The Schiff Copy of Probably the Most Elegant Poetical Work On Music, in a Binding Signed by Derome le Jeune


(Madrid: Imprenta Real, 1779). 235 x 150 mm. (9 1/4 x 6"). 10 p.l., 126, XL pp., [1] leaf (errata). FIRST EDITION.

EXCELLENT CONTEMPORARY CRIMSON MOROCCO BY DEROME LE JEUNE (his ticket with address of Rue St. Jacques on verso of front free endpaper), covers framed with thick and thin gilt rules, raised bands, spine compartments with central floral sprig surrounded by a lozenge of small tools, volute cornerpieces, gilt titling, gilt-rolled turn-ins, gilt edges, cobalt blue paste-paper endpapers. WITH SIX CHARMING ENGRAVED ALLEGORICAL PLATES after G. Ferre. Front pastedown with morocco bookplate of Mortimer L. Schiff and small book label with a gilt cipher on a red peach. A Large Paper Copy. Palau y Dulcet IV, 107; RSIM B VI, 429; MGG VI, 1403 f.; Gregory-Bartlett I, 129. ◆Three minute dents to front board, a hint of wear to bands and corners, isolated faint foxing, blank recto of frontispiece leaf and blank verso of final leaf with faint blue shadown from endpapers, but all of these quite trivial, and otherwise A BEAUTIFUL COPY--fresh, clean, and bright internally, with very wide margins and strong impressions of the plates, and in a lustrous binding showing with few signs of use.

This is surely one of the handsomest poetical treatises on music ever produced, and it is offered here in a binding done by one of the finest craftsmen working in Europe during the period of the book's publication. The work is written in the "silva" form of poetry used by persons of high rank, illustrated with fine engravings, and put into elegant morocco by the finest hands among the large Derome family of binders. According to Palau, our first edition is "beautiful, and printed on fine paper." He says further that, although the strongly expressed opinions of the youthful author on contemporary composers caused the work to be "unfairly attacked," it was "appreciated by professors of music and collectors of literature in that genre," especially in Italy and America. A child of the Enlightenment, Iriate (1750-91) gained entry to intellectual and artistic circles in Madrid through his uncle, who was librarian to the king of Spain. He translated works by Horace and Virgil into Spanish by royal request, and wrote criticism, poetry, and dramas. He is best known for his satirical fables on the contemporary literary scene, "Fábulas literarias." There were no fewer than 18 members of the Derome family who made their livings as binders in Paris from the middle of the 17th century until the first quarter of the 19th, but by far the most distinguished family member was Nicolas-Denis, called "le jeune" (1731-88). Known for the gracefulness of his bindings, and for being capable of "amazing delicacy" (in Hobson's words), Derome le jeune was, simply, the leading binder of the day, and his work was much in demand. Because he refused to turn away customers, Derome was forced to hire a number of assistants, whose work he could not always supervise closely. However, Thoinan says that the binder's best work is indicated by the presence of his ticket, as here. The volume's provenance adds to its luster: it was in the distinguished library of American bibliophile Mortimer Schiff (1877-1931). In Dickinson's words, Schiff, a financier and philanthropist, Schiff "brought together an unrivaled collection of decorative bindings." His library included works by great printers, important illustrated books, and works printed on vellum, but chiefly fine and historic bindings. The "Reliures" database of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France commends Schiff for assembling "one of the most important inter-war libraries," noting that his collection was "renowned for its collection of French bindings."

Price: $7,800.00