([Leyden]: Suivant la copie imprimée à Paris [Bonav. et Abr. Elzevier], 1651). 124 x 68 mm. (5 x 2 1/2"). 92,  pp.
CHARMING CORAL-COLORED CRUSHED MOROCCO BY LORTIC FRÈRES (stamp-signed on front turn-in), cover with gilt French fillet border, raised bands, spine delicately gilt in compartments with central fleuron and volute cornerpieces, gilt titling, wide, richly gilt turn-ins, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. In a marbled paper slipcase. Verso of front free endpaper with round engraved cipher bookplate of the Montandon library. Rahir 689; Willems 690; Brunet I, 601. Text lightly washed and pressed (in keeping with bibliophilic fashion at time of binding), but A SUPERB COPY, clean and fresh internally, and the lovely binding in virtually mint condition.
In a winning little Belle Epoque binding and called by Willems "one of the rarest" Elzevir imprints, this is--ironically--a parody of Ovid's "Metamorphoses," coming from a publisher known for its fine (serious) editions of classics. Louis Elzevir began the family publishing dynasty in the 1580s, when he set up as a bookseller and publisher in Leyden. Five of his seven sons became printers; the most distinguished of these was Bonaventure (1583-1652), who opened his Leyden press in 1608, and took his nephew Abraham into partnership in 1626. Britannica notes that "their small editions in 12mo, 16mo and 24mo, for elegance of design, neatness, clearness and regularity of type, and beauty of paper, cannot be surpassed."
Charles Coippeau (or Coypeau, 1605-77) was educated at the prestigious Jesuit College of Clermont in Paris, where he received a solid foundation in the classics, but he frequently ran away to watch the street performers near the Pont Neuf. He left by age 17 to become an itinerant musician, and within a decade he was performing for royalty, including Charles I of England. He returned to Paris in 1636, having added the noble-sounding "d'Assoucy" to his name, and was soon entertaining the court of Louis XIII. He was part of an intellectual and theatrical circle that included Cyrano de Bergerac, Tristan l'Hermite, Saint-Amant, Paul Scarron, and a young man who called himself "Molière." Like Saint-Amant and Scarron, he began writing burlesque "travesties," poetic parodies written in eight-syllable rhyming couplets, larded with puns and double-entendres, and generally mocking mythological or historical subjects. "L'Ovide en Belle Humeur," written in 1649, was his second work in this genre. Dassoucy later collaborated with Corneille and Molière, providing music for their plays. Flamboyantly libertine, he was imprisoned for debauchery, but was pardoned and pensioned by a sympathetic Louis XIV.
Our binding is the work of brothers Marcellin and Paul Lortic, who inherited the highly respected bindery of their father Pierre in 1884 and ran it together until 1891, when Paul left the business. Marcellin was both a binder and a gilder, and did much of the work with his own hands, furnishing bindings for some of the most discerning bibliophiles of the day, and maintaining the fine reputation of the name Lortic. Former owner Louis Georges Montandon (1849-1927) was a banker at Crédit Lyonnais and a member of the Société des bibliophiles et iconophiles of Belgium. (ST16359)
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PJP Catalog: 78.140