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THE FIRST PRINTER’S MANUAL TO BE ARRANGED ALPHABETICALLY. FIRST EDITION.

MOMORO, Antoine François (1756–1794)

Traité élémentaire de l’imprimerie , ou le manuel de l’imprimeur; avec 40 planches en taille-douce

Paris: chez A. F. Momoro, Imprimeur-Libraire, 1793
8vo: π2 (+/– π1) A–X8 Y6, 176 leaves, pp. [4] 347 [1].
Folding letterpress table at p. 308 and 36 engraved plates: numbered 1–26 [27] 28, 1–2, 13–18, second sequence signed ‘A. Delattue fecit’ (bound at the end).
Condition: 193 x 126mm. Titlepage heavily dust-soiled; margins foxed, several text leaves and plates browned.
Binding: Contemporary green vellum, rebacked with the original spine laid down, corners worn.
Provenance: From the collection of Giles Barber (1930–2012).
OFFERED WITH Barber’s copy of the facsimile reprint (Farnborough: Gregg International Publishers Ltd, 1971. 8vo, cloth) with his pencilled signature, notes on his copy of the original edition and his marginal corrections and notes and further on the endleaves.
First edition, first issue (re-issued in 1796 with a cancel title).
Bibliography: Barber, p. 15; Gaskell, Barber and Warrilow F6; Bigmore and Wyman II, 48.
£2,000

‘One of the most important French manuals. A brief introduction covers the history of printing, the different types and parts of the press as well as the principal operations of printing. The rest of the work consists of articles in alphabetical order and dealing with every aspect of printing and the printing world, often giving detailed descriptions of contemporary practice. An alphabetical list of the headings used follows with specimen impositions, case layouts, an engraved proof correction sheet and nine other plates.’ (Barber,)
This is the first printer’s manual to be arranged alphabetically as an encyclopedia. As well as printing technology, Momoro deals with the system of approbations and permissions governing publishing during the ancien régime, and the economics of the printing trade in the revolutionary period, a time when there was an enormous increase in the demand for print.
The plates show imposition schemes, case lays, a scene showing composing and imposition, composing sticks, galleys, ink balls and other utensils, a scene showing papermaking, a pressroom with two presses, and three plates of constructional details of the press.
This is a copy with the original titlepage. Unsold sheets were re-issued in 1796 with a cancel title and the book is more common in this form.
Keywords:     printer's manual