Remarkable Twentieth Century Publishing Folly

La Farge, John, and August F. Jaccaci. Noteworthy Paintings in American Private Collections.

New York: A.F. Jaccaci Co., 1907. 520 by 390mm (20½ by 15¼ inches). Original cream impressed vellum over thick boards; [xxii], 517 pp. Plus 51 mounted photogravure plates with tissue guards. This is copy 23 signed by the printer & publisher.

The Greatest Publishing Folly

The English art dealer Sir Joseph Duveen, who made a fortune selling English art to America’s über-wealthy, was the driving force behind this monumental book. The book had a 1907 list price of $1,000 ($32,458.40 in today’s value). A mere 126 copies were printed (and per one report, only 49 copies were bound).

Absolutely every aspect of this book is extravagant as is detailed in Concerning Noteworthy Paintings in American Private Collections by Augusto Floriano Jaccaci (digitized at Harvard). The paper was hand-made in France with a special watermark; the binding is full vellum impressed in relief from a bronze cast; all edges heavily gilt with exceedingly wide inner gilt dentelles; silk end-papers and flyleaves, etc. In addition, the book is absurdly massive. It weighs 31 pounds, which makes it the heaviest volume we have ever had on offer.

The book is a reference book of famous paintings in America and a lavish praise of its benefactor, Sir Duveen. Sir Duveen sold most if not all the depicted artwork to American collectors Isabella Stewart Gardner, Alfred Atmore Pope, the Hon. John Hay, Herbert L. Terrell and Albert A. Sprague. The pictures range from old masters to impressionists and are accompanied by essays of well-known scholars.

Volume I, all published. On spine: Volume I”. This was to be a series of 15 fifteen volumes. The other volumes were never printed. A reprint of this book, however, was issued in two volumes. This book originally included a second loose set of prints along with unbound bibliography text. This copy does not include the unbound material (and, per Rarebookhub, none of the copies sold in the last 100 years included unbound material).

Condition: Very Good plus. Light soiling to vellum, most of which can be removed with a gentle clean; 1/2‑inch tear to bottom of front fly leaf; slight unraveling of the front silk endpaper.

Ex libris Johns Hopkins [withdrawn]. Markings include small bookplate at front pastedown; small, perforated handstamp at title page with small ink hand stamp on verso—the few library stamps are small and placed with care and consideration. On verso of title page handwritten: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. H.M. Landon”.

To better appreciate the massive effort this book represents, we recommend the above referenced (digitized) book by Jaccaci. For more on the interesting life of Sir Duveen, see the online article The Enduring Legacy of Joseph Duveen, America’s First Mega-Dealer by Wallace Ludel.


In stock

Stock Code: 1461A20 Collection:


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