Atelier des Caumartin - Raphaël Esmerian Catalogue
A comparative study of the decorative gold tooling of this binding affirms that it derives from the seventeenth-century workshop designated by Raphaël Esmerian as the Atelier des Caumartin. I have created the image above to give some idea of the true size of this book; however, if anything, it is a bit smaller than shown. This binding is recorded in the BLDB as "Davis466" and unfortunately it has a sparse database record, it would appear that almost nothing is known about this book other than the date of publication, which is given as 1656/57. However, the tool imprints on this binding may lead us to some interesting discoveries.
Gold tooling Imprints from BLDB specimen Davis466
This is a small book and the photographic resolution is greater than on most other BLDB bindings; thus, the detail is very good, and if we run across more of these imprints elsewhere they will be easy to identify. We can now compare these with those of an early Caumartin example
Esmerian Catalogue No. 41 - NOVUM JESU CHRISTI TESTAMENTUM - Paris 1652 (click to enlarge)
The binding pictured above is found in the ATELIER DES CAUMARTIN section of the second volume of Raphaël Esmerian's 1972 Catalogue. In the Annexe to that volume Douze Tableaux Synoptiques sur La Reliure au XVII eme Siècle, we find it listed as number 4 in Table VII, which I have reproduced here....
Table VII - L'ATELIER DES CAUMARTIN
I - vers 1652 and II - de 1685 à 1701
Esmerian notes two distinct periods for the Atelier Caumartin; they are shown in his Table. He lists 6 examples, that derive from the early period, i.e. 1651-1652, then there is a gap of more than 30 years before we see further Caumartin examples. In his catalogue Esmerian presents us with only one example of the early work which is No. 41. (reproduced above).
Comparative Diagram 1 - Esmerian model 5 vs No 41 and Davis526
One can not easily extract useful imprints from the photograph No. 41, as the binding is presented at an angle and the imprints are distorted. However we can still try to compare certain of the imprints. In Comparative Diagram 1, I compare scans of Esmerian's imprint 5 from No. 41 with those of No. 43 and Davis526. All scans are 300dpi, and you will notice that the least distorted of No. 41 imprints match the others in size, this suggests that the binding has been reproduced at very close to its actual size (approx. 15 cm x 9 cm). I have found very few examples of this important early imprint. Notice that the accessory leaves at the base are separate entities made by two distinct additional tools (na + nb).
Comparative Diagram 2 - Imprints 7-1 from N0. 41 compared with a high resolution scan from my Breviarium binding.
In the Comparative Diagram 2 we see that there is a strong possibility that the No. 41 imprints are the same as imprint 7-1. Also note the presence of small spirals; similar spirals are found on BLDB binding c67e7. I have enlarged both compared them in the diagram below. These imprints appear to be very similer in size and design.
Comparative Diagram 3 - Imprints 33a from BLDB binding c67e7.
Comparative Diagram 4 - Samples of imprint 43 from BLDB binding Davis466 vs similar imprints found on No. 41.
In Comparative Diagram 4, I compare samples of imprint 43 taken from BLDB binding Davis466 with similar but larger imprints found on No. 41. Although the resolution of the photo is not good when enlarged to this degree, we can still perceive that the rings from the No. 41 binding are probably 'au pointille', that is, cut to produce a segmented line. This segmentation is not evident in the Davis466 examples; however, good high-resolution scans may reveal these hidden or blurred details.
Comparative Diagram 5 - Esmerian ROLL I vs No. 41
In Comparative Diagram 5, I have ventured into the relm of virtual bookbinding. I wondered if Esmerian's single Caumartin roulette example 'ROLL I' , derives from the inner dentelle of the No. 41 binding, although the Esmerian Model seems to be of a larger size. To test this theory I have reduced the illustrated model (b), to a similar proportion (c), then blurred the image as well as distorting it to match the perspective of the photo (a). I also trimmed it down to further match the photo which does not show all of the ROLL I imprint. Certainly the two rolls appear very similar, however the Esmerian model seems rather too thin and sparse. My guess is that the model is more of an artistic approximation than a real 'copy' of the actual imprint.