Item Details

Price: $8,500
PJP Catalog: 66.048

An Extraordinarily Beautiful Bodoni Printing


(Parmae: Ex Regio Typographeio, 1785]). 305 x 222 mm (12 x 8 3/4"). 2 p.l., xciv, 100, [1] pp. ONE OF 250 COPIES ON "BLUE" PAPER (of a total of 310 copies).

SPLENDID CONTEMPORARY CRIMSON MOROCCO, HANDSOMELY GILT, BY DERÔME LE JEUNE (with his ticket on front flyleaf), covers framed with double gilt rules, the inner rule with scalloped corners (as in Schiff 82), raised bands, compartments with a very appealing all-over diaper pattern (similar to Schiff 60), chain pattern (asterisk and four-petal flower) on board edges, endleaves of lavender watered silk, very wide and intricate inner dentelles extending (in an unusual way) from the turn-ins onto the silk pastedowns, all edges gilt. Small author portrait in the style of an ancient coin on title page, large and elaborate armorial vignette on dedication page engraved by Cagnoni. Text of poems in Greek, commentary in Latin, both printed entirely in majuscules. Brooks 287; Dibdin I, 265; Schweiger 25; Brunet I, 252; Graesse I, 111. A tiny bit of wear at spine ends, a few leaves with a very minor tear or paper flaw at fore edge, but AN ESPECIALLY FINE COPY OF A BEAUTIFUL BOOK, with the elegant original binding scarcely worn, with the text very clean, bright, and fresh, and with the margins nothing short of immense.

This is a superb copy of a very special printing in an unusually elegant binding that perfectly complements the delicacy and grace of the sixth century B.C. lyric poet Anacreon. It is one of the finest combinations of printing and binding that we have ever offered for sale. Produced by Giambatista Bodoni (1740-1813), the most celebrated European printer of his era, this remarkable piece of work is called "magnificent" by Brooks, and Dibdin says that a "more elegant and exquisitely finished production . . . cannot be conceived." The appearance of the page, printed only with capitals and offered here in a copy with vast margins, is simply as stately and powerful as one could ever hope for. Bodoni was not only a great printer, but also the most important type designer and punchcutter in Italy during his day. He was responsible for some of the most graceful and immaculate books to be printed during the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century, and the present item is certainly to be counted among his most beautiful productions. Then, of course, there is the very special binding. Ours is a typical Derôme binding in that it is marked by considerable skill and elegance, but it is not at all typical in design. Of the 34 Derôme le Jeune items pictured in the Schiff catalogue, only two (#60 and #81) seem remotely similar to ours in their design. The particular form of ticket used here is also uncommon: of the 12 different variations of Derôme le Jeune binder's tickets (which appear a total of 48 times in Schiff's catalogue), our form is one of five that appears only once. (For more on Derôme, see previous entry.) Despite the appearance of two in this catalogue, genuine Derôme bindings, especially with tickets (as opposed to those inferentially and overconfidently identified), are becoming less and less available, and ones found in fine original condition, like this one, are especially rare.