Paris: Chez l'Editeur, Rue de Sorbonne, No. 4, n.d. [ca. 1800].
Engraved title-page with vignette, 12 engraved headpieces,  pp. account book (with entries for perte, gain, recette & dépense) and journal. 12mo (3-3/4 x 2-5/8 inches). Binding "en vernis sans odeur" of black lacquered wooden boards and velvet spine, covers with painted gold floral border surrounding painted Chinoiserie scenes (fisherman with pole and creel) in painted gold, green and red, red silk endpapers, cloth loops fastened with small pencil (present), ribbon marker. Engraved "Brevet d'invention" on verso of front free endpaper. Some craquelure to paint, small chip from lower cover, in all a lovely well-preserved example Ehrman, "Les reliures vernis sans odeur," Book Collector, xiv (1965), pp. 523-7; Gruel, Manuel Historique et Bibliographique de l'Amateur de Reliures, I, p. 155; Deveaux, pp. 215, 221; cf. Foot, Henry Davis Gift II, nos. 164 & 195. Provenance: Clarice W. Hamill (small booklabel on front pastedown). Item #311334
A rare example of an odorless varnished binding ("reliure en vernis sans odeur"), a delicate and expensive technique in which layers of varnish were applied to covers decorated with either painted or engraved scenes. Albert Ehrmann, in his 1965 article and census in The Book Collector ("Les reliures vernis sans odeur"), identifies two types of varnished bindings. Type A, of which he locates only two examples, dates from the early 18th century and is applied to large quartos decorated in the mosaic Padeloup style. Ehrmann locates 18 examples of type B varnished bindings, which date from 1791 to 1818, with the process more generally applied to small 18mos and 12mos: "the binding is of thin boards painted in a strong background colour, red, green, gold, etc. with the decoration painted on in a contrasting colour" (Ehrmann, p. 524). The present copy is an example of a type B binding, though it is not counted in Ehrmann's census. It includes the engraved "Brevet d'invention" found in many other examples, though it is apparently unique among recorded examples in its Chinoiserie imagery — varnished bindings are more commonly decorated with rococo or neoclassical themes.
Varnished bindings have been erroneously referred to as "vernis Martin" after the Martin brothers, who had taken patents in 1730 and 1744 for a finishing process in imitation of Chinese lacquer and applied to furniture, sedan chairs, snuff boxes and other objects. There is no evidence that the process was used in bookbinding. Lacquered bindings of the late 18th and early 19th century are now often ascribed to Théodore Pierre Bertin, who in 1811 applied for a five-year patent for lacquered bindings (his patent is reproduced in Guel, "Reliures en vernis sans odeur," Bulletin du bibliophile et du bibliothécaire (1900) p. 189).
Price: $6,500.00 Free International Delivery