IMAGINARY SOCIETY FOR STRONG LEATHER

Patente de cuirassiers.

[Tanopolis], [n.p.], [?early 1800s].

4to, bifolium, 23 x ? cm; last three pages blank; charming woodcut vignette; decorative border; print stamp; disbound, in excellent condition.

£380

Approximately:
US $472€421

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A very scarce and rather inexplicable handbill, supposedly a declaration by the grand master of the order of cuirassiers and of cuir fort, issued from the fictional city of Tanopolis and in the name of ‘l’Empereur Pataqu’est-ce’. The bill is presented to an estimable gentleman, whose name is blank, contracting him to convert ‘everything that comes out of his mouth’ into leather, i.e. all his expressions, and then in the future to employ two further cuirassiers of his stature. The curious stamp at the bottom left promises guerre a mort aux puristes; who the ‘purists’ are, and what the cuirassiers might have against them, is unclear. Possibly this is a satirical attack on tradesmen producing leather for the war effort, who were increasing their profits by diminishing the quality of their stock. Everything about the handbill speaks of deliberate obscurity: the emperor’s name (‘who-is-it?’), the stamp, the withheld name, and the curious use of the number 1234.

OCLC lists only one copy worldwide, at the BnF; not in COPAC.

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