Paris: G. Charpentier. Very Good. 1879. First Edition; First Printing. Hardcover. Autograph; xii, 375 pages; A lovely copy of the first edition of this novel. Bound circa 1900 in deep red half crushed levant morocco over pink linen, five raised bands on the spine, simple gilt rules delineate the edges of the leather spine and corners, with an all-over decorative pattern painstakingly built of individual gilt tools in the four spine panels not occupied by direct gilt lettering of the title and authors' names, publication date "1877" at foot of spine. Marbled endpapers of various shades of red and gold, top edges gilt, others trimmed rough. A fine binding, beautifully executed of the finest materials, with the slug in tiny letters at the top corner of the verso of the front-free endpaper: "Bound by Stikeman & Co." With the elaborate pictorial bookplate of Katherine MacKay, signed (in the plate) by Frances W. Delehanty. Her husband was Clarence Hungerford Mackay (April 17, 1874 November 12, 1938) -- an American financier, who inherited most of what was believed to be a $500 million estate in 1902. He was the son of John William Mackay, a silver miner turned telegraph mogul. Clarence and his first wife, Katherine (née Duer) Mackay had a home in New York City, as well as the celebrated Harbor Hill in Roslyn, Long Island, designed by Stanford White of McKim, Mead, and White. It was the largest home White ever designed. Katherine Duer Mackay (18801930) was a beautiful debutante from an old, high society, New York family. Clarence met her on a steamship crossing between New York and England in about 1897. They fell in love and were married on May 17, 1898. Harbor Hill, the site of their future estate with the striking view of Hempstead Harbor. Katherine was a suffragette and a champion of women's rights and became the first woman member of the Roslyn school board in 1905. She worked closely with Stanford White on the design and siting of her spectacular house - Harbor Hill. And her collaboration with the soon-to-be notorious architect did not end with Harbor Hill. On Christmas Day, 1905, she announced her decision to build Trinity's Parish House as a memorial to her father, William Alexander Duer. A few weeks later, she decided to replace the existing church, a "board and batten" Gothic Revival structure built in 1862. The new church, to be designed, like the Parish House, by Stanford White, would be a memorial to her mother, Ellin Travers Duer, and would cost 'not more than $40,000 plus $5,000 for landscaping." Trinity Church is one of White's last commissions before he was shot by deranged socialite-millionaire Harry K. Thaw in Madison Square Garden in a fit of jealousy concerning Thaws wife. "The murder of the architect", observes church records, "did not delay the building of the church." White had finished drawing plans before his death. His associates completed the church with copious advice from Katherine Mackay. Together, White and Katherine MacKay turned to the great Louis Comfort Tiffany for windows for Trinity Church. There are also five beautifully rendered L. C. Tiffany windows lighting the Parish Hall. Adoring angels flank the center panels, which depict children adoring the young Jesus. The models for these faces were Katherine MacKay's children - Katherine, Ellin and John. [The daughter Ellin would later attract some notoriety for her 1926 marriage to songwriter Irving Berlin against her father's wishes; he disinherited her. Her mother, Katherine, the owner of this superb first edition of the Goncourt's 'Germinie Lacerteux,' was out of the loop on this stern decision at the time. Katherine left Clarence and her three children to run away with Clarence's doctor, Dr. Joseph Blake in 1910. The marriage officially ended in divorce in Paris in 1914. The book itself is interesting in some of these same ways. Jules et Edmond de Goncourt formed a partnership that is unique among writers. Not only did they write all their books together, but they are said not to have spent more than a single day apart in their adult lives, (until they were finally parted by Jules's death in 1870). They may be most famous today for their long and detailed series of published Journals. But this novel published by Edmond de Goncourt writing alone in 1879, proved both succesful and influential. The subject is a pair of brothers who are circus acrobats -- some see in Edmond's novel about brothers an examination of his own relationship with his brother Jules, born of his grief at having to go on alone. Some more literal-minded readers find it a well-researched examination of 19th century French circus life. This is the first regular paper edition, following 2 large paper copies on Chine, and 100 numbered copies on Hollande paper. There is an inscription signed by the author on the half title: "a M. Menard / [signed] Edmond de Goncourt." The recipient is rather interesting. Louis-Nicolas Ménard (18221901) was a French man of letters, who had spent his early years devoted to science and chemistry, then dabbled in radical politics, moven on during his middle years to working as an artist and scholar-critic of art and decoration, and finally taking up history and belles-lettres. Ménard discovered collodion in 1846, but its value was not recognized at the time; its application later to surgery and photography was not of commercial benefit to the discoverer. Ménard was a socialist from the time of his youth; his advocacy of the reform movements of his time put him in hot water at the time of the waves of revolution which swept Europe in 1848. In the aftermath, he had been condemned to imprisonment for his 'Prologue d'une Révolution.' Ménard escaped to London, returning to Paris only in 1852. From that time up to1860 he devoted himself to classical studies. This period saw the publication of his 'Poèmes' (1855), 'Polythéisme hellénique' (1863), and a pair of academic treatises. It was in the following decade that Menard probably came into the sphere of the brothers Goncourt, as he worked among the Barbizon artists, and he exhibited several pictures. After the time of this inscription from Edmond de Goncourt, he became professor at the École des Arts décoratifs in 1887, and in 1895 professor of universal history at the Hôtel de Ville in Paris. Copies of 'Les Frères Zemganno' are now scarce in the trade. There is a tiny nick to the botttom edge of the lower corner of the front cover, barely noticeable except at very close range, but in every other respect, this is a superior copy, bound for a wealthy and particular collector within a couple of decades of publication. See Vicaire III 1060. ; Signed by Author . (Inventory #: 39509)
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