Very Good. Item #6510
London: Henry Baldwin for Charles Dilly, 1791. First Edition (in second state for one leaf noted by Pottle, showing "give" on Vol I, p. 135).
Quarto; Vol I xii + TOC and errata [16pp] + 516pp; Vol II 586pp [misnumbered as 588]. Three plates: Vol I frontispiece portrait of Johnson engraved by James Heath after the famous Reynolds portrait; Vol II engraved reproductions of a "Round Robin" Johnsonian parlor game, and samples of Johnson's handwriting. All First Edition points noted in Pottle are present, including cancels, typos, and mispaginations. Pottle offers some perspective on the "give" correction noted above: "The booksellers have given this rather uninteresting ‘point’ more attention than it deserves."
Original calf boards with edges of the heavy panels tooled in gilt. Rebacked with great structural and aesthetic care. Title in gilt on retained original crimson label and volume number on original black label in 2nd and 4th compartments. Gilt rules and ornaments and some aesthetic speckling as part of rebacking. Gray topstain to textblock.
Pages remarkably bright with minimized foxing. Some soft dog-ears now properly flattened. Front pastedown of each volume has the small bookplate of "T.J.L. Brooke / Mere Hall." Brooke (1769-1815), an M.P. for Newton, in Lancashire, was likely to have been the first owner or near-first owner of the volumes, given his dates.
A later owner, with a mischievous pencil, oh so lightly drew some outlandish Cyrano-ish nasal profiles on the front free endpaper of Vol I. Johnson famously had a dispute with Richard Burke about the "nose of the mind," so we view these faint doodles as a feature, not a flaw.