IMPORTANT SECOND APPEARANCE OF SHAKESPEARE'S COLLECTED POEMS, 1709, IN BEAUTIFUL COSWAY BINDING WITH PORTRAIT OF SHAKESPEARE, HAND-PAINTED ON IVORY BY C.B. CURRIE, INSET INTO FRONT COVER
SHAKESPEARE, William. A Collection of Poems. London: Bernard Lintott, . Small octavo, early 20th-century full brown morocco neatly rebacked, both covers with Cosway-style oval hand-painted miniature inset among gilt decorations, raised bands, watered silk endpapers, all edges gilt. $25,000.
Scarce first issue of the second appearance of a collection of Shakespeare's poems, preceded only by the very rare 1640 edition; this is the first collection to include "Venus and Adonis" and "The Rape of Lucrece," omitted in the 1640 edition. Splendidly bound by Riviere & Son in a Cosway binding with watercolor miniature portrait of Shakespeare—after the Droeshout portrait of 1622—inset into front cover, as well as a depiction of Venus and Adonis inset into the rear cover, both finely hand-painted on ivory by Miss C.B. Currie, one of the inventors of this style of binding, and protected by glass.
Cosway bindings (named for renowned 19th-century English miniaturist Richard Cosway) were first commissioned in the early 1900s by London booksellers Sotheran from the famous Rivière bindery, who employed Miss C.B. Currie to faithfully imitate Cosway's detailed watercolor style of portraiture. These delicate miniature paintings, often on ivory, were set into the covers or doublures of richly-tooled bindings and protected by a thin pane of glass. The present volume includes a printed leaf inserted at the front that states, "This is No. 893 of the Cosway Bindings invented by J.H. Stonehouse, with Miniatures on Ivory by Miss Currie." Both Stonehouse and Currie have signed this page.
This volume of Shakespeare's poems, edited by Charles Gildon, also includes "The Passionate Pilgrim" and "Sonnets to Sundry Notes of Musick" and is essentially the first collected edition of Shakespeare's longer poems. Tonson published Rowe's edition of Shakespeare's plays in 1709; he only had rights to the Fourth Folio plays, however, and Lintott evidently brought out this new edition of the poems to complement the plays. This copy is from the scarce first issue, with the four sectional title pages bearing early dates of 1630, 1632, 1599, and 1599, in contrast to the revised dates of 1609 found in the second issue. Ford states that the initial printing of the first volume only (the present copy) was followed "shortly after" by Lintott's addition of a second volume, containing the 154 sonnets and "A Lover's Complaint," with a general title for the two volumes; Lintott then republished both volumes with the section title imprints of Volume I revised to "Printed in the year 1609." Jaggard, 433-34. Ford, 37-39.
Evidence of old dampstaining to first few and last few leaves of text, as well as slight discoloration to portrait. Title page with expert marginal paper repairs, not affecting letterpress. An exceptionally good copy of this scarce edition, in an original Cosway binding with a lovely portrait of Shakespeare.