- Title: USA: 17TH CENTURY COPY OF HAMLET UP FOR SALE
- Date: 7th April 2004
- Summary: (L!3) UNIDENTIFIED LOCATION (FILE) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) DRAWING OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE DRAWINGS OF OLD GLOBE THEATRE IN LONDON (2 SHOTS)
- Embargoed: 22nd April 2004 13:00
- Location: NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES
- Country: USA
- Topics: Arts,Quirky,Light / Amusing / Unusual / Quirky
- Reuters ID: LVA61J1BDGSW79WERZVATSLA5OYH
- Aspect Ratio:
- Story Text: 'To buy or not to buy' --extremely rare Hamlet up for sale at Christie's valued at $2 million.
A small, slim and unassuming book is the star of Christie's upcoming English Drama auction in New York. It is a third edition Hamlet, published in 1611 when the author William Shakespeare himself was still alive. "It is the last copy available in private hands, all the other copies have been in museums and library collections for years, so its appearance is quite exciting" said manuscript expert at Christie's Chris Coover.
This is the only third edition that will likely ever come up for sale, the nineteen others are in museums and collections. It is valued at between $1.5 and $2 million.
While normally a first edition would be more desirable, when it comes to Hamlet it's the third editions that people want.
The first edition was not officially sanctioned by Shakespeare and was highly abbreviated having been printed from stolen text or copied in shorthand at the theatre.
The front cover of the third edition reads "newly imprinted and enlarged to almost as much again as it was, according to the true and perfect copy." When this 1611 edition wa s printed it would have cost only a few shillings, would have had no protective cover and would have been used as someone's knockabout copy -- a paperback manuscript to be tossed away, not kept for four centuries.
Coover said, "They are all very very rare, because they were produced really for ephemeral use, they weren't meant to be nicely bound and added to a library, very few of them survived."
He went on to say, "The condition is quite extraordinarily good, obviously play texts got quite roughly handled, especially over a four hundred year period, so the condition is extremely good. We are expecting it might sell in the range of one point five to two million dollars."
The 1611 Hamlet is part of a sale of books from the Estate of Mary, Viscountess Eccles - an American collector of rare books.
The April 14 auction will also feature other rare editions of Hamlet, Macbeth and more Shakespeare greats, including a copy of Hamlet with the personal notes of 19th century actor Henry Irving scrawled all over it.
The tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, was first written and performed in 1600, it was first published in 1603 and Shakespeare himself died five years after the sanctioned third edition was published, in 1616.
Four hundred years on it remains an endless source of inspiration and interpretation by actors and scholars alike, and is considered one of the greatest works on Western civilisation.
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