12mo (140 x 105 mm), 24 engraved scenes with captions for the letters A to Z (excluding I and W) printed side-by-side and folded concertina style; tear to fold between A and B (without loss), closed tear (without loss) to B, small holes to inner margins between O and P and to Z, some old repairs to blank versos of B, C, L, O, and P, some light foxing, creasing and rubbing; overall good in original pale grey boards, engraved panel to upper cover with title, imprint, and vignette of a reclining Pan playing the pipes, embossed floral pattern to lower cover; some wear to extremities and rubbing and marks to covers, hinges partly split.
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A delightful and extremely rare ABC depicting figures from Greek and Roman mythology, alongside the Hindu river goddess Yamuna for the letter Y.
The twenty-four scenes depicted, executed in skilful and lively fashion by the Parisian lithographers Durand and Ligny jeune, show: Aurora embracing Cephalus; Bacchus snatching Ariadne’s crown; Ceres and two children harvesting; Diana transforming Actaeon into a deer; Europa on the back of Jupiter as a bull; a river god (under F for ‘Fleuve’); the Three Graces; Hercules wrestling the Nemean lion; Io (as a cow) and Jupiter discovered by Juno; Saturn under the name ‘Krodo’, holding a scythe and an hourglass; the bacchante Labda dancing and playing the tambourine, in the company of a cherub and a leopard; Mercury instructing Cupid; Neptune appeasing the winds; Orithyia being snatched by Boreas, god of the north wind; Pan evaded by Syrinx (transformed into water reeds); Juno under her name ‘Quiritia’, reclining on a cloud with two peacocks and a chariot; the water nymph Rhodope, daughter of Oceanus; a pot-bellied and inebriated Silenus; Triton blowing a conch shell; Urania the muse of astronomy holding a celestial globe; Venus emerging from the sea; Jupiter ‘Xenius’ as protector of strangers, with a fist full of lightning bolts; Yamuna, daughter of the sun god, as a river goddess; and Zephyr, god of the west wind.
No copies traced on OCLC, Library Hub, or CCFr. One copy is recorded in S. Le Men’s Les abécédaires français illustrés du XIXe siècle (Paris, 1984), no. 366 in her inventory, sold as lot 300 in the sale of the collection of Roger Castaing at Drouot, Paris, on 9-10 November 1977 (quite possibly our copy).
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