Folio (368 x 234mm.), [PI]2 [PI]A4, A-Y6 Z4 , 2B-2Z6, *3A-*3D6, *3E8, 3A-4B6 4C2, 458 leaves, the fourth collected edition of shakespeare's plays, first issue with Greg's (*) title, engraved portrait by Droeshout, woodcut initials, text in double column, roman and italic type, printer's device on title-page, headlines and catchwords, two pages of L1 set in smaller type as usual, 10 reprinted sheets as present in some copies (see below), eighteenth-century black morocco gilt, the covers tooled with double fillet border and leafy- and floral- roll-tooled panel, large ornaments at the corners and additional ornaments along the sides, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt, some slight browning and spotting to the text, short tear to margin of M6, a few other minor tears, joints repaired, covers refurbished
the fourth folio in a handsome eighteenth-century binding.
The fourth folio edition of Shakespeare's plays, like the third folio of 1663-4, includes at the end Pericles and the six spurious plays The London Prodigall, The History of Thomas Lord Cromwell, Sir John Oldcastle, The Puritan Widow, A Yorkshire Tragedy, and The Tragedy of Locrine. These had been previously published as late Elizabethan or early Jacobean quartos with attributions to Shakespeare or "W.S".
The fourth folio may be regarded as the stateliest of all the four editions, being printed on a Royal Paper stock, distinctly larger than the sheets of the First, second or third folios. Printing was shared between three shops. Robert Roberts is known to have printed the Comedies and the preliminary leaves (see F. Bowers, Shakespeare Quarterly, July 1951, iii. 241-6).
In this copy some sheets have been reprinted at an early date--all identifiable by the absence of rules at the sides and foot of the text--as Greg records occured in some cases: "In the...second section a number of the sheets appear to have been printed short, or else some accident happened to the stock. When, as the supply became depleted, the discrepancy was discovered, the deficient sheets were reprinted. These reprints are readily distinguished from the originals by the absence of rules at the sides and foot of the text. So far six copies have been identified (four Folger, two New York) containing between them seventeen reprinted sheets..." (W.W. Greg, A Bibliography of the English Printed Drama to the Restoration. Vol. III., pp.1120-21). In the present copy nine of these seventeen sheets appear to be reprints: 2B3.4, 2I2.5, 2I3.4, 2M1.6, 2N1.6, 2N2.5, 2O3.4, *3B2.5, *3C2.5 and *3C3.4.
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