As we embark on a Jubilee summer in England, there is much to celebrate. This July marks the almost 400th anniversary of the most important book in English literature, Shakespeare's First Folio, which will be auctioned next month at Sotheby's in New York. The First Folio is currently on display at Sotheby's galleries in London, and It will continue to be on display until the auction.
Sotheby's Jubilee Arts Festival celebrates Queen Elizabeth's reign through decades of British art. The event features talks on great British artists and immersive performances by the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and Sotheby's honors Shakespeare, as well.
With only a few remaining, the original folios preserve Shakespeare's legacy. History lies deep in the pages, as the markings and annotations of passed owners are ever-present.
While many know Shakespeare from the plays we've read or watched, very little of his original work is left. According to Richard Austin, Sotheby's global head of books and manuscripts, we must ensure these artifacts do not get lost to history.
Dating back to 1623, Shakespeare’s First Folio will be for sale at Sotheby's upcoming Books and Manuscripts auction in New York on Friday, July 7. It's value is estimated between $1.5 and $2.5 million.
What makes this book even more special are the markings present amongst the pages, dating back to the very first owners of the book. It was initially acquired by the Gordon Family in the early 17th century and passed down to notable individuals, including famous racehorse breeder and socialite William Stuart Stirling Crawfurd, and political activist Professor R W Seton-Watson.
The book eventually made its way to the United States in the 1960s when a real estate executive based in Chicago, Abel E. Berland, got his hands on it.
The Shakespeare plays we often experience today can be attributed to the First Folio. This Folio contains the multiple interpretations analyzed by individuals throughout the last four centuries, from doodles to drawings to annotations.
Not only did the folios offer accessibility to Shakespeare's plays, they also served as the main source for understanding and producing many of the plays we experience today, including Macbeth, The Tempest, Twelfth Night, The Taming of the Shrew, and All’s Well that Ends Well.
Most of these plays have no record elsewhere other than this record and would have been lost in history if it weren’t for this iconic piece of literature.
The First Folio will be on display in all Sotheby’s galleries in London until Friday, June 15. Visit sothebys.com to learn more.
Photography by: Courtesy of Sotheby's