London: Printed for J. Walker, 1820. Stereotype edition. Twelve octavo volumes (8 1/4 x 4 7/8 in; 210 x 123 mm). Bound in contemporary full crimson straight-grained morocco with triple gilt fillets bordering a richly gilt frame and elaborately gilt spine. Decorative gilt board edges and turn-ins. Pale orange endpapers, all edges gilt. A few headcaps expertly and almost invisibly repaired. Engraved portrait and numerous plates designed by John Thurston. A Fine and handsome set.
Isaac Reed (1742-1807), biographer and bibliophile, was an English Shakespearean editor. He produced a "first variorum" edition of Shakespeare in 21 volumes published in 1803 upon which the edition under notice is based. This edition was illustrated by John Thurston (1774–1822) was an English engraver who began his artistic career in copperplates, working for James Heath. He then took up book illustration and soon devoted himself to it. Most of his illustrations were engraved on block, not plate; a writer in the Polytechnic Journal was later to describe him as "at that time the principal, and indeed almost only artist of any talent in London who made drawings on the block for wood engravers." A lovely example of Shakespeare's comedies, tragedies, and histories. (Item #3777)