This Belle Epoque album and collection of 48 chromolithographs were the "piece de resistance" advertising campaign of the world famous Lefèvre-Utile baking company, more commonly known as LU Biscuits, based in Nantes, France. I don't have enough photo slots to include individual pictures of each one but all 48 cards are pictured (do use the zoom feature) as well as closeups of some of the embossed details. This album is like a Who's Who of the turn of the century: Sarah Bernhardt, Cleo de Merode, La Belle Otero, Luigi Loir, Anatole France and on and on.
The album measures about 14.5 by 10.5 inches. It contains 10 pages, 48 chromolithographs and room for 8 more. Each chromolithograph card measures almost 3.75 by 6.75 inches. The design, the embossing, the colors: this album is, as the French would say, "incroyable" (unbelievable.) Just what little bit I handled the album to take photos (I removed two cards to examine and verify the blank back side.) I felt like I was Gil in "Midnight in Paris," truly transported back to the Belle Epoque! Princeton University has an album like this in their graphic arts collection. They date it to circa 1903. My French source said that LU Biscuits actually began producing the albums in 1901, but let's not quibble over 2 years. Either way, this album and its contents are over a century old, and for its age, in almost mint condition. Some of the chromolithographs show their age a bit, with white specks where color is missing, but overall, this album is magnificent. The colors so rich and saturated. To say that this album is a gold mine is perhaps hyperbole, but ... in researching the history of LU Biscuits, I did learn that "gold" highlights on paper were created by mixing genuine gold dust with oil and then spray painting that onto the paper! Chromolithographs that aren't highlighted in gold glimmer with rich bronze and bright silver colors. The album pages themselves also have a lot of gold highlights in the Art Nouveau floral designs.
The complete LU series features 89 luxurious celebrity autograph cards to collect: there are 48 here. These cards were comprised of a personality photograph, an illustration in connection with their craft (actor, writer, painter, dancer, explorer, composer, etc.) and an autograph text touting the merits of Petit-Butter LU cookies. Faced with the manufacturing difficulty which combined chromolithography, embossing and the installation of a photograph, the original printer Champenois (1886-1917) gave up after the first three and then Grossens printers took over the manufacturing. But it was H. Laas & Pécaud & Co. of Paris (1860-1910) who ended up producing more than half of the cards.
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