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One of the earliest separate works devoted entirely to ice-skating,
printed by a typefounder praised in Balzac's "Illusions perdues"

GARCIN, Jean.
Le vrai patineur, ou principes sur l'art de patiner avec grace, précédé de réflexions et de remarques critiques sur la manière de quelques patineurs inélégans, ainsi que sur les différens formes de patins, le choix quel'on doit en faire, et les variations dont cette chaussure est susceptible.
Paris, Delespinasse, Delaunaux, Nepveu, the author (printed by Joseph-Gaspard Gillé fils), 1813. 12mo (18 x 10.5 cm). With 8 numbered engraved plates, namely a frontispiece view of a skating rink with many skaters, engraved by Ambroise Tardieu, and 7 images of individual skaters, each in a different pose. Set in roman and italic types, with a few lines in a "ronde" script type. Later blue paper wrappers. Preserved in modern half morocco slipcase. XXIV, 93, [1 blank] pp.
€ 5,500
First edition of the first French ice-skating manual, describing many movements and poses with an emphasis on grace and form, illustrated with 8 engraved plates. Unlike English skaters, who advocated a more straightforward approach, Garcin compared skating with dancing, stressing grace and artistry rather than technique and precision. It is dedicated to Mademoiselle Gosselin, principal dancer at the Académie Imperial de Musique. One of the earliest separate works in any language devoted entirely to ice-skating.
The printer, described only as Gillé fils, is better known as the typefounder and punchcutter Joseph-Gaspard Gillé, and the book therefore serves as a display of types that almost certainly come from his foundry. His father, also Joseph, was the leading French typefounder and punchcutter between Fournier and Didot, and Joseph-Gaspard produced some of the best types following the Didot style. He added a small printing office to the foundry ca. 1793. Among its few productions are several printed for Napoleon's Imperial government. Although awarded medals and honours in 1801 and 1808, Gillé went bankrupt in the year the present book appeared. He attempted to revive his firm in 1816 but remained in difficulties and seems to have no imprints after 1818. From 1827, the year after Gillé's death, the foundry was continued by the writer Honoré de Balzac and his associates. Balzac's Illusions perdues, written in 1837 and set in 1821/22, refers to the "ronde" script types of Gillé, former printer to the Emperor, and contrasts his excellent and up-to-date types with the outdated work of a provincial typefounder.
In very good condition, with only very minor foxing and one or two pages very slightly dirty. Wholly untrimmed copy. Foster, Bibliography of Skating 35; Lipperheide Thb 7; cf. Brown, Ice-Skating, pp. 57-64; for Gillé: Lane, Early type specimens, pp. 277-279; CERL Thesaurus.
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