Bindings with the device of Jérôme de Marnef View larger

Bindings with the device of Jérôme de Marnef

Fourteen sixteenth-century Parisian bindings are known with a gilt device of a pelican in its piety stamped on both covers.1 This device, alluding to Christ’s life-giving sacrifice, and also the financial and professional sacrifices which printers undertake for readers, had been adopted as a shop sign by Geoffroy, Enguilbert, and Jean de Marnef, printers and booksellers, who from the mid-1480s were established in the Latin Quarter in the rue Saint-Jacques, across from the chapelle Saint-Yves, “à l’enseigne du Pélican”. The de Marnef brothers employed many variations of the pelican mark in their publications, almost all of which depict the pelican in the act of feeding its three chicks with its own blood (upper left corner), a watchful hawk (right corner), the initials of their forenames E-I-G and name (below), and “Benedictum sit nomen Domini” lettered within a frame.2 After Jérôme de Marnef, Geoffroy’s second son (ca 1515-1596, libraire juré from 1548), took over the printing house, simplified designs of the pelican printer’s device were introduced (fifteen versions are recorded by Renouard).3 In these, the pelican is still turned to the right, but has been moved from the corner to the centre, and the hawk eliminated. The shop was by then sufficiently well known that Jérôme’s name was unnecessary.

The fourteen bindings are decorated by one or the other of two stamps, modified versions of Jérôme de Marnef’s pelican printer’s mark. Six bindings cover books he published between 1560 and 1564; two of them include the same contents: the 1564 edition of Aulus Gellius’ miscellany, albeit decorated with different versions of the gilt stamp. On one copy of the Aulus Gellius, the binding stamp is oval, and shows the pelican turned to the right (applied to no. 1 in List below). The binding stamp on the other copy is rectangular, and displays the pelican turned to the left (no. 8).

The purpose of these and other so-called “publisher’s bindings” which feature the device or name of a publisher as part of their decoration was elucidated by E.P. Goldschmidt in his pioneering study of bookbinding.4 Until at least the end of the sixteenth century, publishers sent their books all over Europe as unbound sheets (or sometimes in quires already folded, or stitched and wrappered), and the binding was made where they were offered for sale. For the vast majority of books, the printer and the binder lived in different places. However, a small part of each edition might be sold in the printer or publisher’s own shop, and such volumes, Goldschmidt reasoned, might receive more or less uniform bindings, for the purpose of exhibition, or sale. They had to appear luxurious without in fact costing too much to produce.5 A binding stamped with the dealer’s name or initials, his device or emblem, fit the bill. Other books displayed in his shop (publications of other printers) might be similarly bound for presentation or sale. Goldschmidt’s explanation accounts for why two copies of the same title are found with the Marnef device on their bindings, and why the Marnef device appears on books published by others.

In fact, seven bindings cover books published at Lyon: one in 1554 by Sébastien Gryphe (d. 1556), five issued between 1566 and 1570 by Sébastien’s son and successor, Antoine Gryphe, and one published in 1561 by Guillaume Rouillé. On the death of his mother, Françoise Miraillet, in 1565, Antoine Gryphe sold the workshop’s presses to become a merchant-bookseller. The commercial connection between Antoine Gryphe and Jérôme de Marnef is ambiguous, however it is apposite that soon after the death of Sébastien Gryphe two printer’s devices were added by Jérôme de Marnef to his shop repertoire. These marks, both depicting a gryphon with outstretched wings, facing left, standing on a stone from which a winged globe is suspended (first occurrences in 1557, 1559), are indistinguishable from devices used by the Lyonese firm. The copy of the  Lactantius (no. 10 in List below) has Marnef’s pelican mark on title-page and his gryphon mark at end. Jérôme de Marnef added in 1574 a third mark to the shop repertoire, a variant depicting the same gryphon, but facing right. In 1576, a copy of another Gryphe mark, depicting a gryphon passant, with its wings raised, was cut for Jérôme de Marnef.6

1. Eight bindings are listed by Georges Colin, “Les marques de libraires et d’éditeurs dorées sur des reliures” in Bookbindings & other bibliophily: Essays in honour of Anthony Hobson (Verona 1994), pp.77-115 (pp.103-104). Our additions are nos. 2, 7-8, 10, 13-14 in the List below. Numerous sixteenth-century booksellers had a pelican in their sign board, among them the Flemish printers Guilliam van Parijs and Peeter de Vriese, and Diego de Gumiel, Baltasar Avella, and Pere Posa in Barcelona. Some English examples, not necessarily trade bindings, are discussed by Anthony Hobson, “Note 291. Bindings with the device of a pelican in its piety” in The Book Collector 16 (1967), pp.509-510.

2. BaTyR: Base de Typographie de la Renaissance, Notice: Marnef, Geoffroy de [link].

Philippe Renouard, Les marques typographiques parisiennes des XVe et XVIe siècles (Paris 1926-1928), nos. 723-727, 729-730, 733-740 [link]. BaTyR, op. cit., [link].

E.P. Goldschmidt, Gothic & Renaissance bookbindings exemplified and illustrated from the author's collection (London 1928), I, pp.40-41.

5. Howard Nixon, Broxbourne Library: Styles and designs of bookbindings, from the 12th to the 20th century (London 1956), p.127.

