(London: Printed for Jacob Tonson, 1715). 191 x 121 mm. (7 1/2 x 4 3/4"). Six volumes. First Printing of the edition prepared by John Hughes.
EXCEPTIONALLY FINE CONTEMPORARY RED MOROCCO, covers bordered by plain gilt rule and dogtooth roll, raised bands, spines heavily gilt in compartments with large central fleuron, feather cornerpieces, each spine with a green morocco label, gilt turn-ins, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. Woodcut headpieces, tailpieces, and initials, and 19 engraved plates (including frontispieces). Intermittent neat pencil marks in the margins. Lowndes III, 2477. Tiny dent to one board, light offsetting from engraved material, one opening with (tea?) stain, a couple of dozen leaves moderately browned, but all of these imperfections minor, the set being otherwise IN EXTRAORDINARILY FINE CONTEMPORARY CONDITION, the text especially fresh and clean, and the bindings lustrous and showing no significant signs of use.
This is a splendid copy of a new edition of Spenser's works, complete with a life of the poet and a glossary of obscure words; it is also apparently the first illustrated edition. Spenser (1552?-99) was the first modern English poet to achieve major stature, and Day points out that those "influenced by Spenser are virtually a roster of the great English poets since his time," among them Milton, Wordsworth, Keats, Rossetti, and Tennyson. The editor here, John Hughes (1677-1720), was a man of many talents who produced a number of poems and plays (his "Siege of Damascus" is considered his masterpiece) as well as translations of French and Italian works. The very pretty bindings here are in outstanding "country house" condition, suggesting the kind of unusual state of preservation that results from long presence on a shelf as a decorative object subjected to virtually no use; in any case, this is among the finest looking 18th century sets we've ever offered for sale. (ST12607)
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PJP Catalog: 73.052