The ultimate gift for a literati – Comedies, Histories and Tragedies Second Folio by Shakespeare for $356k


It’s really heart-warming to see that even in the 21st century, Shakespeare commands the same devotion and admiration as he did centuries ago.
Only recently a gently-used beautiful edition of Shakespeare’s plays has surfaced. The Second Folio, that is, the second edition, first issue, of the collected edition of Shakespeare’s plays, set page-for-page from a corrected copy of the First Folio, 1623, edited by John Heminge (d. 1630) and Henry Condell (d. 1627) has been marked for sale at a enormous sum of $356,458.

Granted this six-figure sum is startling but we hear only 1,000 copies of the original edition were published and shared with the five publishers listed in the colophon, all of whom were proprietors of rights to one or more of the plays. Interestingly enough, this is the edition of which William Prynne complained that it was printed on best crown paper.

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This copy is one of those printed for Robert Allot, who took the lion’s share. Shakespeare devotees would be thrilled to know that the book is also celebrated for containing “An Epitaph on the admirable Dramaticke Poet, W. Shakespeare” by John Milton, printed on the Effigies leaf, the first of his English-language poems to be printed.

For our literary lovers, this book is pure gold! Oozing with history and heritage, the edition is bound in a mid-19th-century red crushed morocco cover with the spine divided into six compartments by raised bands. Sides are adorned with wide gilt frames and board edges.

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An engraved portrait of Shakespeare by Martin Droeshout can be found on the title-page. With the copy having the 17th-century history, it does have a few flaws, which in my opinion simply adds to its rustic charm. The spine is slightly faded with a few scuff marks; the first leaf with Jonson’s “To the Reader” inlaid and title-page is lightly soiled and with the marginal repair. But overall, a tall and very fresh copy.

The edition can be purchased from the Peter Harrington website or abebooks.com