French Decorative Bookbinding - Eighteenth Century

Dentelles by Dubuisson

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(click on this image to see an enlargement.)

These two dentelle binding have recently come to my attention, both are currently for sale, the 1728 Office de la Semaine Sainte...

Office de la Semaine Sainte en latin & en François Ó l'usage de Rome & de Paris. Avec des Refléxions et Meditations, Prieres et Instructions pour la Confession et communion.

[publisher: Paris, Veuve Mazières et Garnier, 1728.]

Bookseller Inventory # 11211 ($3193.36 USD)

is available from:

Librairie Ancienne J.-Marc Dechaud
10, rue de Chinon
Tel: + 33 (0) 2 47 97 01 40

Librairie Dechaud were kind enough to send me some excellent photos of the binding of this book and from those I was able to put together a few interesting compartaive diagrams. The first shows the spine of the 1728 OSS beside a spine from a 1754 Almanach Royal, (both are at the same scale), I have documented this Almanach previously (click here to see this page) wherein we have demonstrated that the binding is most certainly a Dubuisson. Comparing now that spine with our Semaine Sainte example here, after adjusting the photos to the same scale, we discover some interesting facts.

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Comparative Diagram 1 - 1728 OSS spine vs 1754 Almanach spine.
(Click in this image to see an enlargement)

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Comparative Diagram 2 - enlarged spine compartments, 1728 OSS vs 1754 Almanach.
(Click in this image to see an enlargement).


Comparative Diagram 3 - enlarged overlay diagram, 1728 OSS fleur-de-lis (color inverted and semi-transparent)
placed over a 1754 fleur-de-lis.

Looking at the enlargement of the compartments in Comparative Diagram 2 we suspect that these two compartments are identical however one should always test such suspicions thoroughly. The overlay shown in Comparative Diagram 3 demonstrates that not only is the central fleur-de-lis identical but all the other elements in the spine compartment are exactly aligned. This indicates then that a single tool has been used to decorate the spine compartments, in fact it is a sort of plaque made especially for the spine compartments. A Dubuisson plaque, that is found on many of their decorated Almanachs and also Semaine Sainte bindings.


Comparative Diagram 4 - endleaves - large-comb-marbled paper pastedown and end leaf.

In Comparative Diagram 5, below, we see an enlarged detail of the inner dentelle, that has also been applied to the board edges. This is not an ideal way to make this comparison however the curious nature of the elements that make up the dentelle is so specific that we can say that they are almost certainly the same.


Comparative Diagram 5 - enlarged dentelle with comparative Dubuisson dentelle samples.

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1728 engraved title page by J. B. Scotin.
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Above we see an engraved title page by Scotin, this is the title page that is normally found in a 1728 Veuve Mazières et Garnier Office de la Semaine Sainte. The page measures 21.58 cm in length, and a binding with this page inside would probably over 22 cm in height. The 1729 edition was in a smaller format, for which Scotin engraved a nearly identical but appropriately scaled title page.

I have calculated that the 1728 Semaine Sainte spine ,shown above in Comparative Diagram 1, is only about 19.8 cm indicating that this is probably not an actual 1728 first edition. Veuve Mazières et Garnier produced another edition of the 1728 Office de la Semaine Sainte, using the same Scotin engraved title page plate as well as the other Scotin plates found in the original work, this edition was however smaller, and bindings covering this edition are around 19.9 cm, more importantly this edition appeared, more than 20 years after the original, sometime close to 1740. This edition can be recognized by it's smaller size and the Approbation found at the back of the book with a date of September 1739. I have a copy of this edition and the inside paste downs are of a special type of brokatpapiere.

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Comparative Diagram 5 - Brokatpapiere - Chantilly 1758 example, XIV-G-021 vs 1739 OSS plaque.
(Click in this image to see an enlargement).

An interesting exhibition of these German decorative gold foil papers, can be found on the web site of the BibliothèqueáetáArchivesáduáChâteauádeáChantilly. Where I actually managed to find an example that matches my own. It is found in a book that dates to 1758, a number of similar examples have dates clustering around the mid 1750s. I simply point this out to show that the smaller 1728 (1739) Veuve Mazières et Garnier Office de la Semaine Sainte, examples, are commonly found decorated with brokatpapiere, and were probably bound sometime around 1750 to 60.
Generally, bindings with gold brokatpapiere guards are luxury morocco bindings, often decorated with a coat of arms.áSome have been decorated with plaques, i.e. those of Dubuisson, some with dentelles, or - more lavishly - ámosaic compositions.

On the next page we are going to look at a series of Semaine Saintes in luxury, or royal bindings, these are found on editions that may have been published on the 1740s but were probably bound by Dubuisson in the mid to late 50s.

click on this link to go to the next page Dubuisson - relieur royal

click on this link to return to: The Dubuisson links page.

information about the author return to the home page of VIRTUAL BOOKBINDING