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The 1685 Shakespeare Folio: 

"Incomparably the most important work in the English language" (Pforzheimer).

"The greatest single literary and artistic achievement in the annals of English letters" (Julian Boyd).

"It is the greatest contribution made in a single volume to the secular literature of any age or country. By the English-speaking peoples it must always be regarded as the proudest monument of their literary history" (Sidney Lee). 

 

 

 

A Shakespeare folio represents one of the highest points of collecting in the English language. The first folio, published in 1623 (now virtually unobtainable), is the first complete collection of Shakespeare's plays; without it, the English-speaking world would have little or no record of many of the greatest and most influential works in the Western world.  Three seventeeth-century folio editions followed: The Second Folio, 1632; The Third Folio, 1663-64; The Fourth Folio, 1685.

The rarity of Shakespeare folios available for private purchase in recent years is well-documented. Harold M. Otness, in his 1990 census of Shakespeare folios, explains: "The number of copies of each edition printed is lost, but speculation puts the press runs at several hundred copies each... American institutions hold at least 561 copies of the four editions combined, which may constitute as many as half of the extant copies worldwide." In the last century there has been a steady transfer of folios from private hands to public libraries and institutions as many try to complete "sets" of the four folios, or recognize the necessity of owning a folio to anchor any collection of English language and literature. The opportunity for a private individual to own a folio is becoming increasingly scarce. 

 


THIS COPY OF THE FOURTH FOLIO IS IN VERY GOOD CONDITION: The Shakespeare folios are notoriously poorly-printed and, because of their popularity and importance, well-handled. As Otness notes: "Most copies of the Shakespeare Folios show considerable wear and have replacement pages. This is particularly true of the title and portrait pages and other introductory leaves... The Folios have been subjected to considerable wear over the years, and ‘perfect’ copies are rare today."

 

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, 18th-century full sheep rebacked, red leather labels. $90,000.

Presumed first state, without Chiswell's name on title page. Final leaf supplied from another copy of the same edition, portrait washed and pressed with a few almost undetectable paper repairs; interior very clean with only minor blemishes, four leaves in center of text treated at an early date. A very tall (14.5 inches, the same as the famed Berland copy), wide-margined copy in beautiful early binding of one of the most desirable books in all of collecting. Rare. Please inquire.

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Science/Technology/Medicine

Literature/Modern Firsts

Americana/History/Travel

Art/Illustrated/Children's