Decorative Scrolling in the Sixteenth Century

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Detail from an engraved title page by Jost Amman

Before launching into page on the Fanfare Style of Decorated bookbinding's in the Sixteenth Century, I would like to present some examples of the decorative styles that were present in the engravings of that period and particularly those of frontispieces, engraved title pages, and printers' devices. In the detail above we see an excellent example from the Master Engraver, Jost Amman who takes the Art of scrolling to a high level. This 1578 example represents perhaps a high point in the scrolling frenzy that seems ever present in the later half of the Sixteenth Century. I don't know if we will be able to pin down definitively the beginnings of this craze, which is also evident in the decoration of bookbinding's and the eventual "Fanfare" styles. While I am not sure when it started I can say that it continued well into the Seventeenth Century.

I purchased a book some time ago without realizing that the printers device was in fact engraved by Amman.

1587 title

Printers' device from the title page of

1593 printers mark by Amman

1593 Printers' device engraved by Jost Amman.

Jost Amman's Astronomer

Amman must be considered one of the greatest artists of his time and yet it seems he is but little known in this modern "all knowing" age.... and we can see from this engraving that he never missed a chance to include a scroll or two somewhere.

1568 scrolling

Printers' device from the title page of
LVDOVICI BLOSII - Lovanii 1568

1576 example

Another example from DIGESTUM NOUUM - Parisiis 1576

1635 example

and a few 17c examples such as this from detail from 1635

1665 printer's device

Printers' device from the titlepage of the

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77. French binding with blocked decoration and inlaid designs, presumably executed around mid-16th c.
Horae in laudem gloriosissimae Virginis Mariae
Paris: Germain Hardouyin, c. 1532 8vo
Size of binding: 192 x 127 x 30 mm
Shelfmark: AN.X.67
Nut-brown calfskin over pasteboards with gilt tooling and inlaid designs. Outermost border embellished with stylized tools, another border decorated with green wax edge a blocked decoration consisting of interlaces, of whom those in the center are heightened with green, blue and white wax paste. In the center, on a background stippled with gilt dots is a decoration motif made up of four solid-faced Aldine tools opposing each other and repeated at angles. Rebacked. Five raised cords and an Aldine tool in the centre of each compartment. A rectangle head and foot with gilt hatching. Six leather reinforcing strips. White and nut-brown headbands. Edges gilt. Parchment end leaves. Text printed on parchment.

Strapwork decoration was introduced in France (especially Paris and Lyons) around mid-16th c. An example with a similar blocked decoration is held by the Milan Biblioteca Trivulziana (1) and by the New York Public Library (2). Other examples featuring this kind of blocked decoration are listed (3). The present volume was included in the catalogue (4) for the 1929 book exhibition.

1 G. BOLOGNA, Il libro, p. 139.
2 M. LAIRD, Some Sixteenth-Century Bindings, pp. 317-319, plate VI.
3 Manuscrits a peintures, lot 73; F. GELDNER, Bucheinbande..., quoted, No 61, plate XLVIII; GUMUCHIAN ET CIE., Paris, Catalogue de reliures, p. 52, No 106, plate XLI; La bibliotheque de feu Edouard Rahir, première partie, No 102, p. 23; Ibid., deuxieme partie, p. 40, No 333.
4 BIBLIOTECA NAZIONALE BRAIDENSE, Catalogo..., quoted, p. 49, No 155.

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