Decorative Finishing Tools of the Sixteenth Century

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Poliphilo, Hypnerotomachia Poliphili Venice, 1499

This binding is from The British Library - Database of Bookbindings, here are the database details...

Shelfmark - c24c19
Held by - British Library
Country - France
Period - 16c
Cover Material - Calf
Colour - Brown
Decorative Technique - Tooled in gold
Style/Type - Frame, Lettered cover, eg intitals, titles, Mottoes
Edges -
Bookbinder -
Ownership Mark - Mahieu, Thomas
Author - Poliphilo
Title - Hypnerotomachia Poliphili
Place of Publication - Venice
Date of Publication - 1499

Notes - third quarter century, Paris, Maioli binding, group VII (G. D. Hobson, Maioli, Canevari and others, p. 79-80, n. XXXI) bound by the Royal workshop (Atelier du roi) (M.-P. Laffitte - F. Le Bars, Reliures royales de la Renaissance, p. 205, n. 106b). The border decoration, consisting in arabesques over a gilt dotted background within volutes, remembers the "mille points" one, used during the XIX th first quarter century on English (Maggs. Bros. Ltd., Bookbinding, p. 134, n. 265; 142, n. 272; p. 144, n. 274) and French bindings (R. Devauchelle, La reliure, p. 175; Y. Devaux, Dix siècles, p. 211- 213). Reproduced in: W.Y. Fletcher, Foreign Bookbindings, pl. 64; M. Foot, The history of Bookbinding as a mirror of society, fig. 68; H. Helwig, Handbuch der Einbandkunde, p. 177, pl. 64; R. R. Holmes, Specimens of Royal fine and historical Bookbindings, pl. XIX. Typical for French Renaissance bindings, the three-quarter of a circle tool (see C.19.g.7., C.66.b.7., Davis 375).

Here is a detail of the gold tooling from this folio sized book...

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This binding is very much in the style of Picques who employed this use of repeated small points for filling areas, on a number of his bindings mid-century (see davis375, 376, 379 which tend to place this binding as c 1550?). See also the threequarter of a circle tool, another sign that this is quite possibly the work of Picques. Please notice the imprint in the center of the detail above, a heart shaped motif, it has been used repeatedly on this binding. I have examined this same motif on a previous page, in as much it appeared to be very similar to that used by Jean Picard. I have also shown that a number of Picques tools appear more or less identical to those of Picard, my study of this binding reveals yet more evidence.

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Click on the above image to see an enlargement, I have cut and pasted the parts of this imprint where detail is clearly visible, comparing them with the same imprint from the work of Picard. The fine "azured" hatching is barely .5mm thick, yet appears identical in many aspects. These images are taken from photographs, scanned images would allow a more certain analysis, however even with scans there are many factores which can make imprint identification tricky, for example these imprints found on the same binding....

variations in gold tooling

The binding below is by Jean Picard who has employed this same tool on many of his bindings (see BLDB c27d2 and c27d2l)

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