Maggs Bros Ltd

The Works of William Shakespeare,

IRVING Henry.; HALLIWELL, later HALLIWELL-PHILLIPPS James Orchard; SHAKESPEARE William (1865)

£3500.00 

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The text formed from a new collation of the early editions ... by J[ames] O[rchard] Halliwell [later Halliwell-Phillipps]; the illustrations and wood engravings by Frederick William Fairholt. Sixteen volumes, tall thick folio, original half morocco, rubbed at extremities but very sound. London, Printed for the Editor by J. E. Adlard, 1853-

Bookplates of G. A. Pilkington and Frederick William Brown. Only edition, one of 150 copies printed.

[With:] HALLIWELL, James Orchard [later Halliwell-Phillipps]. A descriptive calendar of the ancient manuscripts and records in the possession of the Corporation of Stratford-upon-Avon; including notices of Shakespeare and his family. London, Printed by J. E. Adlard, 1863. Half morocco, uniform with Halliwell's folio Shakespeare, to which it is a supplement; bookplate of F. W. Brown. Only edition, one of 75 copies printed.

Halliwell's great folio edition, '"the most extensive repository of literary, historical, and archaeological information regarding Shakespeare and his writings to be found in any single work, and, typographically, the most sumptuous edition ... the largest form in which the bard has yet appeared" (Jaggard (1909), p. 336). Set no. 77 of 150 printed, originally subscribed for by James Pilkington, M. P. Two letters from Halliwell to Pilkington and his receipt for the subscription of £42 (all dated July 1853) are mounted on the rear endleaf of vol. 16; Pilkington's name appears ninth (in order of dignity) in the one-leaf 'Distribution of Copies' in vol. 1. Included in the text are reprints of two early quartos and twelve works on which the plays are based; for a list, see Justin Winsor's 1879 Harvard/Halliwell bibliography (xerox provided); in volume 1 appear an important and pioneering textual discussion, and Halliwell's own Life of Shakespeare - he is rightly described by Schoenbaum as 'the greatest of the nineteenth-century biographers of Shakespeare in the exacting tradition of factual research' - in a version significantly revised from that of 1848.

Halliwell's ambitions, in devoting some twenty-five years of his scholarly life to 'the most copious edition of Shakespeare ever printed' (as he himself put it, 'without arrogance'), 'and one of the handsomest and most important series of volumes that could be placed in an English library', involved both literary/bibliographical rectitude, and exacting standards of bookmaking. He promised and provided his subscribers expensive paper, generous type-size (ca. 20 point for the main text), and a format so grand that the numerous facsimiles could appear life-size, without being folded. A dedicated believer in meticulous limitation ('It is a well-known fact that no literary or artistic work maintains its original value unless the impression is strictly limited', he wrote in 1854), he announced a press-run of 150 copies of each volume (plus one for the editor), each numbered and with the printer's autograph attestation, after which all 133 of Fairholt's costly plates, and the numerous woodblocks for in-text illustration, were to be destroyed; and he kept his word, resisting many appeals to enlarge the edition, or reprint it, even at a higher price than his initially advertised two guineas a volume. The earliest subscribers like James Pilkington paid down £42 (for an anticipated twenty volumes in six years ('deo volente'), which in the event were compressed to sixteen, issued over thirteen years), and yet the very first volume proved a loss-maker: the paper and printing alone worked out to £1 8s per copy, the binding 5s., and the illustrative work by Fairholt and others - Halliwell's own work was 'free' - about 14s. Additional (modest) expenses ran the per-copy cost up to £2 15s, and while the entire run was over-subscribed by October 1852 (200 applications for 150 sets), advance payment in full, like Pilkington's, was a rarity, and at two guineas a volume over the years to come, Halliwell seemed to be already committed to an essentially philanthropic endeavour.

Hence at some point the subscription price was raised to £63 (or £84 for the twenty-five 'premier' sets with illustrations on India paper), and - in part to recoup what he could from subscribers who defaulted, dropped out, died, or sold up - Halliwell carefully tracked and pursued every outstanding set, re-acquiring those he saw offered for sale. By 1867 (List of works printed at the expense of J. O. Halliwell) he could locate 122 copies with named owners, 22 of these in America; he himself possessed the remaining 28, which he now offered for £105 each or £150 with plates on India paper. Sets which he had repurchased from the original subscribers were priced £75 and £100 respectively, and - as the originator had hoped - seemed to preserve their list value throughout the century, fetching £65 to £80 or more at auction in 1890-1903, and (the only set in Auction Prices of Books, out of sixteen recorded, to include the supplementary Calendar), $323 in 1895. Those distinguished mid-century Shakespeareans who found the price simply too high to meet included John Payne Collier, Joseph Hunter, Alexander Dyce - and John Bruce, who took some revenge in a sour anonymous review in The Athenaeum, which the devastated Halliwell mistook for Collier's handiwork.

Martin Spevack, James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps, a Classified Bibliography (1997), 1853-165:1 and 1863:4; Spevack, James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps: the Life and Works of the Shakespearean Scholar and Bookman (2001), pp. 215-28, 288-96, 299-300.

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Stock Code: 62241