The Shakespeare Folios: "This remarkable gathering"

William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies.
London, Isaac Jaggard and Ed. Blout, 1623.
Folger STC 22273, Fo. 1, no.1.©

The Shakespeare Folios, the four earliest complete editions of Shakespeare's plays, published in the large, folio format, were the core of the Folgers' Shakespeareana.

"The most precious book in the world" is what Mr. Folger called the Vincent Copy, shown left, one of several copies of the First Folio (1623) shown in the exhibition, but the phrase can as well be taken as denoting the Folgers' evaluation of all of the early folio editions.

Collecting with a knowledge of the textual variations in all copies of the Shakespeare Folios, the Folgers eventually amassed 79 copies of the First Folio edition (1623), 58 of the Second (1632), 23 of the Third (1663) and (1664), and 37 of the Fourth (1685), plus many fragments.

"This remarkable gathering of the Folios," wrote bookseller Dr. A. S. W. Rosenbach, "they form almost a complete library in themselves."

Other Exhibition Highlights

Rare Books: | The Titus Andronicus Quarto |

Paintings and Art Objects: | Fuseli's Macbeth Consulting the Vision of the Armed Head | Thomas Parr's John Philip Kemble as 'Hamlet' | Thomas Nast's Immortal Light |

The Folgers as Collectors: | Dealers and Dealing | The Influence of Emerson | Mrs. Folger's Role | Building an Institution |


This page updated August 29, 2002