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Folio

A folio is a term used for a book made of individual sheets of paper, usually folded to produce two leaves or four pages. Folios were a common format for early printed books in the late 15th and early 16th century and many of the most valuable books on the market today were originally published as folios.

These include the early editions of the compendiums of Shakespeare’s plays known as the First Folio, Second Folio, Third Folio etc, as well as John James Audubon’s The Birds of America first published in 1827 and sometimes referred to as a ‘double elephant folio’ due to its size.


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A First Folio at Firsts as book fairs pack early June

13 May 2019

Running from June 7-9 at Battersea Evolution, the upcoming ' 'Firsts: London’s Rare Book Fair' will feature 150-exhibitors.

Richard Adams collection auction catalogue

Shakespeare Second Folio from collection of Watership Down author sells at Gloucestershire auction

21 December 2017

A copy of the second folio of William Shakespeare's plays from 1632 was among the star attractions at the sale of the library of the late Richard Adams (1920-2016), the author of ‘Watership Down’.

First four Shakespeare Folios at Christie's

US collector splashes out £2.48m on four Shakespeare folios at Christie’s

27 May 2016

A private US collector spent £2.48m at Christie’s, acquiring all four of the early William Shakespeare folios on offer in a specially-staged auction.

Shakespeare Folios at Christie's

Rediscovered copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio heads to auction

21 March 2016

A previously unrecorded copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio has emerged at Christie’s. Estimated at £800,000-1.2m, it will lead a specially-staged auction in May comprising just four lots – a copy of each of the first four Shakespeare folios.

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Victorian brass rubbings emerge at Norwich fleamarket

11 April 2014

An item with an interesting local connection which is for sale at this Saturday’s Norwich Fleamarket is a rare Victorian large folio of European brass rubbings collected by a Norwich cleric.

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Swanns go native for $1.2m sale

18 October 2012

Edward S. Curtis’ monumental photographic study of ‘The North American Indian’ was one of the most expensive and ambitious undertakings in the history of book production, comprising 20 illustrated text volumes and 20 folios of larger photographic plates.

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Views from a unique Victorian honeymoon

10 April 2012

IN February we revealed how Queen Victoria was an accomplished artist, but now her daughter’s skills have been highlighted by a Surrey auction.

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Audubon flies to new record for printed book at £6.5m

13 December 2010

AT Sotheby's sale in New Bond Street on December 7, a copy of John James Audubon's Birds of America set a new auction record for any printed book when it sold to the London art dealer Michael Tollemache for £6.5m (plus premium).

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Singapore and the China Seas, saved from the bonfire

22 March 2010

WILTSHIRE auctioneers Netherhampton Salerooms were celebrating a new house record on March 3 after a disbound album of Far Eastern topographical drawings sold for £43,000.

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Is £2.5m a bargain for the Bard?

18 July 2006

IT set a British auction record for a Shakespeare First Folio and made the highest price ever seen for a printed book at Sotheby’s London (20/12% buyer’s premium) – but hushed voices at the back of the saleroom were suggesting that the £2.5m hammer price represented pretty good value for a near-perfect copy of the most important book in English literature.

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£530,000 day suggests more Anglo-French sales are on the books

14 October 2004

DAY two of the sale of the Mira Jacob Collection, held by Bailly-Pommery-Voutier & Sotheby’s (23.92 - 14.35% buyer's premium), was devoted to prints and illustrated books and yielded €780,000 (£530,000) with all but seven of the 166 lots selling.

£160,000 in the Will

13 October 2004

THE sale of a Shakespeare First Folio is a rare event, but the sale of a copy that emerged out of nowhere is something that comes around only once in a generation.

Shakespeare but no will

07 October 2004

“EVERY auction house’s dream” is how Rupert Powell, managing director of Bloomsbury Auctions, described the discovery of a Shakespeare First Folio that will provide a fitting centrepiece for the company’s 500th sale on Thursday October 7.

A natural history selection

29 September 2004

IN Antiques Trade Gazette No.1655, I illustrated a first octavo edition of Audubon’s Birds of America, 1840-44, that sold for $48,000 (£25,920) in a May sale held by Northeast Auctions of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. In their August 21-22 sale they had another, half morocco bound and rather better looking set – one originally sold by Clarendon Harris, a book dealer of Worcester, Mass – which made $64,000 (£35,200).

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Philip Miller’s Figures total $14,000

29 September 2004

SOMETHING I overlooked when compiling my principal natural history round-ups of the summer was a copy of ‘Philip Miller’s Gardener’s Dictionary’ – or at least that was how it was described in a 10 word entry in the catalogue of a May 21-23 sale held by Northeast Auctions of Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Faerie Queen folio

29 September 2004

HANDSOMELY bound in dark crimson morocco gilt in the 19th century, a 1609, first folio edition of Spenser’s Faerie Queene, the titles to the two parts with large and elaborate woodcut devices (both with small amounts of early colouring) and containing numerous woodcut head- and tailpieces incorporating various royal devices and symbols, made £1740 (Powell) in a Dominic Winter sale of July 21.

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Extra-etched and bound

10 June 2004

THIS punting scene by Whistler is one of some 3000 additional original and reproduction etchings and engravings, mostly full-page and many mounted and titled in ink as well as being mounted, where possible opposite the relevant text, that were to be found in an extra-illustrated 1880, third edition of Philip G. Hamerton’s Etchings & Etchers seen at Bonhams on May 6.

The indomitable Herr Kerner and his 144 bunches of grapes…

05 July 2002

It is believed that only two copies of Johann Simon Kerner’s Le Raisin, ses espèces et variétées… were completed, but then this German botanist did make it hard work for himself in choosing to illustrate it with original watercolours.

Arne’s co-opera(tive) ‘Love in a Village’

18 February 2002

BOOKS played a fairly minor part in the first Newbury antiques sale of the year at Dreweatt Neate on 30 January – one that raised in excess of £1.5m, a record for the Berkshire saleroom – but they did get the proceedings under way, and the very first lot in the catalogue, a misbound and now disbound and browned copy of Love in a Village, a comic opera as performed at The Theatre Royal, Covent Garden... showed the way in selling for a double estimate £200.

Henri II makes his bookmark

26 February 2001

FRANCE: A SET of 56 folio engraved plates by the Renaissance draughtsman and engraver Jacques Androuet du Cerceau (Paris c.1560), showing various Renaissance furniture designs ranging from buffets and tables to wardrobes and beds, below right, tripled hopes on Fr70,000 (£6800) in Chartres on January 21.