(Paris: 1896). 200 x 135 mm. (7 7/8 x 5 3/8").  leaves. Single column, 16 lines plus headline in a thin, graceful italic script.
Attractive red crushed morocco by Marcellin Lortic (stamp-signed on front doublure), covers framed by multiple-rule gilt strapwork, raised bands, spine compartments with gilt French fillet, gilt titling, vellum doublures with gilt frame in the Romantic style, leather hinges, vellum endleaves, all edges gilt. In matching morocco-trimmed slipcase. Title in burnished gold embellished with red and blue penwork, text with red-ruled border and burnished gold stars at corners, numerous one-line burnished gold initials with red or blue penwork, two-line opening initial in burnished gold on a blue, white, and pink background, and A HALF-PAGE MINIATURE (measuring 71 x 64 mm.) SHOWING A COURTROOM SCENE. Front free endleaf with morocco bookplate of Robert Hoe. Just the slightest hint of rubbing to joints, but A VERY FINE SPECIMEN, entirely fresh, bright, and clean inside and out.
This elegant little manuscript in French recounts Guy de Maupassant's satirical tale of a trial in the provinces; it was created by a man who knew the inside of a courtroom all too well. Bouton (1819-1901) was a young rebel during the 1848 Revolution who spent five years in jail for his participation in a bombing in Paris. Oddly enough, the dedicated republican was also an expert on heraldry and paleography, publishing pamphlets on those subjects (as well as on politics) and producing manuscripts like the present one. De Maupassant (1850-1893) is generally acknowledged as one of the great masters of the short story. In the present tale, a wealthy older woman who had tried to buy a young peasant's love by giving him land sues unsuccessfully for the return of her property when the object of her affection forsakes her for a younger woman. According to Beverly Chew, the library of Robert Hoe (1839-1911), founding member and first president of the Grolier Club, was "the finest [America] has ever contained." Hoe acquired illuminated manuscripts, early printing (he owned a Gutenberg Bible on paper and one on vellum), fine bindings, French and English literature, and Americana, and when his library was sold in 1911-12, it fetched nearly $2 million, a record that held until the Streeter sale more than 50 years later. Hoe owned several Bouton manuscripts of de Maupassant stories, and the Morgan Library also has Bouton creations. The Lortic name was made famous in the history of French binding by Pierre Marcellin Lortic (1822-92), a leading Parisian binder for 40 years; the binder here was Lortic's son Marcellin, or "Lortic Fils" (1852-1928). (ST17129-026)