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    Inscribed by Gibbon Beneath the Mounted Portrait Proof

    Edward Gibbon. The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. London: Printed for A. Strahan; and T. Cadell, 1776-1788. First edition. Six quarto volumes. Approximately 11 x 8.5 inches. Second issue of Volume I, first issue of the other volumes. Presentation of the Proof State of the rare portrait of Gibbon after Reynolds, with Gibbon's inscription beneath: "one of the first impressions, with Mr Gibbon's comp.ts to Mr Bull". Mounted on a contemporary leaf within a manuscript border (the portrait was issued later, circa 1778, and relatively few copies have it). Complete with three engraved folding maps inserted, and with all half-titles and errata leaves (Volumes I-III have their own errata leaves, Volume VI has the errata for the final three volumes, as issued). First issue points are as follows: Volume II, G1 and Ll1 are cancels; Volume III, page 177 correctly numbered, and line 18 on page 179 has "Honorious"; Volume IV, H3 and L2 are cancels. Contemporary full diced calf, covers decoratively ruled in gilt, gilt board edges and turn-ins, marbled endleaves, all volumes sympathetically rebacked to style in later brown morocco with brown morocco gilt lettering labels and red gilt morocco numbering labels. Some minor wear to boards at edges, some rubbing to spines, occasional offset in text. Early neat ink price on first binder's blank. A fine set. With the bookplate of Richard Bull, the recipient of the Gibbon inscription and original owner of the set on the front pastedown of each volume. Each volume housed in separate slipcase.

    A "masterpiece of historical penetration and literary style," Gibbon's Decline and Fall brought to the subject a width of vision and a critical mastery of the available sources which have not been equaled to this day. "This masterpiece of historical penetration and literary style has remained one of the ageless historical works which, like the writings of Macaulay and Mommsen, maintain their hold upon the layman and continue to stimulate the scholar although they have been superseded in many, if not most, details by subsequent advance of research and changes in the climate of opinion. Whereas other eighteenth-century writers in this field, such as Voltaire, are still quoted with respect, the Decline and Fall is the only historical narrative prior to Macaulay which continues to be reprinted and actually read" (Printing and the Mind of Man).

    Grolier, 100 English, 58. Norton 20, 23, and 29. Printing and the Mind of Man 222. Rothschild 942-944. Sterling 382.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2012
    11th Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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