London: H.S. Nichols, 1895. Eight octavo volumes, contemporary full plum crushed morocco gilt, boards ruled in gilt, raised bands, spine compartments elaborately tooled in gilt with a fleur-de-lis motif, top edges gilt, other edges uncut. Title pages in red and black, text printed on vellum, all volumes illustrated with photogravures in two states throughout text.
Limited large-paper English edition of the elder Alexandre Dumas's true crime narratives, number 15 of 25 copies, printed on Japanese vellum with the photogravure illustrations in two states. First published in French in 1839 and 1840, the collection includes essays on the Borgias, Martin Guerre, Mary Stuart, and Beatrice Cenci, as well as modern criminals such as the poisoner Antoine Derues and the assassin Karl Ludwig Sand. Most notable is the historical account of the Man in the Iron Mask, a real prisoner of the Sun King whose plight would inspire the final chapter of Dumas's d'Artagnan romances: “The imagination is fired at the thought of that enforced dumbness, of that lifetime of reflections which the features did not betray, of that isolation for forty years confined within double walls of stone and iron." A fine deluxe set, splendidly bound.