([Leyden: Bonaventure and Abraham Elzevier] Suivant la copie imprimée à Paris, 1648). 133 x 73 mm. (5 1/4 x 2 7/8"). 12 p.l., 440 pp. First Elzevier Edition.

ELEGANT CHESTNUT BROWN MOROCCO, GILT, BY JOLY FILS (stamp-signed on front doublure), covers with French fillet border, center of each board with intricate lozenge formed by strapwork, fleurons, volutes, and many small tools, this within a lobed triple-fillet frame with scrolling cornerpieces and with large fleurons projecting out from the corners; raised bands, spine richly gilt in compartments with central fleuron and scrolling cornerpieces, gilt titling, BLUE-GREEN MOROCCO DOUBLURES with wide gilt frame formed by plain and decorative rules and repeating small tulip tools, marbled flyleaves, all edges gilt. With engraved allegorical title page. Front flyleaf with bookplate of P. R. Méry. Willems 630; Rahir 625. Spine uniformly sunned to a pleasing hazel brown, front joint just beginning to show rubbing, isolated tiny rust spots or faint foxing, but in nearly fine condition, the very pretty binding otherwise unworn and with bright gilt, and the text quite clean, bright, and fresh.

This is an attractively bound Elzevier edition of letters by Balzac (1597-1654), a writer whose prose had a major influence on French literature. Our volume contains letters to diverse persons, with the majority addressed to Valentin Conrart (1603-75), counsellor and secretary to the king, who hosted literary gatherings that gave birth to the French Academy. The Elzeviers published a number of volumes containing the correspondence of Balzac, and it is said that these editions contributed considerably to Balzac's renown. Our binding is retrospective in design, communicating a clear sense of bindings from that period, yet identifiable at once as late 19th century work, and reflecting an artisan working at the top of his craft.

Keywords: Elzevier, Joly fils