Henri Beraldi's Copy, in Untouched, Elegant Bindings Done by a Demi-God with Hands Said To Be Guided by Minerva


(Paris: [Printed by Jules Didot l'aine for] Chez Dalibon, 1823). 210 x 132 mm. (8 1/4 x 5 1/4"). Three volumes.

VERY ELEGANT CONTEMPORARY VIOLET CALF BY THOUVENIN (stamp-signed in gilt on backstrip of volume I), covers each with two single gilt rules enclosing a blind-stamped panel composed of swirls and floral motifs on a stippled ground, with smooth medallion at center within an ornate frame, raised bands ruled in gilt, compartments with rectangular gilt tool or gilt lettering, gilt turn-ins, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. Volume I with engraved frontispiece. Front pastedowns of volume I with pink ex-libris of Henri Beraldi; front flyleaves of all three volumes with woodcut ex-libris of "A. N. B." ◆Variably foxed as is typical of French paper from this period (significant portions of two of the volumes with heavy foxing), but the set otherwise faultless--the text seemingly unread, and THE BINDINGS IN PERFECT CONDITION.

From the collection of the leading expert on 19th century French bindings, this is a set of the works of Horace, covered in calf of considerable refinement by the great Joseph Thouvenin, the eldest of three bookbinder brothers. In "La Reliure de la XIXe Siècle," our former owner Henri Beraldi names Simier, Purgold, and Thouvenin the triumvirate of binders who ruled the French Restoration (1815-40), a period he considered "one of the grand epochs of French bookbinding." Of those three, he tells us Thouvenin (1779-1834) stood out as "one of the most famous names in bookbinding." He was the gifted pupil of Bozerian, the leading French binder of the late 18th century, and he was viewed as a demi-god by his contemporaries, who claimed he must be instructed and guided by Minerva, the goddess of craftsmen. He established his workshop in 1814, and swiftly became one of the most successful and in-demand binders in Paris. Our binding was done in the latter part of the binder's career: according to the British Library Database of Bookbindings, the stamp-signed signature "R[elié] P[ar] Thouvenin" appeared on works produced before 1820; afterwards, as here, the signature consisted only of the last name of the binder by itself. The style of our binding is also characteristic of work he produced after 1820, when he turned from the lacy gilt "millepoint" tooling he had perfected under Bozerian to blind-stamped designs that would typify his "Cathedral" style. The text here is a fine printing of the odes and satires of Roman poet Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus, 65-8 B.C.) by Jules Didot the elder, printer to the king. Henri Beraldi (1849-1931) was surely the most distinguished and knowledgeable writer on French bindings of the 19th century. His collection of French illustrated books and bindings was considered to be among the very best in the world. The outstanding condition here is typical of volumes from Beraldi's library.

Price: $3,250.00