The Majestic Boydell Shakespeare
William Shakespeare. The Dramatic Works of William
Shakespeare. Revised by George Stevens. London: Printed by
W. Bulmer and Co., for John and Joshua Boydell, 1802. With general
title-page dated 1791 (this work appeared in eighteen parts between
1791 and 1802, so this set was presumably bound from the original
parts, as the general title-page is dated 1791 and is different
from the title-page issued later). First Boydell edition. Nine
folio volumes. Approximately 16.5 x 12 inches. With ninety-four
full page engravings including two portraits. All half-titles
present. Contemporary half burgundy morocco, gilt over red cloth
boards, spines lettered in gilt in compartments, five raised bands,
marbled edges and endleaves. All volumes rebacked, preserving most
of the original spine, bindings rubbed and soiled, some toning and
foxing in text (plates quite foxed), some dampstaining to lower
edge throughout. Still, a very good copy.
A truly monumental labor of devotion, all aspects of this edition are impressive. The engravings in this edition were done by many leading artists of the time; Reynolds, Smirke, Northcote, Porter Stothard, Hamilton, Bunbury, Opie and Westall. "According to the prospectus, issued in 1786, a type foundry, an ink factory, and a printing house were all specially erected for the production of this edition" (Jaggard). While Jaggard calls for 100 plates for this set, there has been no copy at auction within the last twenty-five years with more plates and many with less.
Jaggard, p.508. Shaksperiana, III, 34.
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