Tragedies, Comedies & Histories of William Shakespeare


Tragedies, Comedies & Histories of William Shakespeare


Title: The Works of William Shakespeare: Tragedies, Comedies, and Histories. Complete set.
Author: William Shakespeare, Rockwell Kent (illus)
Publisher: Oxford University Press/The Franklin Mint, 1979 – 1984 (Oxford Library of the World’s Great Books series, limited edition). Impossibly rare and out of print.
Condition: Hardcover. Very minor shelf wear and very minor dings to text block edges. Otherwise flawless. Look like they were never read.

SKU: shakespeare-oxford-franklin Categories: , Tag:

Very rare, possibly the most beautiful leather editions of Shakespeare produced in the 20th century.

These books are very heavy – please enquire for overseas shipping.

These books feature:

  • Full top-grade leather binding
  • Genuine 22k gold gilt to all edges, front design, spine, and back
  • Silk moire endsheets
  • Satin bookmark, sewn-in
  • Hubbed spine with raised bands
  • Smyth-sewn binding for durability
  • Premium acid-neutral archival paper that will not yellow


Franklin even had a brief, shining liaison with Oxford University Press in the early 1980s that produced astonishing dual-tone ‘leather upon leather’, or deep image-embossed bindings that, remarkably, out-classed even ‘early Franklin’! (Most of these titles boast an elegant inlaid filigree-motif ‘ticking’, or gold-leaf ‘blind stamping’, that exquisitely borders the moiré endsheets and runs along not only the inside edges of the boards but also along the top and bottom edges of the spine! CLASSY). I refer here to Oxford/Franklin’s full-leather Shakespeare and Dickens ‘Complete Works’ series and its untouchable ‘Oxford Library of the World’s Great Books’ series.


The Franklin Library, the publishing division of The Franklin Mint, was of course, at one time, the nation’s largest publisher of great books in fine bindings. Founded in 1973, it ceased publishing in 2000. Its early editions ~ fully bound in genuine premium-grade, hand-cut leather, selected for quality of grain and texture ~ were designed and bound by The Sloves Organization, Ltd., an affiliate of the mint, whose bindery was one of the few in the world devoted exclusively to the crafting of fine leather books.

Printed from 1981 to 1985,* the Oxford/Franklin volumes are gorgeous ~ absolutely stunning in their production qualities. Oxford University Press, in fact, specially chose the publishing division of The Franklin Mint to design and produce its World’s Great Books series because of Franklin’s unsurpassed skill in achieving a premium-quality product: each Oxford book must also be ‘a wonder’ in the finest of bookbinding traditions and, if possible, exceed Franklin’s high standard. By that prestigious election, Franklin thus was also doubly honored and formally recognized for the awesome reputation it had achieved in the publishing world throughout the decade of the 1970s.

It is because of that ‘brief, shining moment’ in publication history that these fine classic Oxford/Franklin editions generally surpass anything else ever produced either before or after that time by any of today’s renowned publishing giants. Relatively few titles in the multi-edition Great Books series were given the fabulous full-leather treatment; most were quarter-bound volumes ~ very lovely indeed by the lights of their own publication merits ~ but still unable to boast the same ‘Rolls Royce’ elegance of their full-leather counterparts.



Hamlet, Prince of Denmark
Othello, Moor of Venice
Romeo and Juliet
King Lear
Julius Caesar

Eight Comedies 

A Midsummer Night’s Dream
The Merchant of Venice
Much Ado About Nothing
As You Like It
Twelfth Night, or What You Will
Measure for Measure
The Winter’s Tale
The Tempest

Six Histories 

Life and Death of King John
King Richard II
First Part of King Henry IV
Second Part of Henry IV
Henry V
Richard III