LESNÉ, Mathurin-Marie (1777-1841). La Reliure, poème didactique en six chants. Paris: Paul Renouard for the author and Jules Renouard, 1827.
8o (250 x 144 mm). LIMITED EDITION OF 125 COPIES (this one numbered 71), all printed on wove paper. (Slightly browned.)
FINE CONTEMPORARY PARISIAN BINDING BY DEBES: gold-tooled dark-green short-grained morocco, the covers decorated to a bold design of interlace, volutes and small leaves against a background of dense pointillé, spine similarly tooled in compartments (signed at foot), multiple fillets on turn-ins, gilt edges. Modern folding case. Provenance: Henri Béraldi (bookplate, Paris sale, Part III, 1934, lot 303) -- Laurent Meeûs (posthumous bookplate); for this Belgian collector, see M. Wittock, La bibliothèque de Laurent Meeûs (1982), no. 379.
Second edition of an extraordinary bookbinding craft manual in the form of a long poem in heroic couplets, with extensive historical and technical notes in prose. Several additional texts appear in this edition, including Lettre d'un relieur français à un bibliographe anglais; Epître à Thouvenin; and Epître à Simier père. Lesné was himself an amateur binder of some merit, but his fame rests on this vigorous defense of French binding against Dibdin's criticisms. Lesné's writings inspired several Parisian artists to bind them luxuriously, such as Thouvenin (see Devauchelle II, pl. XLVII) and Debes with the present example.
Debes (or Dèbes or Debès) is recorded in the Paris almanacs between 1840 and 1850, but may have started earlier. The binding decor on this Lesné derives from models published in L'Album du Relieur-Doreur, which is now unfindable and of which Béraldi could find only four plates in 1895 (of the 30 published). See Devauchelle II, p. 184 and pl. LXIII. BBB Wittockiana 31; BBB Harvard 39.