have produced memorable letterpress editions of the Holy Bible have had a purist approach, choosing not to illustration them ( the Barry Moser illustrated Pennyroyal Caxton press edition being the notable exception), they work quite well with the Apocrypha. I own the Apocrypha from the five volume Doves Press edition which is austere, focused on superb typography, but I would have a difficult time choosing between this Cresset Press edition and my Doves Press edition.

    P.S. The famous bible illustrated by Gustave Dore for Cassell (London)published in 1880 is not, to my knowledge, a letterpress bible.

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