French Decorative Bookbinding - Eighteenth Century

Pierre-Paul Dubuisson - mosaic binding 1756

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A 1756 Almanach Royal decorated by Pierre-Paul Dubuisson
arms and monogram of the King of Spain Fernando VI.

PR. Real Biblioteca | PAS/ARM3/51 | Olim: VIII-E-5

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In the collection of Almanach Royals held by the Real Biblioteca in Spain, we do not find a mosaic binding for the year 1755, instead there is a Dubuisson plaque binding with the arms of Fernando VI. We do not know why Pierre-Paul Dubuisson was unable to make a mosaic as he did for the previous 6 years, all we can be sure of is that no other binder attempted to replace the mosaics of Dubuisson. Above we see the 1756 Almanach Royal where Dubuisson has encorporated some of his older tools.

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1756 Dubuisson mosaic
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Comparative Diagram 1 - Rahir's 1756 Almanach Royal 171g vs Real Biblioteca 1756 Almanach Royal

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ALMANACH ROYAL, Paris: Le Breton, 1756

8vo (190 x 124mm.), Roman and italic type, calendar interleaved, contemporary French white morocco, onlaid borders of red and olive morocco gilt, and of gold and red foil decorated in silver, the arms of Cathérine Dorothée, duchesse de Tenczin Ossolinska, painted in gouache in centre of sides, foil borders and painted arms under mica, spine gilt in compartments with red and olive morocco pieces, each with a small roundel of red, gilt or silver foil under mica, gilt edges, pink silk liners, later slipcase and chemise


Princess Katarzyna-Dorothea Jablonowska, duchesse de Tenczin Ossolinska, married in 1732 Franciszek-Maximilian Ossolinski, who was created duc by Louis XV in 1736, her arms on sides; Baron Jérôme Pichon, autograph bibliographical note on flyleaf signed "B.J.P. mars 1880" (not traced to sale catalogue); Rigaud, book-label; Rahir, catalogue, 1910: Livres dans de riches reliures, 171g; Cortlandt F. Bishop, booklabel


A very fine mosaic binding, attributed to derome. The condition of this binding, including the foil onlays, is outstanding. In his lengthy note inside the book, Baron Pichon attributes the binding to Pierre-Paul Dubuisson, while Michon later attributes it with certainty to Derôme (Les Reliures mosaïquées du XVIIIe siècle, 1956, no. 257). Pichon also states that Duchess Ossolinska died within a few days of her husband, François Maximilian, Count Ossolinski, who died on the 1st of July 1756.

Above in Comparative Diagram 1, I show Rahir's reproduction of No. 171g from his 1910, catalogue, a 1756 Almanach Royal that he attributed to Pierre-Paul Dubuisson compared with the Real Biblioteca 1756 example. Below that is a color reproduction of this same 171g binding, nowhere near as good as Rahir's black and white, this is from a Sotheby's auction webpage and I have included the lot description, where they boldly tell us that, even though there is a long inscription inside this book attributing it to Dubuisson, Michon attributed it anyway to Derome, and apparently the Sotheby's experts accepted Michon's expertise. This was a 2006 auction and the book sold for 8.364 Euros.(click here to see this page). Here then is yet another case of Michon denying clear evidence of this being a binding by Dubuisson, evidence that would refute his theory and there was plenty as we will see on the next page. Below I show a detail extracted from Rahir's reproduction of No. 171g.

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Thanks to the highly advanced printing techniques of 1910 we are able to zoom into Rahir's reproduction and view the detail microscopiclly. Here we see a fantastic collage of materials and techniques, experimentation beyond anything ever attempted or dreamed of in the past, a mixture of abstraction and symmetry that takes the art decorative of bookbinding to a whole new level.

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This is a demonstration of the quality of Rahir's 1910 reproduction.

