Bindings Philobiblon

One Thousand Years of Bibliophily from the 11th to the 21st Century

With the original light green wrappers, housed in an artistic binding by Sandra Varisco

277. Collodi, Carlo (1826-1890)

Le avventure di Pinocchio. Storia di un burattino. Illustrata da E. Mazzanti. Felice Paggi, 1883.

8° (190x122 mm). 236 pages, plus IV pages of advertisements. A portrait of Pinocchio by Enrico Mazzanti serves as the frontispiece. Sixty-one woodcuts in the text, likewise by Mazzanti. In a fine binding signed and dated (2015) by Sandra Varisco, after a maquette by the contemporary artist MP5. Cream box calf with figurative inlays in green inspired by the silhouette of Pinocchio wearing donkey's ears (in Italian, 'donkey' also means 'dunce'). Title lettered in 'dymo' style on spine. The original light green wrappers preserved inside (with old repairs). In a half-leather chemise, with title in 'dymo' style on spine. A fine copy, partly uncut and generally fresh, two unobtrusive children's stamps.

Handsome copy of the first edition of Pinocchio housed in an artistic box calf binding, which captures one of the most famous episodes of Collodi's masterpiece, Pinocchio wearing donkey's ears in the Paese dei Balocchi, i.e, the Land of Toys. The original light green wrappers, illustrated by Enrico Mazzanti, are preserved inside the covers.

The novel Pinocchio was first serialised in the children's magazine from Rome, Giornale per i bambini, under the direction of Ferdinando Martini: the first instalment appeared on 7 July 1881, and the last one on 25 January 1883. Pinocchio was published as a book in the same year, 1883, probably in a very small print run, and at least twelve reprints appeared during the first year of publication. Enrico Mazzanti (1852-1893) was responsible for the everlasting black-and-white illustrations. The success was enormous, with countless editions and translations into more than 260 languages. Collodi's masterpiece continues to be cherished to this day and has been the subject of numerous adaptations, including popular versions by Walt Disney and Steven Spielberg, who used the story for the film A.I. (2001).

The work was first translated into English in 1892 by M. A. Murray, whose version – The Story of a Puppet or The Adventures of Pinocchio – was published in the same year in London as well as in New York, supplemented with thirty seven of Mazzanti's illustrations. In 1904 the first American illustrated edition was published, thanks to the work of Walter S. Cramp and Charles Copeland (Pinocchio: the Adventures of a Marionette, Boston, Ginn & Co.). “Almost nothing else in children's literature equals Pinocchio for wildness of invention” (Carpenter-Prichard, Oxford Companion to Children's Literature, p. 462).

Parenti, Rarità bibliografiche dell'Ottocento, pp. 148-153 (“E' questo uno dei pezzi più rari, se non il più raro senz'altro, dell'Ottocento italiano”); H. Carpenter - M. Prichard (eds.),Oxford Companion to Children's Literature, Oxford 1984, pp. 461-462; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 276.

One of thirty printed on Japon Ancien, bound by Madeleine Gras

281. Bonnard, Pierre (1867-1947) - Mirbeau, Octave (1848-1917)

Dingo. Ambroise Vollard, 1924.

4° (371x274 mm). 193, [11] pages. Fifty-five original etchings, some with drypoint: fourteen hors-texte plates, forty inthe text, one at the end; etched initials, headpieces and vignettes, all by Bonnard. Black and red morocco binding with white and red accents by Madeleine Gras (1891-1958), title lettered in gold in 'dymo' style on spine. Black suede endleaves and flyleaves. Gilt edges. The original wrappers preserved inside. Copy no. 23 of a total 350 copies, one of thirty printed on Japon Ancien. With a separate sheet showing the Indication pour le placement des eaux-fortes hors-texte, and a double suite of the fourteen plates sur papier d'Arches. A beautiful, pristine copy.

A fine copy of the famous French dealer-printer Ambroise Vollard's deluxe printing of one of Octave Mirbeau's final texts, illustrated throughout by the celebrated French painter and printmaker Pierre Bonnard. No. 23 of 350 copies printed – and one of only thirty copies printed on Japon Ancien – it is one of the best examples of early twentieth-century livres d'artiste, counting among Bonnard's masterpieces, and further enriched with a design binding by Madeleine Gras, pupil of the great binder Noulhac.

