11 December 2019
[GOETHE, Johann Wolfgang von (1749-1832)]. Das Römische Carneval. Berlin: Johann Friedrich Unger, and Weimar and Gotha: Carl Wilhelm Ettinger, 1789.
First edition of a rarity in German literature and ‘the most luxurious edition of a single work produced during Goethe’s lifetime’ (Unseld, p.80). With only 318 copies printed, the edition sold out very quickly and was immediately considered rare. When Goethe gave the copy from his own library to replace a stolen copy from the library at Wilhelmshöhe, he was unable to source another, even finding himself outbid on a copy offered at auction. The text attempts an objective description of the Roman carnivals Goethe attended in 1787 and 1788, and the temporary dissolution of normal behavior in which ‘the difference between the social orders seems to be abolished’. It is illustrated by 20 hand-coloured engraved plates of carnival scenes after sketches by Johann Georg Schütz, with whom Goethe lived in Rome. This copy preserves the rare slip offering instructions to the bookbinder. Hagen 193; Lipperheide Sn 15; Rümann 353; Siegfried Unseld. Goethe and His Publishers. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2019.
Quarto (273 x 214mm). Title printed on thick paper with engraved vignette of 3 masks surrounding a sculpted vase by H. Lips, 20 hand-coloured engraved plates after Johann Georg Schütz, errata leaf and ‘Nachricht für den Buchbinder’ slip bound in (variable spotting and soiling). Uncut in a 20th-century binding of red morocco with matching slipcase, the case seemingly re-using contemporary red morocco tooled in gilt, original front wrapper bound in (this latter extensively repaired with portion of printed frame in facsimile, the rear wrapper in complete facsimile).
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