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 (172 x 130mm). (Without initial blank, title soiled, with short tears at outer margin and tear at inner margin, small paper fault to margin of G3, Z3 with repaired internal tears affecting 14 lines, small hole to 2G3 affecting several letters, outer margin of 2I1 torn and repaired with slight loss to rule border and verse number on verso, final two leaves with short, repaired tear at outer margin, some leaves cropped close to rule border.) Dark brown morocco by Bradstreet, covers with blind fillets and large floral centre panel in blind, spine gilt-lettered in two compartments and dated at foot, the remaining four compartments with similar blind decoration, gilt turn-ins, gilt edges (upper joints cracked, lower joints tender, one fly-leaf detached), modern cloth box backed in red morocco. Provenance: N. Skinner (18th-century signature on title); Henry W. Poor (bookplate, sale, Anderson Galleries, 17 November 1908, lot 822); Adolph Lewisjohn (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.