Samuel Johnson A Dictionary Of The English Language 1773 Folio 4th Ed Revised Nr For Sale

OFFERED WITH is THE PROFOUNDLY IMPORTANT FOURTH EDITION IN LARGE FOLIO OF SAMUEL JOHNSON’S MASSIVE “DICTIONARY OF HE ENGLISH LANGUAGE,” THOROUGHLY REVISED BY JOHNSON, printed at London in two large folio volumes in 1773 and VERY REMARKABLY, BOUND IN ITS ORIGINAL LATE 18TH CENTURY CALF BINDING. It is extremely unusual to find an 18th century folio edition of Johnson’s dictionary in its original 18th century binding, since the girth of the volumes required the rebinding or rebacking of nearly all examples during the 19th and 20th centuries. THIS FOURTH EDITION CONTAINS SIGNIFICANT REVISIONS BY JOHNSON AND MAY WITH JUSTICE BE CONSIDERED THE DEFINITIVE EDITION AND THE ‘TEXTUS RECEIPTUS.’ This edition may be referenced as ESTC online system number 006385733.

 

THE DEFINITIVE 1773 FOURTH EDITION (FIRST REVISED) IN TWO LARGE FOLIO VOLUMES OF JOHNSON’S GREAT “DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE,” SIGNIFICANTLY REVISED BY JOHNSON FROM EARLIER EDITIONS, AND OFFERED WITH .

 

AS JOHNSON STATES OF THIS EDITION, “FINDING MY DICTIONARY ABOUT TO BE REPRINTED, I HAVE ENDEAVOURED, BY A REVISAL, TO MAKE IT LESS REPREHENSIBLE.

 

The full title of the Dictionary reads as follows:

 

“A Dictionary of the English Language: in which The Words are deduced from their Originals, and Illustrated in their Different Significations by Examples from the best Writers. To which are prefixed, A History of the Language, and An English Grammar. / By Samuel Johnson. / In two volumes. / Vol. I [and Vol. II – complete]. / The Fourth Edition, Revised by the Author. / … London, / Printed by W. Strahan, / For W. Strahan, J. & F. Rivington, T. Davies, … / MDCCLXXIII [1773].”

 

Johnson’s important ‘Advertisement to the Fourth Edition” reads in part as follows:

 

“Perfection is unattainable, but nearer and nearer approaches may be made; and finding my Dictionary about to be reprinted, I have endeavoured, by a revisal to make it less reprehensible. I will not deny that I found many parts requiring emendation, and many more capable of improvement. Many faults I have corrected, some superfluities I have taken away, and some deficiencies I have supplied. I have methodised some parts that were disordered, and illuminated some that were obscure. …”

 

This is the definitive edition of one of the great scholarly works of an individual labouring alone. Johnson received GBP 1575 for his efforts, spent 9 years on the work, and produced, as a result, the definitive authority upon the English language for 173 years following its publication. Even the massive Oxford English Dictionary, when first published as a complete work in 1928, copied directly (with citation) no fewer than 1700 of Johnson’s entries. So complete was Johnson’s conquest, that for most of the 19th century, when one desired to view Johnson’s Dictionary, one asked simply for ‘The Dictionary’ as one would ‘The Bible.’

 

Johnson’s well-known humour makes frequent appearance in his work: ‘Monsieur’ is defined as ‘a term of reproach for a Frenchman,’ ‘Oats’ as ‘a grain which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people,’ and ‘Lexicographer’ as ‘a writer of dictionaries; a harmless drudge that busies himself in tracing the original and detailing the signification of words.”

 

Famously, the Dictionary is also a treasury of the great sayings of English literature, with copious illustrative quotations from the great works of English literature. To quote W. Jackson Bate: “With no real library at hand, Johnson wrote the definitions of over 40,000 words … illustrating the senses in which these words could be used by including about 114,000 quotations drawn from English writing in every field of learning during the two centuries from the middle of the Elizabethan period down to his own time.” Undoubtedly, Johnson’s Dictionary remains “the most amazing, enduring and endearing one-man feat in the field of lexicography” (Printing and the Mind of Man, 201).

