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The works of Molière published in seven volumes in Paris by Guillaume de Luyne et al, 1673

The works of Molière published in seven volumes in Paris by Guillaume de Luyne et al, 1673

At the François Mitterrand Library (Site François-Mitterrand), the Rare Books Reserve (Réserve des livres rares) holds approximately 200,000 volumes selected for being rare editions or unique copies, from the Gutenberg Bible (around 1455) to the most contemporary books. It also holds the historical portion of the printed book collections of the former Bibliothèque du Roi, built up from the late 15th to the mid-17th century.

In particular, the collection, which is encyclopedic in nature, includes first editions of founding or otherwise notable texts in western culture: literary texts (Rabelais, Montaigne, Cervantès, Shakespeare, Goethe, Baudelaire, etc.); philosophical texts (Descartes, Hobbes, Kant, etc.); theological, scientific, and technical texts (Kepler, Galileo, etc.); and historical and geographical, legal, political, and economic texts.

Of particular note among the many illustrated books held in the Reserve are books by French and foreign artists published since the late 19th century. Some of these are accompanied by preparatory drafts, mock-ups, drawings, or original wood engravings (Toulouse-Lautrec, Matisse, Picasso, Derain, Sima, etc.). Other important records of the history of illustrated books include a collection of original plates by Jean de Brunhoff for the Babar albums.

The Bibliothèque nationale de France also has a very extensive collection of bindings, held in the Reserve. These include historical bindings from the 15th century onwards, including an unrivaled collection of French Renaissance works, arising from the royal library at Fontainebleau as well as from private amateur collections such as those of Jean Grolier and Thomas Mahieu. It also includes present day art bindings, which are regularly ordered by BnF from contemporary artists (Monique Mathieu, Renaud Vernier, Jean de Gonet, etc.).

The database of bookbindings :

Reliure à décor particulier pour JB. Châtre de Cangé, vers 1724. Détail.

This database provides access to a selection of digitized bookbindings from collections of the Rare Books Reserve. New documents will be added on a regular basis. Three ways of interrogation are possible: by bookbinding, by workshop and bookbinder, by owner. A bibliography, a glossary and a file dedicated to major online resources available in the field have been added to the database.

Rare editions of the Arsenal Library

 The Arsenal Library (Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal) also holds a large number of valuable books. In the 18th century, its founder, the Marquis of Paulmy, added many works to his library from the collections of bibliophiles such as Gaignat, Madame de Pompadour, and La Vallière. Revolutionary confiscations, followed by the 19th century Luzarche and Bryan donations, added unique works to the collections, while the 20th century Lagarde donation provided the library with fine 19th century illustrated editions.

Furthermore, while the library has a large number of artists’ books, illustrated by Matisse, Bonnard, Picasso, and Dunoyer de Ségonzac, it is its collection of bindings that really makes it stand out from the crowd. This collection provides an overview of the work of the greatest bookbinders, from medieval times (including a 12th century ivory and enamel binding), the Renaissance (de Picques), the 17th and 18th centuries (Florimond Badier, Padeloup, Derome, embroidered bindings, etc.), and contemporary times (e.g. works by Bonfils, Leroux, and Cretté).
For more info

<p>Calendrier de la cour, 1782, reliure brodée </p>
Histoire du livre : fonds spécifiques
Fonds spécifiques en histoire du livre conservés à la Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal

Friday, December 16, 2016