|The Binding of Books
An Essay in the History of Gold-Tooled
Bindings by Herbert P. Horne
|French Bindings 21
|to a certain cardinal in Italy: and in a third, Francois Auguste de Thou, writing a few days later
from Alexandria, to Dupuy, speaks of the binding of an Arabic manuscript, which he had
purchased there, adding by the way, 'que Le Gascon s'etudiera d'imiter la dorure.' These are
slight evidences; but they are sufficient not only to prove his existence, but to show, also, that
he was a binder, as well as a gilder of books, and had, apparently, been made free of the Guild
of St. Jean, before the year 1622.
There is no authentic example of his work; but two books exist, which are traditionally said to
have been bound by him. The first of these is the famous Guirlande de JuNe, in the manuscript of
Jarry, which bears the date 1641. According to a note written at the end of the seventeenth
century, by M. de Gaigneres, who at that time possessed the volume, it was bound by Le
Gascon: it is now in the possession of M. Ie duc d'U zes. The binding of this book is of red
morocco, with a doublure of the same, which, like the exterior of the boards, is enriched by a
(semis' of the letters I and L, the initials of Julie Lucine, afterwards Madame de Montausier.
There are, also, other books of hers, which are similarly bound, apparently the work of the same
binder; amongst which is a copy of Les Confessions de Saint Augustin, now in the Bibliotheque
de I'Arsenal, and reproduced by M. Bauchart, in Les Femmes BibNophz1es de France. A more
remarkable binding is that, also traditionally ascribed to Le Gascon, of a volume of prayers,
composed by Catherine de Vivonne, Madame de Rambouillet, the mother of Julie Lucine, which is,
also, in the manuscript of Jarry. It is bound, like the Guirlande de JuNe, in red morocco, bearing a
, semis' of the letter V, interlaced; but the doublure of green morocco is finished in the style of
the double fillet, and is of admirable workmanship. This binding is now in a private collection.
It is remarkable, then, that the only examples of binding, which from the time of the seventeenth
century have been traditionally ascribed to Le Gascon, should be executed in a manner very
different from that, which commonly passes under his name. On the other hand, there is, in the
Bibliotbeque N ationale, a copy of the De lmitatione Chn"sti, Paris, 1640, richly bound in this very
manner, and signed 'FLORIMOND BADIER FECIT. INV.' MM. Marius-Michel, in their treatise, La
Reliure Franfaise, regarded this binding as the work of some inferior imitator of Le Gascon: 'aussi
pretentieux qu'inhabile,' they write, , l'auteur a signe ce volume: Florimond Badier, inv. et
fecz"t, et cela en lettres enormes. Fecit malheureusement; invenz"t, jamais!' Following M. Gruel,
who contented himself by publishing two remarkable facsimiles of this binding, and by insisting
upon the importance of Badier's work, M. Ernest Thoinan has now endeavoured to follow out the
clue afforded by this signature, and to collect what he might of its author.
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