Paris: Courcier, imprimeur-libraire, rue Poupée, 1797. Two volumes; small 12mo (13cm.); contemporary roan-backed papier-peint boards with elaborately gilt-tooled red paper over plain spines, corners reinforced with parchment waste, all edges speckled blue; ,202; ,192pp. ([*]1 A-R6; [*]1 A-Q6); steel-cut frontispieces. Boards a bit scuffed and leather somewhat dried with hair-line cracks along joints, contemporary ownership signature of a Matherot to both front flyleaves, two small losses to Vol. 1 (G1 and [I5]), neither approaching text, faint foxing to a few leaves in Vol. 2, else a Very Good and pleasing set. Item #1245
Apparently unrecorded edition of Madame de Graffigny's best-selling feminist and anti-colonial epistolary novel, first published anonymously under a false imprint in 1747. The work describes the fate of Incan princess Zilia, betrothed to the Incan leader Asa, only to be kidnapped by European invaders and brought over to France. There she teaches herself to read and write in the French language and eventually purchases a small country house where she builds her own miniature sun temple. Includes the introduction and expanded text of the 1752 edition, in which the author cites Garcilaso de la Vega's "Royal Commentaries of the Incas," and "not only generates sympathy for the Peruvians by describing the merciless European conquest, but creates a sense of realism by invoking key elements of Inca culture" (Heidi Bostic, "The Light of Reason in Graffigny's Lettres d'une Péruvienne," "Dalhousie French Studies," Vol. 63 (Summer, 2003), p. 3). This edition also includes Ignace Hugary de Lamarche-Courmont's response to Graffigny's novel, the "Lettres d'Aza" first published in 1748 which provided a male voice to the otherwise entirely woman-centric narrative. (Typical.)
The publisher of this unrecorded edition appears to have actually specialized in technical works, and by the early 19th century operated under the monicker "imprimeur-libraire pour les mathématiques." Located on the rue Poupée, demolished later in the 19th century to make way for Haussmann's massive urban renovations throughout Paris, Courcier would have been neighbors with the former Protestant pastor and Tarot enthusiast Antoine Court de Gébelin. Perhaps due to the street's rather whimsical and mysterious name (literally "Doll Street"), the French clown Arlequin at one point jokes that la rue Poupée "C'est où demeure une partie des Précieuses de Paris" ("Supplément du Théatre Italien" (1698), Vol. 2, p. 168).
Besides the unusual imprint, this set especially compelling for its binding, the owner or bookseller having disguised a perfectly pleasing and serviceable set of leather and painted paste-paper boards with faux-luxury, the paper-covered spines painted a trompe-l'oeil scarlet morocco with black gilt spine labels.
No copies of this edition found in the trade or auction records as of July, 2020; nor in OCLC, COPAC, KVK, or the NUC.