Florence & Leipzig: [Printed in Berlin by Otto Von Holten for]: Verlag von Eugen Diederichs, 1898. "Autorisierte Ausgabe" Square 4to (210 x 170 mm). 105 pp. With stylized art-nouveau typography and large ornamental initials in red and black throughout. Vernacular binding of slightly later decorated burlap cloth patterned with lily pads; green cloth onlays depicting three fish, their eyes made of sequins, other sequins adorning seaweed fronds; green floral endpapers (inner hinges cracked). Original printed wrappers bound in. Front joint worn, crown chipped; early ownership inscription of "Lillie C. Schleiser" dated "Christmas, Munich 1903" on front wrapper. Text evenly toned, extremities with some chipping here and there on account of the paperstock. Item #3198
First edition of the first fully realized book design by Melchoir Lechter (1865-1937), a triumph of Jugendstil / art-nouveau typography which perfectly complements the mystical essays by the famed Belgian Symbolist Maurice Maeterlinck. The type used herein is now known as Lechter-Schrift after the name of its designer. According to Schauer, this book defines the beginning of German book arts of the twentieth century, and is justly considered "a great book in which everything is dark, colorful, and primeval." Upon publication, it was widely praised as the most beautiful German book of the day (O. Grautoff). Ordinary copies our bound in wrappers designed by Lechter. Our copy has both wrappers bound into a remarkable German vernacular binding of burlap cloth with cloth onlays of green fish adorned with sequins, all adhered to art-nouveau patterned cloth of lily pads and fronds. The early ownership inscription reveals that the book was acquired by an English or American woman named Lillie C. Schleiser in Munich in 1903. Perhaps the present volume was bound there?
As is stated in the colophon: "Cover design, ornaments, headings, numbers, initials, and typography arrangement by Melchior Lechter, under whose artistic direction this book was printed in the year 1898 by Otto Von Holten, Berlin." "Bei seinem Erscheinen vielfältig als das schönste deutsche Buch gepriesen" (O. Grautoff). Lechter is best known for his book design, glass paintings, drawings, calendars, catalogues, ex-libris designs, and posters. He also designed furniture, carpets, wallpaper and stained glass windows.
This is the trade edition of the first authorized German translation of "Le Trésor des Humbles" (1896) / "The Treasure of the Humble" (1897) containing an essay on Ralph Waldo Emerson not found in the English edition. It was created on the occasion of the 1898 Maeterlinck exhibition of the same name. As is well known, Maeterlinck received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1911.
References: Transfer und Modifikation: Mario Zanucchi, Die französischen Symbolisten in der deutschsprachigen Lyrik der Moderne (1890-1923), Abb. 2. Grautoff, p. 14. Raub A20, p. 67; Rodenberg, 240; Schauer, Vol. 2, 12.