SHAKESPEARE, William (1564-1616). Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies. Published according to the True Originall Copies. Edited by John Heminge (d. 1630) and Henry Condell (d. 1627). London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed. Blount at the Charges of W. Jaggard, Ed. Blount, I. Smithweeke, and W. Aspley, 1623.
THE FINE AND COMPLETE DRYDEN-PULESTON-BEMIS COPY OF SHAKESPEARE'S FIRST FOLIO, THE MOST IMPORTANT BOOK IN ENGLISH LITERATURE, AND ONE OF THE TWO FINEST COPIES REMAINING IN PRIVATE HANDS
Median 2o (324 x 208mm). 454 leaves: COMPLETE (see collation below). Various paper-stocks from French mills and one unwatermarked. Roman and italic types 82 mm, larger cursive for running titles, set by at least nine compositors. Double column, 66 lines, headlines and catchwords, pages box-ruled, woocut head- and tail-pieces, Shakespeare's engraved portrait by MARTIN DROESHOUT in third state, as usual, and measures 197 x 165 mm.
BINDING: late-17th- or early-18th-century English blind-tooled brown calf over pasteboard, sides panelled with double fillets, gouges and dots, floral tool at the angles, outer and center panels of the sides sprinkled in black, intermediate panels plain, sprinkled spine with raised double bands (lettering piece removed from spine, but its impression "SHAKESPEARS PLAYS" visible underneath; spine-ends, joints and corners restored, some wear and minor stains to covers, endpapers renewed with early sheets [foolscap watermark, initials LM countermark]); red morocco pull-off case by H. Zucker of Philadelphia.
THE FIRST FOLIO OF SHAKESPEARE CONSTITUTES BY ANY STANDARDS THE MOST IMPORTANT BODY OF WORK IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE AND ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT BOOKS IN ALL OF LITERATURE.
FIRST COLLECTED EDITION of Shakespeare's plays, known as THE FIRST FOLIO (STC 22273). It contains the FIRST APPEARANCE IN PRINT OF 18 PLAYS: Tempest, Two Gentlemen of Verona, Measure for Measure, Comedy of Errors, As You Like It, Taming of the Shrew, All's Well That Ends Well, Twelfth Night, Winter's Tale, King John, Henry VI part 1, Henry VIII, Coriolanus, Timon of Athens, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, Antony and Cleopatra, and Cymbeline; none of the reprinted plays show corrupted or mutilated text from 'bad quartos', a couple were set from good-quarto editions, half a dozen are the result of quarto texts collated against play-manuscripts, while the majority were newly edited from complete manuscripts that either varied or in most
cases greatly improved the text of earlier editions. Three plays now accepted as genuine were not included: Pericles, Two Noble Kinsmen, and Sir Thomas More.
If the plays of William Shakespeare are truly, as they are often termed, immortal--possessing a timeless power to move and to transform the lives of readers and play-goers; portraying a rich panoply of human types and universal situations with insight, sympathy, intellectual depth and coruscating wit; expressed in poetry whose originality has immeasurably enriched the English language itself--then surely it is not surprising that the First Folio itself, the book in which his plays were first collected, has attained immortal stature. In the nearly four centuries since his death, Shakespeare has become "the first universal author, replacing the Bible in the secularized consciousness" (Harold Bloom).
The bibliographer William Jackson, in his 1940 commentary to the catalogue of the Carl Pforzheimer Library, succinctly denominated the First Folio edition of Shakespeare as "incomparably the most important work in the English language," a book which "will always be valued and revered accordingly." An earlier scholar, Henrietta C. Bartlett, the introduction to her 1923 catalogue of Shakespeareana, termed the 1623 folio "the most valuable single book in the English language," and so it unquestionably remains today: the undisputed keystone of any serious collection of English literature. In their prefatory address ("To the Great Variety of Readers") in the First Folio, Shakespeare's friends and fellow actors John Heminge and Henry Condell, simply exhort us to "Reade him, therefore; and againe, and againe."
