SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM (1564-1616).
Comedies, Histories, Tragedies. Published according to the true Original Copies .... London: Printed for H. Herringman, and are to be sold by Joseph Knight and Francis Saunders, 1685. Frontispiece portrait engraved by Martin Droeshout in fourth state, with verses beneath. 458 leaves: [pi]2, A4, 2A-Y6, Z4, Bb-Zz6, *Aaa-*Ddd6, *Eee8, Aaa-Zzz6, Aaaa-Bbbb6, Cccc2. Folio (357 x 227 mm). Circa 1800 English full dark blue morocco with elaborate blind-tooling, gilt-ruled, a.e.g. Frontispiece and title-page washed and toned with some small marginal repairs and small chip at lower corner of title-page, crease to frontispiece, intermittent toning and occasional minor spotting, edge toning, small holes (ink burn or paper flaws) to: 2A3 (affecting 2 letters), N2 (affecting 4 letters), 2N2 (affecting 2 letters), 2N6 (affecting 1 letter in header), 3X6 (affecting 10 letters), and 4A1 (affecting 5 letters); closed tears to: A1, E2, F2, I2-I3, U3, 2H6 (long), 3C3, 3K1, 3L2, 3P5, and 4A3; small repair in text to 2Q6 and 4A3; small corner or marginal repairs to: A1, S4, 3C4, and 3L2; marginal chips or paper flaws to: A4, I2-I3, 2I2, and 3A1; light inkstains on 2S4; early clippings pasted to blank areas of 3Y5 and 4C2 (final leaf); 2 of the extra engravings with tears, f.f.e. detached and laid in, minor rubbing to binding including corners showing and short tear at head of spine.
Fourth Folio edition of Shakespeare's plays, extra-illustrated, Knight & Saunders issue. Errors in pagination conform to Pollard and p.164 is misnumbered 160. Knight and Saunders were booksellers for Henry Herringman (the only publisher whose name appears in the imprint of all three fourth folio issues) and it is probable that this title-page appears only on such copies as belonged specifically to Herringman. The Knight/Saunders issue is considered by some as likely the first issue of the fourth folio, but others argue that all issues were simultaneous. In any case, it is the rarest issue.
The present copy has been extra-illustrated with 200 engravings, most inlaid on individual sheets neatly ruled in manuscript, a few with two engravings per sheet. Extra-illustrations include 6 portraits of Shakespeare on 5 sheets, 3 views of Shakespeare's home, and approximately 30 portraits of historical figures and 18th century Shakespearean actors. Every play is illustrated by at least one engraved scene or view.
There were no illustrated editions of Shakespeare's plays in the 17th century, the first was not until Nicholas Rowe's edition of 1709 (many of Rowe's engravings are present in this copy). Rowe's commissions began a rich vein of visual interpretation of Shakespearean drama which has not ceased or even slowed in the present day. Extra-illustration of the Bard's works was a popular practice in 18th and 19th century editionsthe gratification derived by juxtaposing different artistic versions of the same beloved scenes has clear and lasting appeal. However, extra-illustrated copies of Folio editions are a real rarity. The Folger Shakespeare Library will mount an exhibition on extra-illustration opening in January 2010, however they own no extra-illustrated 17th century Folios with the exception of a Second Folio fragment illustrated with 19th century ephemera.
Greg III, pp 1119-21; Pforzheimer 911; Pollard pp 146-148; Wing S-2915.
Provenance: Armorial bookplate of Colonel Frederick Heygate Lambert (1857-1929) and the shelf label of his Garratts Hall Library; sold by his heirs (Sotheby sale, July 1, 1930, lot 291) to Maggs; in a private American collection since approximately 1960.
- 3C3 with lower margin reinforced.