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DE Thou and LE Gascon part 3

After Grolier, perhaps "Le Gascon" is the foremost personality in the history of bookbinding; Grolier was not a binder himself; he was a collector, an art-patron, and when applied to him the term has no taint of the offensiveness which may attach to it nowadays; and, as it happens, we do not know the names of any of the artist artisans who worked for Grolier, and to whom we owe the many masterpieces of the most magnificent collection ever yet attempted. "Le Gascon" was himself a binder, but this is all we know about him. We do not know for sure whether or not it was he who covered the immortal" Guirlande de Julie"; we do not even know whether" Le Gason "was his patronymic, or a mere nickname. Probably it is a sobriquet recalling his Gascon origin.

Arianues De Venatione Paris 1644

M. Leon Gruel, in his most interesting" Manuel Historique et Bibligraphique de l'Amateur de Reliure" (Paris: Gruel & Engelmann. 1887), - one of the most valuable of many volumes the present writer has placed under contribution in the preparation of these pages, reproduces a binding signed by Florimond Badier (now in the National Library in Paris), and draws attention to the extraordinary resemblance in style which this binding bears to the bindings generally ascribed to "Le Gascon." M. Gruel ventured the hypothesis that Florimond Badier might be the real name of the man whose nickname was" Le Gascon." But M. Marius-Michel, a practical binder himself (as is M. Gruel), in his book about" La Reliure Francaise" (Paris: Damascene Morgand et Charles Fatout. 1880), - another book to which the writer owes more than he can here confess, - M. MariusMichel had declared this binding of Florimond Badier's to be the handiwork of some clumsy imitator of " Le Gascon," who had copied even the dotted outline of a human head which some have taken to be in some sort the trade-mark of the master. Who shall decide when decorators disagree?

If a layman may hazard an opinion, it would be to the effect that although Florimond Badier might well be the true name of "Le Gascon," yet the binding in question is not equal to the best of those accredited to the supreme artist of bibliopegy, those marvels of taste and splendor wherein the utmost luxury of gilding IS never allowed to become vulgar, tawdry, or even glaring.


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