SHAKESPEARE, William (1564-1616). Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies. Published according to the true Original Copies. Unto which is added, Seven Plays, never before Printed in Folio. The Fourth edition. Edited by John Heminge (d. 1630) and Henry Condell (d. 1627), except for Pericles and six other plays added by the publisher of the Third Folio, Philip Chetwind (d. 1680). London: Printed [by Robert Roberts and others] for H. Herringman, E. Brewster, and R. Bentley, 1685.
The Fourth Folio, the last of the 17th-century editions of Shakespeare's works. The Fourth Folio remained the preferred edition, regarded by editors, readers and collectors as textually the best until Samuel Johnson and Edward Capell established the primacy of the First Folio text in the mid-18th century. It was set from the second issue of the Third Folio, containing the additional plays, of which Pericles is authentic, but now in a grander presentation, printed on larger paper with a larger type fount and more liberally spaced. In common with the Third, the Fourth Folio dropped the final 'e' from Shakespeare's name, a habit which persisted until the beginning of the 19th century.
Three issues of the Fourth Folio have been identified, differing only in the title-page; the present copy is the first issue, before Chiswell’s name was added to the imprint. Greg notes that 17 reprinted sheets are found in some copies; these sheets are in their original state here. Various errors occur in the quire signatures, some of which have been corrected in manuscript, very likely while still in the hands of the printer or publisher; the present copy has signatures Bb1, Cc1,3 and Ee3 corrected in manuscript. A tall, fresh copy, retaining part of the deckle edge in several leaves and strong impressions. Bartlett 123; Gregg III, p. 1119; Jaggard p. 497; Pforzheimer 910; Wing S-2915.
Folio (364 x 230mm). 458 leaves. Engraved portrait of Shakespeare by Martin Droeshout above the verses 'To the Reader' on verso of the first leaf, title with fleur-de-lis device [McKerrow 263], Roman and italic types, double column text within typographical rules, headlines and catchwords, woodcut initials. (Title and frontispiece rehinged with small extension at lower margin of frontis., quire Ss bound between Rr5 and Rr6, Rr6 reversed, neat repaired tear in a few leaves, with those in Aaaa3 and Bbbb1 affecting a few letters, tiny hole in K2, marginal repair in M1, N3-4, O6 and occasionally elsewhere, 2 tiny holes in Rr4, occasional small stains, tiny burn hole in a few leaves, small ?wax stain on E3v with shadow on neighboring leaves, faint marginal wormtrack in Bbb, Eee-Fff, Cccc1 extended at upper margin, Cccc2 remargined.) 18th-century mottled calf, spine gilt, comb-marbled endpapers, red edges, modern spine label (rubbed, rebacked preserving earlier backstrip, lower corner of upper cover repaired). Provenance: [Christie's, 28 November 1990, lot 16 – Christie’s, 4 June 2008, lot 197].