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Habitants de l'Inde dessinés d'après Nature par le Prince Alexis Soltykoff, lithographiés à deux teintes par J. Trayer.

Author: Soltykoff, Le Prince Alexis
Year: 1853
Edition: First edition
Publisher: Paris; H. Gache
Category: Asia West & South
Price: € 15,000.-

Paris: Félix Maltested et Cie for H. Gache, [n.d. but 1853]. The plates printed by Plista.

Modern cloth over paper covered boards, the upper board covered with the lithographed title page with a vignette depicting a group of people in a garden, folio, 523 x 353 mm; 42 plates, each accompanied by one leaf of explanatory letterpress and preceded by the list of plates. Some very minor foxing throughout.

The covers carefully restored {1} and rebacked with a new spine, ruled in blind, matching the one of the copy in the British Library, but with a different colour resembling the colour of the original cloth. The text on the spine reads:

      Saltuikov  /  Habitants  /  de  /  l'Inde

A fine work with expertly lithographed portraits from original drawings made by the author.

Amongst the people depicted are the women of Bombay, servants, fakirs, Paharis of the Himalaya, dancers, masalchis, but also members of the nobility like the young King of Gwalior or the daughter of the Radja of Kourg.

One of the rarest books on India with only 8 copies in institutional libraries worldwide and with only 4 copies appearing on auction since 1966, the last one being the copy auctioned by Bloomsbury Auctions in May 2007.

Here below photographs of 12 of the 42 exquisite plates  with the index nr. as per the list of plates and their captions:

  3  Rodias
  4  Femmes de Bombay
  7  Fille du Radja de Kourg
10  Zemindar
11  Todha
16  Porteur
24  Massaltchis
26  Massaltchi
32  Paharis de l'Himalaya
36  Fakirs
37  Le Roi de Gwalior (Jayaji Rao Sindhia, Maharaja of Gwalior)
41  Appa - Bholiah - Marhatta - Sardar

{1} Restoration Justification:
The spine is a reproduction of the spine of the copy in the British Library. The BL copy has a red leather spine, this copy has a dark cloth spine. The reasons are that the red colour of the spine of the BL copy would be an entire mismatch with the darkened boards of this copy. Another reason is that the few copies that appeared on auction since 1966 all have a cloth spine, not a leather spine. Hence the choice for the material of the spine was an easy one: cloth.
The titles to the spine of course match the copy of the BL and reads:


With, near the tail of the spine, the name of the city of publication: Paris

The boards were in a desastrous state. All the original material of the front board has been preserved meticulously, while matching paper from the back board has been used to fill the empty spaces where the original paper had disappeared. On the back board paper, matching in colour, has been laid down to make the whole presentable again.
The very lower part of the front board was knicked and both uper and lower outer corners of the front board were kept in place by the pastedown paper. These corners have been strengthened as well as the edges of both boards, so that the whole is firm again.

Click on a picture to enlarge.




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