French Decorative Bookbinding - Eighteenth Century

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Signed by Padeloup, doré, by Dubuisson 1751 - Planche XXXIV
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In my search for high quality reproductions I finally broke down and bought a publication that is often referred to by specialists, and not without good reason. It is entitled Les plus belles reliures de la réunion des Bibliothèques Nationales. Paris, éditions des Bibliothèques Nationales de France, s.d. (ca. 1950), in-folio portefeuille, 12 pp nn + XLII planches dont 10 en couleurs, planches détachées comme publié, avec serpentes. Dans une portefeuille de l'éditeur, en carton.

Edited and preface by - Émile Dacier, this is absolute quality. Produced by the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. When he edited this work Émile Dacier was near the end of a long career researching and writing about every aspect of books. Personally I love his work, precise and thorough.

What we are looking at in the reproduction above is Planche XXXIV. Reliure à dentelle that bears the arms and monogram of Louis XV. Inside, glued to the title page, just above the date of publication (M. D C C L I.) we find the édtiquette of the famous binder Padeloup le jeune. Dacier includes a copy of this 'ticket' in his description of this binding. I have reproduced this description below.
planche 34 text

Dacier briefly outlines the history of Padeloup's career as a binder. Padeloup would have been 66 or more years old when this binding was executed. Dacier states that Padeloup often just supervised the work, noting however that this style of decoration reliure à dentelle and many reliures mosaiquees are now generously attributed to Padeloup without proof. Dacier also mentions Thoinan (p.364).

Carefully reading Thoinan, we find that he clearly states that Padeloup employed the Dubuisson's, in fact Padeloup owed the Dubuissons so much money that they were forced to bring the matter to court in 1752. It is no surprise then that we find this binding is covered with the imprints of Dubuisson's tools!

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Comparative Diagram 1- Planche XXXIV imprints compared with Dubuisson imprints.
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I discovered another catalogue where we find mention of bindings that contain the ticket of Padeloup, and yet we see the decorative tools of Dubuisson. Unfortunately the quality of the reproductions is nowhere near as good as the previous example. This a 1955 catalogue entitled Livres Illustrés du XVIIIeme Siècle, Paris, Librairie Giraud-Badin. By an odd coincidence the frontispiece to this catalogue is a colored plate of a Dubuisson binding, the same binding that is reproduced in black and white by Deville (1931) however here we find the full description of this binding which is item #86. The actual reproduction although larger than Deville's plate is not much better or perhaps even not as good being in supersaturated color. The information however is of great interest, we are told that Dubuisson's large "etiquette" is found inside, glued to the free endpaper.

#86 description

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Dubuisson binding 1747- item #86.
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Now we must look at item #54 from this same catalogue, I have reproduced this below along with the description. In the descriptive details of item #66, (another binding attributed by the editors to Padeloup), they state that their attribution of both (#66 and #54) to Padeloup was due to the fact of their possessing a signed Padeloup binding bearing identical imprints.

item #54 text
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Planche XXII, item #54.
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Comparative Diagram

Comparative Diagram 2 - pd-12, (small white square = 1x1 mm).

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Comparative Diagram 3 - Dubuisson imprints pd-8 and pd-21a, pd-21b, pd-7 (fer "au trident")

Here in the final comparative diagram for this page, we see, at last our Dubuisson imprints pd-21a and pd-21b as well as as pd-8, and a possible pd-7 (fer "au trident") although rather blurred. I have pointed out these few examples, there are many other cases where we see the use of of pd-21 along with other Dubuisson tools, such as Esmerian's item #121, however we should now look at the bindings incorrectly attributed to Douceur where we find again the imprints of Dubuisson's tools.

click on this link to go to the next page: Dubuisson's work attributed to Douceur.

click on this link to return to: The Dubuisson Links page

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