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Folio Society Special and Limited Editions

The Folio Society is well known for their finely produced, slipcased books, often specially illustrated and custom designed for the Society, which are ubiquitous on the readers' market. Less commonly known are their Special and Limited Editions, produced in smaller numbers and meant for the collectors' market.

The Special Editions, also referred to as Fine Editions, take the usual Folio Society productions to an even higher level. They are sometimes reprints of earlier titles, but with updated bindings and new notes or illustrations; and sometimes they're new productions. They are always excellent books, printed on fine paper and superbly illustrated; usually in deluxe bindings with illustrated slipcases.

As for the the Limited Editions, we quote the Folio Society: "These outstanding works of literary and historical significance are bound to order, numbered by hand and strictly limited. The Folio Society takes every care to ensure that these books are works of art in themselves and set new standards of publishing excellence. These glorious texts, in newly commissioned bindings or as beautifully reproduced facsimiles, are the ultimate collector's editions." These editions are never to be repeated.

This is a small collection of these special volumes.

NB. All prices on this page are in Canadian dollars.

Red dot  Limited Editions
Red dot  Special Editions

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FS-011
Chaucer, Geoffrey and Gill, Eric. The Canterbury Tales. London: The Folio Society, 2010. #11 of 1980 copies (plus 25 lettered copies not for sale). This is a facsimile of the 1928-31 Golden Cockerel Press edition, designed and illustrated by Eric Gill, and originally published in four volumes. Facsimile volume, accompanied with an essay volume entitled The Golden Cockerel Press, The Canterbury Tales & Eric Gill: An Essay by Peter Holliday, in custom clamshell case. Facsimile bound in full black goatskin leather, gilt decorated with Gill's designs; all edges gilt; silk marker; initial letters in black, red and blue. Essay volume in deep green-grey boards with black cloth spine and paper title label on front. Black cloth clamshell, lettered and decorated (Gill's leaves) on spine. All parts fine and bright.
"The engravings are reproduced by kind permission of the Estate of Eric Gill/The Bridgman Art Library" (cf. Colophon)

"In the Golden Cockerel Press edition of The Canterbury Tales, Gill absorbed the experience of his own origins in the Arts and Crafts movement ... and then extended his range far beyond it." (cf. Conclusion of the Essay)
C$575
Folio Society Canterbury Tales

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FS-012
Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Three Other Poems. London: The Folio Society, 2010. "Illustrated by Harry Brockway" with 17 wood engravings (including limitation page). #94 of 1000 copies (plus 30 hors commerce), "each with an original engraving ... signed and numbered by the artist". Rust-red boards with vellum spine and corner-tips; front panel elaborately decorated (albatross plunging into the sea) in black, and copper-, silver- and gilt-foil.; top edge gilt, lettered in gilt on spine. Black (with golden-brown highlights) silk clamshell case, with gilt-lettered spine label, clean and sharp, with just a touch of rubbing inside front cover. A fine set
Also includes "Christabel", "Kubla Kahn" and "The Pains of Sleep".
C$650
Folio Society Rime of the Ancient Mariner

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FS-013
The Fitzwilliam Book of Hours. London: The Folio Society, 2009. #96 of 1180 copies (plus 20 lettered copies not for sale).; spectacular full-colour facsimile, of one of the Fitzwilliam Museums's most beautiful books of hours, it is illustrated throughout with decorative borders, land- and city-scapes around the calendars, and more than two dozen miniatures. Together in custom slipcase with Commentary by Stella Panayotova in accompanying volume. Bound in saphire blue/gilt full-silk brocade custom woven for this production; all edges gilt, with matching silk marker. Commentary in grey-blue boards with gilt-lettered blue cloth spine; paper title label on front and pictorial endpapers; clamshell case in matching blue cloth, decoratively lettered in gilt on spine, with a few very small light marks. A fine set, in near-fine+ case.
Based on MS 1058-1975, at The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge University. For scans and full description of the original volume, see the Fitzwilliam Museum Collection Explorer page.

Representing "... the last and most flamboyant period of manuscript production ... recycling popular patterns and combining standard motifs in imaginative ways to create innovative page designs, complex text-image amalgams, and three-dimensional illusion." (cf. Commentary)
C$500
Folio Society Fitzwilliam Book of Hours

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FS-014
Gill, Eric. The Four Gospels of the Lord Jesus Christ ... London: The Folio Society, 2007. "According to the Authorized Version of the King James I. With Decorations by Eric Gill." Facsimile of the 1931 Golden Cockerel Press edition of 1931, #531 of 2750 numbered copies (plus 25 lettered copies not for sale). Two volumes in clamshell case. Facsimile volume: gilt-decorated black morocco; all edges gilt; black silk marker; contents clean and tight. Commentary volume: ¼ black cloth with dark grey boards and paper title label; excellent inside and out. Black slipcase gilt-lettered on spine, just a touch dusty. A fine set.
C$525
Folio Society The Four Gospels

