Jean Hersholt's Copy of Volume I of The Workes of Ben Jonson
Ben Jonson. The Workes of Benjamin Jonson.
London: Will Stansby, 1616. First collected edition, volume I only
(the second volume was not published until 1640). Folio.
Approximately 10.75 x 6.75 inches. [x], 1015, [1, blank] pages.
With engraved title page and thirteen separate title pages, all
reckoned within pagination (all titles, except Every Man Out of
His Humour, are printed without woodcut borders). Bound without
blank leaves. Contemporary full calf, boards ruled and paneled in
blind, spine elaborately tooled in gilt in compartments, five
raised bands, brown gilt morocco lettering label, gilt board edges.
Rebacked, with new spine to style. Later endleaves. Joints and
hinges cracking, Some wear to binding, page [x] loose, several
leaves dampstained, two leaves with chipping to upper corner (no
loss of text). With Jean Hersholt's signed bookplate on the
front pastedown (beneath it is a catalogue description affixed
to the pastedown). A good copy. Housed in folding brown cloth
chemise. The publication of this book heralded plays as serious
published literature in English. Its successful publication helped
pave the way for the next major publication devoted to plays by
another author, namely the First Folio of Shakespeare. This copy,
being from the library of noted book collector and actor Jean
Hersholt, is of particular interest.
"This book is 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). Grolier, 100 English, 17. STC 14751.
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