Folger First Folio 24 was once owned by Charles Hatchett, an early chemist who was the son of a very wealthy coachbuilder. In 1801 Hatchett discovered the element now known as niobium; his name for it was columbium. His own name is honored in the names of certain naturally occurring materials identified by other researchers during his lifetime and after his death, including hatchettolite, a uranium-bearing mineral, and hatchettine or hatchettite, a waxy, yellow-ish hydrocarbon. When his father died in December 1806, however, Hatchett inherited his father’s business, including the role of coachbuilder to the king, and his time spent on chemistry was greatly reduced.
After Hatchett, the First Folio belonged to various owners. The Folgers purchased it in 1910 from a London bookseller.
The preliminary leaves of this First Folio are missing. Most have been replaced by printed facsimiles. Shakespeare’s portrait and the poem by Ben Jonson were taken from a Fourth Folio and inserted into the facsimile leaves of the title page and the page facing it. Hatchett’s stamped signature is at the bottom of the page with Jonson’s poem.
The early pages also include two additional portraits that were added to this copy (a process known as “extra-illustration”), which are not part of the original publication of the First Folio. They depict the two brothers to whom the book is dedicated: William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke, and his younger brother Phillip Herbert, Earl of Montgomery, who succeeded him as 4th Earl of Pembroke.