PRINTING HISTORY: William Jaggard and Thomas Pavier had made an abortive attempt in 1619 to produce a collected reprint of various plays (see lots 98 and 99), including Pericles. Although the King's Men were able to prevent this plan, a number of quartos were illicitly reprinted with false dates. The production of the folio began in early 1622 and continued with at least two interruptions until November 1623. Hinman in his classic monograph on the First Folio distinguished five compositors, working from two different typecases, but since then compositor A has been further subdivided. Compositor B set almost half the pages of the First Folio and he also supervised the work of others, specifically that of compositor E, who has been identified as the teenage apprentice John Leason of Hurley, Hampshire. While the printing progressed, Jaggard and Blount negotiated for rights to quarto texts held by other publishers, but for unknown reasons omitted Pericles, which was owned by Pavier and not reprinted until the Third Folio of 1664. The negotiations for the rights to Troilus and Cressida were prolonged, which caused the printers to stop its composition and later to take it up again, resulting in the complications of cancellation and the distinction of three issues as described above.
The First Folio edition turned out a commercial success and was no doubt out of print by the time the Second went into production (1632). The First Folio served as printer's copy for the Second, the Third was set from the Second with the addition of seven plays (only Pericles being authentic), and the Fourth Folio was a simple reprint of the Third (see lots 101-103). The First Folio is textually superior to its successors, which was not generally realized by Shakespeare editors until Dr Johnson and Edward Capell in the 1760s. The interest of 18th-century English collectors in acquiring fine copies of the First Folio rather coincided with the new taste for monuments of early printing; they, and the booksellers who catered to them, applied some of the same techniques in completing copies, repairing and washing leaves, rebinding, etc., although Georgian bibliophiles (unlike their Victorian and Edwardian counterparts) for some reason seemed less keen to have their Shakespeare folios in gold-tooled morocco than their incunabula. The sophistication of First Folios has continued unabated since then and has been the subject of study by Lee and De Ricci in the early 20th century and by Blayney and West in our own time. The title with Martin Droeshout's important engraved portrait of the playwright was inserted as a singleton to begin with, as it was the only half-sheet in the book that needed to go through an intaglio as well as a letterpress; it was later particularly subject to replacement, repair and even forgery. While the insertion of a genuine title-leaf in the Dryden copy after the 1913 sale is well-documented, its three minor and earlier sophistications have not been noted before. The copy is number LXXV in Lee's census and number 145 in West's forthcoming census. In a letter to Frank B. Bemis dated 20th February 1932, Seymour de Ricci, the most experienced of census makers (Gutenberg, Caxton, as well as Shakespeare), wrote: "I fully agree with you in considering that its generally fine condition and the charming associations with Dryden and Locker make it one if the most desirable copies in existence."
ISSUE AND VARIANTS: The Berland First Folio belongs to the third issue, as usual, complete with Troilus and Cressida and its prologue; only three copies of the first and four of the second issue survive in institutional collections. Hinman recorded hundreds of press variants on many dozens of pages, particularly in the Tragedies. They represent stop-press corrections of errors spotted after proofs of the two-page formes had been read; the apprentice compositor designated E was especially prone to making new mistakes while correcting and his work was more frequently checked during the press-run than that of the others. In practice, no attention was paid to the state of the sheets as they were gathered, and it is probable that no two copies of the finished book would have contained exactly the same corrections. The Dryden copy appears to show the majority of the formes that were subject to correction in their final state, but not all have been verified.
EDITION SIZE AND RARITY: The First Folio was the result of a collaborative effort by the players in Shakespeare's company, The King's Men, and the publishers. As an ambitious business venture it had to be carefully planned by Jaggard and Blount, as they not only had to calculate the market for such a large book and the usual costs of paper and production, but also to negotiate the use of play-manuscripts and buy the rights from other publishers to plays already in print. Peter Blayney has scaled back the various estimates by Charlton Hinman and others of the Folio's edition size to "probably no more than 750 copies, and perhaps fewer" and its retail price from the traditional estimate of one pound for a copy in sheets to fifteen shillings. His estimate of the number of copies that survive in complete or fragmentary state totals some 300, of which most are imperfect, many seriously defective. (Of the 82 exemplars held by the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, D.C., only 13 are complete.) No census, including the latest by A.J. West, can possibly attempt to identify how many different copies are represented by the surviving fragments that lead independent lives or hidden existences within sophisticated copies. Despite the high survival rate of copies of the First Folio, it is important to note that the large majority are in institutions and only a very small number of complete copies remain in private hands--recent counts numbering five or six only worldwide. And although imperfect or fragmentary copies occasionally appear on the market--and even these with a much decreased regularity--A FINE AND COMPLETE COPY IN AN EARLY BINDING IS AN EXTREMELY RARE OCCURRENCE AT AUCTION.
