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The E-Sylum:  Volume 10, Number 46, November 11, 2007, Article 4

CHRISTIE'S SALE OF KING LOUIS XV’S COPY OF FAMED MEDAL BOOK

Hadrien Rambach writes: "I thought your readers may be
interested to know of a book for sale at Christie’s in
Paris on 20 November 2007 (lot 255), as this is indeed a
rather exceptional numismatic publication. I have been
lucky to handle this copy myself in the past.  I described
and commented on it last year for the Royal Numismatic
Society in London.

" 'Médailles sur les principaux évènements du règne entier
de Louis le Grand avec des explications historiques' is
the work of several renowned numismatists such as Francois
Charpentier and Claude Gros de Boze. This copy was printed
in Paris by the Imprimerie Royale in 1723. This is the
second edition, which Brunet described as even more beautiful
than the first one - very much enlarged to include medals
up to 1723, and printed in an edition of only 500 copies.
The 1702 edition had been published both in folio and in
quarto; in 1723, the Duc d'Antin ordered the reprinting
of the work in folio and it was completely redesigned,
with 318 plates instead of 286. Original archive documents
were discovered about this 1723 edition, and published by
J.-J. Guiffrey in 1885.

"This book is interesting in many aspects. One is that
Philippe Grandjean's Romain du Roy typographical font had
first been used in the original 1702 edition of this book;
designed by order of King Louis XIV (1638-1715) for the
exclusive use of the royal printing press, the celebrated
fonts were constructed on scientific principles and exercised
the greatest influence on the development of French types.
The Academie had been established by Colbert in 1663 in
order to ensure that all the arts were used in harmony to
glorify King Louis XIV, and therefore to supervise the
engraving of a revised and extended series of medals
devoted to the Sun King, later published as these Médailles
sur les Principaux Evènements du Règne de Louis le Grand.

 "The book was projected regardless of time and expense.
 Medals were specially cut and cast; line engravings from
 them were made by Gerard Edelinck; special frontispieces
 were commissioned from Coypel and Rigaud; superb borders
 were contributed by Berrain and rich tailpieces by le Clerc.
 An entirely new face of type, Louis XIV's "Roman du Roi",
 as it was called, was a part of the conception. The enterprise
 was conceived as an expression of academic respect for the
 typographic arts" (Stanley Morrison, The Typographic Arts)

"The specimen for sale is a superb copy on nice paper, in
contemporary full red morocco binding, with a triple line
filet on sides, enclosing the Royal Arms, inner dentelles
gilt, panels of spine fully gilt, with tools of the French
fleur de lys, and the Royal Cipher, gilt edges. Most importantly,
this specimen is King Louis XV’s copy, later sold as part of
King Louis Philippe's library!  This copy, bound for the King,
does not contain the exceptionally rare eight page preface,
which had been suppressed by Royal order. I doubt that a
more interesting copy of this celebrated book will ever
be offered!"

To view the Christie's lot description (in French), see:
Christie's lot description

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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