A collection of 36 plays by William Shakespeare was recently found on a Scottish island and has been confirmed as genuine by an Oxford University professor.
Known as Shakespeare’s First Folio, the book of plays was first published back in 1623 and features some of Shakespeare’s most well-known works, including Macbeth and The Tempest. Mount Stuart House on the island of Bute is where the newly uncovered copy had been residing, according to the BBC.
Its discovery brings the number of known copies of the First Folio up to 234. The folio was acquired in 1786 by literary agent Issac Reed and in 1807 it was sold to a ‘JW’ for £38 ($53) following Reed’s death. From that point on there was little public record of this Folio’s whereabouts until it appeared in Sidney Lee’s 1906 census of First Folios. Between JW’s acquisition and the census, it became a possession of the stately house, as the Folio is noted in an 1896 catalogue at the Bute library.
This version of the Folio includes notes and annotations made by Reed, as well as many blank pages that would have, presumably, been used for illustrations. This indicates that the Bute copy was more than likely a working document.
Emma Smith, Oxford University professor of Shakespeare studies, authenticated the collection, which in the past has sold for £2.5 million ($3.5 million) and £2.8 million ($3.9 million). So in other words, this thing is worth some serious cash to collectors and historians.
According to Smith, the copy contains three volumes: comedies, histories and tragedies. It is currently on display at Mount Stuart House as part of an exhibition honoring the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.