London: Bernard Lintot, between the Temple Gates, 1721. Large folio, measuring 15.5 x 10 inches: , 626, 81, . Full contemporary speckled calf, boards ruled in gilt with crowned central initial “P” (Portland), raised bands, spine compartments elaborately tooled in gilt, black morocco spine labels (title and library pressmarks) lettered in gilt, all edges stained red. Copper-engraved frontispiece portraits of Urry (by Nicolas Pigné) and Chaucer (by George Vertue); engraved vignette of Chaucer’s tomb to title; engraved vignette of the Tabard Inn to prologue of The Canterbury Tales; engraved portrait of each pilgrim at head of each tale; woodcut headpieces, tailpieces, and initials throughout text. Preliminaries include a life of Chaucer; “testimonies” to Chaucer by poets including Sidney, Spenser, and Milton; and a new preface. Middle English glossary and errata at rear. Engraved armorial bookplate of William Arthur, sixth Duke of Portland. Light shelfwear to binding, expert repair to corners and joints, lightest occasional foxing.
First edition of John Urry’s illustrated Chaucer folio, the last of the major Chaucer folios and the first collected edition of Chaucer set in Roman type, featuring engraved portraits of the Canterbury pilgrims by the antiquarian George Vertue. This edition contains The Canterbury Tales, Troilus and Criseyde, and Chaucer’s minor poems, as well as three previously unpublished tales ascribed to Chaucer in manuscripts of the period: “The Coke’s Tale of Gamelyn,” “The Marchant’s Second Tale, or the History of Beryn,” and “The Mery Adventure of the Pardoner and Tapstere at the Inn at Canterbury.” The attention paid by Urry and his fellow editors to the “careful Collation of the best printed Editions and good MSS” testifies to the heightened English interest in Chaucer at the beginning of the eighteenth century, an interest also reflected in the section of “testimonies” by later poets to Chaucer’s genius. As John Dryden writes: “he is the Father of English Poetry, so I hold him in the same degree of Veneration as the Grecians held Homer, or the Romans, Virgil.” ESTC T106027. A handsome Chaucer folio, in a contemporary armorial binding.