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Arts Shakespeare's First Folio To Hit The Auction Block This Spring

Shakespeare's First Folio To Hit The Auction Block This Spring

The title page from an antique book of the plays of Shakespeare (photo: Getty)
The title page from an antique book of the plays of Shakespeare (photo: Getty)
By Kaitlyn McInnis
January 13, 2020
The 17th-century book is expected to fetch up to US$6 million

William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies, known as the First Folio is set to hit the auction block at an upcoming auction at Christie’s New York. It is one of just six known copies left in private hands.

The First Folio was published in 1623 by his friends John Heminges and Henry Condell after Shakespeare died in 1616 at age 52. Heminges and Condell organized the playwright’s works in a way that would shape how readers consume Shakespeare to this day.

The book contains 36 of Shakespeare’s plays, including several that had never been published before, such as Macbeth, The Tempest, and As You Like It. It’s considered to be the first authoritative collection of his plays, and ranks as one of the world’s greatest works of literature. It’s expected to fetch anywhere between US$4 million to $6 million.

Shakespeare's first folio, published in the 17th century, will be up for auction in 2020 (photo: Getty)
Shakespeare's first folio, published in the 17th century, will be up for auction in 2020 (photo: Getty)

According to Christie’s, the copy was offered for sale from the collection of Mills College in Oakland, California and was once owned by Shakespeare scholar, Edmond Malone.

The Mills College copy will be displayed on a global tour, starting this week in London (January 13 to 19), before heading to New York (January 22 to 27), Hong Kong (March 17 to 20), and Beijing (April 1 to 3), before returning to New York for the auction on April 24.

The First Folio will be a marquee item during Christie’s “Exceptional Sale,” marking the first time in nearly 20 years that a complete copy of the book has hit the auction block.. The last complete copy was sold in October 2001 on behalf of the Library of Abel E. Berland for a staggering US$6.2 million, according to Christie’s.

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Arts shakespeare auction literature classics shakespeare auction

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