Mr. VVilliam Shakespeares comedies, histories & tragedies : published according to the true originall copies.


Mr. VVilliam Shakespeares comedies, histories & tragedies : published according to the true originall copies.


Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories & Tragedies, published seven years after the bard's death, compiles 36 plays written by William Shakespeare. Named the "First Folio" by scholars, it is the first collection of Shakespeare's work printed, and contained 18 previously unpublished works--The TempestMacbeth, and Twelfth Night among them. 

Assembled by John Heminges and Henry Condell, and published by Edward Blount and William and Isaac Jaggard, the First Folio was presented by the publishers as the first authentic reproduction of Shakespeare's plays (some of which had been previously printed under dubious circumstances). Additionally, the Martin Droeshout-produced portrait in the Folio would be considered one of the few reliable images of Shakespeare, as it was approved by those who worked with him during his life. 

In 1919, NYC book dealer Gabriel Wells purchased a copy of the First Folio on behalf of Colonel Charles Clifton, president of the Pierce Arrow Company.  The copy, though imperfect, was described in the seller’s catalog as “probably” belonging to Samuel Gilburne, one of the actor’s in Shakespeare’s company.  The basis for this claim is rather flimsy, Gilburne’s name is written next to where his name is printed in the list of “Principall Actors”.  The original catalog price was $3,000.00.  Henry Clay Folger (Folger Library in DC) ordered the copy only to discover it had already been sold.  Folger offered to pay the buyer $6,000.00; Clifton refused indicating that he wanted to own a First Folio.  Eventually Folger and Clifton arranged a swap, whereby Folger got the purported Gilburne copy and Clifton received a more-perfect copy. Folger paid Clifton $6500 for the Gilburne copy and Clifton purchased a more complete, finer copy, which sold at auction for $8,800.00.  In 1926, Colonel Clifton donated this copy of the First Folio, along with the Second, Third, Fourth Folios, and the Poems to the Grosvenor Library. In 1953, the Grosvenor Library was incorporated into the newly-formed Buffalo & Erie County Public Library, and in 1964 the collection would be relocated to the newly-constructed Rare Book Room at the Central Library. 




Jaggard, Isaac -1627 (Publisher of original)
Blount, Edward, active 1588-1632 (Publisher of original)
Buffalo & Erie County Public Library (Publisher of digital)


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Digital Collections of the B&ECPL





RBR Eng.3 S4 1623

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