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    The Fourth Folio

    William Shakespear[e]. 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... London: Printed for H. Herringman, E. Brewster, and R. Bentley, at the Anchor in the New Exchange, the Crane in St. Pauls Church-Yard, and in Russel-Street Covent-Garden, 1685. The fourth collected edition of Shakespeare's plays (after the 1623, 1632, and 1664 editions), first issue, without Chiswell's name in the imprint. Large folio (13.625 x 8.75 inches; 346 x 221 mm.). 457 leaves (of 458, frontispiece portrait supplied in facsimile). [12], 96, 99-160, 163-254, 243 [i.e. 253]-272, [1], [1, blank], 328, 303, [1, blank] pages. Signature collation: [pi]² A4 A-Y6 Z4; Bb-Zz6 *Aaa-*Ddd6 *Eee8 Aaa-Zzz6 Aaaa-Bbbb6 Cccc². Several errors in pagination; several leaves missigned. Text in double columns, within rule borders, 74 lines, except for leaf L1 (pages 123/124 of "Love's Labour's Lost") which is set in smaller type in 91 lines, after it was discovered that some text had been omitted; roman and italic type. Engraved frontispiece portrait of Shakespeare by Martin Droeshout supplied in facsimile (with ten-line poem by Ben Jonson, entitled "To the Reader"). Woodcut printer's device (McKerrow 263) on title-page; decorative woodcut initials; headlines and catchwords. The watermark throughout appears to be the DVAVLEGARD beneath a large shield surrounded by a sort of ruffled or fluted collar.

    Modern antique-style sprinkled calf over wooden boards. Covers with gilt triple-rule border; spine decoratively tooled in gilt in compartments, with five gilt-decorated raised bands and burgundy morocco label decoratively tooled and lettered in gilt; board edges decoratively tooled in gilt; edges stained deep red. A few scuff marks on covers; very light rubbing to extremities; a few scrapes and scratch marks on red stained edges. Title-page with faint foxing and browning; diagonal tear from the gutter margin into the title, crossing through the "P" in "Plays" (no loss); small dark ink stain or adhesion in lower gutter margin and tiny paper repair; horizontal tear across lower double-rule border and short tear from upper edge, both tears with old repairs on verso. Dampstaining in the outer portion of the title and A1, A2, and A3; dampstaining in the upper margin throughout, heavier in places; dampstain in the lower corner of Yyy2-Xxx5 (pages 255-262). Several leaves with short tears from the lower edge, sometimes entering the text and affecting the border rule and a few letters, but with no loss; a few tiny edge creases and tears; several leaves with horizontal splits across the page or weak areas (paper flaws); lower corner of Ll6 (pages 119/120) burned away, with loss of several letters on verso; Q5 (pages 193/194) with two-and-a-half-inch tear into text from lower margin; four-and-a-half-inch curved tear across text (paper flaw) to Eee4 (pages 55/56), affecting several letters, but no loss; Gg2 (pages 63/64) with four-and-three-quarter-inch tear across text, with no loss; Kk4 (pages 103/104) with one-and-one-half-inch tear into the text, affecting a couple of letters; several leaves with early mostly marginal repairs, occasionally affecting text; a few leaves with small pieces torn from edges or corners. Small rust hole in Uu2 (219/220), with loss of a letter or two on both recto and verso; Nnn6 (pages 163/164) with a small hole in the headline, with loss of a couple of letters; several leaves with small rust spots or rust holes in the text, sometimes affecting a letter or two; a few additional small holes in the text. Some leaves with considerable browning and staining; some leaves creased before printing, sometimes affecting text (no loss); a few leaves closely cropped at top or outer edge, sometimes affecting rule or a letter or two. Scattered worming, sometimes in the text affecting a letter or two, usually a single tiny wormhole, but occasionally increasing to three or four on a leaf; the wormholes occasionally skip a leaf or two (suggesting that some leaves were supplied at an early date from another copy). Earlier (possibly front free endpaper from original binding) tipped to current front free endpaper, with old red ink rubberstamp in lower corner of recto [C?] Garric [?]; with browning around the edges from original binding turn-ins; vertical crease (or repaired tear) from lower edge; small piece torn from lower corner, affecting the ink stamp. Early ink signature on title-page: M Blagrave; several leaves with ink and pencil notes, corrections, and marginal scribbles; a few ink smudges in the text.

    ESTC R25621; Greg III, pages 1119-1121. Jaggard, page 497; Pforzheimer 910 (second issue, with Chiswell in the imprint); Wing S2915. See Giles E. Dawson, "Some Bibliographical Irregularities in the Shakespeare Fourth Folio," Studies in Bibliography, IV (1951/1952), pages 93-103.

    More Information:

    "The fourth folio of Shakespeare (1685) was printed in three sections by three different printers, the first of whom Professor Bowers has recently shown to have been Robert Roberts ["Robert Roberts: A Printer of Shakespeare's Fourth Folio," Shakespeare Quarterly II (1951), pages 240-246]...Roberts' section, which, as Bowers demonstrates, includes the preliminary sheets, contains the Comedies and ends with Z4; the second section contains the Histories and Troilus, Coriolanus, Titus, and Romeo and ends with *3E8; the third contains the rest of the Tragedies and the apocryphal plays. In the second section errors in signatures are uncommonly numerous, and some of these are not without interest. The most serious of the errors consist of the misprinting of sigs. 2B1 through 2C3 as B, B2, B3; C, C2, C3. 2D3 is printed D3. 2E3 is not printed. 2O1 is printed Pp. *3E1 and *3E2 are printed without the asterisks; but *Eee3 and *Eee4 are correctly so printed" (Dawson, page 93). Most of these errors have been corrected in ink.

    This was the last edition of Shakespeare's plays published in his own century, and the last to be published before the editorial endeavors of the next century.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    March, 2018
    7th Wednesday
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