 

The Dictionary was extremely expensive when published, accounting for the rarity of folio copies today. It cost GBP 4 and 10 shillings, which converts to about GBP 675 today. By 1784, thirty years after publication and despite its great influence, only 6000 copies of the Dictionary in all editions (not only the folios, but the quartos and the octavo abstracts) were in circulation. It is also worth noting that copies of the first edition now regularly sell for above USD 15000, making the original 4 and 10 quite a fair investment, even when adjusted for inflation.

 

THE TWO VOLUMES ARE COMPLETE IN ALL RESPECTS. The leaves are unnumbered of course, and proceed alphabetically as in all folio editions of Johnson’s dictionary. Please be assured, though, that all preliminaries are present, the dictionary is complete from Aa to Z, and all addenda are present. While the contents were checked for completeness and condition we decided against extensive interior photography to preserve the integrity of the large folio volumes.  Each volume measures about 43.5 cm by 27 cm by 7.5 cm; each leaf measures about  425 mm by 260 mm.

 

The volumes are in very good condition internally, with generally clean pages, clear print and ample margins throughout. In both volumes, the title page shows moderate foxing, and the next few leaves show light foxing, as may clearly be seen in the photos below. The final few leaves in each volume show light to moderate foxing. The remainder of the leaves are quite clean and attractive.

 

The two volumes are bound in late 18th century full English calf, contemporary to the time of publication. The bindings are in about very good condition overall. This is highly unusual for a folio edition of Johnson’s dictionary, and makes this example quite desirable. The book-blocks are fairly solid but the spines are dried; the first volume shows a hairline vertical crack along the middle three compartments. The red morocco title label has been retained on both volumes, while the volume labels have been lost. The hinges are cracked but hold by the cords. The boards themselves show moderate to heavy scuffing, wear at the edges, and wear with some rounding at the corners. PLEASE CONSULT THE PHOTOS BELOW IN ORDER TO GAIN THE BEST POSSIBLE UNDERSTANDING OF THE VOLUME’S CONDITION.

 

OFFERED WITH .

       

 

Please take the time necessary to review the photos below in order to gain a better understanding of the content and condition of the volume. Please also take a moment to view my other sales of rare and desirable English and Continental printed books dating from the 15th through the 19th century.

 

Shipment is free for customers in the United States and Canada. For U.S. clients we ship either FedEx Ground for large shipments or USPS Priority for single books or smaller amounts. We ship using Canada Post for Canadian customers.

 

 Canadian buyers please note that we list on .com which automatically charges for international shipment. Your invoice will be amended to reflect free shipping.

 

 Please note as of January 2013 USPS has increased International shipping charges on average by 25%.

 

We charge for shipment of international orders.  We try to ship using USPS flat rate priority-mail boxes and we charge for shipment at cost or slightly below. Small 12mo books are shipped for USD 24.00. The cost of shipment for any book in Octavo, Quarto or small folio format is USD 60.00. The cost of shipment for large folios or quartos of equivalent size is USD 78.00. Multiple folio volumes and sets are, of course, generally more expensive and the cost of their shipment will always be quoted in the listing. With all of our sales if an individual client wins multiple books we charge only charge for the shipment of one book and cover the cost of shipment of the rest. Please note that mobile devices do not yet display correctly the shipment costs for international customers. Please enquire or consult the non-mobile site in order to obtain complete information concerning the cost of shipment.

   

All purchases save those by Canadian clients are shipped from New York State once per week, weather permitting. If you require faster service or special handling please let us know and we will do our best to accomodate.

                


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Samuel Johnson A Dictionary Of The English Language 1773 Folio 4th Ed Revised Nr

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