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William Shakespeare’s First Folio to be auctioned at Christie’s

This 1623 published tome will excite historians and literature enthusiasts

William Shakespeare's First Folio Christie's New York

January 21, 2020: Christie’s, the world's leading art business, has announced the auction of William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies, often referred to as the “First Folio,” as part of the Exceptional Sale during Classic Week at Christie’s New York on April 24, 2020 (estimate $4,000,000-6,000,000). The First Folio, bringing together for the first time the collected plays of Shakespeare, ranks as the greatest work of the English language and, indeed, of world literature. Already celebrated on its first publication, it has remained a highly sought-after masterpiece over four centuries. Only six complete copies are known in private hands. Shakespeare’s First Folio is being sold on behalf of Mills College in Oakland, California.

The book was published in 1623 by Shakespeare’s friends and fellow actors, John Heminge and Henry Condell, who collaborated after the writer’s death to compile this authoritative edition of his work. The First Folio contains thirty-six of Shakespeare’s plays, including eighteen that may have otherwise been lost forever — among the rescued works are Macbeth, The Twelfth Night, Measure for Measure, and Julius Caesar.

William Shakespeare's First Folio Christie's New York

The First Folio will be toured in New York from January 22-27, Hong Kong from March 17-20, Beijing from April 1-3, and back to New York ahead of the auction on April 24. This remarkable sale marks the first time in nearly 20 years that a complete copy of the First Folio has come to auction. It presents a rare opportunity for collectors to acquire a well-preserved and complete copy of this monument to world literature.

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