Dingo is an autobiographical tale of the author's adventures with his semi-feral Austrialian dog – the titular Dingo – in a lowly French country village reminiscent of the town in which Mirbeau grew up. It was published by Eugène Fasquelle in May 1913 although some months earlier, on 23 January, Vollard had written to Mirbeau stating that Imprimerie Nationale had agreed to print it for Éditions Vollard and on 29 December 1916 the dealer paid Bonnard 9,200 francs for illustrations for Dingo as well as another project he was illustrating. In failing health, Mirbeau turned to his long-time friend Léon Werth to help complete the work and passed away less than a month after Vollard's letter, on 16 February 1917. It is still a matter of debate as to why the printing of the text then shifted from Imprimerie Nationale to Émile Féquet, but by 26 November of that same year Vollard wrote to Mirbeau's widow announcing that the printing of Dingo was to commence that same day.

Regarded as the champion among champions of young avant-garde artists in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Vollard was endowed with a great eye and an incredibly energetic creative spirit, constantly moving from one novel project to the next. It was likely in 1893 that Vollard met a young Bonnard, now known for his intimate Post-Impressionist style and painterly approach to printmaking, and the former acted as the latter's 'impresario' for over twenty-five years thereafter.

Already an established dealer, in 1895, Vollard entered the world of print publishing and set out to issue annual collections of fine prints commissioned from an array of contemporary artists. This included Bonnard, who was increasingly involved with these efforts; indeed, in 1897, Vollard published his second collection, Album d'estampes originales de la Galerie Vollard, for which Bonnard designed the wrapper, inside covers, and contents page, and also contributed a lithograph to the collection itself. Although Vollard's early efforts in this domain were both critically and commercially unsuccessful, it was to Bonnard that he turned when he decided to begin printing his livres de luxe, Dingo being the second of five such works that Bonnard worked on with the great printer-dealer.

Bonnard, for his part, seems to have begun working on illustrations for Mirbeau's text shortly after it was published, and his 'croquis d'après le Dingo de M. Octave Mirbeau' was published in the June 1913 issue of Les Cahiers d'aujourd'hui. His illustrations mark Bonnard's first use of line etching and drypoint, and his excitement at the new technique – which to Vollard's dismay rendered his a more lengthy task than had been anticipated – can be felt in the animated strokes that enliven his illustrations; they capture at once the nobility, savagery, and freedom of the animal spirit and the powerfully dynamic nature of one's relation to space.

Vollard also had a lengthy relationship with Mirbeau himself. The French journalist, art critic, travel writer, pamphleteer, novelist, and playwright – who travelled breezily around popular and avant-garde domains alike – wrote a catalogue preface for a Manzana-Pissarro exhibition at Vollard's gallery in April 1907 and purchased a number of works from him around 1904; by 1907 the author had still not paid what he had owed, and it has been suggested by former Metropolitan Museum curator of Modern art Rebecca A. Rabinow that, 'given the nature of their relationship, it is possible that Mirbeau offered Vollard the opportunity to publish his latest work to defray his debt' (Rabinow, Cézanne to Picasso, 333).

N. Rauch, Les Peintres et le livre, 1867-1957, Genève 1957, 26; U. Johnson, Ambroise Vollard, Editeur, New York 1977, no. 169; F. Bouvet, Bonnard the Complete Graphic Work, London 1981, no. 90; C. Ives - H. E. Giambruni - S. M. Newman, Pierre Bonnard: The Graphic Art, New York 1989, no. 103; R. Jentsch, Ambroise Vollard, Éditeur, Stuttgart 1994, no. 17; R. A. Rabinow - D. W. Druick - M. A. di Panzillo, Cézanne to Picasso: Ambroise Vollard, Patron of the Avant-garde, New York 2006, no. 20; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 281.

For Christ’s sake don’t give anyone that jacket you’re saving for me. I’ve written it into the book — Francis Scott Fitzgerald to Max Perkins

282. Fitzgerald, Francis Scott Key (1896-1940)

The Great Gatsby. Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1925.

8° (200x136 mm). [6], 218 pages. Original green cloth, blind stamped title on upper cover, spine lettered in gilt. Dust jacket in first issue, with lowercase 'j' in 'jay Gatsby' on the back hand-corrected in ink. Repairs to the spine of the dust jacket, including 1-inch piece at the foot, affecting the publisher's imprint. Preserved in custom drop-back box. A very good copy, spine ends and corners slightly bumped.

First edition, first printing, and first state of the text, as well as the first issue of the iconic and exceedingly rare dust jacket of this masterpiece of American literature. The Great Gatsby “remains a prose poem of delight and sadness which has by now introduced two generations to the romance of America, as Huckleberry Finn and Leaves of Grass introduced those before it” (Connolly).

