Beautifully Bound and Elegantly Illustrated Volumes Of the Probably Spurious Works of a 15th Century Poetess


(Paris: Nepveu, 1824; 1827). 238 x 155 mm. (9 3/8 x 6 1/8"). Two separately published but related works, uniformly bound. Nouvelle Edition of the first work; Second Edition of the second work.

LOVELY CONTEMPORARY RED MOROCCO BY HERING & MULLER (stamp-signed in gilt on backstrip of volume I), each cover with attractive gilt design resembling an elaborate gothic arch, with columns, two towers protruding at the top, and many onlays of yellow, green and purple morocco, surrounded by a border of multiple gilt rules and foliate cornerpieces, slightly raised bands, three compartments with a quatrefoil containing morocco onlays and surrounded by gilt, two compartments with gilt lettering or numbering, gilt turn-ins, light blue moiré paper endpapers, top edge gilt, others untrimmed (volume I) or trimmed on the rough (volume II). WITH FRONTISPIECE AND A TOTAL OF EIGHT VIGNETTES IN THREE STATES: on chine collé, hand-colored and heightened in gold (these two states on the same plate), as well as in black & white (the latter in-text as vignettes); AND NINE ILLUSTRATIONS WITH PLATES IN FIVE STATES: a "pure" etching (i.e., the first state of an etching), before framing on chine collé, with the frame and before the letter on chine collé, with the frame and before the letter on white paper, and the finished state of the etching with hand coloring and gold highlights; volume I also with four leaves of engraved music. Volume I with bookplates of Emmanuel Martin and Auguste Garnier on front free endpaper; first flyleaf with a long autograph note signed in pencil by bibliographer Jules Le Petit, and an autograph letter written and signed by Ch. Vanderbourg (the editor of the first volume) bound in before title; volume II with bookplate of Emmanuel Martin on front flyleaf, and his book label on rear fly leaf. Carteret, III, pp. 577-78; Ray, "French" 176. ◆Perhaps half the leaves in volume I lightly browned and/or faintly mottled due to paper stock (second volume unaffected and quite bright), trivial foxing here and there, but the two volumes obviously very little used, and THE BINDINGS IN BEAUTIFUL CONDITION--the leather and gilt remarkably bright, the spines unfaded, and the pair making a lovely appearance on the shelf.

Offered here in beautiful "Cathedral-Style" bindings that are entirely fitting for the contents, these two works allegedly contain the poetry of a 15th century noblewoman--but were in fact part of a long-lived literary hoax. The purported author of these poems was Clotilde de Surville (ca. 1405-98), who, we are told, was an educated noblewoman, and gifted in the art of poetry. Widowed at just 23, Surville wrote mostly on themes of love, loss, heroism, and war. Her "Poésies," first published in 1803, was supposedly based on a manuscript of her work that had been discovered and transcribed by a descendent. Although many critics dismissed it as a contemporary forgery, something about the story of the widowed poetess captured the public's imagination. A second volume of her work, titled "Poésies Inédite," was published in 1826, allegedly based on yet another manuscript that had been "found"--this time by one of the editors. Although the present two volumes of Surville's work were published three years apart and are often advertised for sale alone, they were clearly meant to be companion volumes: both were printed by the same publisher, in the same size and typeface, and contain engravings by Colin. Ray calls the first work "one of the most lavish productions of the period," and notes that "Nepveu saw to it that prospective purchasers had several options with regard to paper and illustrations." The romantic and gothic elements of the contents pair perfectly with the binding style here. Deriving its name from the use of design motifs taken from gothic architecture, the so-called "Cathedral Binding" (or "Cathedral-Style Binding") was fashionable in England and France for about three decades, beginning ca. 1810. In France the design was usually blocked, while in England it was typically accomplished with gilt tooling. The French binder Joseph Thouvenin is sometimes credited with popularizing the style. With the death in 1831 of Charles Hering Jr., the Hering bindery was carried on by his brothers James and Henry, the former being head of the workshop. Frédéric Guillaume Muller (d. 1836) then joined the Herings from 1830 to 1834, after which he purchased the tools of the recently deceased Thouvenin, set up business for himself, and gained recognition on his own, earning the bronze medal for work shown at the 1834 exhibition. As can be seen here, the short-lived Hering & Muller portion of the business produced bindings characterized by the same elegance and care in execution evident in the work of earlier iterations of the Hering firm.

Price: $11,000.00