Title: PAROISSIEN ROMAIN d'apres les IMPRIMES ...
Publisher: Paris Gruel / Engelmann.
Publication Date: 1858
Book Condition: Very Good704 pages. Engraved title. Each page with elaborately illustrated vignette borders. All edges black (very slightly abraded). Finely tooled inner gilt dentelles. Black moire silk doublures (very slightly wrinkled, as usual). Purple silk page marker. 12.5 x 16 cm. Near contemporary, unique Gruel "Sombre" full black Niger marocco binding (a pastiche of a Medieval binding). Spine in plain black compartments with raised bands and "Gruel" signed in miniscule at the foot (very slightly rubbed). Boards with original black lacquered steel clasp in the form of a Botonee cross with a trefoil design on the ends and 16 small pearls. The trefoil designs represent the three persons of the Godhead (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) and the pearls symbolize the drops of Christ's blood, which besprinkled the Cross during the Crucifixion. At the top are two gothic stylised fittings for rings to hold the matching black lacquered steel chain of about 20cm. The chain appears to have historically caused a very small nick on the upper edge. But this is an exceptionally interesting 163 year old binding, laden with meaning that intended to resonate with a period four hundred years earlier. It was also fashionable in Restoration England to cover Bibles and prayer books in sombre bindings , that is, in blind-tooled black goatskin, devoid of gilt decoration, often with the edges of the leaves stained black (as this book is), either as an expression of mourning or as a Lenten observance. Such bindings were made in many different workshops & this particular unique Gruel variation was also themed on a girdle book with a small chain looped through two rings at the top of the binding- all that was necessary to make it portable-a rare and intriguing format, so unusual as not often to be seen outside important collections. The girdle book would have been fully supported by a girdle belt, separate from the hose and any upper garments. Gruel was one of the most famous and important "fin de siècle" French binders. The Gruel bookbinding firm, founded in 1811, "always had the highest reputation .for initiative in artistic matters, as well as for irreproachable execution in the detail of its many-sided achievements" ["Bookbinders and their Craft", Prideaux]. The list of binders who trained at the Gruel atelier is the most distinguished in Europe. Léon Gruel (1841-1923), who took over the firm in 1891, was the single most famous person associated with the bindery. He led the challenge to integrate new innovations and ideas in the decoration of modern bindings. This highly collectable Paroissien is a design hybrid, reflective of historic bindings, but yet very much of the mid to late nineteenth century. Seller Inventory # 5077