"PERHAPS THE BEST-PRODUCED SHAKESPEARE EDITION OF THE 18TH CENTURY": THE SPLENDIDLY ILLUSTRATED HANMER SHAKESPEARE, 1770-71
SHAKESPEARE. The Works of Shakespear. Oxford: Printed at the Clarendon Press, 1770-71. Six volumes. Royal quarto, 19th-century three-quarter calf, gilt-decorated spines, raised bands, marbled boards, endpapers and edges. $15,000.
Expanded second edition of Hanmer's famous illustrated set of Shakespeare, with 36 full-page copper-engravings (one for each play) by Hubert Gravelot after Francis Hayman, along with frontispiece portrait after Chandos, and two plates of the Westminster and Stratford monuments. Considered by many to be superior to the 1744 first edition which was issued in a small printing.
According to Thomas Dibdin, Hanmer's was the first Shakespeare "which appeared in any splendid typographical form." First published in 1744 in a small edition, this republication contains Pope's original Preface, Rowe's account of the life of Shakespeare, additional notes by Percy, Warton and Hawkins and an expanded glossary. "This reprint on excellent paper, perhaps the best-produced Shakespeare edition of the 18th century, deserves more recognition than it has received… artistically the most delightful edition of Shakespeare" (Franklin, 31). Artist Francis Hayman was "the most proficient English illustrator of his time" (Ray, 5). His friend and collaborator, engraver Hubert Gravelot (who actually drew five of the illustrations himself under the pressure of time), was "one of the finest engravers and teachers of engraving" (Hodnett, 75). Pictorial tailpieces throughout. Volume I is 1771 printing; all others are 1770 printings. Grolier, Shakespeare's Plays 11. Jaggard, 503. Folger II, 53. Bookplates, owner ink signature dated 1929.
Infrequent marginal dampstaining to generally clean text. Expert joint repair and restoration to several volumes, boards a bit scuffed. A handsomely bound set of this desirable illustrated royal quarto edition.