Les chants...traduits en vers par Firmin Didot.

Paris, Firmin Didot, pere et fils, 1827.

Folio (525 x 350mm.), pp. [4, blank], 33, [7, blank], two title-pages, in Greek and French, engraved vignettes on each title, text of the ‘Lettre… a Firmin Didot’ engraved, main text printed in Greek and French; a fine copy, in contemporary purple straight-grained goatskin over paste boards by Thouvenin, sides with a wide, finely gilt border enclosing a decorated blind-stamped panel and a central blind-stamped arabesque dotted with small tools in gilt, the upper cover signed, flat gilt spine, gilt dentelles, red silk bookmark; extremities and spine rubbed, a few light surface scratches; bookplate of Emily Mercer, Marchioness of Lansdowne (1819-1895) on the front paste-down.


US $8421€6756

Make an enquiry

One of only 100 copies - all hors de commerce - of this deluxe folio Didot edition of some of the oldest martial elegy verses of the Western tradition: the surviving works of the Spartan poet Tyrtaeus and the Ephesian poet Callinus (7th-6th century BC). The text is preceded by an engraved Lettre to Firmin Didot by his three sons, with an appraisal of the achievements of his printing house in his absence (during a tour of Spain). It was in the same year, 1827, that Firmin Didot passed the managing of his business on to Ambroise, Hyacinthe and Frédéric to devote himself to public affairs. Two years later he officially resigned.

This copy, from the library of Emily Mercer, Marchioness of Lansdowne, daughter of the French statesman Charles Joseph, comte de Flahaut, who was made a peer of France in 1827, is splendidly bound by Thouvenin, in the full maturity of his art. Thouvenin ‘started to work as odd boy with Bozerian Jeune in 1802, and … had acquired great competence by 1806. He set up on his own in 1813, apparently to learn the gilding which Bozérian Jeune had been unwilling to teach him’ (C. Ramsden, French bookbinders, p. 204). The first international recognition came with his submission of eleven bindings at the 1819 Exhibition. Before his death in 1834 ‘he had achieved, in his new and excellently installed workshop in the Passage Dauphine, both a reputation as the leading binder of his epoch, and social connections which he evidently enjoyed and deserved. … His name has been immortalised by mentions in the pages of Balzac and Stendhal’ (ibid.)

Brunet IV, 400; Schweiger, I, 333; binding: Davis Gift III, no. 198; Foot, Reliures françaises, p. 387; British Library online Database of Bookbindings, Davis 715; P. Culot, Reliures et reliures decorées en France à l’époque romantique, Brussels, 1995.

You may also be interested in...


An Ode, on the Death of Mr. Henry Purcell; late Servant to his Majesty, and Organist of the Chapel Royal, and of St. Peter’s Westminster. The Words by Mr. Dryden, and sett to Musick by Dr. Blow.

First edition of Dryden’s moving elegy to his friend Purcell. The musical setting by Blow, for flutes and two counter-tenors, is generally considered his finest work.

Read more

CHAUCER, Geoffrey.

The Workes of our ancient and learned English Poet, Geoffrey Chaucer, newly printed. To that which was done in the former Impression, thus much is now added. 1. In the Life of Chaucer many Things inserted. 2. The whole Worke by old Copies reformed. 3. Sentences and Proverbes noted. 4. The Signification of the old and obscure Words prooved: also Characters shewing from what Tongue or Dialect they be derived. 5. The Latine and French, not Englished by Chaucer, translated. 6. The Treatise called Jacke Upland, against Friers: and Chaucers A. B. C. called La Priere de Nostre Dame, at this Impression added.

Second Thomas Speght edition (sixth collected edition), revised much for the better by Francis Thynne; this is the variant with Adam Islip rather than George Bishop in the imprint. The portrait of Chaucer, which first appeared in the Speght edition of 1598, is the first engraved representation of the poet.

Read more