|I discovered this interesting binding in a 1921 Maggs Bros. Catalogue entitled Book Bindings Historical and Decorative. The printing quality of this catalogue is not the best but anyway I decided to tackle identifying the roulettes used. Working with Denise Gid's 1984 catalogue (Catalogue des Reliures Françaises estampées à froid dans la bibliothèque Mazarine,) I found a roulette imprint type, DC i 14 that looked about right and so I resized the Maggs binding so that the imprints were the same size, and then tried another roulette FL j 19 that was associated with DC i 14, here I discovered that this also matched in size and shape so I was quite sure that the resized binding was the right size. Then I looked for an Entrelacs roulette to match the one found here, however careful search of Gid's catalogue did not turn up this exact model with the exception of EN e that contains at least the F of Francois Ier. Thus I have given this new roulette a provisional EN e 2 designation, it is shown below enlarged and even though the quality of the reproduction is not exceptional, we can still make out a crowned capital letter F placed above the heraldic salamander of François Ier. It is this salamander that singles out this binding as being possibly made expressly for François Ier, and therefore a royal binding of sorts. The office of Royal binder did not yet exist when this binding was made, nor was there an official Royal bindery? If there was, this atelier may be considered as partly fullfilling this position. It is not a continuation of the Louis XII bindery, nor do we see the use of any Italianate tools or any tooling in gold other than occasional gilt and gauffered page edges.|
Below I have reproduced an inverted example of Gid's plate 58, wherein we see some of the many examples of this type of roulette, some even perhaps with small dauphins, such as EN c 5. Denise Gid has shown EN e in her plate 58 as being from binding 138 actually it is found on 139. The problem is that the information for binding 138 has been listed as 139 and visa versa. One of her relatively few mistakes in a work that is such a complexity of details, some errors are bound to occur. However I am digressing from the most important part of identifying these roulettes, and that is the fact that the first three tested, and shown above next to the binding DC i 14, FL j 19, and DC a 2 are linked to a series of other bindings. These can be seen listed below each roulette type model.
When I started this page it wasn't my idea to dwell on this error with Gid 138 and 139, however it has been necessary to clear up this situation as it is very hard to describe, without diagrams, and in making the diagrams I have come up with an interesting sort of proof. In Comparative Diagram 3, I present the 138 rubbing with the 139 data. Below this I have enlarged the rubbing and scaled it (130%) to fit the roulettes which obviously belong to this rubbing. Then below this I have created a virtual Gid 138 binding, when we see this next to the Royal Binding from Maggs catalogue we immediately notice that these bindings are completely similar and therefore confirmation that the roulettes and the workmanship are identical. Now armed with this new success we can proceed to look for other bindings from this atelier.
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