London, South Kensington
12 November 2007
JONSON, Benjamin ('Ben', 1572-1637). The Workes. London: William Stansby, 1616. 2° (262 x 175mm). Engraved title by William Hole, sectional title to The Poëtaster on Z4r with woodcut border [McKerrow and Ferguson 224] (washed, some residual soiling and staining, title with repaired tear and pen-and-ink restoration in lower right hand corner, some closed marginal tears occasionally leading into text, U6 with slight paper fault, Ddd5 with repaired hole causing loss to running title, without preliminary blank). Red morocco gilt by Wallis, gilt edges (small nick at head of spine, bump to bottom edge of front cover). Provenance: Thomas Edward Watson of Newport (bookplate; some underlining in pencil).
Ben Jonson's own supervision, it was followed by a second volume without general title-page in 1631. Three forms of imprint on the engraved title are the most obvious of the book's 'bewildering' array of bibliographical variations. The sectional title to Cynthia's Revels has a woodcut border in most small paper copies but not the present one. The title to Poëtaster has the border only in some small paper copies, including this one, and three imprint variants. A number of sheets exist in two different settings, the majority made during the original production of the volume, others of later date and presumably 'made to eke out a defective stock of sheets when the edition was near being exhausted.' As the text was extensively revised while the sheets were going through the press, many of the formes show ariant readings. Gregg regards the most striking as the reversal of the final speeches in The Golden Age Restored, this copy ending Astraea-Pallas rather than Pallas-Astraea. Greg III, pp. 1070-73; Pforzheimer 559; STC 14751.
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