BIBLIOTHÈQUE NATIONALE EXPOSITION DE LA SOCIÉTÉ DE LA RELIURE ORIGINALE.

(Paris: [Tourno et Cie. for the Bibliothèque Nationale], 1959). 208 x 155 mm. (8 1/8 x 6"). xxx, [2], 147, [1] pp., [10] leaves (ads). No. 1 OF 71 COPIES reserved for members of the Society.

VERY FINE GRAY AND BURNT ORANGE MOROCCO BY GERMAINE DE COSTER AND HÉLÈNE DUMAS (stamp-signed on front turn-in), upper cover with onlay and gilt and blind tooling replicating De Coster's design for the original printed wrapper (bound in here), smooth spine with gilt titling, lightly gilded gray endpapers, top edge gilt. In the original matching morocco-trimmed chemise and slipcase. With 42 plates of black & white photographs of bindings from the exhibition. Verso of title page INSCRIBED IN INK BY GERMAINE DE COSTER TO JULIEN CAIN, president of the Society. Original invitation for the opening of the exhibit and folded promotional poster bound in at rear. A breath of rubbing to one corner, otherwise in near-mint condition.

Both because of its attractive design and its special inscription, this is a particularly appealing copy of the catalogue for a 1959 exhibition at the Bibliothèque Nationale featuring bindings from the library of famed 16th century collector Jean Grolier as well as the work of modern French master binders like Bonet, Legrain, Cretté, and Martin--peers of the two women who bound the present volume. De Coster (1895-1992) and Dumas (1896-1995) attended the École nationale des Arts Décoratifs, De Coster studying printmaking with Jules Chadel and Dumas bookbinding with Henri Lapersonne. The women met in 1931 and formed a partnership that would last 50 years and produce more than 400 bindings, with De Coster creating the designs and Dumas executing the work. They won the grand prix de la Reliure Original in 1951 and participated in major national and international expositions (including the one described in this work). Their bindings were held by important collectors like Major John Roland Abbey, and in institutions including the Bibliothèque Nationale, the Royal Library of Belgium, the Vatican Library, and the British Library. The latter's Database of Bookbindings declares, "Their collaboration was one of the most creative in the history of bookbinding." Flety notes that their "evolution of style and search for decorative and technical perfection brought honor on French bookbinding in our time." Both women were members of the Société de la Reliure Originale, and De Coster served on the committee that organized this exposition of historical and modern bindings, along with Paul Bonet. The first section of the work here is devoted to the bindings owned by Jean Grolier, while the second honors modern French binders, beginning with a touching tribute to Rose Adler, who had died quite suddenly shortly before this exposition was held. Other featured bindings are by Paul Bonet, Georges Cretté, Madeleine Gras, Pierre-Lucien Martin, and De Coster and Dumas. This volume was bound for Julien Cain, chief administrator of the Bibliothèque Nationale, who managed to evacuate many of the library's treasures before the Nazi occupation of Paris. A Jew, he was removed from his post by the Vichy government and deported to Buchenwald. After the camp was liberated in 1945, he returned to his post at the library, where he served until his retirement in 1964.
(ST17263-17)