SHAKESPEARE, William (1554-1616). Comedies, Histories and Tragedies. Published according to the true original copies. Unto which is added, seven plays ... The fourth edition. London: H. Herringman, E. Brewster, and R. Bentley, 1685. Fourth folio
2° in 6's (347 x 215mm). Engraved portrait by Martin Droeshout, in fourth state, above the verses 'To the Reader' on verso of the first leaf. Title with fleur-de-lis device [McKerrow 263]. Double column within typographical rules. Woodcut initials. (First leaf laid down, title soiled and slightly torn at inner margin, inner margin of the Address to the Reader leaf and A5 also slightly torn, I3 and 3F1 with repaired tears, the latter through text, R1 with tear through page numeral at head, U1 and 2Q3 with closed tears both through text, 2T2 and 2Z3 with internal tear at lower margin, other tears to margins and corners and minor repairs, small rust hole in K5, 2E6, 2L5 and 3G3 affecting one or two letters, scattered stains, more widespread staining on 2E2v and 2F5v, a few stains heavy enough to efface several words on 2X6, 3X6 and occasionally elsewhere, some light browning, a few margins close shaved, lower rule shaved away on 3E5 of 'Romeo and Juliet,' some soiling and staining of inner gutter.) 19th-century gilt-tooled panelled calf, red speckled edges (spine restored, light scuff marks on covers), preserved in crimson morocco-backed cloth box, spine lettered and tooled in gilt. Provenance: Cropped signature on title, dated 1748; a few corrections in an early 19th-century hand. Exhibited: National Book League, Loan Exhibition of Shakespeare's Plays, January 1948.
FOURTH FOLIO, and the last of the 17th-century editions of Shakespeare's works. A reprint of the Third Folio, this edition was issued by Henry Herringman in conjunction with other booksellers, and has three settings of the title page. The seven additional plays are included once again and mentioned on the title, which is faced by the portrait and verses. In common with the third edition, it dropped the final 'e' from Shakespeare's name, a habit which persisted until the beginning of the 19th century. The printer of the 'Comedies' has been identified from the ornaments as Robert Roberts. Although this is the only edition in which each play does not start on a fresh page, it is in a larger fount and more liberally spaced than the three earlier editions; the two pages of L1 are set in smaller type, presumably after the discovery that some text had been omitted. The Fourth Folio remained the favoured edition among collectors until the mid-18th century, when Samuel Johnson established the primacy of the First Folio text. Bartlett 123; Gregg III, p. 1119; Jaggard p. 497; Pforzheimer 910; Wing S-2915.