(Birmingham: Printed by John Baskerville for J. and R. Tonson in London, 1758). 230 x 145 mm. (9 x 5 5/8"). With subscribers' list in first volume. Two volumes. Edited by Thomas Newton. One of 1,500 copies.
EXCEPTIONALLY PRETTY OLIVE GREEN STRAIGHT GRAIN MOROCCO, HANDSOMELY GILT, for Sotheran ("H. Sotheran & Co." printed in gilt on front turn-in), covers panelled with multiple straight and stippled borders, scrolling floral cornerpieces, six mounds of massed tools on the inner side of the central frame (two on each side, and one at head and foot), raised bands, spine compartments elaborately gilt in antique style with scrolled foliate cornerpieces between double ruled borders and centerpiece star of small tools, very ornate inner dentelles, all edges gilt. Gaskell 4, 5; Brunet III, 1730; Graesse IV, 529. ◆Backstrips faded to an attractive brown (as usual with green morocco), otherwise only very trivial imperfections: AN EXTREMELY FINE COPY, VIRTUALLY IMMACULATE INTERNALLY, AND IN AN UNWORN, HANDSOMELY DECORATED BINDING.
This is a very handsomely bound copy of the third product of the Baskerville Press, considered to be one of its most attractive smaller format books. Aside from the obvious value of Milton's great text, the publication is also of importance for what its publisher says in the preface. After allowing that he has reaped "great satisfaction" over the positive reception of his Virgil, the press' beautiful first book, Baskerville spells out the aims that guided his and, afterwards, many another special press: "It is not my desire to print many books," he says, "but such only, as are books of consequence, of intrinsic merit, or established reputation, and which the public may be pleased to see in an elegant dress, and to purchase at such a price, as will repay the extraordinary care and expense that must necessarily be bestowed upon them." In addition to "Paradise Regain'd," the second volume here also contains "Samson Agonistes," "Poems on Several Occasions," a selection of sonnets and psalms, and a biographical introduction. Our remarkably well-preserved copy comes from the second state of the text (with the printing error on page 135 corrected). (ST18515)