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Item#: 126172 price:$8,500.00



CHAUCER, Geoffrey. The Works of Our Ancient, Learned, & Excellent English Poet, Jeffrey Chaucer… To which is adjoyn'd, The Story of the Siege of Thebes, by John Lidgate, Monk of Bury. Together with the Life of Chaucer. London: [probably John Harefinch], 1687. Folio (8-1/2 by 13 inches), 18th-century full paneled calf sympatheticaly rebacked with elaborately gilt-decorated spine, raised bands, red morocco spine label, original endpapers retained. $8500.

Third Speght edition of Chaucer's works—chief among them his incomparable Canterbury Tales—the last edition to be set in Gothic type, with engraved frontispiece "Progeny of Chaucer," incorporating a full-length portrait of the author and an image of his tomb.

"Chaucer's characters live age after age. Every age is a Canterbury Pilgrimage; we all pass on, each sustaining one of these characters; nor can a child be born who is not one of these characters of Chaucer" (William Blake). This is the third printing of Thomas Speght's edition, which "held sway for well over a hundred years, far longer than any other. It was the text read and owned by Milton, Junius, Pepys, Dryden and Pope" (Derek Pearsall). It is essentially a reprint of Speght's 1602 edition, being the eighth collected edition, and includes for the first time the printing of the conclusions to the Cook's and the Squire's Tale, then recently discovered, on the verso of the last leaf. The list of "Old and Obscure Words in Chaucer explained" is here marked with derivations, and a glossary has been added translating the Latin and French "not Englished" by Chaucer. After this edition, the quality of Chaucerian editorship declined, not to be revived until the 1775 Tyrwhitt edition of The Canterbury Tales. Beautifully printed in two columns of Gothic type. With engraved frontispiece portrait, "Progeny of Chaucer," incorporating a full-length portrait of the author and an image of his tomb. With divisional title to the "Works" containing a three-quarter page woodcut of Chaucer' coat-of-arms, small woodcut armorial diagram on a2v, and with the cancel slip pasted over relevant text on G1v. The imprint statement omits mention of printers, since the copyrights to Chaucer's works belonged to the Stationer's Company; the identity of the publisher has been a matter of speculation, based on the initials "J.H." given in the "Advertisement to the Reader" (leaf b4). The initials may refer to John Harding, who taught Bernard Lintot (publisher of the succeeding edition), but more than likely they identify London bookseller John Harefinch (Ruggiers, 91). Wing C3736. Pforzheimer 179. Lowndes, 426.

Light foxing, chiefly marginal; minor wormtraces to inner margin of last few signatures only, not touching letterpress. A few minor marginal tears, not touching letterpress: [2B4], 2Y2, 3C2, [4K3]; two leaves, 4M2-3, a little ragged along outer and lower edges, early boards expertly restored. A very good copy.

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