COLLATION: A6(1+1), χ2 (A1r blank, A1v Ben Jonson's verses To the Reader, A1+1r letterpress title and the engraved portrait of the playwright by MARTIN DROESHOUT in third state, verso blank, A2 editors' dedication to the Earls of Pembroke and Montgomery, A3r editors' note To the great Variety of Readers, verso blank, A4 Ben Jonson's verses To the memory of my beloved, The Author, A5r Hugh Holland's verses Upon the Lines and Life of the Famous Scenicke Poet, verso blank, A6r A Catalogue of the severall Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies contained in this Volume, verso blank, χ1r verses To the Memorie of the deceased Authour by L. Digges and I.M., verso blank, χ2r The Names of the Principall Actors, verso blank); 2A-Z, Aa-Bb6 Cc2 (Comedies: 2A1r The Tempest, B4v The Two Gentlemen of Verona, D2r The Merry Wives of Windsor, F1r Measure, For Measure, H1r The Comedie of Errors, I3r Much adoe about Nothing, L1v Loves Labour's lost, N1r A Midsommer Nights Dreame, O4r The Merchant of Venice, Q3r As you Like it, S2v The Taming of the Shrew, V1v All's Well, that Ends Well, Y2r Twelfe Night, Or what you will, Z6v blank, Aa1r The Winters Tale, Cc2v blank); a-g6 gg8, h-v6 x4 (Histories: a1r The life and death of King Iohn, b6r The life and death of King Richard the Second, d5v The First Part of Henry the Fourth, with the Life and Death of Henry Sirnamed Hot-spurre, f6v The Second Part of Henry the Fourth, Containing his Death: and the Coronation of King Henry the Fift, gg8r Epilogue, gg8v The Actors Names, h1r The Life of Henry the Fift, k2v The first Part of Henry the Sixt, m2v The second Part of Henry the Sixt, with the death of the Good Duke Humfrey, o4r The third Part of Henry the Sixt, with the death of the Duke of Yorke, q5r The Tragedy of Richard the Third: with the Landing of Earle Richmond, and the Battell at Bosworth Field, t3r The Famous History of the Life of King Henry the Eight); 2χ1= . 2gg3 3χ1=2gg4 \\h-\\h\\h6 \\h\\h\\h1 (singleton), aa-ff6 2gg6 ( . 1.2, . 3=2χ1, 4=3χ1, -5, -6) 3gg-hh, kk-zz aaa-bbb6 (Tragedies: 2χ1r The Prologue, verso The Tragedie of Troylus and Cressida, aa1r The Tragedy of Coriolanus, cc4r The Lamentable Tragedy of Titus Andronicus, ee3r The Tragedie of Romeo and Iuliet, 3gg1v The Life of Tymon of Athens, hh6r The Actors Names, verso blank, kk1r The Tragedie of Iulius Caesar, ll6r The Tragedie of Macbeth, nn4v The Tragedie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmarke, qq2r The Tragedie of King Lear, ss3v The Tragedie of Othello, the Moore of Venice, vv6v The Tragedie of Anthonie, and Cleopatra, zz3r The Tragedie of Cymbeline, bbb6r colophon, verso blank). 454 leaves: COMPLETE. Various paper-stocks from French mills and one unwatermarked. Roman and italic types 82mm, larger cursive for running titles, set by at least nine compositors. Double column, 66 lines, headlines and catchwords, pages box-ruled, woodcut head- and tail-pieces, Shakespeare's engraved portrait 197 x 165mm.
