(London: Richard Bentley and Son, 1885). 222 x 142 mm. (8 7/8 x 5 5/8"). Three volumes extended to nine.
HANDSOME EARLY 20TH CENTURY SCARLET CRUSHED MOROCCO, GILT (stamp-signed on doublures by the Knickerbocker Press and Putnam's Sons), covers with gilt-rule frame with Napoleonic insignia at corners, raised bands, spines gilt in compartments with an initial "N," a bee, or a crown at center, gilt titling, DARK GREEN MOROCCO DOUBLURES tooled with similar gilt frame, matching moiré silk endleaves, top edges gilt. With woodcuts in the text, 38 plates (as called for), and EXTRA-ILLUSTRATED WITH 524 PLATES, some of these in color. Front flyleaf with engraved bookplate of William H. Bartlett, showing the library of his stately Casa Grande in Vermejo Park, NM. One board with four small black ink spots, but A LOVELY SET IN EXTREMELY FINE CONDITION, the bindings quite lustrous and unworn, and internally clean, fresh, and bright, as well as refreshingly free of the offsetting that plagues so many extra-illustrated sets.
This biography of Napoleon by a man who actually knew him has been expertly "grangerized" with portraits and views, and is offered here in a luxurious binding and with distinguished provenance. Bourrienne (1769-1834) was apparently a youthful friend of Napoleon, went to military school with him, and shared a bohemian life with him for a period beginning in 1792. When Napoleon was victorious as the leader of the Army of Italy but bogged down in protracted negotiations with Austria in 1797, Bourrienne was called in for his legal knowledge and diplomatic skills, both of which helped in drafting the treaty of Campo Formio. During the next year, Bourrienne accompanied Napoleon to Egypt as his private secretary, and his account of this period, while not always viewed as reliable, is very vivid. Although he was subsequently employed in service to the government, Bourrienne spent most of the rest of his life out of the public eye, after having disgraced himself by amassing a personal fortune through corrupt means. His chief claim to fame is the present work. The bindings here are fittingly regal, the morocco with an almost mirror-like finish, and the extra illustrations have been added with care and taste. All are protected with tissue guards, and those taken from periodicals printed on less-than-ideal paper have been mounted on heavy stock, thus preventing the browning and offsetting often seen in less impeccably extra-illustrated works. The work was likely done for former owner William H. Bartlett (1850-1918), a wealthy Chicago businessman who bought a 205,000-acre ranch in New Mexico and hired architect Joseph Lyman Silsbee to build a magnificent 25,000 square-foot mansion that included an elegant library. (CJW1701)
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PJP Catalog: 75.212