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FS-016
Liber Bestiarum: MS Bodley 764. London: The Folio Society, 2008. "Commentary by Christopher de Hamel; followed by a Translation by Richard Barber." #193 of 1980 numbered copies (plus 20 lettered copies which are not for sale) of an original 13th century illuminated manuscript held by Oxford University's Bodleian Library. Two volumes (v.1 facsimile, v.2 commentary and translation) in clamshell case; illustrations "printed and gold foiled". Facsimile volume: burnt-orange Nigerian goatskin elaborately decorated (gilt, green and blue) with images from the contents; all edges gilt; silk marker. Commentary volume: midnight blue, decorated in gilt and green to match facsimile. Midnight-blue slipcase, with burnt-orange leather title-label. All parts fine.
Based on the Bodleian Library's MS Bodley 764, a spectacular manuscript medieval bestiary, containing 135 full-colour images of animals of all types.

"These illuminated miniatures are what make the manuscript infinitely appealing, for they show the creatures of the Middle Ages, real and imaginary, living their lives, catching and eating their prey, tending their young and interacting with people (usually to the beasts' disadvantage). Bodley 764 is exceptional among Bestiaries ..." (cf. Introduction)
C$475
Folio Society Liber Bestiarum

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FS-017
The Luttrell Psalter. London: The Folio Society, 2006. "Commentary [by] Michelle P. Brown" #238 of 1480 copies (plus 20 copies not for sale). Two volumes (v.1 facsimile, v.2 commentary) in publisher's dark blue clamshell case with leather spine-label. Facsimile elaborately bound in multi-colour inlaid and-adorned gilt steel-blue leather, with leather spine label matching that on case; all edges gilt; contents tight and clean. Smaller commentary volume, placed in a fit-sized slot under a protective board, also nice and clean. Clamshell with a couple minor "dings at lower edge. Fine volumes in fine case.
A spectacular full-colour facsimile of a 14th century manuscript masterpiece, commissioned by Sir Geoffrey Luttrell (1276-1345) Baron and Knight of Irnham in Lincolnshire, England. Currently in the British Library collection, it is described by them as "... one of the most famous medieval manuscripts ... fostering the 19th-century romantic vision of a 'merrie Englande' peopled by bountiful lords and ladies and happy peasants playing as hard as they worked. ... Today scholars are more inclined to see the Psalter's scenes as idealised versions of reality — they were, after all, designed to please Sir Geoffrey, not his workers."

The 600 brilliantly coloured illuminated pages of the original took over a decade to produce, worked by one scribe and at least five artists, and is renowned not only for its beauty and lavishness, but also for the many depictions of daily life in rural medieval England (see the Bear-baiting detail from leaf 161), including scenes of farming, courting, weaving, gaming, carting, etc., and even the cortege of a noble household on the move. As well as these, there are the expected marginal decorations, grotesques of various kinds, and Biblical scenes. The commentary volume gives the historical, stylistic and iconographic accounts of the original manuscript. All in all a splendid reproduction of this important work.
C$975
Folio Society Lutrell Psalter

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FS-018
Roberts, David. The Holy Land: Syria, Idumea, Arabia and Egypt & Nubia. London: The Folio Society, 2010. Both are #17 of 1000 numbered copies (plus 20 lettered copies not for sale), facsimiles of the first editions published in the 1840s, reproducing their lavish hand-coloured lithographs. Two folio volumes (19⅝" tall) elaborately gilt and black decorated on front cover and spine; top edge gilt; red silk markers. In gilt-lettered publisher's slipcases (20½" tall), built up along the bottom edge to support the large text block; cases heavy and strong. Both volumes fine, in fine slipcases; the two sold together.
Roberts, a Scottish artist who learned his craft illustrating stage scenery, became best known for his paintings of British, European and Near Eastern vistas, many of which were reproduced as lithographs for publication. These titles are the most famous and most elaborately produced of them, and had a long-lasting influence the West's idea of the Near East.
C$1,350
Folio Society Holy Land and Egypt & Nubia

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FS-019
Voltaire. Candide or Optimism. London: The Folio Society, 2011. "Translated by Tobias Smollett. Introduced by Julian Barnes. Illustrated by Quentin Blake." #194 of 1000 numbered copies (plus 25 lettered copies not for sale), signed by the illustrator. Bound in decoratively gilt-lettered burgundy-brown "Nigerian goatskin blocked with a design by the artist", with top edge gilt; in matching brownish-grey, gilt-lettered slipcase which has just the slightest hint of rubbing/bumping. A fine copy.
C$650
Folio Society Candide Limited Edition

