14 June 2018
SHAKESPEARE, William (1564-1616). Comedies, Histories and Tragedies. Published according to the true Originall Copies. The second Impression. London: Thomas Cotes for Robert Allot: 1632.
The first issue of Shakespeare’s Second Folio, also containing Milton’s first appearance in print—a tall and fresh copy in an early binding. Shakespeare’s collected works are considered the most important and influential in the English language, described by Samuel Johnson as “the mirrour of life” and his contemporary Ben Jonson as “not of an age but for all time.” The urge to read, rather than just see, Shakespeare’s plays surfaced in his own lifetime, with about half of his works appearing as single quarto editions. The First Folio, collecting the plays for the first time and dividing them into thematic categories, came nine years after the playwright’s death—and this Second Folio, correcting the first and adding an unsigned eulogy by Milton, came in 1632. Greg III:1116; STC 22274b; W.B. Todd. "The Issues and States of the Second Folio and Milton's Epitaph," in: Studies in Bibliography V (1952-53), pp. 81-108; cf. PMM 122.
Folio (329 x 227mm). 454 leaves: COMPLETE. Shakespeare's portrait in third state, as usual; woodcut head- and tail-pieces and initials. (repaired tear in lower margin of "To the Reader" leaf, upper left corner of title with repaired tear affecting the letter "S" in the author's name, portrait on title with short repaired tear, similarly on A2-6 crossing text; H3 with repaired tear crossing text; pale stains on o2, nn6, very pale stain in lower margins of ss-end, slight marginal soiling and chipping to final leaf). 18th-century gilt-ruled English calf (joints split and with old cloth repairs, some scuffing). Provenance: T. Edmunds (early signature on title) – Sarah S (early signature on blank recto of "to the Reader Leaf") – William Bennet Martin (armorial bookplate) – McL? (red morocco bookplate).
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