Les Psaumes de David, Mis en Vers François. Valentin CONRART, Marc-Antoine de LA BASTIDE.
Les Psaumes de David, Mis en Vers François.
Les Psaumes de David, Mis en Vers François.
Les Psaumes de David, Mis en Vers François.
Les Psaumes de David, Mis en Vers François.
Les Psaumes de David, Mis en Vers François.
Dressed up

Les Psaumes de David, Mis en Vers François. Neuchâtel: Jean Pistorius, 1704.

12mo (140 x 82 mm). [16], 216, [8]; 34, [2] pages. Typographic music. First two leaves with small rust holes from the nail holding the edge pin, short closed tear in last leaf. Contemporary painted silver-gilt-tooled parchment over thin wooden boards, covers with dogtooth border framing two assymetrical flowering plants at top and at bottom with small bird and star tools, painted green, light brown and red, at center a wreathed cartouche containing the tooled initials “AL” on upper cover and a simple cruciform ornament on lower cover, the cartouches painted light brown and flanked by two cherubs and leafy ornaments, flat spine with ornamental panels, pair of leather and metal fore-edge pin clasps on lower cover, attaching to edge pins on upper cover, edges stained red and with gauffered borders, front pastedown and rear endpapers of bronze-varnish paper: the design, of leafy volutes and an eagle, in gold ink over a color block print of violet and red blossoms and leaves, front free endpaper overlaid with a stenciled brocade paper with a simple overpainted drap d’or design in thick green and orange gouache; paper spine liners form a different block-printed paper. The gilding slightly rubbed in places, colors faded, but overall in very good condition. Provenance: Grandson de Blonay, bookplate.***

A pocket Calvinist hymnal in a lovely painted and silver-gilt-tooled Swiss or South German binding. The covers with their cheerful and colorful flowers, birds, cherubs, and stars open to reveal endpapers with gold-patterned eagles and foliage on a muted colored ground.

The French psalter of the Reformed church, first established in 1562, underwent multiple revisions. The 150 psalms of this edition, officially sanctioned by the Protestant Church of Geneva (under the aegis of the Académie de Genève), are in the version of Valentin Conrart, who died in 1675 after completing only 51 psalms, and Marc-Antoine de La Bastide, who finished the rest. While revising the text, Conrart and his successor maintained the meters of the earlier versions, so that the same melodies, derived from Gregorian chant as well as popular tunes, could continue to be used.

Johann Pistorius published repeated editions of this hymnal for about 30 years, starting ca. 1700; his 1729 and 1730 editions were printed in Basel. The official approbation, dated 1679 (date of the first edition of this version), prefaces the text, which is printed in small types. Each psalm opens with four or five lines of printed music, providing the melody. Tables at the end include a concordance to the incipits of earlier versions (also printed following the title of each psalm). Part 2 contains Les formes des prieres ecclesiastiques (drop-title) and various prayers.

This copy possibly remained in the town of its printing until the twentieth century: it was owned by the de Blonay family, whose imposing Château de Grandson in Neuchâtel remains one of the best-preserved medieval castles in Switzerland.

The Zwischgold-tooled painted parchment binding, with its owner’s stamped initials, may also be Swiss. While it shares technical elements with the Germanic Bauerneinbände (peasant bindings), the tooling is more detailed and it lacks the mosaic bands that characterize those usually somewhat cruder bindings. The endpapers preserve a fine example of bronze-varnish paper (Bronzefirnispapier) in which the gold-colored ink pattern has been stamped over block-printed paper. These papers were produced only from about 1680 to the 1730s, after which brocade paper became more popular. The front free endpaper was covered over at a somewhat later date with a mounted sheet of white-stencilled brocade paper sporting a rather primitive “drap d’or” onlay of thick gouache (the endpaper and following flyleaf are dented by the edge-pin nails slightly protruding from the inner front cover, but, unlike the title-leaf they are not pierced).

KVK and OCLC locate only the Württembergische Landesbibliothek copy of this edition. US libraries hold very few copies of these Calvinist hymnals, notwithstanding their popularity; while there are a handful of copies from later editions (Geneva 1705, Amsterdam 1708 and 1716) in American libraries, I locate only two US copies of much later Pistorius editions, printed from Basel.

On the decorated endpapers, cf Krause and Rink, Decorated paper: a guide book (Stuttgart 2018) pp. 52, 56, 98-99.
Item #4111

Price: $3,600.00