French Decorative Bookbinding - Eighteenth Century

Luc-Antoine Boyet 1696

lab-1a 1b

Comparative Diagram 1 - 1696 Boyet imprint lab-1a vs lab-1b Rabelais 1666 (1200dpi.)

On this page I want to look at the next important tool from our 1696 Breviary, Now that we have some very good scanned examples, I wanted to find some comparative examples from other proven Boyet bindings. This is not so easy, as finding published examples that can be enlarged to 1200 dpi are difficult to find. When I did finally find something it was not exactly the same. From our previous page we know that we are dealing with a Boyet binding, and the example that I found is from another obvious Boyet that appeared in Sotheby's Auction in December of 2015.


click to enlarge

Although this binding is very small, Sotheby's enlargement of it allows one to see the details clearly. They give the exact size of the books so we can simply adjust the size of the enlarged image to arrive at a very close approximation of the actual size even though there is some angular distortion of width. In Comparative Diagram 1, I show the result of this exercise to produce the central fleuron from the spine compartments of these Rabelais compared with our 1696 example. To the unaided eye these two fleurons are identical, however on closer examination we see some differences, differences that could almost be the result of wear and tear. However a closer examination shows that this is not the same tool and I have named it lab-1b

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Comparative Diagram 2 - 1700 Boyet imprint lab-1a vs 1696 lab-1a (800dpi)
click to enlarge to 1200dpi.

Then I decided to test another Boyet binding that is similar to the Rabelais, a 1700 Boyet binding that I have detailed on a previous page. This was a lucky choice as the 1700 lab-1a imprints revealed a few details by which we can identify this classic tool. I have pointed these out in Comparative Diagram 2. The green letter "a" is shown on the side of the imprint next to incurved end of the leaf that terminates in a ball. This ball is significantly smaller than that of the leaf opposite. At point "b" the beading appears to narrow and is somewhat angular however the point to note is that this leaf is generally larger than its opposite. This effect is more noticeable due to the thickness of the beads at the bottom of the opposite leaf. The thickness of the beading at point "c" is also different from that of the opposite site which is thinner. All of these differences will be hard to observe if the gold tooling has been heavy handed or applied to a leather with more grain. Mysteriously the imprints from the Ravelais are also thick in the same areas.

md-1 cmpt

Comparative Diagram 3 - Maitre Doreur imprint md-1 vs Boyet imprint lab-1a (1200dpi)

As I mentioned on the last page the importance of these Boyet tools, is in their relation to the work of the great decorative giants of 17th century France, particularly Mace Ruette and le Maitre Doreur. The pointille explosion that started in the second quarter of the 17th century, can be attributed to the works of these master bookbinder and decorators. However in the collection of the Maitre Doreur's specialized pointille tools we find one that Mace Ruette did not have. This was a sort of often used signature tool, I named it md-1. In Comparative Diagram 3, I show the md-1 compared with Boyet's lab-1a, these imprints are shown at the same scale and are very similar in size and form.

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Comparative Diagram 4 - Maitre Doreur imprints 400dpi (from BnF, RLR, B-2725)
click to enlarge to 600dpi.

In Comparative Diagram 4, I show some enlargements of a Maitre Doreur binding that can be found in the BnF online collection Officium beatae Mariae Virginis. Anvers: J. Meursius, 1622. I show this collection to emphasize the importance of the md-1 imprint, the first detail "a" comes from the spine of this BnF example, and "b" from the boards. These arrangements produce the optical illusion that the md-1 imprints are smaller in the "a" detail than in the "b" detail. However the green lines between "c" and "d" show that the imprints are the same size

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Comparative Diagram 5 - Boyet doublure detail
click to enlarge to 600dpi.

Boyet was clearly a fan of pointille tools and designs. In Comparative Diagram 5, I show a detail from a doublure from a binding detailed on another page. Here we see yet more forms of this same type of tool placed in the same sort of arrangements that the Maitre Doreur was using more that half a century before. I have placed the collection of these lab-1 types in the diagram below, probably there are a few more to add to this group.


Comparative Diagram 6 - Boyet imprints lab-1a, lab-1b, lab-1c, lab-1d, (shown at 1200dpi)

To finish this lengthy page I wanted to show the Florimond Badier tool of this same type. It appears as though Badier copied the tools and methods of the Maitre Doreur to produce similar bindings some time later, his example of this tool is even closer to the Boyet model lab-1a. Below I show a blurry collection of enlarged Badier fb-1 imprints.


Comparative Diagram 7 - Florimond Badier imprints fb-1 (shown at 1200dpi)

badier bead model

Comparative Diagram 8 - Florimond Badier bead model fb-1 vs Boyet lab-1a (shown at 1200dpi)

It was nearly impossible to get good high resolution imprints of Badier's tools when I was working on his bindings, now more than 10 years ago. After some experimentation, I devised a method to produce type models that were very close to the original imprints. My method of doing this was to create a small bead that was more or less the average size of the pointille bead of the imprint I was working with. Then using a transparent overlay I placed a bead over the actual beads that were only messy blurs after enlargement. In Comparative Diagram 8, I show the Badier bead model fb-1 compared with our Boyet lab-1a. Probably someone will make the mistake of thinking this is a bead model of the lab-1a, they are that close. Certainly there is little doubt that Boyet's lab-1a tool was deliberate imitation of the md-1, fb-1 pointille models.

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Comparative Diagram 9 - assorted lab-1a examples from the 1696 Breviary (enlarged to 600dpi)
click to enlarge to 1200dpi.

lab-1a model

Reconstructed Boyet imprint lab-1a type model shown at 1200dpi.

In Comparative Diagram 9, I show an assortment of the best lab-1a examples from the 1696 Breviary, as you can see, there is not one that is complete and perfect. Therefore I have had to make a partial reconstruction (shown above) of this imprint to arrive at something that might stand as a type model for this imprint. Even so we do not see clearly this tool, I suspect that the uppermost part was cut to produce three beads above the larger top/crown bead/ring (should have or could have been a ring). Study carefully all the examples in the enlargement to try to discover the original shape of this tool, which appears now somewhat worn. Example "d" is very interesting. as it is heavily laden with gold, and details appear in this example that do not show up in the others, especially the top beads.

On the next page we will examine the third dentelle element from our 1696 Breviary.

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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