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GIBBON, Edward (1737--1794)
[History of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. 1776--81]
The history of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. By Edward Gibbon, Esq; Volume the first (... second, third).
London: printed for W. Strahan; and T. Cadell, 1776--81.
3 vols ; 28.5 cm. (4º)
I: viii, [4], [12], 586, [2], lxxxviii, [2] p., engr. frontis. port.
II: [4], 640, [10] p., [2] fold. maps.
III: [2], 640, [10] p., [1] fold. map.

Gibbon's monumental history of the Roman empire from the age of the Antonines to the conquest of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453 marks the high point of European Enlightenment historiography and is admired as much for the beauties of the writing as for Gibbons's mastery of the subject. The complete work in six volumes quarto appeared over the years 1776--88: volume I appeared in 1776, volumes II--III in 1781 and volumes IV--VI in 1788, while the first three volumes appeared in successive new editions over the period as a whole; octavo editions began to appear in 1783 (q.v.). The present set comprises the first three volumes only, with volumes II and III in the second edition. Volume I has the preface dated 'Feb. 1, 1776' and is the original printing with X4 and a4 signed, as also Rrr2 and b2, and extended errata on final recto; it includes [12] pp. table of contents first issued (supposedly) with the first edition of vol. II (see J.E. Norton, A bibliography of the works of Edward Gibbon, Oxford, 1940, pp. 49--53). The portrait frontispiece found here in vol. I is engraved by J. Hall from an original by Sir Joshua Reynolds, with the imprint of Strahan and Cadell dated 1780, and was first issued with the second volume in 1780 but is usually moved to vol. I in the binding as here. Volume II: Errata on recto of final leaf; vol. III: errata precedes the table of contents at end. ESTC t78356 (vol. I); ESTC t78361 (vol. II); ESTC t78363 (vol. III); Norton 20, 25.

Copy Notes Imperfect; wanting the vol. I half-title. The first three volumes only, bought from Thomas Boone for £1 16s., 23 June 1808. (Spiers Box). With Mrs Soane's fishmonger's bill in ink on a slip [Britannia watermark] inserted at page 462 [Chap. XV] of vol. I. Bookplates of former owner [upside down] mostly removed from inside back covers.

Binding C18th sprinkled calf, gilt-ruled spines, red and green morocco spine-labels.

Reference Number 930


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