With Finishing by Léon Maillard, this Large Paper Copy Apparently Cited by Cohen-De Ricci


(Paris: P. Didot l'aîné, 1801). 170 x 97 mm. (6 5/8 x 3 3/4"). FIRST EDITION.

LOVELY GREEN CRUSHED MOROCCO, GILT, BY CUZIN (stamp-signed on front doublure and by the doreur Maillard on rear doublure), covers bordered by French fillet and decorative roll, raised bands, spine compartments with large central fleuron, volute cornerpieces, gilt titling, SCARLET MOROCCO DOUBLURES with border of plain and decorative rules, tulip roll, and oblique daisies at corners, leather hinges, morocco free endpapers and flyleaves, all edges gilt. WITH SIX ENGRAVED PLATES IN TWO STATES (before letters and etchings) by François Godefroy after Louis-Joseph Lefèvre. A Large Paper Copy. Cohen-de Ricci, col. 739 ("jolie figures"); Vicaire V, 1148. A SPLENDID COPY inside and out.

This unsurpassable copy of a Medieval romance with charming illustrations is offered here in a sparkling binding by an artisan who rose from nothing to become one of the masters of his craft. The work of the binder Cuzin was so well known and so highly esteemed that he was responsible for establishing what was called the "Cuzin style." Devauchelle says that this style was copied by Cuzin's colleagues, but was never equalled. Francisque Cuzin (1836-90) was born in the provinces, and apprenticed at the age of 13 to Tiersot, a binder in Bourg who recognized the boy's potential and devotion to his craft and managed to find him a place in a Paris atelier. Beginning his Paris career with trade binders, he worked his way up to the lofty premises of Trautz-Bauzonnet before boldly setting up shop on his own in 1861 with just 100 francs of capital. He quickly made a name for himself, according to Beraldi, by binding earlier books with fine engravings in elegant period-style bindings--a specialty shown off to good effect here. Bibliophiles began to support his work financially, and he became one of the great Parisian binders of the day. For some years, Cuzin was obliged to outsource his gilding work to the doreurs at Marius Michel and Lortic; eager to move this work in house, he managed to lure the talented Léon Maillard from Lortic to his workshop by agreeing to let him sign his work on the rear inside cover, as here. Maillard worked for Cuzin from 1876 to the end of 1881, allowing us to date our binding to this period. Author Morel de Vindé (1759-1842) was born into a well-connected French family, and was set to follow in his father's and grandfather's footsteps as a government counselor when the French Revolution intervened. Although sympathetic to the aims of the revolt, he recognized that his wealth and class put his family at risk, and he wisely retired to a country estate to pursue his interests in agronomy, in particular the raising and breeding of merion sheep. He wrote several respected books on that subject, including one that proposed microbes as a cause of anthrax, well before Pasteur's work on the subject. In addition, he used his pastoral retreat to pursue his interests in the arts and literature, writing three novels. The present work is an adventure set during the first Crusades; the author expounds on the brutality of the barbaric period, and praises the civilizing influence of women, drawing subtle parallels to the situation in France during the Reign of Terror. It is quite possible that the present copy is the one described by Cohen-De Ricci, who noted a Large Paper Copy with plates in the two states seen here, bound in morocco with doublures by Cuzin, which sold for 500 francs at the Delbergue sale (lot 204)--the highest price paid for any of the copies of this work cited by them.

Keywords: Didot