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Shakespeare: Sonnet XLVIII Print


In 2016 the Bodleian Libraries’ Centre for the Study of the Book issued a call-out to letterpress studios around the world to print Shakespeare’s sonnets in honour of the 400 year anniversary of hid death. We are honoured to say that a copy of this limited edition print resides in the Bodleian Library’s archives.

In stock


Shakespeare: Sonnet XLVIII Print

Shakespeare: Sonnet XLVIII Print (no. 48) is a limited edition print which was created for a special project commissioned by the Bodleian Library.

Chris writes about the process behind the creation of this beautiful print (also featured in our blog here) below:

Sonnets 2016

‘Earlier this year the Bodleian Centre announced its ‘Sonnets 2016’ project to commemorate the 400th year since the death of Shakespeare. Printers across the world were invited to take part by reproducing one of Shakespeare’s 154 Sonnets, and I chose Shakespeare: Sonnet XLVIII.


Choosing a typeface was the first decision, and in the end I opted for one which I often default to; a beautiful ‘old style’ which has the advantage of being a substantial full font with little risk of getting ‘out of sorts’. This was from an unlabelled case which, through a degree of detective work, I have identified as ‘Jenson’ 12pt, a foundry typeface by Stephenson Blake and based on William Morris’ Golden Type.


Shakespeare makes reference to keeping love locked in a chest and this led me to develop an idea around a box shape form for the text… I didn’t think that it lent itself enough to the ‘box’ idea, but then thought about spinning round to form a neat diamond. This of course raised more challenges in calculating the increasing and decreasing line widths, making sure to avoid too many hyphens and rivers.

The final print was produced in an edition of 40 on Somerset cotton paper, with one copy submitted to the Bodleian Library and the remainder available to purchase. In the end it was a pleasure to work on and gave me the chance to try some new tricks and experiment with structure. I hope you enjoy the final print.’

“Lovely item. Dispatched quickly. Would certainly buy from this maker again.”
Ellie, Jan 2017


  • Printed on: Somerset 250gsm
  • Type: Jenson Old Style 10pt
  • Dimensions: 220mm x 310mm
  • Press: Franklin Proofing Press (Charlton Cropper)
  • Finish: Deckled edge

This print is sold unframed. If you would like it framed please contact me to discuss.

The unframed print will be shipped within 1–2 business days after payment has been received.

See our other letterpress prints for sale here

[NOTE] Each print is individually printed on our vintage press so please remember that minor variations will occur which is the beauty of hand printing! Please also remember that colours may vary across computer screens.


Every purchase you make helps to support The Smallprint Company, so thanks for shopping with us!

About The Smallprint Co.

Hannah and Chris have brought their passion for print to the high street with their boutique studio close to the centre of Derby and its famous Cathedral Quarter. The team prints letterpress commissions for private clients and small businesses, facilitates workshops both on and off site, and produces a range of popular greetings cards and stationery for retail. A gallery is situated to the front of the studio which showcases work by both printmakers and their workshop attendees. They welcome volunteers to the studio to help with cataloguing their expanding collection of type too, so get in touch if you fancy getting your hands inky!

Additional information

Weight 199 g

1936, 1946, 1947, 1948, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977


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