January 2012 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Justin Croft Antiquarian Books

Catalogue Review: Justin Croft, French Books & Manuscripts

croft000.jpgIt's always a pleasure to peruse booksellers' catalogues, even more so when each page offers something unexpected, as happens in English bookseller Justin Croft's newest selection. He offers here fine manuscripts, printed books, antiquarian music, even a collection of 3,800 French devotional cards (£1,500). Francophile or not, each of the 81 items listed in this nearly octavo-sized, color-printed catalogue is worth a long look.

In manuscripts, a collection of 125 patriotic post- Revolutionary songs made more interesting by the light green/brown wash applied to the text by a censor (£1,500). The wash has now faded so that none of the censored text is obscured. Or, if you're in the market for something more romantic (Valentine's Day is approaching), perhaps a book of engraved love songs and epigrams, compiled by a young woman circa 1784 and bound in tooled red morocco (£2,500). A reading diary of a "voracious female reader" in Restoration Versailles, circa 1820-1822, would surely be of great interest to institutions (or private collectors) with collections devoted to the history of the book (£1,100). It appears she loved Sir Walter Scott.

As for modern books, if you truly want to know what Fitzgerald & friends were drinking in Paris, Jean Lupoiu's Cocktails, a classic guide from 1938, is a good bet (£400). This one is number 16 of 100, with a presentation inscription in Lupoiu's hand. A first edition, inscribed, of Jean Lacassagne's slang dictionary, L'Argot du "Milieu," has a striking cover design shown in beautiful detail on page 61 (£400).

In earl(ier) printed books, "a famous bibliographical eccentricity:" Le Livre a La Mode, printed in green ink throughout, Paris, 1759 (£350). The author, Caraccioli, suggested that ink color ought to be chosen based on the book's subject matter. Sounds like a great addition to a collection on graphic design.  

This, and so much more--eighteenth-century medical bills, a Nazi's prison notebook, a major collection of French fairy tales -- so go and enjoy: http://www.justincroft.com/downloads;jsessionid=8A0D5A1C2680515D85D811A95EF33526