French Decorative Bookbinding - Eighteenth Century

Dentelles by Dubuisson attributed to Padeloup.

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(click on this image to see an enlargement.)

On the previous page (see this page) we looked at item 29, from 1993 Ader Tajan auction catalogue Tres Bèaux Livres Anciens, Paris 4 juin 1993. I show it above in color here next to another very similar binding. You will have noticed that on the previous page, I reproduced the description given for item 29, in that we find a very tantalizing reference to another catalogue where we can find a similar dentelle which is further decorated with the famous fer à l'oiseau. I could not resist the urge to buy this catalogue:
 Bibliothèque Jacques Guérin 6ème partie Livres exceptionnels, provenances illustres.
publisher: ADER PICARD TAJAN 1990, 22x28,5cm, broché.   116 pp. non paginées. Couv. cartonnée souple. 
Catalogue de la vente aux enchères à Drouot de cette importante collection, 7 juin 1990, Paris.
64 lots décrits.  livres rares ou superbement reliés. Aubigné, Balzac, Bellaud, Bertaud, Boileau, Brantome, Desportes, Diderot, Erasme Godeau, Helvetius, Laclos, La Fontaine, Lespinasse, Montesquieu, Voltaire etc. Illus. couleurs, la plupart à pleine page. 

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45 text

Above we see an enlarged detail of this second Dubuisson dentelle binding with his fer à l'oiseau. (pd-4) , also I have included above the item description, where we find that item has been attributed to Padeloup! After researching now a number of examples where the gold tooling of the binding is unmistakably that of Dubuisson and yet the etiquette found inside is that of Padeloup, Combined with Thoinan's claim that Padeloup employed the Dubuisson's. We must now recognize what has happened here. Certain "experts" who have found these bindings with Padeloup's etiquette, assumed that the gold tooling was that of Padeloup. Some experts today, are still confused by this, and continue to mix the tooling of the Dubuisson's with that of Padeloup. However a close study of Padeloup's work reveals that he used the same tools over a long period. These tools are easy to recognize (click here to see more on Padeloup tools), on the bindings shown above, we do not see a single one.

comparative diagram

Comparative Diagram 1 - Dubuisson imprint pd-4, fer à l'oiseau, 600dpi scan vs Tajan 1990 reproduction.

In comparative Diagram 1, we see an enlarged imprint taken from the 1990 catalogue reproduction and placed it next to a scan of the Dubuisson imprint pd-4, even though the catalogue reproduction is poor due to the relatively large size of the binding reproduced, we can still see that this imprint has been made with the same Dubuisson tool.

comparative diagram

Comparative Diagram 2 - imprint overlays, checking imprint ID (pd-21b) and scale.

Comparing the imprints from the reproductions found in these catalogues can require a lot of inventive technique. The cover of Binding 29 is somewhat distorted by the angled presentation. Fortunately we have at our disposal, in Photoshop, a vast array of complex digital manipulation devices, such as the Distort tool (found in the Transform sub menu. With this tool it is possible to stretch the cover back into the right proportions. In Comparative Diagram 2, I am testing the results of just such a manipulation.


Comparative Diagram 3 - imprint pd-67 overlays, binding 29 detail over binding 362 (Plate 40.)

After attempting to correct the distortion of the front board, we must test the correction. Here, bigger is better, checking one of the largest imprints (pd-67) will soon reveal if we have been successful. In Comparative Diagram 3, I have covered the black and white imprints of binding 362, with the semi transparent layer of a color inverted detail from my corrected board. The corrected imprints appear dark grey and overlay the binding 362 imprints which are light colored (light green). In the center of this diagram we see that the pd-67 imprints match up almost perfectly.The upper layer has been slightly shifted to the side to allow the underlaying imprint to show up as highlights around the darker overlaying imprint. For these highlights to match up so well in all parts of the imprint, there can be no doubt that our correction is very close, and additionally, that these pd-67 imprints are identical, deriving from the same Dubuisson tool.

Below I have reproduced some 300 dpi enlargements of important new tools to add to our Dubuisson catalogue, also an example of pd-60 which appears now more and more important in these dentelle bindings. Derome had a copy of this tool as well as anther binder who I have named the MM binder (click here to see this binder).






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Comparative Diagram 4 - Dubuisson imprint pd-60 vs Derome and the MM binder.
(Click on this diagram to see an enlargement).


Comparative Diagram 5 - strapwork detail - loop tool.


Comparative Diagram 6 - strapwork detail - strap tool.

We should spend a bit of our time looking at the strapwork tools that Dubuisson employed on these bindings. I would like to point out the loop tool shown in Comparative Diagram 5, This single tool has been used to join two different sized straps. On binding 29 this has only been partially successful due to the fact that the strap is wider and will not be easily joined to the loop, This problem was masked by applying pd-21a and pd-21b over the join. In binding 45, a narrower more ideally sized strap was employed and the joins matched up far better, even so the masking effect of adding pd-21a and b was still adopted. In Comparative Diagram 6, we can see that the strap tool used in binding 362 and binding 29 are probably the same, where that used on binding 45 is not as wide. I will resist giving these imprints a catalogue number for the time being, Nor have I catalogued all the various drawer handle roulettes. The three examples shown in these diagrams appear to be very similar if not the same roulette.

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Comparative Diagram 4 - Spine compartments, palette and various tools.
(Click on this diagram to see an enlargement).

Moving on to the decoration of the spine of binding 45 , we discover a familiar palette. In comparative diagram 4 I show two other examples of this palette. number 141 is from another auction catalogue* (attributed to Derome with ticket 1761), Number 117 is from Esmerian's catalogue, Vol. 2 ** (attributed to Douceur, 1761). As both 141 and 117 could not have been made before 1761, i.e., close to Pierre-Paul Dubuisson's untimely death in 1762, there is a chance that they could have been made after 1762 by his father, Rene Dubuisson or even perhaps by someone else in the Dubuisson workshops.

*Livres illustrés du XVIIIème siècle : Galerie Charpentier, les 11 et 12 mai 1955.
Publisher: Librairie Giraud-Badin, Paris 1955.
In-4 (282 x 224 mm) soft-cover, 74 pages, 55 plates including three in color, 150 lots described. This catalogue was issued in a limited printing of 530 examplairs.

**Bibliothèque Raphaël Esmerian, Georges Blaizon, Paris 1972-1974. 2eme Partie: Reliures de quelques ateliers du XVII Siècle & Livres en divers genres du XVIIe et XVIIIe Siècles...

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