This is a charming example dating from the "Golden Century" of French bookbinding. This type of binding, with it's luscious colors and raised gilt embellishment is known as a "romantic binding". It was produced for a very short period of time, just over 50 years (from 1840-1890), in France.
The fabrication of this type of binding was painstaking. First, the hardened paper cover boards were embossed with a color paper, in this case French green. A white stamp was placed over the green to enhance the design. A final stamp added a textural and lavish gilt design. A central lithograph was placed beneath in a cut-out medallion on the front cover board, lying underneath the embossed and paper design. The lithograph is remarkable for the date of production, with the lovely soft and deep coloring which resembles a pastel work. The inside of the front and back covers have a 1/4" gilt embellished border.
The text, "Histoire de la Chevalerie" is presented in the French language. The text was written to be read by a young person, and is easily read by intermediate French students today. It is enhanced by two engravings and an engraved frontispiece.
This genre of books was often given as prizes to worthy students in the French school system. The inside front cover bears a ticket from the "Librairie Universelle", as well as a manuscript line, "prix de M. Caprais" (prize from Mister Caprais) and a manuscript line, "Valery Chanteloule", most likely the recipient of this prize book.
The book is in sound and very good condition. The colors of both the front and back covers, as well as the central lithograph remain fresh and vibrant. There is a slight separation to the joint at the back cover and the spine (at the bottom, see photos), but there is no evidence of the book coming apart.....this is just a normal part of aging from the varying temperatures over time. The book measures: 7 1/2" x 4 1/2" x 6/8" thick.
The book shows marvelously on a display shelf, and is a fun reading project for a French student.
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