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Christopher Sandford Letters to John O'Connor

Identifier: GTM-140613

Scope and Contents note

The Christopher Sandford letters to John O'Connor comprise a collection of 43 letters and postcards from Sandford (as publisher of the Golden Cockerel Press) to John O'Connor and his wife Jeannie regarding Sandford's efforts to find commissions for O'Connor's work. The collection provides insight into the difficulties of fine-press book publishing and illustrating during the 1930's and 1940's in Britain, as well as the relationship between a fine-press publisher and a favored illustrator.


  • 1940 - 1982
  • Majority of material found within 1943 - 1948

Biographical note

Christopher Sandford (1902-1983) was a British printer and publisher who purchased, with partners Owen Rutter and Francis Newbery, the Golden Cockerel Press in 1933. Under their direction, the Golden Cockerel ceased to function as a private press and became essentially a publishing house, with the printing of books carried out by Newbery's Chiswick Press. By 1944, Sandford had become the sole proprietor of the Golden Cockerel, which he continued to manage until selling the operation to Thomas Yoseloff in 1959. During the "Sandford Period" of the Golden Cockerel the press was faced with the difficulties of publishing luxury books during first the Great Depression and then World War II. Sandford was also a founding director of the Folio Society in 1947, a publishing venture intended to produce finely typeset and illustrated books that were affordable to a wider public.

Sandford was born in Cork, Ireland, to Professor Arthur Wellesley Sandford and the English author Mary Carbery (1867-1949). In 1929 Sandford married artist and engraver (and pioneer corn dolly revivalist) Lettice Mackintosh Rate (Lettice Sandford, 1902-1993), who provided illustrations for numerous works publish by the Golden Cockerel and the Folio Society. Christopher and Lettice had two daughters and one son, the playwright Jeremy Sandford (1930-2003).


John Scorrer O'Connor (1913-2004) was a British artist and engraver, the youngest among the group of pre-World War II engravers that included Eric Gill, Eric Ravilious, and John Nash. O'Connor studied first at the Leicester College of Art and later at the Royal College of Art, from 1933-1937, under Eric Ravilious and John Nash. Eric Ravilious introduced O'Connor's work to Christopher Sandford in 1937, leading to O'Connor's first commission to illustrate "Here's Flowers" for the Golden Cockerel Press. From 1940-1946 O'Connor continued to design and engrave book llustrations in wood while serving as a pilot in the RAF. After the war O'Connor taught briefly at the Hastings School of Art before becoming head of the Colchester School of Art in 1948. After retiring from teaching in 1964, O'Connor continued painting and engraving, and his work was exhibited across Britain. O'Connor produced engravings for three books published by Golden Cockerel: "Here's Flowers" (1937), "Together and Alone" (1945), and "We Happy Few" (1946). In 1945 O'Connor married Jeannie Tennant, a teacher in Filey, North Yorkshire.


0.2 Cubic Feet (Single 2.5" letter-size document case.)

Language of Materials


Provenence note

The Christopher Sandford letters were originally given by Jeannie O'Connor to John Randle and the Whittington Press for research and inclusion in articles by Roderick Cave about the Golden Cockerel Press and Sandford and O'Connor's correspondence published in Matrix 6 (1986) and Matrix 7 (1987). A letter from John Randle to John and Jeannie O'Connor dated November 1, 1985 suggests that the O'Connors' letters to Christopher Sandford were discovered in the holdings of the university of Texas.

Purchaced from Rulon Miller Books, St. Paul, 6/9/2014.

Christopher Sandford Letters to John O'Connor
T. Jackson, Georgetown University Library Booth Family Center for Special Collections
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Repository Details

Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository

Lauinger Library, 5th Floor
37th and O Streets, N.W.
Washington DC 20057