Paris, France: Bachelin - Deflorenne,  1872. Henri Leon Curmier. Second Edition. Leather_bound. IN FRENCH. Three magnificent quartos, measuring 11 3/8" x 8 3/4". contemporary brown tooled morocco, sectioned and ruled in blind, five raised hubs (six compartments), gilt edge, royal blue watered silk doublures. Elaborate gilt dentelles to insides of front pastedowns. Signed presentation copy on fly-leaf of first volume (dated 1888) from Queen Margherita, Queen-Consort of (her first cousin) Umberto I, King of Italy, who reigned from 1878-1900. The first and second volumes comprise the text of the Gospels ornamentally printed with brilliant and beautiful borders, and enriched with exquisite illuminated miniatures, which were select pages from celebrated manuscripts throughout Europe, ranging from the tenth to the sixteenth century, in brilliantly colored and gilded facsimile. The third volume is the Appendices. Some scattered foxing to part of this third (Appendices) volume, and minor rippling to the section with pasted-on photographs, and to a thirteen-page section of Volume I, -- certainly neither obtrusive nor image-compromising.
Superbly colored by means of Henri Leon Curmer's pioneering chromolithographic technique which involved first photographing, then hand-coloring these powerful and storied images. Actual copies of nearly 80 miniature photographs of his engravings (lacking three) are affixed to pages of Volume III, and opposite, on the recto, a poem, or (frequently) a biblical quote. This Third volume is dated 1864, and features illustrative texts describing each manuscript, correlating them by page number to their place in the first two volumes, and in-depth articles about these famous illuminators, materials used etc., for Curmer was a true scholar and master of the lithographic arts. Curmer also gives his nod of gratitude in this third volume by listing all of his subscribers to this magnificent and brilliantly executed creation, including their name, title, country of origin, subscriber number, how many sets ordered, etc. At the end of the volume (III) are copies of Jost Amman's "Eygentliche Beschreibung aller Stände auff Erden", followed by Hans Holbein's 41 starkly stunning images comprising his (1538) Dance of Death woodcut series. Finally d'Aligny's copies of Simon Vostre's marginals (the key term "marginal" emphasizing little relation of these bordering miniatures, to the heart and soul of the book in which they appeared). Very Good. Item #73117
This 1872 printing of the first two volumes was published posthumously by the firm of Bachelin-Deflorenne of London, a branch of the Paris concern, which purchased Curmer's "whole stock and copyright of his principle publications in Chromo-lithography" (The Athenaeum No. 2217, Apr. 23, 1870) from the widow Mrs. Curmer. The Athenaeum went on to say: "These Chromo-Lithographs...are undoubtedly the richest and finest of the kind ever published". The work was thusly advertised in The May 2nd, 1870 issue of THE BOOKSELLER, (then "the" magazine of the bookselling trade -- published in London since 1802): "Two Vols, 4to. Bound in morocco, rich gilt ornaments on sides, gilt edges...This most magnificent work is illustrated with a great number of Miniatures, printed in gold and colors, reproducing the finest paintings of celebrated manuscripts, viz: Le Lilvre d'Heures du Cardinal Grimani, les Heures de Bedford, &c., and numerous Borders, all in Chromo-Lithography, forming a kind of Encyclopaedia of the art of Miniatures during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. It is, besides, illustrated with a great number of Wood-engravings, &c., after Wiercx, and other artists."
The cost then, for a comparable publisher's copy in 1870, with the optional morocco, with case, was £36, which converts to around $3107 ($4180) in today's currently); the book was enormously costly to create.