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FS-020
Young, Edward and Blake, William. The Complaint: or, Night-Thoughts on Life, Death, & Immortality. London: The Folio Society, 2005. Cover title: "Night Thoughts by Edward Young, With Watercolour Illustrations by William Blake"; "Commentary by Robin Hamlyn". #101 of 1000 numbered copies (plus 20 not for sale), facsimile of the originals in the British Museum. Two large folio volumes, plus commentary, in clamshell slipcase. Facsimile volumes in blue cloth with midnight-blue calf spines; elaborate black and silver decorations (Blake images) with calf title-labels on front covers; spectacularly illustrated contents clean, tight and fine. Dark blue cloth commentary volume with silver lettering on spine and title "label" on front excellent. Dark blue clamshell with silver-lettered calf spine-label, houses both facsimile volumes, and commentary, the latter in custom-sized cut-out; small crease to one lower corner and a hint of rubbing along lower edge. Fine volumes in fine slipcase.
This facsimile duplicates Blake's watercolours, built as borders around inset leaves from the Dodsley editions of The Complaint ..., published in the 1740s. As such, it not only reproduces Blake's stunning illustrations, but also the beautiful typography of these early editions. Although several of his designs were engraved for a 1797 edition of the work published by Richard Edwards, most were not published during his lifetime.

According to a review in Blake: An Illustrated Quarterly, "This set of reproductions by the Folio Society is the third publication in book form of William Blake's watercolor drawings in illustration of Edward Young's Night Thoughts and the first to present all the drawings in full color and at approximately original size ...The Folio Society has given us a beautiful edition of Young's poem with reproductions of pictures by Blake and an important commentary. Together, the three volumes do constitute a major publishing event." (V.41, no.2, Fall 2007)
C$975
Folio Society Night Thoughts

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FS-021
Blake, William. Jerusalem: The Emanation of the Giant Albion. [London]: The Folio Society in association with the William Blake Trust, 2007. [First FS edition*]. "Edited with an Introduction and Notes by Morton D. Paley." This facsimile of Yale's unique coloured copy of Jerusalem is "Published ... in the 250th anniversary year of Blake's birth". Quarter-bound in brown goatskin with blue moiré silk boards and gilt lettering on spine; top edge coloured brown; contents excellent. Blue slipcase with Blake's title page illustration on front; a touch of rubbing to bottom edge and very faint scoring on rear panel. A fine volume in fine slipcase.
* "This edition of Jerusalem was first published in 1991 as Volume 1 of the Collected Edition of Blake's Illuminated Books by Gallery Publications in conjunction with the William Blake Trust."
C$150
Folio Society Jerusalem

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FS-022
Chaucer, Geoffrey and Morris, William. The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer ... London: The Folio Society, 2008. [Second Folio Society edition]*; facsimile of the Kelmscott Chaucer; photographically reproduced from the 1974 Basilisk Press facsimile, with all the glorious William Morris designs, decorations, initial letters and typography; text printed in black and red; with "The Kelmscott Chaucer: An Afterword by William S. Peterson" at rear. Folio volume in publisher's elaborate gilt decorated terracotta brown cloth designed by David Pearson; top edge gilt, brown marker. Gilt-lettered brown curved-edge slipcase, with just a few very faint rubs and a hint of dusting. A fine volume, in near fine+ case.
* The first FS edition was published in 2002, in a limited edition of 1000 copies, and bound in gilt decorated white leather
C$475
Folio Society Kelmscott Chaucer 2008

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FS-023
Dante Alighieri. Inferno. London: The Folio Society, 1998 [i.e. 2004]* [Second FS edition (see note)*] "Translated by Henry Francis Cary, Introduced by Robin Hamlyn, with Illustrations by William Blake." Quarter-bound in dark brown goatskin, with light blue moiré silk boards; top edge coloured brown. In slipcase illustrated on front panel with Blake's "Hell, Canto 19"; hint of rubbing at extremities. Fine.
* "Folio Society edition first published 1998; Reprinted with a new binding 2004."
Blakes original illustrations for Inferno from which these are taken are held by numerous institutions around the world
C$125
Folio Society Inferno Special Edition

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FS-024
Milton, John. Paradise Lost: A Poem in Twelve Books. London: The Folio Society, 2003. [First FS edition thus*]. "With a Preface by Peter Ackroyd, an Introduction by John Wain and Illustrations by William Blake." Quarter-bound in dark green goatskin, with golden-yellow moiré silk boards; top edge coloured green; contents clean and tight. Dark green slipcase illustrated on front with Blake's Temptation and Fall of Eve; a bit of bubbling to illustration along seam (as issued), slight rubbing to bottom edge. A fine volume in near fine+ slipcase.
* The poem, with Wain's introduction were first published by the Folio Society in 1991, with illustrations by Ian Pollock; this is the first time that the Society paired the text with the William Blake illustrations.
C$125
Folio Society Paradise Lost

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E-mail: Wilfrid@deFreitasBooks.com

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Wilfrid M. de Freitas
P.O. Box 232, Westmount Station
Montreal, Canada H3Z 2T2
Tel: (514) 935-9581

Last updated: 5/3/19
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