Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Dore Masterpieces Presentation Edition

The Dore Masterpieces published by Henry Altemus is a 7 volume series of oversized elegant books with numerous illustrations done by Gustave Dore.

Altemus was not the first to publish these Dore books but their copies were certainly among the most popular. They frequently sell for more than almost any other Altemus books. I suspect the reason is that buyers take the illustrations from the book and try to sell them individually. They should not bring high dollars otherwise because all the formats except for #6- the Presentation Editions are rather common.

See ad for 1889-1890 edition.

Of note is that these books were the first books for reading that Altemus published. Previously Altemus imprints were only found on Bibles, photographic albums and scrapbooks.

Gustave Dore (1882-1883) was a prolific French artist who produced more than 8000 wood engravings, 1000 lithographs. 400 oil paintings and more. Perhaps his most famous works were his engravings for Dante's Inferno. For an excellent biography/bibliography see Gustave Dore by Dan Malan , Malan Classic Enterprises, St. Louis, Mo. 1995.

The Presentation Editions of this Altemus series are very special. Each is different. Silk bindings that are padded with satin ribbons stamped in gold. They were only published in 1889-1890 making them quite scarce. I have seen only one with the ribbons intact. (Thanks to Justin Marlowe). As you can imagine, after 120 years or so, it would be difficult to find the ribbons extant.

For your interest other formats of this title within this series are shown here:

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