GIBBON, EDWARD. 1737-1794.
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. London: A. Strahan & T. Cadell, 1776-1788. 6 volumes. Collation matches Rothschild but with Frontispiece and Contents leaves [*a4, *b2] of volume I bound in volume II as issued. Frontispiece portrait by Hall after Reynolds, three folding engraved maps. 4to (268 x 213 mm). Contemporary tree calf gilt, circa 1790, with binder's ticket of Burnham of Northampton to upper corner of front pastedowns. Volume I with paper flaw to gutter margin of C1 not affecting text, Mm1 with small paper flaw to extreme lower corner with 5 mm loss, 4D1 with small brown spot, volume II with small repaired tear to upper margin of a4, scattered foxing to a few leaves in vols. II-IV, bound such that cancels are not visible at gutter margin, light offset from folding maps, board edges worn with upper portion of rear board to volume VI lightly sunned, else an exceptional example in a contemporary binding.
First edition, first state, with X4, Rrr2, Sss4, a4, b2 as cancels in volume I, so signed, G1 cancelled in volume II signed *G1, Lli signed *L1, and H3 and L2 (signed *L2) in volume IV. All half titles present, and errata is uncorrected. The original print run of 500 copies was expanded to 1000 on a hunch, hence the presence of two states. Very scarce complete in contemporary binding with half-titles present, and generally acclaimed as the greatest historical work in the English language. Norton 20, 23-29; Rothschild 942; Grolier/ English 58.