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Folger First Folio 1

An inscription from 1623 records this book as a gift from the First Folio’s printer, William Jaggard.

The Vincent copy

Folger First Folio 1 is often called the Vincent copy because the First Folio’s printer, William Jaggard, gave it to his friend and customer Augustine Vincent. Vincent recorded the gift on its title page with a Latin inscription, which notes that he received it in 1623, the year that the First Folio was published.

William Jaggard died before the book was completed, so it was probably delivered to Vincent by William’s son, Isaac Jaggard. A fragment of the original 17th-century binding, which bears Vincent’s heraldic badge, is still part of its binding.

By the late 1700s, or perhaps as late as 1800, someone in the Sibthorp family acquired the Vincent copy, which the Sibthorps continued to own for generations. In 1891, Alexander Railton, an agent for the London bookseller Henry Sotheran, came across it while cataloging the Sibthorps’ book collection.

In a story that may well have grown with the telling, Railton recalled that the First Folio was located in a dust-covered pile of folios on top of a bookcase in the coach-house. It was handed down to him by an assistant from the estate, who remarked, “That is no good, sir, it is only old poetry.”

Henry and Emily Folger purchased the Vincent copy via Railton and Sotheran 12 years later, in 1903. Because of the inscription showing that it was a gift from Jaggard, Henry Folger called it “the most precious book in the world” in a 1907 article.

The Vincent First Folio is missing 14 leaves that have been replaced by manuscript facsimiles. A number of others have been replaced by original leaves from other First Folios.

First Folios vary in size, because the pages were usually trimmed when the books were rebound. The Vincent copy is the tallest recorded First Folio.

See the catalog record

View the bookbinding and title page in our digital image collection