MARIUS MICHEL, Jean (1821-90) and Henri-François (1846-1923). La reliure française depuis l'invention de l'imprimerie jusqu'à la fin du XVIIIe siècle. Paris: E. Plon for Damascène Morgand and Charles Fatout, 1880.
Small 2o (308 x 218 mm). Etched frontispiece by Edmond Hédouin of three 18th-century bibliophiles admiring a binding, and 22 plates of bookbinding reproductions (9 double-page), numerous line-block illustrations.
BOUND BY JEAN MARIUS MICHEL FOR HIMSELF: chestnut brown morocco, over thick pasteboard, wide border on covers gold-tooled and inlaid with maroon morocco to a French Renaissance strapwork pattern, spine similarly decorated and gilt-lettered (slight scuff marks on bands), brown doublures decorated with a single gilt fillet, patterned silk damask endleaves in blue and cream, marbled flyleaves, gilt edges. Modern red half morocco fall-down-back box. Provenance: Marius Michel père (woodcut bookplate by E. Mouchon after the binder's own design, printed on the same paper as the book and inserted before the half-title) -- Librairie Damascène Morgand (Edouard Rahir), no. 348 in their catalogue Livres dans de riches reliures (Paris 1910) -- Pierre Brunet (bookplate, 1935 Paris sale) -- Jacques Millot (1976 Paris sale, lot 43).
ONE OF 4 COPIES ON LAID PAPER (vergé d'Hollande), with the frontispiece in various states on four different papers and the binding plates in two states, including impressions on blue paper (for the limitation of this issue, see the Morgand catalogue cited above).
VERY FINE RETROSPECTIVE BINDING, for which the elder Michel copied the broad strapwork border on the Fontainebleau binding for Henri II's copy of Berlinghieri's Geographia, Florence c. 1480, now at the Bibliothèque nationale de France (pl. V in this book). It is, however, unsigned and undated. Marius Michel père, "le grand doreur du 19e siècle", was the most brilliant finisher of his time. "In 1876 he established an atelier jointly with his son... While the elder Marius Michel remained faithful to the traditional styles which he continued to copy to the end of his life, his son became one of the great innovators of binding design... Their joint monograph on French bookbinding until the end of the eighteenth century, though largely superseded by subsequent investigations, was an epochal publication" (BBB Wittockiana 39).
A year later, the Marius Michel followed up this work with a supplementary study, which is included with the lot: La reliure française commerciale et industrielle. Paris: same printer and publisher, 1881. Same format. 24 plates (2 in color, one mounted on blue paper, another folding out). Light-brown morocco, gilt-lettered spine, multiple gilt fillets on turn-ins, gilt edges (binding signed MARIUS MICHEL). Also from the Brunet and Millot collections. (2)