The Binding of Books - An Essay in the History of Gold-Tolled Bindings

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Lightning Source Incorporated, Oct 7, 2008 - Crafts & Hobbies - 268 pages
Preface LA Reliure est un art tout franais. Such is the sentence which M. Ernest Thoinan places upon the title-page of his admirable work, Les Xeliers Franpis and which, in a particular sense, is abundantly true. In France, alone, has bookbinding been continuously practised, and encouraged, as a fine art, since the Revival of Learning and in that country, alone, does there exist any considerable literature upon its history and methods. In this sense, book- binding is an art almost peculiar to France and yet not to France, but to Italy, must be conceded, both the introduction of gold-tooling into Europe, and the origin of the taste, which determined the nature of the designs used upon European tooled bindings, for nearly a century. Indeed, it might be questioned, whether early Italian bindings have yet been surpassed in beauty and decoration, by those of other times or countries but be this as it may, the literature of the art remains wholly in the hands of the French. The Italians have neither collected nor written anything considerable upon this subject the Germans, as their fashion is, have been more industrious than discerning while English works are, perhaps, numerous enough, but not always very critical, or very conclusive. Some exceptions, how- ever, are to be made in the case of a few scattered essays on particular subjects, and, especially, in regard to Miss Pridcauxs excellent Bibliography of Bookbinding, London, 1892, which, as she very properly observes in her preface, is the first step towards the methodical study of this subject. But a general history and criticism of the art in Europe still remains to. be written and before this can be done with any compIcteness, the documents, wkich relate to English, and especially, to Italian, binders and binding, omitting those of other European countries, must be collected and examined, with the same diligence and judgment, as the documents which relate to the French binders. In writing the first and last chapters of the present essay, which chiefly treat of the technical methods of bookbinding, I have used a number of authorities. The earliest technical works upon Bookbinding are not easily accessible, and are chiefly known on account of an allusion to them in a later work, entitled LArf dzl Relieur-doreur de Liures. This treatise was written by M. Dudin, at the request of the Acadkmie Royale des Sciences to be included in their Description Gknkrule des Arts et Mkliers, and was published at Paris, in 1772. J avouerai cependant, says the writer in his preface, quil mauroit et6 impossible de joindre cet art ceux de I Academic, si, aux lumiPres que jai tirces, dun Manuscrit de Preface M. Jaugeon, appartenant A lAcaddmie, du petit ouvrage de M. Gauffecourt de Lyon, je navois eu le secours de M. le Monnier le jeune, Maitre Relieur, Relieur de S. A. R. Mgr. le Duc dOrl6ans. Three copper plates, in large foIio, had been engraved for the work of M. Jaugeon, which stiU remains in manuscript and these were used by M. Dudin, being severalIy numbered 8, 10, and 11, in his treatise, and are signed with the name of Ludovicus Simonneau, and dated 16947. This manuscript, which is preserved in the Bibliothque Nationale Fr. 9157 and 91581, was intended by the Acadkmie des Sciences, to have formed the last part of a work entitled Descritio et Perfection des Arts et Mies a design, which was afterwards accomplished by that body, in the Descrifidiort GhdrdZe, the first portion of which was published in 1761. The printed book, to which M. Dudin refers, was written by Jean Vincent Capronnier de Gauffecourt, born at Paris in 1692, and an amateur of printing and binding, which arts he practised in his country house at Montbrillant, near Geneva...

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