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The Dramatic Works of Shakspeare.

Revised by George Steevens.

London : by W. Bulmer and Co. for John and Josiah Boydell, George and W. Nichol; from the types of W. Martin, 1802 Stock Code: 137384
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Among the most striking, bold, and desirable editions of Shakespeare

First Boydell edition. This lavish edition was the brainchild of John Boydell (1720-1804), who had been responsible for the publication in mezzotint of some of the most impressive paintings of the period. He and his nephew Josiah Boydell conceived this set, with typography by Bulmer and paper by Whatman, to be embellished with one series of large and another series of small prints, all taken from specially commissioned paintings by leading artists and engravers. The endeavour was not as successful as hoped. The costs were enormous, the first prints to come out in 1792 were not well received, and the European trade in luxury goods was badly hit by the Napoleonic wars. Nevertheless Boydell's Shakespeare has long retained its appeal to collectors, and Jaggard notes its increasing rarity as parts are broken up for its decorative plates. While Jaggard calls for 100 plates, complete copies can have anywhere between 95 and 100 plates due to Boydell's inconsistent methods of assembling the volumes.

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9 volumes, folio (417 x 320 mm). Contemporary diced russia, spines gilt in compartments with double raised bands, sides with wide gilt borders enclosing the central gilt arms of the second Earl Camden, KG, (1759-1840), turn-ins with a gilt Greek key roll all round, marbled endpapers, gilt edges.


2 engraved portraits and 94 plates after Reynolds, Northcote, Porter, Bunbury, Opie, Westall, Smirke, Stothard, Hamilton, and other eminent artists.


Recent book labels of Schoyen Collection to front pastedowns. Skilful restoration to joints and spines, repair to front endpapers of vol. I, some foxing and offsetting from the plates as usual and occasional spotting to the text leaves, but a most handsome set.


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Established in 1969, Peter Harrington is one of the leading rare book firms in the world. It is a proud member of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association – along with ILAB, the PBFA and Lapada – and from shops in Mayfair and Chelsea, London, sells rare books, prints and ephemera to customers across the world.

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