Plate XXIII - from
LA RELIURE FRANÇAISE par Étienne Deville
Étienne Deville has labeled his Plate XXIII as "Reliure de Louis XIII". Louis XIII died in 1643, if this binding was executed prior to that date, it would then be the earliest recorded work from the atelier des Caumartin. However, before we get bogged down in this complex issue which revolves around the similarities in the armes of Louis XIII and Louis XIV. I would like to first point out the comparative importance of the finishing tools that have been employed in the decoration of this small book, which is shown above at its actual size (click to enlarge)
Comparative Diagram 1 - Tools from Plate XXIII vs atelier des Caumartin Type Models.
Comparative Diagram 2 Breviarium tool 7-3 vs Plate XXIII
In the comparative diagram above, we see the Breviarium imprint 7-3, which up till this point, I had not discovered on any other bindings, it is present in Plate XXIII and has been used in an identical fashion, that is, to fill a small circular pocket in the strapwork. Deville does not give any further information concerning this binding, but at least the quality of the photo is quite good, allowing us to compare easily the fine details, which then leaves no doubt that all 8 imprints have been made by the same tool. One will notice that these imprints, even though from the same tool, can still vary considerably. The main structure, however, must remain the same.
A careful examination of the 7-3 imprint which is of an insect like form, reveals that the right antenna joins at the head or body, while the left antenna joins at the wing. Once the eye has homed in on such a detail, identification becomes quick and certain.
Imprint 7-3 scanned at 600dpi.
Comparative Diagram 3 - Davis526 imprints 9 and 23 vs Plate XXIII
In Comparative Diagram 3 we compare a Davis526 example of imprint 9 with that of Plate XXIII, we see that indeed they are probably the same tool, and that the small tool 23 is also present in a similar random distribution, thus confirming the close relationship of these two bindings. Imprint 9 is also found on the BLDB specimen c67e7.
Comparative Diagram 4 - Plate XXIII vs Esmerian single spiral tool models, 2 and 3.
Perhaps the most important imprints discovered on Plate XXIII, are the large 2a and 2b spirals. Up till now I did not have a single verified Caumartin example. Here we have six examples of each, within which we can search for unique features that will help us to identify these imprints in the future.
Comparative Diagram 5 - 2b spirals from the BLDB specimen, Davis466 vs Plate XXIII.
In comparative diagram 5, I compare the 2b spirals of Plate XXIII with those of the BLDB binding Davis466. We see that all of the imprints share the same identifying features, the most obvious being, gaps in the leaf and tendril attachments (third tendril, seventh leaf)
BLDB specimen Davis466 - shown at its actual size (click to enlarge)
I discovered the Davis466 binding in the BLDB (British Library Database of Bookbindings) some time ago, but could not identify its decorative gold tooling with certainty. However now with the confirmed match of 2b spirals we are assured that this binding also derives from the atelier of the Caumartins. This is an important discovery for a number of reasons which I shall detail on the next page...click here to go to the next page.