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8 Italian sonnets praising Napoléon Bonaparte
printed on vellum by Pierre Didot and finely bound in long-grained, gold-tooled morocco
for presentation to Napoléon

BUTTURA, Antonio.
Sonetti a Bonaparte.
Paris, Pierre Didot l’aîné, An VIII [after Floréal, so 1800]. 8vo. Finely printed on vellum. Contemporary long-grained and gold-tooled red goatskin morocco, each board with a frame made from a decorated roll with palm leaves between 2 fine-line fillets, the smooth spine with the title in the 2nd of 6 fields, an acorn with leaves in each of the others, gold-tooled board edges and turn-ins, light green watered silk endleaves.
€ 35,000
The only copy known to have been printed on vellum, probably for presentation to the First Consul and future Emperor Napoléon Bonaparte, of the very rare first and only edition of eight Italian sonnets in praise of Napoléon, the first published work of Antonio Buttura (1770-1832). The sonnets, each occupying one page with four verses of 4, 4, 3 and 3 lines, concern Napoléon's progress in the years 1797 to 1800, primarily his campaigns in Italy but also in Egypt. The book is exquisitely printed by Pierre Didot l'aîné (1761-1853), the greatest printer of his age, using some of the brilliant early types cut by his younger brother Firmin Didot le jeune (1764-1836). At this date they were just beginning to produce their greatest monuments to the neoclassical book arts that were to revolutionize the bibliophile book and bring them international fame.
None of the largest present-day collections of books printed on vellum has a copy of the present book on vellum, and we have located only two regular copies, both in Paris.
With a small and faint brown patch on an open are of the title-page, but otherwise in fine condition with a crisp impression and generous margins. The binding shows a very small and superficial gouge on the front board, a few minor scratches and minor wear at the hinges and corners, the paper endleaves are browned, slightly affecting the first and last blank vellum leaves and the watered silk endleaves, but the binding is still very good. Eight Italian sonnets in praise of Napoléon, beautifully printed on vellum and finely bound.
KVK & WorldCat (2 copies); Parke Bernet 14-15 May 1946 (property of F.S. Vories and others), lot 115 (the present copy, printed on vellum); not in Cat. des livres imprimés sur vélin; A. Jammes, Les Didots (1998).
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Book history, education, learning & printing  >  Bindings
Literature & linguistics  >  English, French & German Literature