LONDON – A copy of William Shakespeare’s First Folio, a set of plays, was presented in London on Monday ahead of a New York auction where it is expected to fetch between $4-6 million.
The rare book, published in 1623, contains a collection of 36 plays by the famed writer and will remain on display in the UK capital until Sunday, Jan. 19.
The First Folio will then continue its tour to New York, Hong Kong and Beijing before returning to Christie’s headquarters in the Big Apple, where it will be auctioned off on April 24.
Founded in 1766 in London, Christie’s auction house has coordinated some of the biggest auctions in recent history and this year will host one of the most anticipated in the world of literature.
“This copy is especially exciting as one of the very few complete copies surviving in private hands and knowing that it was once in the hands of the great Shakespeare scholar Edmond Malone, who himself affirmed its completeness already 200 years ago,” said international head of Christie’s Books and Manuscripts, Margaret Ford.
“To handle a First Folio by William Shakespeare is always a privilege and even – given its tremendous significance and influence around the globe – a humbling experience,” the expert added.
In a statement Christie’s said it is an unusual volume of which there are only six copies that remain in private hands after in 2001 the same firm sold another for a record $6.2 million.
Published in 1623 by two friends of Shakespeare, actors John Heminge and Henry Condell, it was the first book that organized the author’s work into three categories: comedies, tragedies and stories.
The volume also rescued 18 works that would otherwise have been lost.
Among the rescued works are “Macbeth,” “Twelfth Night,” “As You Like It” and “Julius Caesar.”
The First Folio is considered one of the most important works in English literature.
Mills College, a private university of liberal arts and science in Oakland (California, US) currently holds the precious copy until a new owner is announced after the auction in Spring.