CONDITION: title-leaf (with a few small repairs and light dust-soiling) inserted from another copy by Quaritch's in or shortly after 1913; folios d3 and p5 (another leaf f1, possibly) supplied from another copy of the First Folio (judging by their disjunction, watermark distribution, and isolated wormholes), before 1913; 2χ1 inserted verso/recto; A1 "To the Reader" with marginal areas of repair (slightly affecting a few letters) and creases pressed, other preliminaries also pressed; tiny rust holes affecting one or 2 letters on E6, G1, M4, p1, h3, i3, l2, m2, m6, aa4, vv1; short tears or natural paper flaws (in a few cases crossing text or rule border) to M1, N4, R5, m4, kk4, oo5, ss1; a small number of additional leaves with light stains, small ink blots, minor marginal flaws or repairs; wormhole to inner blank margins of yy2-bbb5 (mended in final leaf bbb6). This copy has been subjected to a more rigorous collation and condition examination than previous examples at auction, and the above is a very conscientious list of defects of the most minor kind, as this is probably ONE OF THE TWO FINEST COPIES REMAINING IN PRIVATE HANDS, large in size and the paper mostly fresh.
1. 18th-century inscription "William" on blank verso of A5
2. Allen Puleston (his signature scored through on blank verso of the final leaf), who married Mary Dryden, the great-niece of John Dryden, the poet, and died in 1762; by descent to
3. Sir John Dryden (signature above Puleston's), seventh baronet of the first creation (d. 1770) or first baronet of a new creation, who died in 1797; by descent to
4. Sir Henry Dryden (d. 1900), from whom the poet Frederick Locker-Lampson (1821-95) unsuccessfully tried to purchase it for the Rowfant Library (see his Confidences, 1896, 204ff), bequeathed to his brother
5. Sir Alfred Erasmus Dryden, Bart. of Canons Ashby, Northamptonshire (Lee's Census LXXV; sold at Sotheby's, 8th July 1913, lot 596, to) 6. [Frank T. Sabin, London booksellers, sold to]
7. [Bernard Quaritch, London booksellers, who supplied the title and, in the tercentenary year of Shakespeare's death, sent it on approval to]
8. [Dr A.S.W. Rosenbach, Philadelphia bookseller, who first offered it first to Henry Clay Folger as "in the original binding," and then sold it to]
9. Commodore Morton V. Plant of New York, in 1922 sold back to
10. [Dr A.S.W. Rosenbach, who resold it almost immediately to]
11. Frank Brewer Bemis of Boston (bookplate), after his death in 1935 his collection was placed on consignment by his executors with
12. [Dr Rosenbach, who in 1944 sold the Bemis four Shakespeare Folios (see the next three lots) together as a set to]
13. Morris Wolf of Philadelphia, the Rosenbach Company lawyer and father of Dr Rosenbach's assistant and biographer Edwin Wolf 2nd (the set sold at Sotheby's on 6th June 1961, lot 43, to)
14. [John F. Fleming, New York bookseller and successor to Rosenbach, sold to]
15. Caroline Newton (daughter of A. Edward Newton, exuberant chronicler of American book-collecting in the first four decades of the 20th century), the set resold to
16. [John Fleming, who sold it in 1970 to]
17. Abel E. Berland (bookplate).
LITERATURE: The literature on the First Folio is more extensive than that concerning any other single edition, the Gutenberg Bible probably not excepted. Below are a few of the most significant monographs on the First Folio.
Sidney Lee. Shakespeares Comedies, Histories & Tragedies: A Census of Extant Copies. Oxford, 1902.
A.W. Pollard. Shakespeare Folios and Quartos: A Study in the Bibliography of Shakespeare's Plays. London, 1909.
W.W. Greg. The Shakespeare First Folio: Its Bibliographical and Textual History. Oxford, 1955.
Charlton Hinman. The Printing and Proof-Reading of the First Folio of Shakespeare. 2 volumes. Oxford, 1963.
Peter W.M. Blayney. The First Folio of Shakespeare. Washington, D.C., 1991.
Anthony James West. The Shakespeare First Folio. The History of the Book. Volume I. Oxford, 2001.