Folio (326 x 211mm.), Humphrey Dyson's large paper issue of the first collected edition of Jonson's plays, masques, entertainments, and non-dramatic poetry, preliminary blank (¶1), engraved title-page by William Hole (Greg's variant *1 state), contemporary brown morocco, covers with two panels in gilt and blind embellished with ornaments at corners of central panel together with centre ornament, spine gilt in compartments with morocco lettering piece, gilt edges, brown morocco-backed folding box by Zaehnsdorf, minor hole to A5 not affecting text, minor paper flaw to O1, minor loss to corner of 3A1 not affecting text, minor hole to 3B4 not affecting text, minor paper flaw to 3O5 and minor hole to 3Z3 not affecting text, other minor tears or chips, some damp-staining throughout, binding rubbed and worn with some minor worming, lacking ties
Humphrey Dyson, signature; Ann Saunders, signature; "Mr Denys", book label; Sir Thomas Phillipps Bt., book label inserted by William H. Robinson Ltd.; Frederick, 2nd Lord Hesketh, bookplate in folding case
An exceptional copy of the second most important English dramatic publication of the seventeenth century. It is extremely rare for a copy of Jonson's 1616 folio to be offered in this state, combining such generous page size with a contemporary binding and distinguished provenance. The publication of a collected "Workes" in folio, its title-page adorned with Classical motifs, was a typically audacious move by Jonson, especially because he included in it nine plays written for the commercial theatre. This marked a crucial step in establishing the literary credentials of the public theatre, which was often dismissed as ephemeral at the time; one contemporary responded to the publication with a distich: "Pray tell me Ben, where does the mystery lurk | What others call a play, you call a work?" Jonson's concern in claiming the merit due to his plays is in striking contrast to Shakespeare, who famously showed little apparent interest in the literary afterlife of his dramatic works. Thus Jonson's 1616 folio provided the vital precedent and model to Heminges and Condell when they came to prepare the Shakespeare folio that followed seven years later, for which Jonson himself provided commendatory verses.
The signature of Humphrey Dyson ("Hum: Dyson") is present on the reverse of the title-page. Dyson (d. 1633) was an antiquary whose significant book collection included many rare proclamations and pamphlets, including masques, entertainments, and Lord Mayors' Shows, by Jonson and others. This book is not found in Dyson's manuscript library catalogue (All Souls College, Oxford, MS 117), nor was it included in the 1682 auction of the library of Richard Smith, who had purchased a substantial portion of Dyson's collection.
The following states have been noted in this edition which conforms to the listing given by Pforzheimer for large-paper copies: G2r 'By your honourer, BEN, IONSON'; G2v 'PVNTARVOLO'; G5r catchword 'To'; G5v catchword 'Like'; G6r commences 'Like some drie braine,...'; G6v eighth line from bottom reads 'But why enforce I this? as fainting? No.'; P5r title without border and with imprint 'LONDON | Printed by WILLIAM STANSBY. | [rule] | M. DC. XVI.'; Z4r imprint 'LONDON, | Printed by WILLIAM STANSBY. | [rule] | M. DC. XVI.'; variants throughout gathering 2Y all conform to setting for the large-paper issue; 4Q3v-4Q4r songs after the 'Dance with Ladies' headed Pallas then Astraea. Of Greg's register of mis-printed numberings this copy includes the correct printing of page number 114, and page 999 is incorrectly printed as 9999.
Please call 1-800-555-5555 to order a print catalog for this sale.
Online Registration to Bid is Closed for this Sale. Would you like to watch the live sale?Watch Live Sale