$135k for a Fourth Folio of Shakespeare's works

Heritage's rare book sale, which also offers a first edition of Isaac Newton's masterpiece Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica and a key work by Galileo, has a text which no lover of the theatre could fail to desire: a carefully preserved copy of the Fourth Folio.

Although some of Shakespeare's works were published during his lifetime, a number of others were not, and when in 1623 his colleagues John Heminges and Henry Condell brought together a collection published as the First Folio, it was to be the only source for several of the plays.

The beautifully preserved copy of the Fourth Folio (published 1685), in addition to a short poem by Ben Jonson, adds seven plays to those already gathered together:   

Pericles Prince of Tyre, The London Prodigal, The History of Thomas Lord Cromwell, Sir John Oldcastle Lord Cobham, The Puritan Widow, A Yorkshire Tragedy and The Tragedy of Locrine - though of these only the first is universally agreed to be a work by the man himself.

Fourth Folio of William Shakespeare's plays
Fourth Folio of Shakespeare's plays
(Click to see inside)

The tall, morocco-red bound copy is of the grandest edition of the collection and this copy, whilst suffering from some minor tears, is exceptionally fresh and well preserved.

Bids have already reached $67,000, but they are likely to climb still higher before or during the live part of Heritage's rare book auction in California on February 11.


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