London: Tho. Cotes, for Robert Allot, 1632. [The Second Impression]. Folio (305 x 210 mm; 12 x 8"). Paginated 277-303. Large woodcut headpiece. Bound by Bernard Middleton in full calf antique, tooled to a Cambridge design: contrasting paneled boards with outer frame and inner panel sprinkled, fillets and corner ornaments tooled in blind, sympathetic pastedowns and endpapers. Title lettered in gilt direct on front cover, along with "Second Folio 1632." Signed by Bernard Middleton in calligraphic script on final binder's leaf. Excellent condition. Item #3295
Beautifully bound copy of the entire play of "The Winter's Tale" extracted from the Second Folio. This is one of the most desirable of all the plays in the Shakespearian canon, and remains one of the finest works of Elizabethan drama. The Winter's Tale is so justly famous that it requires little introduction. It first appeared in the First Folio of 1623 (there were no quarto editions that preceded it) followed by the present Second Folio edition of 1632. Although at the time of publication it was grouped among the Comedies, modern critics describe it as one of Shakespeare's "problem plays," incredibly deep and complex: the first three acts contain intense psychological drama, followed by comedy and a happy ending. It has been included (correctly we think) among Shakespeare's late romances, which alongside The Tempest, were written towards the end of his life, and at the height of his powers.
The binder of our copy is the legendary Bernard Middleton, MBE (1932-2019). Middleton trained at the Central School of Art and Design in London and spent many years at the bindery of the British Museum / British Library; afterwards he managed Zaehnsdorf, one of the most prestigious binderies in London, and then established his own business. He researched and wrote extensively on the history of bookbinding; produced many designer bindings; and received commissions from noted collectors, academic institutions and libraries. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 1951 and received an MBE in 1986.
¶ As is well known, the so-called First Folio edition of Shakespeare's incomparable "Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies" is now practically unobtainable; today even single plays from the First Folio sell in the six-figures: most recently the "Tragedie of Julius Caesar" was offered at Bonhams New York and realized USD $175,000 including buyer's premium (the original estimate was $50,000 - $70,000). We are offering a finely bound copy of the entire play of "The Winter's Tale" from the Second Folio for a fraction of that price (approximately 2.8%).