With all the Features of a Fine Bibliophilic Volume Combining Most Appealing French and American Elements


(Paris: A. Ferroud and F. Ferroud (successor), 1906). 280 x 200 mm. (11 x 8"). 3 p.l., ix, [1], 181, [3] pp. No. 6 OF 60 COPIES on Japon ancien with plates in two additional states, initialed by the publisher, from a total edition of 325, THIS COPY WITH AN ORIGINAL WATERCOLOR ON VELLUM by Raphäel Collin, the illustrator of the work, NOT CALLED FOR IN THE JUSTIFICATION.

LUXURIOUS RED CRUSHED MOROCCO BY H. ZUCKER OF PHILADELPHIA (stamp-signed on front turn-in), covers framed by gilt fillets, raised bands, spine compartments with inlaid green morocco concave frame with gilt embellishment, PICTORIAL VIOLET MOROCCO DOUBLURES with dentelle gilt frame, front doublure with the onlaid figure of a nude nymph within an onlaid green morocco lobed frame, rear doublure with an onlaid and gilt lyre centerpiece similarly framed, marbled free endpapers, top edge gilt, others edges untrimmed. Original illustrated paper wrappers bound in. Housed in a red buckram chemise and matching slipcase (these somewhat worn). WITH 33 ETCHED ILLUSTRATIONS BY RAPHÄEL COLLIN, eight full-page, all in three states, and with an ORIGINAL WATERCOLOR ON (somewhat wrinkled) VELLUM. Prospectus bound in at rear. Front free endpaper with bookplate of Benjamin Abraham. ◆Isolated small spots of foxing to margins, one state of one plate rather foxed, but still a lovely copy in fine condition--clean, fresh, and bright with virtually no signs of wear.

This is bibliophile's edition of one of the most widely believed and successful of all literary hoaxes, in an American binding that could easily be mistaken for the work of a Parisian atelier. Before opening his Sansom Street workshop, binder Hyman Zucker trained and worked with the eminent Philadelphia bindery of Pawson & Nicholson, co-founded by James B. Nicholson (1820-1901), author of the first practical manual on bookbinding written in the United States ("A Manual of the Art of Bookbinding," 1856). Zucker issued a pamphlet introducing his new business, which would "Attend to All Orders for the Binding of Books in Every Style of the Art from Plain Half-binding to Elaborate Tooling Upon Full Bound Volumes." The present volume is clearly one of his high-end productions, with especially striking doublures. Fin-de-siècle Paris saw the emergence of a new type of book collector, as documented by Willa Silverman in "The New Bibliopolis." The scholarly bookworm who searched the stalls of the bouquinistes for 17th century volumes was replaced by the wealthy, educated man (and it was almost always a man) of refined taste, who disdained dull, calf-covered volumes in favor of new, exquisitely produced books. The leader of these new bibliophiles was collector and taste-maker Octave Uzanne, whose "aesthetic manifesto" promised, in Silverman's words, to require "illustrations, typography, paper, and bindings such as had never been seen before, produced with the most modern techniques." Publishers and bibliographic societies vied to offer exclusive limited editions with such distinguishing characteristics. This volume is a perfect example: not only does it feature illustrations in two additional states that demonstrate the stages of production, but it also contains an original, signed watercolor by Raphäel Collin (1850-1916), a successful painter and sought-after illustrator. The text--which is printed on paper with the sheen and feel of fine silk--could be considered the ideal content for a bibliophile's edition, as it combines two favored genres: Greek or Roman classics and Symbolist poetry. Containing 143 erotic prose poems with lesbian themes, "Songs of Bilitis" was represented to comprise translations from the Greek of a supposed contemporary of Sappho, when it was, in fact, penned by novelist and Symbolist poet Pierre Louÿs. Born in Belgium, Louÿs (1870-1925) relocated to France where, though an apparent heterosexual, he became familiar in homosexual circles and was known for close friendships with André Gide and Oscar Wilde. In 1891, along with Gide, Henri de Régnier, and Paul Valéry, Louÿs founded the literary review, "La Conque," where he published "Astarte," an early collection of erotic verse; his first great success, the present "Les Chansons de Bilitis," followed in 1894. Former owner Benjamin Abraham seems to have been an American collector--perhaps from Philadelphia--who followed the French bibliophilic fashion. The Morgan Library has nine books with his bookplate, all finely bound French bibliophile editions from the late 19th and early 20th century.

Price: $4,000.00