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Leviathan,
  • 97284
  • 97284_1
  • 97284_2

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HOBBES, Thomas.

Leviathan,

or, The Matter, Form, and Power of a Common-Wealth Ecclesiastical and Civil.

Published: London: for Andrew Crooke, 1651 [but actually c.1695-1702?]

Stock code: 97284

Price: £6,500

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First edition, third state, of one of the most famous books of the 17th century: “This book produced ‘a fermentation in English thought not surpassed until the advent of Darwinism'” (Pforzheimer quoting DNB). This is the so-called “Ornaments” issue. “The true first edition of the English Leviathan is the so-called ‘Head’ edition (the name of this and the other early editions is taken from the printer’s devices which appear on the title page), published in April or May 1651… Although three editions bear the date 1651, it seems that only one edition was actually published in that year… [Noel Malcolm] argues that the ‘Ornaments’ [edition] dates from 1695-1702 on the basis of publishing data” (Glen Newey, The Routledge Guidebook to Hobbes’ Leviathan, 2014, p. 41). In fact, Noel Malcolm, in his expansive and authoritative Oxford edition of Leviathan (2014) states that “it must be emphasised that O [the ‘Ornaments’ edition] is not an inferior edition, and neither is it even an edition of the same sort and rank as other editions. Rather, it constitutes Hobbes’s Ausgabe letzer Hand [definitive edition] and is as such undoubtedly superior to both H [‘Head’ ornament issue] and B [‘Bear’ ornament issue]. In other words, O deserves the most serious attention and consideration in all respects”.

Folio in fours (325 x 199 mm). Contemporary mottled calf at some time neatly rebacked with the original decorative gilt spine laid down, early 19th century green morocco label, red speckled edges. Engraved allegorical title page, folding letterpress table. Armorial bookplate (on verso of letterpress title) of Sir Simon Harcourt, first Viscount Harcourt (1661?-1727), lawyer and politician, solicitor-general under Queen Anne; early 19th century armorial bookplate of Harcourt on front pastedown, possibly that of Field Marshal William Harcourt, 3rd Earl Harcourt (1743-1830). Front joint partially split but sound, head of spine chipped, small wormhole through blank lower margin of first two gatherings, scattered foxing, one or two gatherings browned, a good wide-margined copy.

Bibliography: Kress 381; Pforzheimer 492; Printing and the Mind of Man 138; Wing H2248.

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