MILTON, John (1608-74). Paradise Lost. A poem in ten books. London: S. Simmons, sold by S. Thomson, H. Mortlack, M. Walker and R. Boulter, 1668.
4° (178 x 132mm). Additional engraved portrait of Milton by J. Collyer after T. Simpson tipped-in opposite title. Printer’s address to the reader in this copy is in 6 lines. Woodcut headpieces and initials. (Upper margin of title closely shaved, lacks blank A1, a few margins shaved with occasional loss of border, margin of F1v repaired, margin of F2 partly torn away with loss of outer border, browned and spotted throughout.) Early 19th-century half calf (front joints split but cords firmly holding, some rubbing, extremities a littler scuffed). Provenance: manuscript annotations (on title and in margins throughout, in two different hands, some annotations shaved) -- A. H. Bright (bookplate).
FIRST EDITION, Amory's issue no. 2 (traditionally the fourth title page), and THE FIRST TO INCLUDE THE SEVEN PRELIMINARY LEAVES. The first three issues of Paradise Lost, which could be described as one issue with variant title-page, appeared with no preliminary pages. During 1668, however, Simmons obtained and printed the Arguments, prefixing an explanatory note, and concluding with an explanation of English heroic verse and the errata. These were printed in two signatures of four leaves each, the first being blank. Although he was the purchaser of the copyright for £5 when the book was printed, and a second £5 when the edition (to consist of from thirteen hundred to fifteen hundred copies) was all sold, Simmons's name does not appear on any of the title-pages before the fourth. Milton's receipt for the second payment of £5 is dated April 26, 1669, conclusive enough evidence that the whole edition of this epic by an unfashionable poet had been sold in less than twenty months. Hugh Amory "Things Unattempted Yet", in The Book Collector, Spring 1983, pp. 41-66; Grolier 602; Wing M2139.