A TYPOGRAPHICAL MASTERCLASS IN MINIATURE

Bibliothèque en Miniature. 

Paris, Firmin Didot frères for Marcilly, [c. 1835]. 

6 vols (70 x 45 mm), pp. 24 each, each with engraved title and one engraved plate; some closed marginal tears (without loss), some foxing, a few ink spots to Voltaire; overall good in original engraved thick paper wrappers, in original slipcase with gilt spine; wrappers somewhat dusty and thumbed (several split or partially split at spine), spines reinforced with coloured paper, slipcase sides recovered in later sheep, spinepiece partially detached.

£400

Approximately:
US $490€464

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A miniature library for children, printed in Henri Didot’s celebrated ‘Non Plus Ultra’ type, comprising Berquin’s Variétés, Démoustier’s Mythologie, Florian’s Mélanges, La Fontaine’s Fables, and poetry by Millevoye and Voltaire. 

In the nineteenth-century world of print, the Didot family loomed large with their near constant stream of innovations.  François Didot established a reputation of typographical perfection, his son, François-Ambroise Didot, created the point system for sizing type, and his son, Firmin Didot, mastered the engraved roundhand.  However, one of the biggest contributions the Didot family made to print came from Henri Didot and his ‘Non Plus Ultra’ type, the miniscule font displayed in this book mearuring (on his uncle’s scale) 2.5pt.  The most famous uses of this type are in La Rochefoucauld’s Maximes (1827) and Horace’s Opera omnia (1828), but its invention also created the opportunity to produce these small books meant for children.  They are a beautiful example of the Didot family’s complete mastery of print, with handsome engraved titles and plates in each volume. 

Bondy, p. 75 (‘six enticing volumes … for young people’); Gumuchian 4062; Miniature Books 1250. 

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