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Comparative Diagram 2 - 1756 imprints (click on this image to see a 1000dpi enlargement)

In Comparative Diagram 2, I show the imprints from 171g enlarged, yet the detail is perfectly clear, if you look at the imprint pd-29-3 that is considerably less than 3 millimeters in diameter, you will notice a rather irregular distribution petals, if you then scroll back through the enlarged border above Comparative Diagram - 2 you will see two of these imprints, both share this irregularity, if we had available to us such detailed high resolution images of other bindings, there would be no doubt as to which binder has done what, the proof is clearly visable.

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click here to see more Pierre-Paul Dubuisson pages.

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see below links to previous work

Atelier I B 31/10/2014

Icons of the Renaissance 06/02/2014

Atelier au trefle 22/12/2014

Atelier Royal 1518 - 1524 09/11/2014

Unraveling G. D. Hobson's book on fanfares 27/11/2014

16c fanfare on eBay 23/11/2014

another Padeloup binding on eBay 07/12/2014

the last Padeloup fanfare?

Rare Padeloup binding on eBay 15/11/2014

Pierre-Paul Dubuisson's work attributed to Derone le jeune 23/10/2014 (unfinished work now finished)

Pierre-Paul Dubuisson's work attributed to Douceur 22/10/2014 (an under contruction page finished at last)

Louis-Marie Michon - the 1956 Disaster 19/10/2014 (an unfinished page finished at last)

Louis XII Dolphins motif 03/02/2014

Aristophanes Binder 1543 02/02/2014

Atelier des reliures LOUIS XII - Atlas Catalan 12/01/2014

Atelier des reliures LOUIS XII - FRANÇOIS Ier - Linacre bindings 05/01/2014

Atelier des reliures LOUIS XII - FRANÇOIS Ier c. 1500-1520

Atelier des reliures LOUIS XII - FRANÇOIS Ier - Chronology 16/01/2014

Atelier des reliures LOUIS XII - FRANÇOIS Ier - Inventory - binding No. 29 19/01/2014

Atelier des reliures LOUIS XII - FRANÇOIS Ier - Inventory - binding No. 39 19/01/2014

Atelier des reliures LOUIS XII - FRANÇOIS Ier - The mysterious disappearance of François Tissard d'Amboise 23/01/2014

Atelier des reliures LOUIS XII - FRANÇOIS Ier - The Simon Vostre fiasco 18/01/2014

L'Atelier Simon Vostre 1486-1521 01/01/2014

L'Atelier de Pierre Roffet 1511-1533 - TOOL CATALOGUE 26/01/2014

L'Atelier de Pierre Roffet 1511-1533 27/12/2013

Pierre Roffet - fleur-de-lis binder 28/12/2013

Fleur-de-lis Binder 1525-1540 27/11/2013

Du Saix Master 02/12/2013

Atelier Étienne Roffet 1538-1549 12/12/2013

Atelier Jean Picard 1538-1547

Imitative Binder c.1540 15/12/2013

Salel Binder 1540 17/11/2013

Atelier Ruette 1606-1669 INVENTORY

Atelier Macé Ruette 1606-1644

Atelier du Maitre Doreur 1622-1638

Atelier Antoine Ruette 1638-1669

Atelier des Caumartin 1652-1715

Atelier de Charenton 1670-1685

Atelier Luc-Antoine Boyet 1685-1733

Atelier Antoine-Michel Padeloup. dit Le Jeune 1685-1758

Atelier Louis Douceur 1721-1769

Atelier Pierre-Paul Dubuisson 1746-1762

Atelier Nicolas-Denis Derome, dit Derome le Jeune 1761-1788

Atelier Jean-Pierre Jubert, 1771-1793?

Atelier MM binder, 1770-179-?

A word of Caution

Even experts are sometimes wrong, before you spend thousands on a book, please do your own research! Just because I say a certain binding can be attributed to le Maitre isn't any kind of guarantee, don't take my word for it, go a step further and get your own proof. In these pages I have provided you with a way of doing just that.

Virtual Bookings, created by L. A. Miller return to the Home page of VIRTUAL BOOKBINDINGS