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Book Description

First edition thus. Quarto (25.8 x 20cm). Handsomely bound by Francis Bedford in contemporary full red-brown morocco; the boards ruled in gilt with central decorative device and corner decorations in gilt; the spine with five raised bands ruled in gilt, gilt decorative devices to each compartment, and titles in gilt. All edges gilt. Attractive marbled endpapers. Facsimile engraved title page from the first folio with a portrait of Shakespeare by Martin Droeshout. Attractive engraved bookplate of Henry Francis Redhead Yorke to the front pastedown; later engraved armorial bookplate of William Marchbank to the rear pastedown. A very good copy, the binding square and firm with just a touch of cracking to the foot of the lower joint, the odd minor mark to the boards, a little rubbing to the corners and extremities, fading to the spine, and some slight uneven fading to the head of the boards. The contents with light foxing to the endpapers are otherwise clean and crisp throughout.
Dealer Notes
A splendid copy of Lionel Booth’s facsimile of Shakespeare’s First Folio, handsomely bound by Francis Bedford (1799-1883), one of the greatest English bookbinders of the nineteenth century.

Booth’s work was an attempt to faithfully reproduce the text of the First Folio but using a modern typeface, cut specifically for the purpose. Although ultimately not a financial success, Booth’s labour of love was met with an enthusiastic reception by contemporary critics. As one wrote: “What [Booth] has done is for general readers of the poet, worth more than all the criticism and illustration and commentary which the two and a half centuries since Shakespeare died produced” (The Press). A critic in the Daily Telegraph concurred, calling it “the most commendable act performed of late years in Shakespearology”, as it placed “in the hands of the public a simple reproduction of the folio of 1623. That rare edition has always been the fountain-head of authority, though somewhat choked by weeds of errors. In plucking these away, emendators have too often ‘plucked out brain and all’, their improvements frequently serving to destroy the most Shakespearean of Shakespeare’s fancies”.

The present copy was owned by Henry Francis Redhead Yorke R.N. (1842-1919), son of the Whig politician Henry Galgacus Redhead Yorke (1802-1848), one of the first members of mixed ethnicity to sit in the House of Commons, and grandson of Henry Redhead Yorke (1772-1813), the radical writer and publicist.
Author SHAKESPEARE, William:
Date 1864
Publisher London: Printed by Issac Iaggard, and Ed. Blount, 1623; and Re-Printed for Lionel Booth, 307 Regent Street, 1864.

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