The Letterpress Henry IV Part 2 book

A Folio Society limited edition

The Letterpress Henry IV Part 2

William Shakespeare

The second part of Shakespeare's retelling of Henry Bolingbroke's troubled reign in which his son, the future Henry V, comes to terms with his royal destiny

Only 300 copies available

Published price: US$ 545.00

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The Letterpress Henry IV Part 2

'There is a history in all men’s lives'
Act 3, Sc. I

A far more sombre and elegiac tone permeates The Second Part of Henry the Fourth as Prince Hal’s carefree way of life becomes increasingly incompatible with his status as heir to the throne. As Henry IV continues to face rebellions and come to terms with his own mortality, the young prince gradually awakens to his responsibilities and his destiny. Falstaff, Prince Hal’s mentor in misrule, remains a dominant character, but in the end, with the accession of Henry V, he is poignantly rejected by the new king.

Production Details

The Letterpress Henry IV Part 2 book
  • Limited to 1,000 copies, individually numbered on a special limitation page.
  • Quarter-bound in goatskin leather, blocked in gold with hand-marbled paper sides; gilded top edge and ribbon marker.
  • Set in 16pt 'Monotype' Baskerville, printed by letterpress on mould-made paper.
  • Presented in a buckram-bound solander box with a commentary volume which includes the text of the play with full explanatory notes.
  • Box measures 15" x 11" x 2¾".
  • Letterpress volume book size: 14" x 10¾".
  • Commentary volume book size: 8¼" x 5¾".

Letterpress Shakespeare volumes are bound to order and may take up to 6 weeks to be delivered


Creating The Letterpress Shakespeare

Since the First Folio in 1623 there have been countless editions of Shakespeare's works. The Folio Society wanted to do something unprecedented: to design an edition so pure, so simple, that the beauty of the text could be fully appreciated - an edition that would be as timeless as the text itself.

What would the ideal version of Shakespeare's works look like? What would result if simplicity and elegance were the goal rather than the dictates of fashion and cost efficiency?

These were the questions we asked ourselves when we embarked on our Letterpress Shakespeare series in 2006. The project was to occupy some of Europe's finest book designers, typesetters, paper-makers, printers and bindersfor eight years.

The starting point was the text. Rather than keep text and commentary together, we decided to put them into separate volumes. Out went the elements that clutter the page : footnotes and textual variants. All that was left was Shakespeare's words.

We decided to have the text printed by letterpress in 16-point Baskerville. The type is set in hot metal and impressed on thick, mouldmade paper. The margins are generous - over 6 centimetres - to allow the words room to breathe.

The result is a simple, understated design that is a delight to read and a pleasure to hold.

Read more about how we made the Letterpress Shakespeare

Inside the lettepress process


Stan Lane, a master Typesetter and Printer, talked to us about the process of printing our letterpress Shakespeare. Lane has been setting type for The Folio Society for 25 years and is one of the few craftsmen still skilled in the fine art of letterpress printing. Although labour-intensive, letterpress has a depth and elegance that modern printing cannot replicate.

Jemma Lewis talked to us about the process of hand marbling paper for the letterpress Shakespeare. In this beautiful process droplets of oil are floated on a special solution and combed into patterns so that each sheet of paper bears a unique design. 

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