(Paris: Librairie des Bibliophiles, 1878). 175 x 110 mm. (6 7/8 x 4 1/4"). 1 p.l., xlviii, 213,  pp.With a prefatory essay on the origins of "Paul et Virginie" by S. Cambray.
SUMPTUOUS TEAL BLUE MOROCCO, ELABORATELY INLAID, BY QUINET, covers with central oval medallion enclosed by listel and scroll frame in orange, cream, brown, red, and olive green morocco, a large orange flower bud emerging at head and foot of oval, with an ornate inlaid scrolling floral design emanating from these buds and curling around the sides of the oval, raised bands, spine compartments inlaid with fan and flower design, MOSAIC MOROCCO DOUBLURES IN A 16TH CENTURY-STYLE RÉPÉTITION DESIGN of gilt-tooled black arabesques and small blue circles tooled with gilt stars on a honey-brown morocco background, red cut velvet free endleaves, marbled flyleaves, all edges gilt. Original printed paper wrappers bound in. With 37 PLATES: a portrait of the author and five etchings by Laguillermie, as called for, and EXTRA-ILLUSTRATED BY 31 PLATES on Holland paper, by Lalauze (eight), Foulquier (four), Hédouin (seven, including an additional portrait) and Corbould (11, including five plates in two states, one before letters, and an engraved title with vignette from 1829 edition). Four plates with minor marginal foxing or discoloration (images not affected), printed on paper that was either faintly brown in color to begin with or has become so, a little offsetting from engravings, but in all other ways, A VERY FINE COPY with no signs of use inside or out, the plates mostly bright, and THE EXUBERANT BINDING BEAUTIFULLY PRESERVED.
Lavishly bound and illustrated, this is an exceptionally desirable bibliophile's copy of the book by which Saint-Pierre (1737-1814) is chiefly remembered--an immensely popular, widely translated, and often printed story of passionate romance, with didactic digressions. First issued in 1788, it tells the tale of two childhood friends on the French island colony of Mauritius, who grow up to fall in love--and serves as an allegory of the corrupting influence of the French upper classes on the innocent "child of nature." The inserted plates here offer an unusual opportunity to compare the way several leading French illustrators envisioned the characters, the exotic setting of the story, and the climactic storm at sea. Our binding was identified by French binding expert Dominique Courvoisier as the work of the Quinet bindery, active in Paris in the second half of the 19th century. Quinet is listed in an 1847 French business directory, and is mentioned in an 1894 review of the Grolier Club's exhibition of "Recent Bookbindings." In the latter, author Brander Matthews reserved the highest praise for Parisian binders Capé, Cuzin, Chambolle-Duru, De Samblancx, Gruel and Engelman, Joly, Lortic, Marius Michel, Niedrée, Quinet, and Ruban (and he saw originality and promise in an up-and-coming English artisan named Cobden-Sanderson). The work here demonstrates our binder's worthiness to be included in this distinguished company. Quinet perhaps drew inspiration from Marius Michel's "Flore Ornamentale" style for the cover decoration here, with its swirling botanical elements (there is something of the pyrotechnic here as well), while turning to 16th century designs for the elegant doublures. (ST16808)