Thomas James Cobden-Sanderson was an English artist and bookbinder associated with the Arts and Crafts movement. He was born in Alnwick, Northumberland, as Thomas James Sanderson. Sanderson attended many schools including the Royal Grammar School Worcester before entering Owen's College (Manchester University) and then Trinity College, Cambridge to study law. He left without taking a degree, and entered Lincoln's Inn as a barrister.
As a friend of William Morris, Cobden-Sanderson was involved with the Arts and Crafts ideology and during a dinner party with the Morrises he was persuaded by Morris's wife Jane Burden to take up book-binding. In 1884 he opened a workshop and in 1900 the Doves Press was founded by him along with Emery Walker in Hammersmith, London. The press produced a number of books, including the famous five volume Doves Bible from 1902-1905. By 1909 Cobden-Sanderson and his partner Emery Walker were at the height of a protracted and bitter dispute involving the rights to the Doves Type in the dissolution of their partnership.
The special font known as the Doves Type was used in printing all of the books produced by the press, and as part of the partnership dissolution agreement, all rights to the type were to pass to Emery Walker upon the death of Cobden-Sanderson. Yet, when the press closed in 1916 Cobden Sanderson threw the type along with its punches and matrices into the Thames. In this time, as there was no digitization, destroying the punches and matricies constituted destroying the font itself. Until recently the Doves Typeface was thought to have been lost forever.
However, in an article in The Economist, December 21st 2013, it was reported: "A hundred years later and a few miles across the city, lines of Doves Type flash onto the touchscreen of an iPhone. Robert Green scrolls through the text with his finger... For three years he has been crafting a digital reproduction of the famous face - the first fully usable Doves font since the original metal pieces were swallowed by the Thames. In search of perfect curves and precise serifs, he reckons he has redrawn it at least 120 times... Intrepid fans have occasionally tried to recover pieces of the Type from the river, but no one has ever found any, so Mr Green had to beg and borrow Doves books as a reference. That sounds simple - yet the uneven printing that letterpress lovers cherish made tracing the Type impossible. Once ink hits paper, no single letter is reproduced identically. Guessing the shape of the metal that made the marks takes time and patience... That painstaking process is similar to the technique Cobden-Sanderson and Walker used to create the Doves Type, itself a confection of two earlier designs..."
Sanderson married (Julia Sarah) Anne Cobden (1853–1926), a daughter of Richard Cobden, and added her surname to his, becoming Thomas Cobden-Sanderson.