|The Binding of Books
An Essay in the History of Gold-Tooled
Bindings by Herbert P. Horne
|French Bindings 22
|Further, and of this there can be no doubt, the style of Le Gascon, so-called, was in vogue
between the years 1640, and 1665: wliereas it appears, from the records of the Guild of St.
Jean, that Le Gascon was a binder of acknowledged accomplishment in 1622, that is, some
twenty years before the style ascribed to him came into use.
Florimond Badier, who is thought to have come to Paris from Gascony, was apprenticed to Jean
Thomas, gilder, on the 30th November, 1630. The term of his apprenticeship having expired in
1636, he married the daughter of Jean Gillede, binder, on the 6th July, 1645; and was made free
of the Guild of St. Jean, that same year. The date of his death, like that of Le Gascon's, remains
The copy of the Imitation, in the Bibliotheque Nationale, which bears the signature of Badier, is
bound in red morocco, inlaid with various coloured leathers, in compartments formed by an
interlaced fillet. The doublure is of citron morocco, also, inlaid with differently coloured
compartments of the same leather, but designed in a style different from that of the exterior, the
fillet being omitted. The signature of the binder is stamped on the upper board, above the tail
edge of the doublure: and the whole of the figured work is richly tooled' au pointille,' that is, not
in solid, but in dotted, lines; by which device, an effect of great brilliance and delicacy is
produced [VUe, Gruel's Manuel, s.n.]. The execution of the gilding, M. Thoinan contends in
opposition to the opinion of MM. Marius-Michel, is unquestionably skilful; although it does not
show that solidity and certainty of handling characteristic of the later bindings, which this writer
seeks to attribute to Badier: but it is, without doubt an early production; having probably been
executed before Badier was made free of the Guild of St. Jean; and as such, it is an
extraordinary production, being superior in workmanship to much contemporary gilding.
Tooled upon this binding, and equally remarkable with the signature of Badier, is a couped head,
worked 'au pointille' like the rest of the figured tools, which is repeated no less than fifty-two
times. This head, which is well known from its occurrence upon other bindings, has passed,
according to a vague tradition, not only for the mark, but, also, for the portrait, of Le Gascon.
Dismissing this tradition as an invention worthy of the predecessors of Edouard Fournier, in the
history of bookbinding, M. Thoinan argues, that this head is the mark of Florimond Badier, and
that all the bindings, which are tooled with it, were executed by him: and he adds not a little to
the force of this argument, when he points out, that the tools used upon the signed binding of
the Imitation, occur, also, upon other bindings, both with and without the couped head. In short,
not only the bindings, which have been popularly ascribed to Le Gascon, but also Badier's
binding of the Imztation, were the production of the same workshop, and were finished with a
common set of tools.
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