Lettre sur l’homme … — Paris 1772
Lettre sur l’homme et ses rapports … — Paris, n. p., 1772.
First edition. 12mo (leaves are 166 x 98 mm, print space is 43 x 84 mm). 242 p. First pages with a contemporary translation into Dutch in a fine hand. Contemporary ownership entry on verso of fly-leaf. – Stoddard no. 4a.
Binding: Contemporary dark blue morocco bound by Christiaan Micke. Covers with gilt frame and small corner pieces, spine richly gilt, inside dentelle, marbled endleaves, all edges gilt. Rol on covers: see Storm van Leeuwen 2001, plate 1 and Id. 1976, p. 400, rol XX, fleuron on spine: see stamp 19. A beautiful copy.
¶ Hemsterhuis’ books were not produced for the book-market, but circulated in small and anonymous editions as gifts among friends and aquaintances. „The tight type pages that he favoured, of 9 by 4.7 centimeters, concentrated and exaggerated by the margins of a 16.7- by 9.8-centimeter page, give his books a distinctive inscriptional look that is further classized by engraved vignettes that he would design for them and explain in the text … There are no grand-papier issues, contrary to the belief: every copy is grand-papier, if you will …“ (R. Stoddard).
The printers of the falsely-signed „Paris“ imprints have not been identified; it seems they are to be located in Haarlem or Den Haag.
Bindings: Hemsterhuis had not only „elegantly printed and illustrated his books on his own expense“(1), but also had many of them bound by at least two of the best Dutch binders of the second half of the eigtheenth century: Christiaan Micke and Thomas van Os.
Christiaan Micke was born in 1714 in The Hague, from where he had to flee in 1787 to Haarlem, there he died in 1793. He worked for many importants clients, most notable the bibliophiles Gerard and Johann Meerman, the stadholders William IV and William V, and Hemsterhuis of course. Storm van Leeuwen praises his work in highest terms:
„Micke’s technique is extremely delicate. On account of the technique only it is already often possible to recognize his bindings. Among the mostly rather coarse 18th century Dutch bookbindings those made by Micke easily strike the examiner by their beauty and perfection. Aesthetically Micke’s works belong to the best made in The Hague in the 18th century.“(2)
- Jan Storm van Leeuwen, Frans Hemsterhuis’ Binders and some bindings of Lettre sur l’Homme, in: The Book Collector, 2001, p. 202
- Jan Storm van Leeuwen, De achttiende-eeuwse Haagse boekband in de Koninklijke Bibliotheek en het Rijksmuseum Meermanno-Westreenianum, The Hague 1976, p. 82f.