Fables de La Fontaine, Tome Premier
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Accompagnée d'une notice historique et de notes par le bon Walckenaer
This book is extremely close to the first volume in a set I found twenty-one years earlier at Minster Gate Bookshop in York. Though Herr Canicio thinks it is a first printing and dates it to 1837-1838, I believe it is a third printing. I say that it is, with its Volume II, extremely close to the Minster Gate Volume I with its companion Volume II. What is different? Two things are different that I have noticed so far. First, I had long ago noticed that a printer's design on 76 in what I believe is the first printing from 1838-1839 is not present in the Minster Gate copy. To my surprise that printer's design is present here. Secondly, the two colored frontispieces to the two volumes, printed on heavy stock, are reversed here. I had already noticed a discrepancy between the Minster Gate copy's placement and Bassy's description. I will include comments based on those I made on the Minster Gate copy. Its features include 1) the sensitive frontispiece of La Fontaine with "poésie" and "morale" at his sides; 2) the wonderful David illustrations (Bassy "a," commenting on the 1842 Aubert edition), including a head-piece (about 3" by 2") for each fable and a smaller tail-piece for many ; 3) the twelve frontispieces (signed by Schaal and Laisné), one at the beginning of each book, each of which incorporates motifs from several fables in that book into a beautiful emblem (Bassy "b"); and six plates outside the text in each volume designed by such as Johannot, Grenier, and Lange and often engraved by Thompson (Bassy "c"). These added plates are not at the page numbers given by Bassy, but rather, as in the Minster Gate copy, at the exact point in the book where they further illustrate their given fables. There is also another frontispiece added to each volume, complete with gold and coloring, and well described by Bassy, but they are in Bassy's order here, not exchanged as in the Minster Gate copy. Here the musical shepherd and Perrin Dandin are in the first volume and FG and the countryman with the serpent in the second volume. Among my favorite illustrations are: OF (61); the bald man between the two women he is courting (93); CJ (99); the highly balanced and intricate frontispiece to Book II, with the falling astronomer at its center; the tail-piece to BF, showing an academic copying things out of many books (216); the grisly tail-piece to "The Mother, the Child, and the Wolf" (233); the full-page plate of the two servants ready to kill the rooster (facing 261); and "The Eagle and the Owl" (281). How should we understand the human figures set into the full-page plate for TH (facing 309)? This copy is generally remarkably clean.
Armand Aubrée, Éditeur