SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM. Mr. William Shakespear's 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. London: Printed for H. Herringman, E. Brewster and R. Bentley 1685. Folio, 360 x 232 mm. (14 3/16 x 9 1/8 in.), contemporary or near-contemporary speckled calf, red sprinkled edges, rebacked with old red morocco gilt-lettered label, covers worn and repaired, free endpapers renewed, new buckram clamshell box, first owner's signature on blank recto of portrait causing show-through and a single tiny burnhole from the ink in the hatched background, restored, E6 folded in the press at lower corner and so printed without loss, F3 with tiny split at border rule, 2H1v with 18 letters neatly supplied by an early hand in pen and ink as a result of light inking in the press, sig. 2H slightly dampstained towards fore-edge, 3Z2 with press tear affecting nine lines and partial loss of a word, about five tiny rust holes and about eight natural paper flaws affecting approximately thirty letters throughout, a few very minor nicks, tears and trifling wormholes, all marginal, a few very minor stains. FOURTH FOLIO EDITION, First Issue (without Chiswell in the imprint), First Setting of sheets 2B3.4 etc. (with the border rules), several signatures in the Histories corrected or supplied in manuscript as often, contents list numbered and the additional plays noted by an early hand. Greg III 1119-1121(*); Pforzheimer 910n; Wing S-2915.
A FINE COPY in today's market, despite the minor flaws noted above, of the Fourth Folio, the last and grandest of the seventeenth-century editions. It is rare to encounter any of the four Shakespeare Folios nowadays that have not been the object of the restorer's craft. The present copy is remarkable for being fresh and unsophisticated.
Provenance: William Legge (1672-1750), 1st Earl of Dartmouth (signed "W. Legge - 1688" on recto of the portrait and "Dartmouth" on verso of the title, manuscript numbering and additional plays in the contents list possibly in his hand, engraved armorial bookplate) and descendants -- With Harry A. Levinson, Beverly Hills, California, catalogue slip dated 23 November 1962 laid in -- Paul Francis Webster, bookplate (sale, Sotheby's New York, 24 April 1985, lot 70, $18,000) -- With Biblioctopus, Idyllwild, California, 1985 -- The present owner. (2)