An important set in American printing history. A pleasure to add to your library this year, the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s passing.
The second Shakespeare set printed in America, & the first to include Johnson’s preface, printed in Boston by Munroe and Francis, completed with a highly manual process using handmade paper, manual pressings and imported ink and type.
The 1st American set produced through subscription funding. Subscription list (in volume 8 and the pictures posted) includes John Quincy Adams.
Provenance of a father of American Engineering, Loammi Baldwin Jr., son of the famous colonel who fought at Lexington. His signature and imprint appear in several of the books. Also, he is listed in the subscribers.
This is the 1st edition set, and popularity was such that two more editions were produced.
In Depth Discussion of the Set
In a copy of the third edition, formerly belonging to his son, C. S. Francis, and now in the Lenox Library, is the following memorandum of D. Francis, the publisher:
"In 1802 Munroe and Francis issued proposals for publishing an edition of Shakespeare in serial numbers, two to a vol., at 50 cts. per No. — 16 numbers. Two editions were printed of the above. A third edition was demanded, and we added the Poems, making 18 numbers. These editions were all printed from types ; of course we set every edition, as stereotype was not then known. The presswork was mostly done by Munroe and Francis personally, on a hand-press with inking balls of sheepskin, the ink distributed by hand. These volumes are a specimen of the paper and print Paper demy-size (19X 20), costing 5 dolls, a ream ; made by hand. Ink and type imported, none worth using being made here. The engravings were executed by Dr. Alexander Anderson, of New York.”
In 1806, The Monthly Anthology and Boston Review printed the following blurb (p. 558) which can be seen at https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=fncEAAAAQAAJ&printsec=frontcover&output=reader&hl=en&pg=GBS.PA558.
“PROPOSED BY SUBSCRIPTION. The Dramatick Works of William Shakespeare, with Dr. Samuel John son's Preface and Notes. Second edition. Boston, Munroe & Francis (The sale of the whole of their first edition and the frequent demand for copies have induced the publishers to propose a second). It will be printed correctly from Dr. Johnson's octavo edition…”
A second edition of the set sold at Bonhams for $3500 dollars in 2011 - https://www.bonhams.com/auctions/19545/lot/154/
In the Bonham’s ad they mention the 1st edition - “The edition of 1802-04 is the earliest known book issued in parts in America, and is the first American edition of Shakespeare to include Johnson's preface.”
Provenance of the Set (excluding Volume 3)
On the 1st white page in volume 5 there is a signature “L Baldwin 1804”. In the eighth volume there is an owner’s stamp of L. Baldwin. In the list of subscribers L Baldwin is clearly defined as Loammi Baldwin. Wikipedia has a concise biography of Mr Baldwin - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loammi_Baldwin,_Jr.
The same page of subscribers shows that John Quincy Adams was also a subscriber. A majority of the other subscriptions were from the Northeast, with many of them listed as residing at Harvard.
About the Work
A complete list of the set is as follows:
v. 1. The author’s life. Dr. Johnson’s preface. Tempest ; Two gentlemen of Verona ; Merry wives of Windsor ; Measure for measure ; Comedy of errors
v. 2. Merchant of Venice ; As you like it ; Much ado about nothing ; Love’s labour’s lost ; Midsummer-night’s dream
v. 3. Taming of the shrew ; All’s well that ends well ; Twelfth night (What You Will) ; Winter’s tale ; Macbeth
v. 4. King John ; King Richard II ; King Henry IV ; Henry V
v. 5. King Henry VI ; King Richard III
v. 6. King Henry VIII ; Coriolanus ; Julius Caesar ; Antony and Cleopatra
v. 7. Timon of Athens ; Titus Andronicus ; Troilus and Cressida ; Cymbeline
v. 8. King Lear ; Romeo and Juliet ; Hamlet ; Othello.
Condition of the Set
NOTE: My set was missing Volume 3 so I purchased a Volume 3 to complete the set. It has slightly different decoration of its boards and spine, although from the same 1st edition. It has no provenance marks.
These books were printed in a large 12mo, books measure 17 x 10 cm. Entire set is 27 cm wide.
All of the volumes are well used, but in readable condition. I attempted to list every issue but I’m sure I missed one or two. They have spent time in a damp environment as I see light damp staining here and there throughout.
Volume 1 – Leather worn and joints cracked. Gilt and spine faded. Name written on 1st white sheet. Some yellowing, staining and foxing throughout. Damp stains at top of title page but seems to only go a couple of pages back. Pages 9 and 10 (one leaf) is torn, the top two inches loose in the block. Several edge tears. Binding is holding together. I do not find writing in the text block although I did not look at every page.
Volume 2 – Leather bumped and worn. Gilt and spine fading. Joints cracked. Rear hinge cracked, bindings holding rear board on. Gilt faded. Name written on 1st white sheet. Some yellowing, staining and foxing throughout. Binding is holding together. No writing.
Volume 3 – Leather worn. Gilt and spine faded. Front joint cracked. Some yellowing, staining and foxing. Binding is holding together. No writing.
Volume 4 – Leather worn. Gilt and spine faded. Front joint cracked. Some yellowing, staining and foxing. Binding is holding together. No writing. Names written on 2nd white sheet.
Volume 5 – Leather worn. Gilt and spine faded. Front joint cracked. Some yellowing, staining and foxing. Binding is holding together. No writing in text block. L Baldwin signed the endpages in this volume in 1804.
Volume 6 – Leather worn. Gilt and spine faded. Front joint cracked. Some yellowing, staining and foxing. Binding is holding together. No writing. Names written on 2nd white sheet.
Volume 7 – Leather worn. Gilt and spine faded. Front joint cracked. Some yellowing, staining and foxing. Binding is holding together. No writing. Name written on 1st white sheet.
Volume 8 – Leather worn. Gilt and spine faded. Front joint cracked. Some yellowing, staining and foxing. Binding is holding together. No writing. Name written on 1st white sheet. Name written on 2nd white sheet above stamp of Loammi Baldwin. Pages 35-42 of Hamlet have a tear although all paper present. Several signatures of the book stick out (were not trimmed).
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