Description

    "The most amazing, enduring and endearing one-man feat in the field of lexicography" (Printing and the Mind of Man)

    Samuel Johnson. A Dictionary of the English Language; in which the words are deduced from their originals, and illustrated in their different significations by examples from the best writers. To which are prefixed, a history of the language, and an English grammar. London: Printed by W. Strahan, for J. and P. Knapton..., 1755.

    First edition. Two folio volumes (16.25 x 10 inches; 413 x 254 mm.). Unpaginated. Text in double columns. Title-pages printed in red and black. Woodcut tail-pieces.

    Nineteenth-century half calf over marbled boards. Spines with six raised bands and gilt black morocco lettering pieces. Scattered light foxing or soiling, primarily marginal, throughout. A few light marginal moisture stains. Front flyleaf in volume II with early paper repairs to three short tears of fore-edge and a diagonal tear to lower inner corner; title page of Volume II with a 1/4 inch hole just left of but unaffecting imprint. Early paper repairs to a vertical tear at middle upper edge and middle lower edge of the first leaf to the Preface. Volume I title-page mounted. Ownership inscription of Robert Long, dated 1758, to leaf B1r (the beginning of the 'A' entries) in volume I and on leaf 15A1r (the beginning of the 'L' entries) in volume II; early nineteenth century ownership inscription of Samuel Wetherill Junior at head of each title. Several instances of Long's marginalia (and marginalia in another hand, possibly Wetherill's) in both volumes. Overall, a very good copy of one of the most important works in the English language.

    "The dictionary...took its place as the standard authority. It was a great advance upon its predecessors. The general excellence of its definitions and the judicious selection of illustrative passages make it (as often observed) entertaining as well as useful for reference" (Leslie Stephen in the Dictionary of National Biography).

    Grolier, 100 English, 50. Printing and the Mind of Man 201. Rothschild 1237.


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    Auction Dates
    October, 2008
    16th-18th Thursday-Saturday
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