Beautifully bound set of the works of the French playwright Racine, from the library of Frances Mary Richardson Currer, among the most celebrated collectors of her era.
This set was once owned by Yorkshire coal heiress Frances Mary Richardson Currer (1785-1861), who built a celebrated library of some 20,000 volumes. Contemporaries praised Currer's scholarship and taste, as well as the rigorous organization and "choice condition" of her books. The bibliographer Thomas Frognall Dibdin called her a "book-genius," and remarked of her library: "I may fairly and honestly say, that with the exception of Althorpe, Chatsworth, and Stowe, I know of NO such collection of books, situated in the country that can pretend to break a lance with it [...] The 'Collections' are nearly perfect." In 1820, and again in 1833, Currer issued a catalogue of her holdings, widely viewed as "the model catalogue of a private library" (DNB), and sent copies to book collectors across England and Europe, including members of the newly formed Roxburghe Club, quietly asserting her place among them. (This set is documented in the 1833 catalogue.) Also known for her commitment to charitable causes, Currer is obliquely noted as a "wealthy lady, in the West Riding of Yorkshire" who paid off the debts of a new widower, Patrick Brontë; scholars speculate that Charlotte Brontë's unusual pen name, Currer Bell, is a tribute to Frances Currer. A choice set once held by one of the great English book collectors of the Regency and early Victorian periods, when the field of book collecting as practiced in the UK and US today began to cohere.
Paris: A. Belin, 1813. 5 octavo volumes, 8.25'' x 5'' each. Contemporary full blue calf, raised bands, elaborately gilt-stamped spines, red goatskin spine labels, triple-ruled gilt boards. All edges marbled, marbled endpapers. Text in French. clxxii, 297, ; 488; 486; 392; 310 pages. Engraved bookplate of Currer on front pastedown of each volume; ink gift inscription dated 1966 on fly leaf of each volume. Bindings with a bit of dryness and trace wear around joints; vol. I with ink stain at top joint of front board; some gatherings foxed, and a few areas of marginal staining or spotting. Joints firm. Gilt bright.
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