[SHAKESPEARE, William (1554-1616). Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies, edited by John Heminge (d. 1630) and Henry Condell (d. 1627). London: Isaac Jaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, 1623].
2° (311 x 194mm). Text pages within typographical rule, double rule enclosing the headline and pagination, and rule separating the two columns. Woodcut headpieces and initials.
Condition: 5 preliminary leaves in facsimile, viz. 'To the Reader' leaf, title-page with portrait, \Kp\kA3 addressed 'To the great Variety of Readers', \Kp\kA4 leaf of verses by Ben Jonson, and the final leaf. \Kp\kA2 the dedication and bbb3-5 supplied from another copy and repaired, \Kp\kA2 with small area of headpiece and a few letters on verso in facsimile, i1, bb4 and bbb3 also with some letters in facsimile. Preliminaries misbound: \Kp\kA5 before \Kp\kA4, \Kc\k1-2 before \Kp\kA6. L6r with paper fault affecting runnng title, closed tears into text in Z5-6, other repairs to t3-t4, nn2-4, bbb4-5 and occasionally elsewhere. Washed, leaving some residual spotting and staining. Some headlines close cut.
Binding: Early 19th-century diced russia, covers with blind central lozenge enclosed by gilt and blind panels, spine directly lettered with the word 'Shakespeare' in gilt and panelled in gilt and blind, turn-ins tooled in gilt and blind, gilt and guaffeured edges (spine relaid).
Provenance: Bruce family (clear signature of Anne Bruce at head of 'The Tempest', other family signatures on two preliminaries and verso of 'finis' to 'The Winter's Tale; brief early marginalia on pp5-6, non-family signature on \Kc\k2v) -- Gilbert Laing Meason, sold in 1837 with the rest of his library to: -- Sir Thomas Munro of Lindertis, 2nd baronet (1819-1901), thence by descent to his brother: -- Sir Campbell Munro, 3rd baronet (1823-1913), and to his son and grandson: Sir Hugh Thomas Munro, 4th baronet (1856-1919) and Sir Thomas Torquil Alphonso Munro, 5th baronet (1901-1985, bookplate; until sold by Christie's, 23 June 1976, lot 110).
MUNRO COPY OF THE FIRST FOLIO. Third issue complete with Troilus and Cressida and its prologue. The preservation of over half Shakespeare's works is owing solely to publication of the First Folio, the undisputed keystone of any serious collection of English literature. In the much quoted words of W.A. Jackson, 'It is needless to emphasise the literary importance of this volume which has preserved twenty of Shakespeare's plays, as well as provided superior texts of eight of the eighteen plays which had already been printed. Though it cannot be called a rare book, it is incomparably the most important work in the English language and will always be valued and revered accordingly.' Although the colophon reads 'printed at the charges of W. Jaggard, Ed. Blount, I. Smethweeke, and W. Aspley,' Jaggard and Blount were clearly the more important names in this group of printers and booksellers involved. William Jaggard died some time before 4 November 1623, to be suceeded as City Printer by his son Isaac. This is a possible explanation for the appearance of Isaac's name in the imprint, while his father's name occurs only in the colophon. Nevertheless, as Gregg points out, it was Isaac Jaggard who advertised the collection in 1621, and he may always have been at the forefront of the venture. The first folio was orignally published at between 15 shillings and a pound, depending on whether or not the book was bound.
This copy, omitted from Lee's 1906 census but subsequently known to him, is recorded by Anthony West in The Shakespeare First Folio, 2001-2003 , II, p. 309. West notes that Lee's questionnaire was returned to him on 3 January 1908, having been completed by Campbell Munro. Campbell's son, Hugh Thomas, also wrote to Lee, 23 February 1908, saying that he would bring the 'folio Shakespeare' to London next day to Lee's house. In Campbell Munro's opinion there were ten leaves in full facsimile, the five in addition to those described above being \Kp\kA2, either S6 or v2 ('pages 215 & 216'), and bbb3-5. However, a loosely-inserted typed note from the period of the 5th baronet's ownership reaffirms that there are just the five recognised facsimile leaves. Hugh Thomas, the 4th baronet, is the most celebrated of this copy's known owners, featuring in ODNB not only as a mountaineer and Scottish landowner with 'a predictable enthusiasm for field sports and highland dress' but as someone with 'an idiosyncratic belief in natural mysticism ... evidenced by a belief in the supernatural, his abilities as a water-diviner, and the existence of heavenly music'. A NEAR COMPLETE COPY IN LARGELY EXCELLENT CONDITION. Bartlett 119; Gregg III, p. 1109; Jaggard p. 495; Pforzheimer 905; STC 22273.