French Decorative Bookbinding - Eighteenth Century

Nicolas Denis Derome - Derome le jeune (c1775)

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Shelfmark Davis546 - British Library Database of Bookbindings

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Shelfmark - Davis546
Held by - British Library
Country - France
Period - 18c
Cover Material - Calf
Colour - Brown
Decorative Technique - Tooled in gold
Style/Type - Dentelle
Edges -
Bookbinder - Derome le Jeune
Ownership Mark -
Author -
Title -
Place of Publication - Paris
Date of Publication - 1745
Notes - Macchi states; last quarter century,. Born on October first 1731, Nicolas-Denis succeeded his father in 1760. He was the most expensive, but skilful craftsman of his time; always in demand so that he had to be helped by other binders, which explains the differing quality of his bindings. He adopted the à la dentelle decoration. He introduced on his covers the celebrated fer à l'oiseau (bird) motif for which he became famous but which he did not invent. He died in 1788. Derome le jeune and his family, signed with different tickets (R. Devauchelle, La reliure, p. 139; P. Ract-Madoux, Essai de classement chronologique, p. 382-389).S. de Ricci, French signed bindings, p. 91-91, n. 45, p. 120-121, n. 60, p.126-127, n. 63, p.128-131, n. 64).

The binding reproduced above is shown at near to full size or a small bit larger than actual size depending on your monitor settings (600x800) and is about 22cm tall. The original image is found in the British Library Database of Bookbinding. The binding has been photographed with a ruler included in the picture and thus we are able to digitally reproduce the binding at its true size. The photographic quality of this binding as quite good as it is in the smaller size range and more importantly the quality of the tooling is better than most, thus at last we have a chance to extract a fairly good imprint of the famous bird.

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Comparative Diagram

Comparative Diagram 1 - Various examples of the fer à l'oiseau

In Comparative Diagram 1, I have gathered together some important examples of this fer à l'oiseau imprint. The earliest may be the 1757 Dubuisson example, there are two Dubuisson models. In the middle is a Derome example from this davis546 binding, it is at the same scale as the Dubuisson tools. For the two other examples the scale is only my estimate. The Jubert model is easier to detect as the base is different (still Esmerian missed this in his No. 120). Some of Jubert's tools appear to have been 'borrowed' from Derome, one or two seem identical . The 'etat' model is another highly important example as it is found on many bindings which are often attributed to Derome, however the accompanying tools found with this imprint do not appear to be those of Derome.

Below is a collection of the Derome imprints recovered thus far, I have added some small examples which are far from perfect, hopefully I will find more, better quality reproductions in the near future. On the next page I return to a Derome binding which seems rather mysterious, I started working on this binding before looking at all the others, now that I have gone full circle, this binding remains an enigma.

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click on this link to go to the next page: Derome the enigma

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

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