The World's Sole Surviving Copy
of the Titus Andronicus Quarto (1594)
immediately two thousand pounds."
Thus the climax, if not the conclusion, of the quickest of all possible
negotiations for the purchase of the first Quarto (1594) of the earliest
of Shakespeare's tragedies, Titus Andronicus -- no other copy of
which is known.
On January 11, 1905, news reached
London that a copy of the book had surfaced in Sweden in the possession,
strangely, of a post-office clerk. Up to that time the very existence
of a copy of the book had been doubted.
The Sotheran firm of London
booksellers, having successfully negotiated for Mr. Folger the purchase
of the Vincent Folio, felt confident about representing him in the purchase
of the Titus Quarto and cabled Folger accordingly.
The Most Lamentable Romaine Tragedie of Titus Andronicus
London, Printed by John Danter & Sold by Edward White and Thomas Millington,1594
Folger STC 22328, title page, ©
Meanwhile though, Folger had seen
notice of the book in New York and had cabled Sotheran to immediately send
a representative to Sweden to negotiate the purchase. The firm dispatched
their chief buyer overnight to Sweden and cabled Folger: "What utmost
offer will you make?"
As Folger recalled later: "That
was a poser for an enthusiast, whose means did not match his interest. It
took three hours of tramping over city streets to clarify a bewildered mind
sufficiently to cable the answer, "Two Thousand Pounds." Sotheran
replied: "Representative in Sweden may need cash tomorrow ... doubtful
two thousand enough." Then, the next day, came the word: "Bought.
Cable immediately two thousand pounds." Folger complied and the next
day received confirmation: "Cash received and telegraphed. Will post
quarto when received."
The negotiations had been concluded
in ten days. On February 16 the book duly arrived in New York. The success
of the negotiations was due as much to Sotheran's initiative as to Folger's
Other Exhibition Highlights
Rare Books: | The
Shakespeare Folios |
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: |
and Dealing | The Influence of Emerson
| Mrs. Folger's Role | Building
an Institution |
This page updated October 11, 2002