In Superb Decorative Morocco, Perhaps for Presentation to the Tsar


(Paris: Ernest Bourdin, 1854). 262 x 170 mm. (10 1/4 x 6 3/4"). xiv, 510 pp., [2] leaves. Second Edition.

MAJESTIC DARK BLUE CRUSHED MOROCCO, GILT, BY GRUEL (stamp-signed in gilt at foot of spine), strapwork-framed covers diapered in gilt with lozenge compartments containing the monogram and imperial crown of Russian Tsar Nikolai I, central panel with the imperial arms in gilt, raised bands, spine compartments with double-headed Russian imperial eagle at center and at corners, gilt titling, turn-ins densely gilt, red moiré silk endleaves semé with rows of gilt imperial eagles, leather hinges, all edges red and GAUFFERED WITH ROWS OF GILT IMPERIAL EAGLES. Engraved vignette headpieces, engraved frontispiece portrait of Nikolai I, and 26 engraved plates, 10 of these hand-colored costume plates, the others printed on India paper and mounted on heavier stock, all by Raffet and all with original tissue guards, and two large folding colored maps, as called for. Nerhood, "To Russia and Return" 206; Vicaire III, 166-68; Brunet II, 583. Spine very slightly and uniformly sunned, corners lightly rubbed, isolated small spots of marginal foxing, but A VERY FINE COPY, the text clean and fresh, and the lovely binding very lustrous and showing almost no signs of use.

Dedicated to, and perhaps bound for, the emperor of Russia, this is an account of an expedition through lands added to Russia under his reign, organized and funded by the author. Led by engineer and sociologist Frédéric Le Play, Démidoff and 22 scholars and artists travelled through Hungary, Romania, and Moldavia to reach southern Russia and the Crimea in 1837-38. Demidoff first published this travelogue in 1840, with illustrations by his friend August Raffet, who had participated in the adventure. Our second edition was revised and expanded by the author, and the number of plates was increased from 23 to 27. Nerhood notes that it is "a very detailed song of praise for the emperor and all his works," perhaps composed in an effort to gain preferment from that monarch, who was, instead, offended that almost all of the expedition's members were French. Ironically, the present copy was magnificently bound by the leading French binder of the day, with much of the available surface covered with the cipher or insignia of the tsar, and it is tempting to speculate that it was intended as a presentation copy (though perhaps never delivered because of Nikolai's death in early 1855). The son of a wealthy diplomat, Démidoff (1813-70) settled in western Europe as a young man and married Napoleon I's niece. He continued to take an interest in his native land, writing several travelogues and a series of essays aimed at correcting misconceptions about Russia. Artist Auguste Raffet (1806-60) was best known for his lithographs of Napoleon's campaigns, and the engravings here attest to his aptitude for military subjects.