Madame Tussaud’s Memoirs and Reminiscences of France, Forming an Abridged History of the French Revolution

HERVÉ, Francis

London: Saunders & Otley, 1838

Two octavo volumes (9 x 6-1/2 in.). First edition. Contemporary full burgundy morocco, covers decorated with an intertwined linear pattern in gilt, spines in six compartments with gilt rules, decorations and lettering, gilt decorated dentelles and gold and burgundy silk moiré doublures in a geometric pattern, top edges gilt, others uncut, red ribbon markers intact, by Tout, its gilt stamp on each front dentelle, in a custom clamshell box by Nello Nanni, quarter dark brown morocco and gilt lettering over geometric-patterned Genji woven brocade covers. Extra-illustrated with the insertion of 205 additional plates (complete list available). Collates vol. I, [2 ll.], 1 l. (half-title), 1 l. (pl. Marie Antoinette), 1 l. (frontispiece portrait of Madame Tussaud), 1 l. (title in red and black for the “Extra Illustrated Vol. I”), 1 l. (standard issue title in black), xvi, 1 l. (portrait of Marie Grosholtz), 245 pp., [2 ll.], plus 94 lol. additional plates; vol. II, [2 ll.], 1 l. (pl. Charlotte Corday), 1 l. (title in red and black for the “Extra Illustrated Vol. II”), pp. 246-506, 1 l. (portrait of Madame Tussaud following p. 492), 1 l. (errata), [1 l.], plus 108 ll. additional plates. All plates except two are tissue-guarded. Some minor surface scuffing and scraping, one skinned spot front cover of the second volume, minor wear to edges and corners, offsetting of dentelles onto doublures, minimal foxing on the occasional plate, the text pages perhaps minimally and uniformly age-toned. An excellent, finely bound set in very good condition throughout, the interspersed indicia of graceful aging never intrusive.

Madame Tussaud was acquainted directly with an astonishing gamut of royalists, revolutionaries, and eminences of her milieu. Herself about to be guillotined, she was reprieved on condition that she executed, with her famed modeling skills, death masks of others having just met that fate. This account of her times is set in the style, “Madame Tussaud states …; Madame Tussaud remembers ….” Seventy-eight years of age by 1838, and long a resident of London, Madame Tussaud had no intention of opening up a written store of old grief and confidences. With the guiding connivance of close family friend Francis Hervé, who became the editor, her two sons enticed her, as her mood suited, to hold forth on the subjects of these memoirs, indulging her hearty love of conversation, vast memory, and exacting personal values.

The standard first edition issue includes the two tinted lithograph portraits of Madame Tussaud as she appeared in 1778 and 1838. Among the 205 additional plates are, inter alia: an apparent proof engraving of Madame Tussaud as Marie Grosholtz, by Greatbatch; a related group of five portrait engravings, four by Claessens, which include Comte de Novation’s Louis XVII on laid chine, exhibiting all the indicia of the earliest lettered state, and Jean Rebel, inscribed “Prodrug“; seven proof plates on laid shine after drawings by Frederick Nash, published in Picturesque Views of the City of Paris …, 1823; 15 etched vignettes by Jean Duplessis-Bertaux in bright, crisp and dark impressions possibly from l’An X (1802) or very soon after; a related group of 18 portrait engravings in strong impressions published by Furne, the majority after Auguste Raffet; 16 engraved plates after Raffet, Alfred and Tony Johannot and Ary Scheffer, illustrating M.A. Thiers, Histoire de la Révolution Française; a tinted proof portrait engraving of Pichegru before letters; and an apparent proof engraving on laid chine, large and not matching in size any other in this set, after Baron Antoine-Jean Gros’s Bonaparte à Jaffa (1804, Musée de Louvre).

Of the sixteen institutional copies of the 1838 first edition located in a full bibliographic search (six in the United States), only two copies are indicated as extra-illustrated, and those in a single volume only. In the United States the sole extra-illustrated copy found, the ex-Gallenkamp single-volume copy in the Morgan Library is cataloged with 36 additional engravings. The present set, uniquely known thus, was intended by the publisher to be a two-volume set with a far greater number of additional plates, as the additional printed title-pages, specially printed in red and black on special heavy paper, would indicate. The final assembly of plates and the binding may be dated to sometime soon after 1847, as the 10 plates with the publication line of Furne et W. Coquebert, Paris appear to derive from Lamartine, l’Histoire des Girondins, 1847. (There are also two plates published by Richard Bentley, London, 1845. No plates are dated in the plate later than 1845, and no others after 1838.)