London: Tho. Cotes, for Robert Allot, 1632. Second Edition. Median folio (334 x 225 mm). Contemporary blind-panelled calf, neatly rebacked with original spine label laid down and recornered, red sprinkled edges. Housed in a full crushed brown morocco pull-off case. Engraved portrait of Shakespeare by Martin Droeshout (third state) on the title-page, woodcut initials and head- and tailpieces, text printed in two columns within rules. Pastedowns stripped at outer edges, removing ownership marks. To the Reader leaf extended at inner and lower margin, text not affected; few small restorations to title portrait around the eyes; H5 with closed tear from foot into lowest line of text without loss; small amount of worm deep in gutter towards head of 11 leaves (k5–m3) not affecting text; quire n sprung but since neatly reinserted; hole towards foot of outer column of vv5 affecting three lines of text, costing a handful of letters either side; two lines of text (Othello’s dying couplet) copied in manuscript in an early hand in the lower margin; some marginal paper restoration to final gatherings ccc and ddd (Cymbeline), the last leaf ddd4 inlaid and its blank portions renewed affecting a few letters of the text and a small part of the imprint; the occasional minor spot, ink or water stain, tiny spill-burn, or other blemish; overall a very good, tall, well-margined copy, not trimmed since its original binding.
The Second Folio, that is, the second edition, first issue, of the collected edition of Shakespeare's plays, set page-for-page from a corrected copy of the First Folio, 1623, edited by John Heminge (d. 1630) and Henry Condell (d. 1627). This is the edition of which William Prynne complained that it was printed on best crown paper. It is estimated that the original edition was of 1,000 copies, shared between the five publishers listed in the colophon, all of whom were proprietors of rights to one or more of the plays. This copy is one of those printed for Robert Allot, who took the lion’s share. The book is also notable for containing "An Epitaph on the admirable Dramaticke Poet, W. Shakespeare" by John Milton, printed on the Effigies leaf, the first of his English-language poems to be printed.
As shown by William Todd, only the true first issue was published in 1632. The imprint of this copy is Todd's state Ia; the page with Milton's verse (i.e., the inner forme of the same sheet) is his state Ib, corrected to read ''Comicke'' ''Laugh'' and ''passions'' with ligatured double-s. In 1641 and later, remainder sheets were sold with this sheet (A2.5) in two distinct re-settings.
Gregg III:1113; Pforzheimer 906; STC 22274a; Todd, "The Issues and States of the Second Folio and Milton's Epitaph," in Studies in Bibliography V (1952–53), pp. 81–108. (Item #2318)