BORDEAUX, Christophe de. Varlet a luoer a tout faire. Rouen: Pierre Mullot, n.d. [c.1600]. [With:] – Chambriere a louer a tout faire. Au mois et a lanée. Rouen: Pierre Mullot, n.d. [c.1600]. 2 volumes, small 8º (135 x 88mm). Each work with a woodcut title illustration, and a woodcut initial. (Leaf A7 of second title with small marginal loss not touching the text.) Uniform late 19th-century straight grained red morocco by Lermardeley, lettered up the spine in gilt, gilt edges. Provenance: Comte de Lignerolles (bookplate, inventory numbers 1521 and 1522) – Sczaniecki (bookplate; his sale, part I, Paris, 1974, n.134). [And:]
FYOT – BORDEAUX, Christophe de. Calligraphic manuscript copies by Fyot of Abraham Cousturier’s Rouen editions of Varlet a louer and Chambriere a louer, on vellum, late 18th century, respectively 15 pages and 20 pages, 8º (153 x 100mm, and 154 x 105mm), each bound in full red morocco attributed to Bisiaux, sides gilt, the second work using cornucopia corner tools, both with blue moiré doublures and identical gilt turn-ins, spines tooled in gilt, lettered up the spines.
APPARENTLY THE ONLY COPIES KNOWN OF THESE ROUEN EDITIONS OF TWO FAMOUS SATIRICAL PAMPHLETS IN VERSE, EACH OF THEM ILLUSTRATED WITH A WOODCUT ON THE TITLE. TOGETHER WITH TWO CALLIGRAPHIC MANUSCRIPT COPIES ON VELLUM, PROBABLY BY FRANÇOIS FLORENT FYOT.
These two related works have their origins in a medieval tradition of popular comical literature for public recitation. The types ‘Valet for rent’ and ‘Maid for rent’ were adapted at the end of the 16th century by Christophe de Bordeaux; editions of c. 1600 are known in very few copies only, at least one in Paris and another in Rouen by Abraham Cousturier with similar but different woodcuts. The present editions remained unknown to bibliographies up to Mercier and may well be the only surviving copies. The Couturiers and Mullots all specialized in romances of chivalry, light pieces, and popular pamphlets in the vernacular.
When the taste for rare 16th- and 17th-century literature spread among book collectors at the end of the 18th century, in the footsteps of De Bure, the principal bibliophiles of the time ordered manuscript facsimiles of the rarities they could not find. F.F. Fyot was among the calligraphers specialising in such perfect reproductions. Méon, Soleinne, Cigongne and later the duc d'Aumale or Firmin Didot could add these unobtainable books to their collections in what were called copies figurées. Fyot’s copies are based on other editions than those by Mullot.
The manuscripts were elegantly bound for Lignerolles, almost certainly by Pierre-Joseph Bisiaux (c. 1750-1811), the binder who worked for Beaumarchais, Voltaire and Mme du Barry. The quality of these bindings is testimony to the importance accorded by bibliophiles to these fine manuscript copies.