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    A "Masterpiece of Historical Penetration and Literary Style"

    Edward Gibbon. The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Printed for W. Strahan; and T. Cadell, in the Strand. 1781-1788. Mixed early editions of this monumental history of the Roman Empire (it is quite common for this title to appear in mixed early editions). Volume I is a fourth edition, volumes II and III are second editions, volumes IV, V, and VI are first editions. Six quarto volumes. vi, [14], 704 pages, with inserted portrait frontispiece; [10], 640, [1, errata leaf] pages, with two folding maps inserted; [10], 640, [1, errata leaf] pages, with inserted folding map; [2], viii, [8], 620 pages; [10], 684 pages; [14], 646, [52, General Index and errata] pages. The final three volumes are generally quite clean, but the first three volumes have some intermittent soiling, foxing and dampstaining. Old repair to tear to top outer corner on page 375 in volume V. Bound without half-titles, except for volume VI. Beautifully bound to style in modern half brown calf over marbled boards, spines elaborately tooled in gilt with two burgundy gilt morocco lettering labels. Overall, a fine set. From a private collection from New Orleans.

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    The frontispiece portrait of Gibbon is after Sir Joshua Reynolds, the three engraved folding maps are of the Western and Eastern Roman Empire, and a folding map of Constantinople (this map is in its original folded issue, instead of the more common method of having the plate trimmed to the margin and inserted sideways - it is more rare in this folded state). Although volumes II and III are second editions, they are, in actuality, reissues of the first editions with cancel titles, and have three new maps not present in the firsts. Also, the first three volumes contain Gibbon's revisions, most evidently are the relocation of the notes from the rear of the volume to the margins of the text. "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Macaulay and Mommsen, maintain their hold upon the layman and continue to stimulate the scholar although they have been superseded in many, if not most, details by subsequent advance of research and changes in the climate of opinion.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. Printing and the Mind of Man 222.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2014
    2nd Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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