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The Startling Exploits of Dr. J.B. Quies by Paul Celiere
With 120 illustrations by Frederic Theodore Lix
1887, Harper & Brothers
DESCRIPTION: There seems to exist almost no information online about Victorian author Paul Celiere, although the database at Google Books at least confirms that he was real and that he put out numerous titles in his native France, this being one of the only ones ever translated into English (1886 for the British version, a year later for this American edition -- although not explicitly stated in the text, online research leads me to believe that this is the first edition). A sort of "anti-Jules Verne" tale, it tells the humorous story of an obese, grouchy scientist whose greatest hope is to simply be left alone to live his sedentary, quiet provincial life; but through random accidents he ends up on a series of dangerous globetrotting adventures instead, including a big-game safari, being kidnapped by African natives, hurricanes, shipwrecks, a chaotic chase on the back of an ostrich, and the hot-air balloon ride depicted so wonderfully on the front cover. Translated by Cashel Honey and John Lillie, it features 120 delightful etch-style illustrations by Frederic Theodore Lix, the bigger reason to own this than the only so-so actual story. Also includes a fascinating eight-page "Interesting Books for Boys" advertising supplement in the back, showing off the latest titles by what was already the 70-year-old Harper publishing company; the unending list of exotic, forgotten adventure tales ("The Cruise of the Canoe Club!" "Ten Weeks with a Circus!") is almost worth the price of purchase alone.
CONDITION: Fair Minus (see note below), with ripped corners, numerous tears and stains, scotch-tape marks on the inside covers, children's pencil doodlings on various random sheets, and pages 1 through 4 of the actual story missing.
PROVENANCE: Purchased by Jason Pettus on November 5, 2011, at the University of Chicago's annual "remainders and duplicates" book sale, in the basement of Regenstein Library.
(IMPORTANT NOTE: The condition of this book falls below the minimum threshold for most professional collectors, and should therefore be purchased primarily as a unique gift or room decoration, not for the purpose of turning a profit.)