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First American Edition of Shakespeare's Works

The Plays and Poems of William Shakspeare. Corrected from the Latest and Best London Editions, with Notes, by Samuel Johnson... Embellished with a Striking Likeness from the Collection of His Grace the Duke of Chandos

First American Edition of Shakespeare's Works

The Plays and Poems of William Shakspeare. Corrected from the Latest and Best London Editions, with Notes, by Samuel Johnson... Embellished with a Striking Likeness from the Collection of His Grace the Duke of Chandos Bioren & Madan - Philadelphia [ 1795 ]

Description

[8 Vols] The 'First American Edition' of Shakespeare's works with provenance to its first owner, Nimrod H Moore of Kentucky, who bought the books in New York around 1805. Bound in contemporary sheep rebacked to style with red morocco spine labels and oval volume numbers below in keeping with the original, paper reinforcement to the inner hinges. New York bookstore label on the first pastedown with the motto 'For Sale at Burtus & Crane Lottery Office' (19 Peck-slip, New York) around a woodcut American eagle; mid-nineteenth century bookseller's price and note in ink opposite ('$15.50'). The printed book-label (with space for manuscript volume number) of 'Nimrod H Moore' appears on the first pastedown of volumes II-VI with his ownership inscription possibly dated 1805 to 'Jefferson County' [Kentucky] on the second blank of Vol II. (Moore served as a Captain of Kentucky militia in the war of 1812.) A smaller booklabel has been partly removed from the pastedown of volume VII with an ownership inscription on the title page 'No 50- Francis Cagswell 1827' and there is a wholly removed book label from the pastedown of volume VIII and the mid-nineteenth century ownership inscription with flourish: 'Sherman Everest's Yale' (Bachelor of Arts 1871). The works have been collated and are complete barring a single leaf in volume VIII (pp 245-246, Othello Act II) which has been replaced in nineteenth century pen facsimile by Everest himself who has written the missing text neatly over two leaves with two additional blanks inserted - perhaps using the Yale (now Beinecke) copy of this edition to replace the missing lines? Everest has also made good a tear with loss to Vol VIII, pp195-6 (Hamlet Act V) with a few words of pen facsimile. The paper stock has toned and browned unevenly throughout with a small paper repair to the foreedge of the first blank of Vol I; a 4mm hole in the middle of this blank and at the end of Vol I half of the first of the two final end-papers has been torn away. Field's famous engraved portrait of Shakespeare is present as called for opposite the title page. Bioren and Madan produced an edition rich in firsts as the bibliographer of Shakespeare Jaggard describes it: 'The first edition of Shakespeare produced outside the British isles and ... the first to be published in America. The portrait of the poet is also the first produced in the United States.' The base text of this Philadelphia edition was William Jones' Dublin reprint of Ayscough's second edition; the glossary probably drawn from a 1792 Scottish edition. In its apparatus the publishers were reluctant to 'enter into the textual undergrowth' (Andrew Murphy), a decision glossed in the preface to Vol I as characteristically American: 'An American reader is seldom disposed to wander through the wilderness of verbal criticism. An immense tract of excellent land, uncultivated and even unexplored, presents an object more interesting to every mind than those ingenious trifles, that in Europe are able to command so much attention.' Murphy tentatively identifies the editor as the prominent Philadelphia lawyer, Joseph Hopkinson, and credits him with the decision to modernise the spelling of the text 'perhaps inspired by the reforms which had been advocated by the lexicographer Noah Webster.' Although well represented in American libraries this edition is rare in British collections: ESTC locates BL only; Copac adds York. It is also rare in commerce.

The plays and poems are divided thus across the eight volumes:

v. 1. Tempest ; Two gentlemen of Verona ; Merry wives of Windsor ; Measure for measure ; Comedy of errors --
v. 2. Much ado about nothing ; Love's labour's lost ; Midsummer-night's dream ; Merchant of Venice ; As you like it --
v. 3. Taming of the shrew ; All's well that ends well ; Twelfth-night ; Winter's tale ; Macbeth --
v. 4. King John ; King Richard II ; King Henry IV ; King Henry V --
v. 5. King Henry VI ; King Richard III --
v. 6. King Henry VIII ; Coriolanus ; Julius Caesar ; Antony and Cleopatra --
v. 7. Timon of Athens ; Troilus and Cressida ; Titus Andronicus ; Cymbeline ; King Lear --
v. 8. Romeo and Juliet ; Hamlet ; Othello ; Venus and Adonis ; Tarquin and Lucrece ; Sonnets ; Passionate pilgrim ; Lover's complaint.

Price

£6000.00