Oeuvres de Jean RacineRACINE, Jean
Paris: de l'imprimerie de A. Belin.. 1813.
Five volumes. 8vo. 210x122mm. pp. clxxii, 297 ; 488; 486; 392; 310. (lacking half-titles)
Superbly bound in contemporary, blue full calf with triple fillet gilt borders and a small star at each corner. Spines lavishly decorated, five raised bands with double filet borders, six compartments four of which are decorated with flower and volute patterns. Second and third compartments have red morocco labels lettered and decorated in gilt. Foot of spine is lettered "Paris 1815". Edges of boards and dentelles are decorated with a zig-zag and acanthus gilt roll. Marbled endpapers, all edges marbled. Each front pastedown has the armorial bookplate of Frances Mary Richardson Currer. Later gift inscriptions from "Mona Southam to Robert Southam, 1966". Volume one has a small stain at the top of the upper cover and there is some fading to the boards. Internally there is some foxing but overall in very good condition throughout.
Frances Currer was noted for collecting books “in the richest and most tasteful bindings” and this stunning work is a fine example of the quality she aimed for. As a young woman, Frances inherited two fortunes and a large country house in North Yorkshire (Eshton Hall) containing her grandfather Mathew Wilson’s fine and important library. She then did what all rich people should do: she collected more books. Frances’s library at Eshton was regarded as one of the best in England and Currer herself, according to the great bibliographer Thomas Dibdin, the most important female collector in Europe. It is uncertain whether Frances ever suffered from the bibliomania described by Dibdin in his famous 1809 book on the subject, but we do know that she declined an offer of marriage from Richard Heber who really was a bibliomane. He was probably more interested in her library than in Frances herself but as she, too, seems to have preferred the company of books, she wisely remained single. She was a generous patron and benefactor, to Heber himself but most notably to the Brontë family, Charlotte taking her surname as her pseudonym (see the next two books). Currer’s collection numbered about twenty thousand volumes at her death (in 1861). This set of Racine’s works is listed in the 1833 edition of the catalogue of the Currer library.