Oxford: Clarendon press, 1887. First printing of the Hill edition. Eleven volumes, quartos, bound in Fazakerley, Liverpool. Compiled by William Robinson, a renowned Johnson scholar and collector, who collected, cleaned, and inlaid nearly 1000 engravings for this edition.
The set is uniformly bound in crimson hard-grain morocco, triple gilt rule to front and rear boards, six spine compartments with five raised bands, four compartments with triple gilt rule and two with single gilt rule, floral or marbled endpapers (varied by volume) bordered in morocco and gilt rule at the pastedowns, top page edges gilt, bottom and fore-edges rough cut, hand-lettered pages listing illustrations, and Robinson's bookplate found in the preliminary pages of each volume.
This edition was popular as a prime candidate for extra-illustrated sets, as were many multi-volume biographies of the 19th century. Presumably bound by the in Fazakerley, Liverpool (imprinted on the front pastedown of each volume), where bookbinding was something of a local custom by the late 1800s, and the area now renowned for several binderies.
Each volume of the original publication is contained in two parts, or two volumes here, within Robinson's compilation, with an index as a separate volume. In total, this edition is extra-illustrated with 1077 engravings, nearly half published in the 17th and 18th centuries. Approximately 100 are in mezzotint, and more than 100 portraits are after Sir Joshua Reynolds, the influential English painter of portraits in the "Grand Style," a method of emphasizing the idealization of imperfection.
In addition to added frontispieces and hand-inked contemporary illustrations indices, well over 1000 illustrations, maps, prints, facsimile letters, and essays have been included, from a variety of historical, philosophical, and artistic sources, and corresponding with the original text, though Robinson was careful to keep his assemblage harmonious, often with several engravings after a single painter or sculptor. Robinson also added brief notes to several illustrations, either on the verso or at the foot of the page, helping the reader (or perhaps the compiler himself) to place them into context. At the rear of the index (volume 6), Robinson has bound seven of the fourteen original fold-outs and illustrations. The remaining seven are bound compliant with the original pagination, with the exception of one: "Facsimile of Dr. Johnson's Handwriting a Month Before His Death" (originally vol. 4, p. 377, now p. 398).
Some light soil and rubbing, toning to a few spines, light scattered foxing, and a couple of tiny tears to a few fold-outs, else Near Fine.
A truly unique piece of Johnsoniana painstakingly assembled by an relatively unknown but important scholar and collector and beautifully bound by an historic bindery.
Shipping billed at cost.
VOL. 1 (1709-1765), pages 1-246 (part 1, first volume), pages 247-522 (part 2, second volume);
VOL. 2 (1765-1776), pages 1-220 (part 1, third volume), pages 221-480 (part 2, fourth volume);
VOL. 3 (1776-1780), pages 1-220 (part 1, fifth volume), pages 221-464 (part 2, sixth volume);
VOL. 4 (1780-1784), pages 1-222 (part 1, seventh volume), pages 223-447 (part 2, eighth volume);
VOL. 5 (1773-1774), pages 1-224 (part 1, ninth volume), pages 225-460 (part 2, tenth volume);
VOL. 6 (addenda, index, dicta philosophi, etc., eleventh volume), seven original illustrations at the rear.