Hard Cover. New York: George H. Richmond & Co., 1891. Near Fine.
Two volumes. Translated by J. Carroll Beckwith. Illustrated by Luc-Olivier Merson. Limited edition (“Japan Paper Edition”). One of 50 copies printed on Japan paper, this being number 29. Notice on limitation page that states “This copy has been subscribed for by Mr. George Jay Gould.” Publisher’s binding, bound by Stikeman & Co. for Charles Scribner’s Sons, in three quarter blue morocco, with marbled boards double-ruled in gilt, five raised bands to spines, spines decorated, ruled, and lettered in gilt, blue endpapers, and George Jay Gould Jr. bookplates to front pastedowns of both volumes. Near fine, with light rubbing to spine bands and joints, light wear to corners of boards, a touch of offsetting from bookplates, light toning to page edges, with original tissue guards present for illustrations. Overall, a gorgeous set, with exceptionally fresh and clean pages and illustrations. In this gothic masterpiece, Quasimodo, a deformed bellringer for the Notre-Dame Cathedral, falls in love with a beautiful Roman dancer named Esmerelda after she displays an act of kindness towards him. Meanwhile, two men, Archdeacon Dom Claude Frollo and the handsome Captain Phoebus, compete for Esmerelda. When Frollo stabs Captain Phoebus in a jealous rage, Esmerelda is accused of the murder and sentenced to death. Quasimodo intervenes and brings her to the Cathedral, where she is protected from arrest - at least temporarily - by the law of sanctuary. Victor Hugo wrote Notre Dame of Paris during a time of social upheaval in France, when the country’s traditions and architecture were threatened by anti-monarchist sentiments. Hugo believed that France’s gothic architecture was an important part of the country’s national heritage and wrote the book as a plea to the public to protect it. Hugo was successful in this, as his book helped spark a preservation movement in France. In 1837, the French government established the Commission on Historical Monuments, and many monuments, including Notre-Dame, were restored to their former glory. George Jay Gould (1864 – 1923) was the eldest son of 19th century American railroad magnate Jay Gould. George furthered his father’s vision of a transcontinental railroad system, installing routes such as the California Zephyr, which is still Amtrak’s longest daily route. He was married to stage actress Edith Mary Kingdon, and their art collection of mostly French 17th-19th century paintings and photographs became part of the Frick Collection in New York. Item #VH006