Voyages dans l'Inde (Curmer & Lecou edition, first issue in exquisite binding)

Author: Soltykoff, Le Prince Alexis
Year: 1850
Edition: First edition
Publisher: Paris; Curmer & Lecou
Category: Prince Alexis Soltykoff

Rare first octavo edition, 2 vols., frontcovers and the spines richly gilt and sumptuously decorated with morocco onlays in various colours, backcovers elaborately stamped in blind and gilt with coloured morocco onlays as well. The frontboard showing a Maharaja and the backboard with a picture of a lute player. All edges gilt. Illustrated with a map indicating the author's routes and 36 lithographs in duo tone.

Coll. Vol. I: blank, lith. title page, half title, pl. 1 as frontis, title page, pp. i, (1), map, pp. 227, vignette, blank.
Coll. Vol II: blank, lith. title page, half title, pl. 19 as frontis, title page, pp i, (1), 267, vignette, blank.
Plate 36 erroneously bound between plates 22 and 23.

Both volumes with a lithographed title page dated 1850 and a second letterpress title page dated 1851 and stating that it is the second edition. We assume that this is the first Curmer & Lecou edition (or the first issue of the second edition if the 1848 Amyot edition is considered to be the first edition of this work), despite the indication "deuxième édition" on the letterpress title page for a number of reasons; the main reason being that we have a second edition with the same letterpress title page, however, with important differences from this edition.
Only this edition has an extra lithographed title page with the year "MDCCCL" (1850) at the bottom of the page. Moreover it has a very luxurious binding. Though the basis is publisher's cloth, panels have been laid on which are extremely richly gilt and have onlays in various colours, while the other edition, also with its publisher's cloth, is gilt- and blindstamped, but far less luxurious. Being aware of prince Saltykov's taste and his involvement with the folio editions of his work, this luxurious binding may have been his wish as well.
Also copies are known where the two volumes are bound as one, with an undated title page and with the spine richly decorated with the title {1}.

The cataloguer of Christie's (their sale May 28, 2002) described these volumes as follows:

SOLTYKOFF, prince Alexis. Voyage (sic) dans l'Inde. Paris: Curmer, Lecou 1850. 2 vol. grand in-8 (270 x 176 mm.). Reliures de l'éditeur en percaline noire, plats richement ornés d'une plaque spéciale mosaïquée et dorée, dos lisses ornés, tranches dorées, (infimes usures).

Avec les faux-titres. Une carte lithographiée et partiellement coloriée et 36 planches lithographiées et teintées. (Piqûres ou rousseurs.)

Bon exemplaire dans une éclatante reliure ornée de motifs orientaux. Chaque volume contient deux pages de titre: l'une datée 1850; l'autre est en effet un titre de relais imprimé en or, daté 1851 et portant la mention "deuxième édition".
(Vicaire VII, 575 donne 1850 comme date d'impression de la seconde édition.)

While it is described by Ketterer Kunst (their sale May 23, 2006) as:

Schwarzer OLwd. mit mehrfarb. Lederauflage und sehr reicher Goldpragung auf Deckeln und Rucken sowie Goldschnitt.

And by Dominic Winter (their sale January 25, 2017) as:

... ,original elaborately gilt-decorated black cloth, incorporating pink, red, green and blue morocco onlays, ...

At more auctions the luxuriousness of this binding has been emphasized.

Another reason why we assume this to be the first Curmer & Lecou edition is that no institutional library worldwide owns a copy which is not described as not being the second edition, while also there are no auction records for a first Curmer & Lecou edition.

A more important issue, however, are the plates in the two Curmer & Lecou editions.

In this edition the plate nrs. 2, 3, 6, 7 and 12 are lithographed respectively by Gerlier, Lehnert, Robineau, Cupper and Lehnert again. These plates are identical to the plates (with the same nrs.) in "Lettres sur l'Inde". In the other edition, however, all five plates have been relithographed by J.Trayer who also engraved the plates for the later folio editions of 'Habitants de l'Inde' and 'Indian scenes and characters'.

The reason why this edition has the letterpress title page of the second edition is a puzzle. Possibly "Lettres sur l'Inde" was regarded as the first edition. Looking at the other editions by Garnier Frères we see that those editions have the imprint "troisième édition", following the second Curmer & Lecou edition. "Lettres sur l'Inde" was published by Amyot.

Chadenat 700: SOLTYKOFF (Le Prince Alexis). Voyages dans l'Inde. Deuxième édition, Paris, s. d. (1850), 2 vol. gr. in-8, demi-rel. chag. vert, plats toile de l'époque.
(So apparently Chadenat had a copy with an undated (- or missing) title page in a simple contemporary binding. Auction records show no other copies of an undated Curmer & Lecou edition.)

Click on a picture to enlarge.