Livre de prières tissé d'après les enluminures des manuscrits du XIVe au XVIe siècle. Lyon: by J.A. Henry, fabricant, for A. Roux, libraire éditeur, 1886 [completed 8 September 1887].
170 x 144 mm. 44 pages. Half-title with cartouche on verso, two section titles, 3 full-page illustrations, each text page with elaborate decorative border, ENTIRELY WOVEN ON SILK. Bound in red silk with richly-colored embroided covers, a floral border with birds, a butterfly and rabbit picked out with metal dots, smooth spine similarly embroidered, pink watered silk doublures and endleaves; fleeced-lined cloth folding case. Provenance: purchased from Emil Offenbacher, 5 January 1956.
AN AMAZING PRODUCTION, BEAUTIFULLY PRODUCED IN ITS ENTIRETY ON A JACQUARD LOOM. Manufactured by the Jacquard process, this book ushers in the computer age, as it was woven using perforated punch cards similar to those that programmed the first computers. It is extremely rare, with only a solitary copy sold at auction in the last 30 years, according to American Book Prices Current, Christie's Paris, 29 November 2003, lot 88. Only some 50 copies in the end could be produced, at what was an enormous cost.
Born into a Lyonnese family of weavers, Jacquard was inspired by Vaucanson's punched-card loom to invent the Jacquard attachment, which caused any loom that used it to be called a Jacquard loom. The attachment was an automatic device that for the first time allowed a single operator to control from the loom all the movements involved in the production of complex woven patterns. The Jacquard loom reduced the amount of redundant manual labor that had previously been required in weaving, lowering labor and manufacturing costs and reducing physical hardship for the textile workers. It served as the catalyst for the technological revolution of the textile industry in the nineteenth century. Jacquard developed the idea for his invention in 1790, but because of the French Revolution did not exhibit it until 1801. Jacquard was granted a patent for his invention in 1803; in 1806 his loom was declared public property, and Jacquard was awarded a pension and royalties on each machine sold. Under the terms of Jacquard's pension he was required to introduce his technology to the textile industry of Lyons. In Jacquard's manuscript document describing his invention, sold in Christie's Origin of Cyberspace sale, 23 February 2005, lot 133, he stated: "By the use of this machine that bears my name, one no longer needed the quantity of tools for complicated separate attachments that tended to require constant adjustment, making the work hard and tedious. This great number of steps crippled the workers, especially deforming their legs ... [In my machine] one pedal replaced the wool-puller and an infinite number of ropes, which caused a great loss of time each time one wanted to renew a design or change the position of the fabric ... "
"The book is woven on silk with the Jacquard loom, the fabric in very beautiful silk, remarkably tight, comprising 400 threads to the inch; moreover... the chain is horizontal instead of being vertical, and its screen is vertical instead of being horizontal; it is the screen which produces the characters and the ornaments. The number of punch cards necessary for this kind of work is enormous, it is not fewer than several hundreds of thousands. To arrive at this fineness... one needs a very large precision of movement. And the amplitude of the movements of the mechanism was limited to a tenth of a millimeter and it is such fine engraving that the process had to be started again around fifty or so times before arriving at a satisfactory result... This book is a very remarkable work in execution and choice of engravings, decorated letters and borders. It is an extremely original attempt, and its success and perfection constitute a singular work and make it the greatest production its manufacturer in Lyon undertook using this method " (trans. of Paul Marais, conservateur-adjoint de la Bibliothèque Mazarine, in: Bulletin du Bibliophile 1889, pp.163-166). Vicaire V:341. A VERY FINE COPY OF A GREAT RARITY, BEAUTIFULLY PRESERVED IN ITS ORIGINAL SILK BINDING.