An exquisite "romantic" binding, it originates from a small Parisian library and has a dated signed dedication, "Donne par Mme de Crecy pour le 01 janvier 1869". Mme. de Crecy was most likely a teacher and the book a reward as a prize to a student for excellence in study.
This type of binding had a small window of production in France, between 1840 and 1880. Created by the use of bits of colored paper, large engraved metal plaques and heat, they have a distinctive textural and luminous appearance.
The book is bound in a thick black paper over hard boards. The paper has been textured by the use of large engraved plaques which were heated and pressed to the board, creating a "blind stamp" reverse frame and background. Tiny bits of paper were hand cut and placed according to specific shapes in the design. A second engraved plaque was heated, dipped in gilt, and pressed into the board. This created not only a delicate, lace like gilt adornment; but served to seal the paper into place.
The central medallion on the front cover board is an astonishing engraved work of tiny flowers, scrolls and leaves. At the top are two beautifully detailed cherubs who hold a large cornucopia. Two winged cherubs hold the top of festoons which drape downward. There are red, white and blue medallions ornamented with gilt arabesques. The spine boasts an extravagant amount of gilt design; a beautiful young lady, urns, flowers, columns and scrolls. Red, green and blue paper achieves a raised, padded appearance enhancing the design further. The page edges are extravagant as well and are heavily gilded.
The French text is easily read by an intermediate student of French. The title "the Beauties of the Soul" presents within short stories the beautiful qualities of the soul including love of work, devoutness, charity, humanity, courage, order, perseverance and tenderness. There is a majestic full color frontispiece and twelve full page sepia engravings (presented in hand drawn format). The engravings are extraordinary in detail; presenting a window to everyday life in the mid 1850's.
It measures: 9 1/4" x 6" x 1". It is in very good antique condition; only slight wear to spine edges top and bottom, light wear to binding edges typical with advanced age and use.
These splendid bindings are impossible to find in today's market. They are lavish binding examples which give witness to goodness of the soul and how it effects people in everyday situations.
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French Antiques: 19th Century French Smalls: Sewing, Religious, Bronze Figures-French Books and Bindings