Paris: Firmin-Didot, 1888. First edition. 4 (of 6) volumes (lacking volumes 1 and 6), folio (16 x 11 1/4 inches). Title printed in red and black. Plates, including fine chromolithograps. Each volume present is complete as issued. Modern quarter plium morocco over cloth, the spines in six compartments with five raised bands, gilt-lettered in two, a richly gilt arabesque in the remaining. Some minor white paint residue along board edges (not visible when shelved), light toning to foot of vol.6 spine, otherwise very clean and fresh. Item #400654
A fine though partial set, the plates in very fine condition with colors fresh and bright, heightened with gum arabic.
'THE MOST IMPORTANT GENERAL SURVEY ON COSTUME' (Colas). Racinet's is the most famous of the 19th-century books on dress, and the first fashion book to use color lithography. It is a wide-ranging survey of costume through time, an encyclopaedic work in the tradition of the costume books that began to appear from the 16th-century in the wake of the age of exploration. Publication was made possible by significant developments in color printing technology, and a resurgence of interest in 'the other' as a new period of European colonialism gathered pace from the mid-19th century. The emphasis here is on continuity in traditional dress, rather than innovation in fashion, and linking costume to local history, custom and social organization. Racinet was determined to produce a visually appealing book that deployed chromolithography to full effect; to this end, he sometimes embellished on reality by adding color to some of his sources. Colas 2471-2; Lipperheide Ad52; Vicaire VI, 945-6; Vinet 2141.