Lot 65 of 221:
Johnson's Dictionary Third Edition 1765  

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Lot closed - Sold For (Includes Buyers Premium):$2,040
$2,000 - $3,000

A Dictionary of the English Language: In Which the Words are deduced from their Originals, and Illustrated in their Different Significations by Examples from the best Writers. To Which Are Prefixed, a History of the Language, and an English Grammar

Johnson, Samuel


Printed by W. Strahan for A. Millar, T. Longman, et al



2 volumes. Title pages printed in red and black, text in two columns. (Folio) 41.5x25.5 cm (16½x10") period full calf, later sail-cloth covers with title lettered by hand on spine. Third Edition.

Third edition of Johnson's Dictionary, possibly the most important book in the history of English. "Dr. Johnson performed with his Dictionary the most amazing, enduring and endearing one-man feat in the field of lexicography…It is the dictionary itself which justifies Noah Webster’s statement that ‘Johnson’s writings had, in philology, the effect which Newton’s discoveries had in mathematics’. Johnson introduced into English lexicography principles which had already been accepted in Europe but were quite novel in mid-eighteenth-century England. He codified the spelling of English words; he gave full and lucid definitions of their meanings (often entertainingly coloured by his High Church and Tory propensities); and he adduced extensive and apt illustrations from a wide range of authoritative writers...but despite the progress made during the past two centuries in historical and comparative philology, Johnson’s book may still be consulted for instruction as well as pleasure" (Printing and the Mind of Man). Indeed, the labor and genius of Johnson's production still awes us today. Over a period of eight years, "with no real library at hand, Johnson wrote the definitions of over 40,000 words...illustrating the senses in which these words could be used by including about 114,000 quotations drawn from English writing in every field of learning during the two centuries from the middle of the Elizabethan period down to his own time" (W. Jackson Bate, Samuel Johnson, NY 1977, p.247). The first edition was published in April 1755 in a printing of 2000 copies. PMM 201; Rothschild 1237 (for first edition). Ownership signature of J.M. Wallace, Junior in each volume, dated 1806 in Volume 2.

Lot Amendments

Original leather quite worn, boards detached or nearly so, held together by the later cloth covers which are secured by the (later) pastedown endpapers but are not adhered to the leather covers, second volume lacking front endpaper, pages a bit yellowed; internally very good, an excellent candidate for restoration or rebinding.

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