London: Ad 1: Printed for Humphrey Robinson and Humphrey Moseley, 1647; Ad 2: Printed for Humphrey Moseley, 1652, 1647. First Edition. Folio. Each play paginated separately. Collation: A4 a-c4 d-e2 f4 g2 B-K4 L2 2A-2S4 3A-3X4 4A-4I4 5A-5R4 5S6 5T-5X4 6A-6K4 6L6 7A-7C4 7D2 7E-7G4 8A-8C4 *8D2 8D-8F4, COMPLETE. With the engraved frontispiece portrait by William Marshall in second state (the fourth line of the inscription altered to 'Vates Duplex', and the signature 'J. Berkenhead' in small print). 5N4 with early repair in lower gutter margin, touching a few letters; 2C1-2D2 and 8E4-8F2 stained. Ad 2: "The Wild-Goose Chase" = [pi]2 a2 B-P2 (P2v a little stained). Handsome modern calf antique, red spine label, compartments gilt. Light foxing throughout as is true even in the best copies; overall in very good antiquarian condition, suitable for exhibition and study. Very good. Item #3489
First collected edition, containing first printings all the previously unpublished Beaumont and Fletcher plays; bound into our copy is the first edition "The Wild-Goose Chase" (1652) which had been omitted because the manuscript had previously been lost but was rediscovered. Among the poetic elegies to the authors are first printings of poems by Jonson, Herrick, Milton, Lovelace, Shirely and Waller.
This edition is of great interest to students of 17th-century English printing and publishing. "Nothing which throws light upon the history of printing at this time is more interesting than the Postscript added at the end of the commedatory verses [...]" (Grolier English). Numerous printers were required, possibly as many as eight or even more, in order to expedite the publication of this book. Our copy may bear an unrecognized typographical curiousity on fol. b3r, namely that the shoulder notes are fainter than the body of the text, suggesting a second pass of this particular folio through the press; compare the Penn State copy in which the impressions are quite uniform.
Francis Beaumont (1584-1616) and John Fletcher (1579-1625) were both poets of a high order, powerful in their expressions of passion and humor and tragic despair, often in a single play. Their work was superior in invention, scholarship, and charm to anything else in the Elizabethan age except the best of Shakespeare, who in some instances seems positively antiquarian by comparison.
Early ownership inscription of "John Leigh" ink on title-page. -- Armorial bookplate of [Senator George Frisbee] Hoar (1826-1904), of Massachusetts, with motter ("Constantiner"): Argent an eagle displayed with two heads within a bordure engrailed sable. Crest: a stag's head erased. See Bolton's American Armory (Baltimore: Clearfield Company, 1989), p. 82. The shelf-mark "L24-2" is similar in format to the copy of the "Anglo-American Bible Revisions" (New York, 1879) now in the Bodleian (Hoar shelfmark = "Bh2-5"). See Hoar's own discussion about his descendents in Volume 53 of the New England Historical and Genealogical Register.
Grolier, One Hundred Books Famous in English Literature, no. 28. Wing B1581 and B1616; Pforzheimer 53 and 52. ESTC R22900 and R13818.