Traité élémentaire de l'imprimerie, ou le manuel de l'imprimeur; Avec 36 planches en taille-douce [...]

Autore: MOMORO, Antoine François (1756-1794)

Tipografo: chez Veuve Tilliard & Fils, Librairs, rue Pavée St-André, no. 17

Dati tipografici: Paris, 1796


8vo (200x120 mm). IV, 347, [1: errata] pp. with a folding table between pp. 308 and 309 and 36 copperplates numbered 1-26, [27], 28, 1-2, 13-18. Contemporary or slightly later tree calf, gilt spine with morocco lettering piece, original endleaves (joints repaired). Lower outer corner of pl. 11 repaired not affecting the engraving, slightly browned, some marginal foxing, overall a good, genuine copy.

FIRST EDITION, second issue, of one of the most comprehensive French printing manuals written in the form of a lexicon, classifying in alphabetical order the different subjects.

The Traité was originally published in 1793 at the author's expenses and the remainder of that edition (1064 copies) was sold to the bookseller Tilliard, whose widow reissued the work in 1796 with a new title page that corrects the previous title page erroneously announcing 40 copperplates instead of the 36 that were actually published.

For the first time printing is treated in an encyclopedic style, the different processes and utensils being used as catchwords, and then explained. Momoro discusses history of printing, casting of types, equipment and methods of printing. Furthermore, about 70 exotic types are described in their proper alphabetic place. The Traité is also one of the few sources concerning the slang of printers.

The first 26 plates contain imposition schemes, which show how types have to be arranged in the forms so that the pages in the printed sheet fall into their proper sequence. The remaining 10 plates show proofreaders' marks, papermaking, composing and printing rooms, the construction of the handpress, etc.

Momoro was the son-in-law of the famous typefounder and engraver Fournier le Jeune. He had worked as a typographer, bookseller, printer and typefounder, and in 1789, after having inherited the inventory of his father-in-law's company, he started his own printing shop which however went bankrupt only a year later.

Momoro played a major role in the French Revolution as a politician and an activist, ending up in the scaffold in 1794. He wrote several progressive and revolutionary pamphlets, taking sides with the radical group around Hébert which shared the same tragic fate. Momoro is also said to have invented one of the most famous mottoes of the French Republic: “Unité, Indivisibilité de la République; Liberté, égalité, fraternité ou la mort”.

Brunet, 9083; Cioranescu, 45858 (1793 issue); Quérard, France litteraire, VI, p. 193; Delalain, Momoro, pp. 29-30; Updike, Printing History, I, pp. 48-50; Bigmore-Wyman, II, 48; Fritz Knuf, Cat. 2009, no. 64.


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