52 Weeks of Fantastic Bindings, Week 37: a 19th century hand-painted binding

Thursday 23 February 2012
Front cover of the 1854 "Les trois frères écossais" by Jean-Baptiste Duchaine, bound in hand-painted papers with a chromo-lithographic illustration in the central panel.

This week’s binding highlight is a small, precious thing found by our reading room staff whilst doing shelf-checking in the Reserve Collection. It is the 1854 printing (5th edition) of Jean-Baptiste (or Abbé) Duchaine’s Les trois frères écossais,a children’s adventure novel.

Title page of Les trois frères écossais, Paris, 1854.

This book was printed by Mame et Cie, Imprimeurs-Libraires, a French publishing house run by the Mame family which began in 1779 in Angers, France and moved to Paris in 1807.

St Andrew’s copy (found at rPQ2220.D73T8) has been bound in hand-painted embossed paper over boards, decorated with a coloured pattern of roses and gold decorated border around a central panel on both boards. A coloured chromo-lithographic illustration has been pasted into the central panel on the front cover, depicting the three brothers boarding a ship. The central panel on the back has been further decorated with the same rose motif, and the spine has been hand-painted as well; also, the turn-ins have been decorated with a gold-pattern which appears to have been done by hand.

Hand-painted spine of Les trois frères écossais, Paris, 1854.

This children’s novel, featuring three Scottish brothers’ adventures around the world, is illustrated with many plates engraved by Louis Marckl and Adrien Charles Danois. It is a lovely item to hold, and the combination of the binding and the engravings make this a great page-turner. This book was purchased in 1958 from the library of James Bell Salmond, LL.D.

Two engravings from the 1854 Les trois frères écossais, by Louis Marckl and Adrien Charles Danois. The first image (left) is of a bear hunt, found opposite the title page, the second image (right) is of a whaling expedition found opposite p. 135.


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