CALLIGRAPHIC MASTERPIECE

Les escritures financiere et italienne bastarde.

Paris, chez l’Auteur, 1649, 1650.

£5,250

Oblong folio. 3 unnumbered and unsigned ll. + 50 calligraphic plates + 1 engraved portrait. Mainly financière, Italian and bâtarde letter, little chancery, Hebrew, Armenian, Syriac and Arabic. 50 outstanding etched plates with calligraphic samples and pen flourishing, index (pl.1) within etched decorated frame, large engraved author’s portrait dated 1650, decorated initials and vignettes. Edges trimmed occasionally just touching pen flourishing, lower blank margins slightly shorter on five ll., the odd ink splash or marginal mark, small repair to pl.12 blank verso. An excellent copy, in fresh impression, in late C19 crushed crimson morocco, marbled eps, double blind ruled, raised bands, spine gilt, a.e.g., contemporary pen trials to five pls.

Handsome copy of this early (probably second) edition of this masterpiece of calligraphy—beautifully printed, with plates in fine impression, and unrecorded in major bibliographies. Son of a ‘maître écrivain’, Louis Barbedor (1589-1670) was a major master-calligrapher and Secretary of the Chambre du Roi. ‘Escritures’ is an outstanding summary of the calligraphic tradition of contemporary administration, with numerous samples reproducing document templates. The plates—‘supérieurement écrits, et parfaitement gravé sur cuivre’ (Jansen, ‘Essai’, 66)—were cut by Robert Cordier (d. c.1680). ‘In his mid-C17 overhaul of French royal administration, Colbert introduced three new scripts based on Barbedor, collectively known as ‘ronde’ ([…] a compromise between humanistic and gothic cursive): […] ‘écriture financière’ (an upright script still betraying several gothic features), coulée (a running […] script), and ‘italienne-bastarde’ (a sloping, more humanistic style)’ (Greetham, 210). The ‘bâtarde’ was written ‘using a quill cut differently […] and was, as a result, formed by different hand movements’ (Bennett, ‘Repertories’, 51). The plates also include samples of humanistic Roman capitals, Greek, English, Dutch, Hebrew, ‘Rabinica’, Samaritan, Syriac, Arabic and Armenian letter, as well as a handsome round diagram. A rare masterpiece.

This 1649 edition probably follows another without place or printer, tentatively dated 1647. Another printed, in Paris by N. Langlois, appeared without date, but probably c.1650. The author’s portrait, dated 1650, is also present in the Langlois edition.

No copies recorded in the US.
Berlin 5106-5107 (later eds only). Not in Brunet. H. Jansen, Essai sur l’origine de la gravure en bois et en taillerdouce (1808), II; L.P. Bennett, Sacred Repertories (Farnham, 2009); D.C. Greetham, Textual Scholarship (1994).

L3520

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