(Paris: [Charles Meunier], 1910). 448 x 195 mm. (9 3/4 x 7 5/8"). 2 p.l., 54 pp.,  leaf, followed by plates with lettered tissue guards. No. 40 OF 50 COPIES, SIGNED BY MEUNIER.
TASTEFUL CRIMSON MOROCCO BY CHARLES MEUNIER (stamp-signed on front turn-in), UPPER COVER WITH INLAID MARBLED CALF FRAME ENCLOSING A BRONZE PLATE DEPICTING A WOMAN AT A BINDING MACHINE (signed by Maurice Favre), "Aux amis de la Maison du Livre / 1900 / Ch. Meunier" (in upper case letters) emblazoned on the rear of the plate, displayed through an opening in the marbled paper pastedown; raised bands with blind-stamped fillets extending onto the covers, spine with gilt titling and gilt calla lily ornament, turn-ins with triple gilt fillet, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. Publisher's green paper wrapper bound in. In the original matching morocco-trimmed slipcase, inside a modern navy cloth clamshell box. With a heliogravure plate after Francois Flameng, and 48 plates depicting old and modern bindings (seven of these double page). A touch of rubbing to upper spine and raised bands, paper on front pastedown with a couple of short tears around the bronze plate, some of the plates with a touch of light marginal foxing, otherwise a fine copy, clean and bright, with few signs of use inside or out.
This is a cleverly designed and very pleasing copy of an uncommon work on great French bindings, written and bound by a great French binder. Charles Meunier (1866-1948) was legendary among French binders of the late 19th and early 20th centuries for his energy and imagination; he was described by Yves Peyré as "one of the musketeers of the Art Nouveau . . . renew[ing] himself constantly, never being short of ideas." Apprenticed to Gustave Bénard at the age of 11, he worked for a time in the atelier of Marius Michel, and then set up his own studio when he was 20. According to Duncan & De Bartha, he drew "on both traditional and modern techniques and forms of decoration, [mixing] classical punches . . . with newly fashionable incised and modelled leather panels." He was also a publisher, creating deluxe limited edition books for bibliophiles, most of which he also bound. And he became an evangelist for French bindings, old and new. The text of the present work comes from a conference Meunier organized for the bibliophilic society he helped found, the Society of Friends of the Modern Book. In it, he traces the history of French bookbinding from the days of Jean Grolier to the Belle Époque. It is interesting to note that while he discusses the great binders of the past--Eve, Padeloup, Derome, Bozerian, Thouvenin--he makes no mention of his contemporaries (and rivals) Léon Gruel and Henri Marius Michel. Of the 48 bindings pictured, all of those produced after the mid-19th century (16 in all) are by Meunier himself. The binding for this work incorporates the emblem of the Society, a woman sewing the bands on a binding--perhaps a nod to the behind-the-scenes bindery workers whose efforts are indispensable but never acknowledged. Produced in very limited edition, this work is scarce on the market: we find just one other copy at auction in the past 40 years. (ST14268)
Add to Cart Price: $4,500.00
PJP Catalog: ELIST11.029