French Decorative Bookbinding - Eighteenth Century

Pierre-Paul Dubuisson (fl 1746-1762) - Folio Plaques

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Paris, vers 1760.

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The reproduction of the folio sized binding shown above is found on Plate 42 of Édouard Rahir's 1910 Catalogue, LIVRES DANS DE RICHES RELIURES. This is item number 232 and it is described on page 63.

Item 232 description

Fortunately the reproductions in this catalogue are of a very high standard, far better than any 'modern' publication. I have scanned this plate (42) at 600dpi and extracted the important tool imprints that have been added to the larger plaque imprints. It may be that, a number of plaques were used to create this unusual folio sized masterpiece, however we can see that a number of individual tools were also employed. I have already pointed out the possibility that one of the tools found used here may be from Dubuisson's workshop. There is even a possibility that Dubuisson himself decorated this binding, and the tool imprints therefore possibly very important in the further identification of Dubuisson's work.

all extracted imprints

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Comparative Diagram 1 - Selected Dubuisson drawer handle roulettes.

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In Comparative Diagram 1, I have collected a number of roulettes selected from various 'early' Dubuisson plaque bindings. These are all shown at the same scale, (some are approximately the same scale). It may be that one or two examples are actually the same roulette, however we can see that a number are of different sizes. These roulettes all conform to the same basic model, which I have dubbed a drawer handle roulette. While plaques remain constant the outer roulette decoration can be varied. We can observe that the early, Almanach editions are often decorated with the drawer handle roulette, it may therefore serve as another possible indicator of authentic Dubuisson bindings. Armed with these clues let us now proceed to investigate another interesting near folio (large quarto) sized binding. Item 117 in Esmerian's 1972 Catalogue 2eme Partie: Reliures de quelques ateliers du XVII Siècle & Livres en divers genres du XVIIe et XVIIIe Siècles.

actual size

A Lille, chez la veuve de C.M. Cramé, 1761.

117 text

Note that in the description of this item (shown above), Esmerian has attributed this binding to DOUCEUR however you will notice in Comparative Diagram 2, that at least two of the tools found here are also found on the folio binding Rahir 232, also note the drawer handle roulette.

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Comparative Diagram 2 - Esmerian 117 imprints vs Rahir 232 imprints.

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comparative diagram

And finally we come to the plaques used in these two examples, one cannot fail to notice that they are identical in style and arrangement. Unfortunately the quality of this colour reproduction is very poor and on the very limit of being useful as far as imprint extraction is concerned, however the discovery of these tools led me on to find a yet more amazing binding. This 'key' binding will be the subject of the next page, Dubuisson's tools!

click on this link to go to the next page: Dubuisson - Decorative Tools

click on this link to return to: The Dubuisson Plaque Inventory

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