One of Only Six Sets Printed on Large Paper;
Bound in Vienna for Archduke Karl, Duke of Teschen
Catalogue des Livres rares et précieux de la Bibliothèque de feu M. le Comte de Mac-Carthy Reagh.
Two folding engraved facsimiles (one in red & black). xxviii, 583 pp.; 2 p.l., 473 pp. Two vols. Large 8vo, cont. red straight-grained half morocco & glazed red paper boards bound in Vienna for Archduke Karl (“Carl Ludwig”), flat spines gold-tooled & lettered in compartments, the Archduke’s initials “CL” in top compartment. Paris: De Bure, 1815.
Catalogue des Livres rares et précieux…provenant de la Vente de feu M. le Comte de Mac-Carthy-Reagh à vendre aux prix marqués à chaque Article. [iii]-vi, 57,  pp. 8vo. Paris: De Bure frères, 1817.
(—). Liste des Prix des Livres… 1 p.l., 38 pp., one leaf of ads. 8vo. Paris: De Bure frères, 1817.
A magnificent set, one of only six copies printed on “grand papier d’Annonay,” in contemporary Viennese red morocco bound for Archduke Karl-Ludwig, Duke of Teschen (1771-1847), Field Marshal General and victor at the battle of Aspern again Napoleon. He was the adopted son of Duke Albrecht von Sachsen-Teschen, from whom he inherited all the art collections (now in the Albertina Museum).
MacCarthy-Reagh (1744-1811), born in Ireland, became a naturalized French citizen in 1776 on account of his staunch Catholic beliefs and installed himself in Toulouse, where he spent the rest of his life (and considerable wealth) forming one of the finest private libraries ever assembled. Only the La Vallière collection of a generation earlier was comparable in importance. In 1769 he purchased Girardot de Préfond’s second library en bloc for 50,000 frs. De Ricci described the Mac-Carthy-Reagh library as “extravagantly rich in books printed on vellum” and the Duke of Devonshire was inspired to put in a bid of 20,000 pounds for the collection which in fact brought only some 16,000 pounds when it came up for auction in 1817.
The auction catalogue describes, amongst much else, 602 books (in 826 volumes) printed on vellum including a copy of the Gutenberg Bible (lot 61), copies of the 1457 and 1459 Mainz Psalter, and a copy of the Ximenes Polyglot Bible. It abounded in incunabula, illuminated MSS., and early French literature.
The 1817 fixed-price catalogue lists the books which did not reach their reserves in the 1815 auction.
Provenance: Archduke Karl-Ludwig, with the Sachsen-Teschen press-mark label inside front covers; Arthur Rau, the Paris bookseller; H.P. Kraus, the New York bookseller (booklabel); and Bernard H. Breslauer (booklabel, his sale, Christie’s New York, 21 March 2005, lot 88).
❧ Grolier Club, Printed Catalogues of French Book Auctions…1643-1830, 567. De Ricci, p. 80.
Item ID: 3440