Another ‘find’ put in a new/old binding

In my last blog I mentioned Dominic Winter’s auction house. It was there that I found a very shabby copy of ‘L’Agriculture et La Maison Rustique’, 1659, by Charles Estienne and Jean Liebault.

Not a rare book as it was so popular amongst the landowners of both Britain and France that it ran into many editions, some of them certainly pirated. But the text was complete – it even had the blank leaves at both the front and the back – and all the woodcut engravings of garden designs and how to catch a wolf were present. The wolf-catching part is in fact a separate publication:

Also printed in Lyon in the same year, but by a different publisher

So it seemed worth while to give it a new dress, in a suitable style. Red morocco would be right for a country gentleman’s library in around 1660, decorated in the style of Florimond Badier or Mace Ruette.

Some Badier or Ruette bindings are very elaborate, but many were more restrained, like this. A line fillet wheel for the borders, two pairs of corner tools, two gouges, two line pallets and three other ornaments: once you have set out the pattern the actual tooling only takes an hour on each side and half an hour on the spine.

The leather, from a good Grade II skin about £30, other materials negligible, total bench time 5 hours. So binding cost, say £140, plus 50% ‘mark up’ for sale, plus the initial cost of the book at auction, total sale price £500.

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