French Decorative Bookbinding - Eighteenth Century

Nicolas Denis Derome - Derome le jeune (fl 1758-1788)

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Shelfmark c22f3 - British Library Database of Bookbindings

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Please note that all images from the British Library Database of Bookbindings are subject to Copyright
see also Reproductions

In W. Y. Fletcher's 1895 book entitled BOOKBINDING IN FRANCE it is stated:

"Derome was born on October 1, 1731, became a master binder on March 31, 1761, and was elected one of the Gardes en Charge of the Community of the Master Binders and Guilders of the City and University of Paris on May 10, 1773 at the same time as François Gaudreau, binder to the dauphine. He died about the year 1788.... the designs used by Derome on his bindings are extremely graceful, and rival those of Padeloup, to which they have a strong resemblance. It is be true that he purchased the material and stamps of this binder at the sale of his effects after his death, it explains to some extent the great similarity of the ornamentation employed by the two artists. Derome executed many mosaic bindings, but his great renown has been gained by his dentelles, especially those in which he introduced a little bird with outstretched wings, and which are in consequence termed dentelles à l'oiseau."

MM. Marius Michel, in La Reliure Française, say that Derome sought and found in the industries of his time the elements of a new decoration, and his efforts were crowned with success with the dentelles to which he has given his name, and which are distinguished from preceding ones by not being made up of the same tools in repetition, but in combination, thus affording more variety.

Accompanying Fletcher's short history on Derome we find a colour Plate with this inscription:

Plate VII text

Comparative Diagram

The quality of the 1895 colour reproduction is not great, (in fact I think the entire binding may have been drawn by hand), however by wonderful stroke of good fortune, this same binding can now be found in British Library Database of bookbindings, (it is of the same size and in every way duplicates Fletcher's Plate VII specimen). W. Y. Fletcher's description of this binding is as follows:

"The style of Derome is well shown by the binding reproduced in Plate VII. The material is red morocco, the sides being ornamented with a very graceful and elaborate dentelle border. The insides of the covers and the end papers are lined with blue watered silk, and the volume-a copy of Les Grans Croniques de France, printed by Antoine Verard at Paris in 1493-contains the ticket of the binder. It was purchased by the British Museum in 1848."

Now we can try to compare the tool imprints of this 'authentic' specimen with others, and perhaps determine which are actually the work of Derome. We are very lucky to have this enlarged British Library reproduction to study, which has been photographed with a ruler to indicate scale.

Edith Diehl, has provided us with another Derome example in her book BOOKBINDING Its Background and Technique, PLATE 44, Binding by Derome le jeune.

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I have reproduced the plate here at its actual size, this is a large quarto size binding reproduced in a small book so you can't expect to see all the fine details, however the British Library example is a folio size so even that photo does not reveal the fine detail of the imprints. I have reproduced below an enlarged comparative detail from both bindings, with the Diehl binding corrected for scale. We can see that the two details share many common tools. There is little doubt that these two bindings are by the same binder. This Diehl example may therefore be considered another 'authentic' Derome le jeune binding.

Comparative Diagram

From these two examples we can start working towards a catalogue of the Derome tools. Although we can identify them with reasonable certainty the quality of the reproduced imprint is poor, to produce a useful catalogue, we must search for these same tool imprints elsewhere in the hopes of finding examples that are of a better quality. As it happens after a thorough search I finally discovered an example in Rahir's catalogue. To explore this third Derome binding fully, will mean a lot of additional images so it will be best to do this on the next page.

click on this link to go to the next page: Derome le jeune - Imprint Research

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