Our online shop is open! National and international shipping are operational.
For more information please click here

GIBBON, Edward.

The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

London : 1776-88 Stock Code: 136924
Reserve Ask us a question


First editions (volume 1 in the first state) of Gibbon's magisterial history, with the cancel leaves and uncorrected errata as called for by Norton. The first variant state of volume 1 numbered 500 copies, printed before Strahan's optimistic and ultimately prophetic decision to double the printing order to 1,000; the first edition sold out within a fortnight. "This masterpiece of historical penetration and literary style has remained one of the ageless historical works which maintain their hold upon the layman and continue to stimulate the scholar although they have been superseded in many, if not most, details by subsequent advances of research and changes in the climate of opinion Gibbon brought a width of vision and a critical mastery of the available sources which have not been equalled to this day; and the result was clothed in an inimitable prose" (PMM).
Vol. 1 with cancels X4 and a4 (so signed), errata leaf uncorrected, bound after the contents; vol. 2 with cancels G1 and Ll1, errata leaf; vol. 3 with p. 177 correctly numbered, p. 179 line 18 with uncorrected spelling of "Honorious", errata leaf; vol. 4 with cancels H3 and L2; vol. 6 with errata for vols. 4-6 on 4Uv.

Confused? Read our glossary


6 volumes, quarto (273 x 218 mm). Contemporary polished calf, skilfully rebacked to style, red and green morocco spine labels, raised bands, compartments elaborately decorated and ruled in gilt, boards framed in double fillet gilt.


Engraved portrait frontispiece by Hall after Joshua Reynolds (dated 1 February 1780) issued with the first edition of vol. 2 but bound in vol. 1 as usual; 2 engraved folding maps to vol. 2 (of the Eastern Roman Empire by Thomas Kitchin dated 1 January 178


With the half-titles. Armorial bookplates of Campbell of Shawfield to front pastedowns of first three vols. (likely Walter Campbell of Shawfield [1741-1816], Scottish landowner and Rector of Glasgow University); ownership stamp of "A D McGregor" spotted throughout vols. 2-6; ink annotation "No. 5" to each title page; some careful pencil marks correcting errata. Boards a little marked and scuffed (more so for vols. 4-6), corners discreetly repaired, endpapers browned from turn-ins, inner hinges strengthened, some offset from portrait to title page of vol. 1 and rear free endpaper verso of vol. 1 pencil-scored, a few minor tears and chips. Overall the contents generally clean, with some foxing and the occasional mark, dampstain to lower edge of vol. 2. A handsomely bound set.


With the exception of framed items*, Peter Harrington offers free delivery on all UK orders of rare books, maps and prints placed through this website. Delivery to USA and the rest of the world is similarly free for orders over £200.

View Full Delivery Details



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.

Email: mail@peterharrington.co.uk

Tel: +44 (0)20 7591 0220

ABA Antiquarian Bookseller Association ILAB International League of Antiquarian Booksellers LAPADA The Association of Art and Anatique Dealers PBFA Provincial Booksellers Fairs Association

Our Guarantee Page

Ask us a question


Contact us with details of the book you are interested in or selling and we will contact you

Sell Old Books Help me find a book