The dust jacket for The Great Gatsby was designed by the Spanish artist Francis Cugat (1893-1981), who symbolically echoed the events narrated in Fitzgerald's novel, depicting two enigmatic female eyes staring, in the blue of a night sky and above bright red lips, over Coney Island scene below. It is probably the most famous and intriguing cover executed in the history of American literature.

“Francis Cugat's painting for F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby is the most celebrated and widely disseminated jacket art in twentieth-century American literature, and perhaps of all time. After appearing on the first printing in 1925, it was revived more than a half-century later for the 'Scribner Library' paperback edition in 1979; more than two decades (and several million copies) later it may be seen in classrooms of virtually every high school and college throughout the country. Like the novel it embellishes, this Art Deco tour-de-force has firmly established itself as a classic. At the same time, it represents a most unusual, in my view, unique form of 'collaboration' between author and jacket artist” (Charles Scribner III).

The present copy respects all the issue points of the correct first printing: “chatter” on p. 60, line 16; “northern” on p. 119, line 22; “it's” on p. 165, line 16; “away” on p. 165, line 29; “sick in tired” on p. 205, lines 9-10, and “Union Street station” on p. 211, lines 7-8.

Buccoli A11.I.a; Connoly 48; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 282.

Picasso’s true meditation on Art

283. Picasso, Pablo (1881-1973) - Balzac, Honoré de (1799-1850)

Le Chef-D'oeuvre Inconnu. Ambroise Vollard, 1931.

4° (335x260 mm). XIV, [3], [16 pages lettered A to P], [3], 92, [14] pages. With thirteen original etchings by Picasso, pulled by Louis Fort; sixty-seven wood engravings cut by George Aubert after Picasso's drawings; and 16 pages reproducing lineblock dot and line drawings. Handsomely bound in a custom binding by René Kieffer, with his signature on the lower turn-ins of the upper cover and his stamp pasted on the verso of the second flyleaf. Linen pastedowns, linen and marble-paper flyleaves. In marbled slipcase. Small stain on plate no. V of the table of etchings and on facing page (a blank), otherwise in pristine condition.

Beautiful centennial edition of Balzac's short story, Le Chef-d'oeuvre inconnu – originally published in the newspaper L'Artiste in August 1831 with the title 'Maître Frenhofer' – commissioned by Picasso's dealer, Ambroise Vollard, and illustrated with thirteen original etchings by the Spanish master, sixty-seven wood engravings cut by George Aubert after his drawings, and sixteen pages reproducing lineblock dot and line drawings. This edition was printed in 305 copies, of which 240 – including the present one, no. 230 – were printed on Rives wove paper.

Admired by such artists as Paul Cézanne and Henri Matisse, Balzac's story tells the tale of an ageing seventeenth-century artist named Frenhofer who obsessively works on a canvas he keeps hidden for years. When two young painters and admirers of Frenhofer's work finally manage to see the canvas, they are shocked by what they discover to be an indistinguishable mass of tangled brushstrokes and layers of paint. Deciding that the older artist must have gone insane, the two young artists deride Frenhofer who subsequently destroys all his works and commits suicide.

The story of this dramatically misunderstood yet visionary hero was well suited for the avant-garde artists pursuing careers in Balzac's wake; indeed, in 1904 Cézanne exclaimed outright 'Frenhofer, c'est moi' (J. Medina, Cézanne and Modernism: The Poetics of Painting, 1995). Arguably the most innovative and ground-breaking artist of the Modern period, Picasso was no exception and identified heavily with Balzac's tragic protagonist, so much so that he later moved his studio to the very seventeenth-century townhouse believed to have been the setting for the opening scene of Frenhofer's tale. It is perhaps hardly a coincidence that the dealer of both Cézanne and Picasso was the great avant-garde champion and mentor Ambroise Vollard, who, in addition to dealing art, was also an avid collector, biographer, and publisher.

In 1927, twenty-six years after mounting Picasso's first Paris exhibition in 1901, Vollard asked the Spanish artist to illustrate a centennial edition of Balzac's text. Although Picasso – widely recognized as one of the greatest printmakers of all time – counts among the most prolific book illustrators of the twentieth century, the etchings he produced for this edition in fact bear little relation to Balzac's text; rather, the artist seems to have used the opportunity to reflect more generally on one of his favourite subjects: the artist-model relationship and the act of creation itself. It is perhaps for this reason that the final product – a true meditation on Art – is itself a work of art, ranking among one of the most beautiful artist's books of the twentieth century.

Cramer, Picasso. Catalogue raisonné des livres illustrés, no. 20; Bonet, Carnets, no. 690, pl. 175; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 283.

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