Thomas Cobden-Sanderson: The ideal book

Scope and Content

'The ideal book or book beautiful: a tract on caligraphy, printing, and illustration', a copy by Edward Johnston commissioned by the author. On the flyleaf is the signaure of Cobden-Sanderson and the inscription 'To Greta Johnston. In memory of a friendship. A. C-S. July 1924'. There are sixteen lines of verse by Johnston at the end of the volume. The book is accompanied by a letter from Miss Bridget Johnston to Geoffrey Keynes, 11 January 1946, and another from 'John' to Keynes, 16 October 1972. There is also an extract from the sale catalogue of Christie's, New York, May 1989, relating to another copy of the tract, made by Johnston.

Administrative / Biographical History

Thomas James Cobden-Sanderson (1840-1922), bookbinder and printer, was born at Alnwick on 2 December 1840, the son of James Sanderson, district surveyor of taxes. He attended grammar schools in Worcester, Hull, Docklington and Rochdale, and Owens College, Manchester. He entered Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1860, but left in 1863 without taking a degree. Sanderson was called to the bar at the Inner Temple in 1871. He changed his name to Cobden-Sanderson on his marriage to Anne Cobden in 1882. The following year he studied bookbinding under Roger de Coverley. He opened his own workshop in 1884, followed by the Doves bindery at Hammersmith, which operated from 1893 to 1921. He ran the Doves Press, 1900-1916, with Emery Walker, printer and engraver. He died at his home in Hammersmith on 7 September 1922.

Access Information

Open for consultation by holders of a Reader's Ticket valid for the Manuscripts Reading Room.

Acquisition Information

Received from the library of Sir Geoffrey Keynes, 1982.


Description compiled by Robert Steiner, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives. The biographical history was compiled with reference to the entry on Henry Cobden-Sanderson in J.R.H. Weaver, ed., Dictionary of national biography, 1922-1930 (Oxford University Press, 1937), pp. 193-194.

Other Finding Aids


Related Material

Cambridge University Library holds doodles by Edward Johnston, MS.Add.8475.


The collection is no. 24 in Sir Geoffrey Keynes, Bibliotheca bibliographici (London, 1964), p. 5.