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    The First Edition of Ben Jonson's Works, From the Library of British Film Actor Claude Rains

    Ben Jonson. The Workes of Benjamin Jonson. London: Printed by William Stansby, 1616.

    First edition, small-paper issue, third state of title page. (9.85 x 6.75 inches). [10], 1015, [1, blank] pages. Bound without the rare initial blank leaf. Engraved allegorical title by William Hole. Decorative woodcut head-pieces and initials.

    An attractive full crushed red morocco presentation binding by Lloyd of London (stamp-signed on the front turn-in), with a red morocco panel inlaid to the front pastedown endpaper and stamped in gilt: "Presented to / Hon. John W. Davis / Ambassador / of the United States / to the / Court of St. James' / by / The American / Luncheon Club in London / 1920." Covers bordered with decorative gilt tooling and corner devices, spine tooled and lettered in compartments with five raised bands, board edges ruled in gilt, gilt turn ins, all edges gilt. Expertly rebacked, with the original spine laid down. Front joint just starting at the head of the spine. Corners bumped and lightly worn, a few minor scuffs and bruises. Engraved title remargined at the edges just barely touching the engraving. Repaired tear to sss4. A bit of occasional light foxing and browning, a few small stains, but overall an exceptionally bright copy in very good condition. Former copy of the American Ambassador to the United Kingdom under Woodrow Wilson, John W. Davis. Later owned by British film actor Claude Rains, with two of his bookplates.

    Greg III, pp. 1070-1082. Grolier, 100 English, 17. Pforzheimer 559. STC 14751.

    More Information:

    "This a handsome specimen of typography. It reflects great credit upon its printer, Stansby, who was an apprentice and then successor to John Windet, and himself a master printer. Such work entitles him to a front rank among the printers of the reign of James I. Jonson is said to have prepared the plays for the press, himself, and one or two matters of editing...certainly appear to show the author's hand. At the end of each play, for instance, is a statement telling when it was first acted, and by whom, whether the king's or the queen's servants. The names of the actors are also given...All of the works not included in the first were intended for a second volume, which, however, did not appear until after Jonson's death, in 1640" (Grolier, 100 English).

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    Auction Dates
    June, 2009
    16th-17th Tuesday-Wednesday
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