6.  Renouard, op. cit., nos. 731-732, 741-742.

list of bindings

A. Oval stamp, pelican turned to the right

(1) Aulus Gellius, Avli Gellii lvcvlentissimi scriptoris Noctes Atticae. Cum indice locupletissimo (Paris: Jérôme de Marnef, 1564)

● Léon Gruel (1841-1923)
● Philippe et Jean-Paul Couturier & Pierre Chrétien, Beaux livres anciens, Paris, 27-28 November 1967, lot 247 (part lot, sold with no. 8 below)
● unidentified owner - bought in sale (FF 230) [result in Le Livre et l’Estampe 53-54 (1968), p.122]

Léon Gruel, Manuel historique et bibliographique de l’amateur de reliures (Paris 1905), II, p.119 & Fig. A (“Le cliché A nous montre ce motif dans un ovale avec retroussis de filets or en haut, en bas et sur les côtés; il orne un in-12: Auli Gelli noctes atticae. Parisiis, 1564” [footnote:] “Collection Léon Gruel” [link])
Colin, op. cit., p.103 no. A2

(2) Marcus Tullius Cicero, M. Tulli Ciceronis Orationum tomus primus. Nouissima hac editione variarum lectionum libello auctus: in quo quidem loco ferè innumerabiles qui difficiliores erant explicantur (Lyon: Antoine Gryphe, 1567)

● Reiss & Sohn, Auktion 112: Wertvolle Bücher, Handschriften, Königstein, 24-26 April 2007, lot 593 (“Inhalt: M. T. Cicero. Orationum. Tl. 1 (von 3). Lyon, A. Gryphius, 1567 … Brauner Kalblederband mit goldgepr. Signet (Pelikan) des Marnef-Verlages auf beiden Deckeln. Schmale goldgepr. Deckel- u. Ruckenfileten, Goldschnitt … Gebraunt u. braunfleckig, Titel mit Namenseintrag. Die beiden Schlussbll. alt beschrieben u. stellenw. mit Lochern durch Tintenfrass”) [RBH 112-593]
● unidentified owner - bought in sale (€870)

(3) Marcus Tullius Cicero, Orationum M.T. Ciceronis volumen III (Lyon: Antoine Gryphe, 1567)

Laurin Guilloux Buffetaud Tailleur & Christian Galantaris, Incunables, XVIe, XVIIIe siècles, manuscrits à peintures, livres à figures, reliures décorées et aux armes, Paris, 29 June 1987, lot 22 (“veau fauve de l’époque, filet doré, médaillon central doré, dos à 4 gros nerfs orné de filets et pet. fleurons dorés … sur les plats d’un médaillon contenant un pélican s’ouvrant les flancs pour nourrir les petits. Emblème probable d’un libraire.”)
● unidentified owner – bought in sale (FF 900)
● Dominique Courvoisier, Paris (Colin)
● Binoche et Giquello & Benoît Forgeot with Jacques Quentin, Curiosités typographiques, reliures remarquables: Collection C.L., Paris, 30 June 2020, lot 11 (“Reliure très restaurée” [link]) [unsold - estimate €600-800]

Colin, op. cit., p.103 no. A3

(4) Marcus Tullius Cicero, Mar. Tul. Ciceronis Epistolae familiares, quarum postrema hac editione praeter Manutij annotationes (Lyon: Antoine Gryphe, 1560 [i.e. 1569]), bound with Cicero, De officiis, M.T. Ciceronis libri tres. Eiusdem Dialogi duo, vnus de Amicitia, alter de Senectute, quibus subiuncta sunt Paradoxa & Somnium Scipionis (Lyon: Antoine Gryphius, 1566)

● Georges Bonnaire (opac)
● Jörg Schäfer, Zurich; their Catalogue 37: A Selection of fine books arranged under subject headings (Zurich 1991), item 2 (“Gruel II, p.119, fig. A”)
● Brussels, KBR, LP 9.294 A 1(RP) (opac “Reliure de veau brun; marque ‘au Pélican’, de l’imprimeur parisien Jérôme de Marnef sur les plats” [link, link])

Colin, op. cit., p.103 no. A4

(5) Marcus Tullius Cicero, M.T. Ciceronis De philosophia volumen primum (Lyon: Antoine Gryphe, 1570)

● Abbe Émile Longin, “Abbé Longin Beaujeu (Rhône)” stamped on title page (opac)
● Jacques-Joseph Champollion-Figeac (1778-1867), “Champollion-Figeac” stamped on title page (opac)
● Albert Ehrman (1890-1969)
● Oxford, Bodleian Library, Broxb. 11.1 (opac Light brown calf; single gilt fillet border; central oval stamp on both covers of a ‘pelican in her piety’ device, similar to printer’s device used by the de Marnef brothers [link]; Flickr image database, “Light brown calf; single gilt fillet border; central oval stamp on both covers of a ‘pelican in her piety’ device, similar to printer’s device used by the de Marnef brothers.” [link])

Colin, op. cit., p.103 no. A5

(6) Polybius, Polybii Megalopolitani Historiarum libri priores quinque, Nicolao Perotto Sipontino interprete (Lyon: Sébastien Gryphe, 1554)

● Abbé Guillaume Brédeault (1738-1817), exlibris
● Léonce Bizouard de Montille (1828-1917), armorial ex-libris
● Nicolas Rauch, Vente 7: Bibliothèque de M. B***, Geneva, 29-30 March 1954, lot 198 & Pl. 11
● Henry Davis (1897-1977)
● London, British Library, Davis Gift 424

Mirjam Foot, The Henry Davis Gift: A Collection of bookbindings, Volume 3: A Catalogue of South-European bindings (London 2010), no. 93
Colin, op. cit., p.103 no. A1 (“Propriétaire actuel inconnu”)
British Library, Bookbinding database, link

B. Rectangular stamp, pelican turned to the left

(7) Gaius Julius Caesar, C. Jul. Caesaris Commentariorum de bello gallico libri VIII (Paris: Jérôme de Marnef, 1561)

● Pierre Berès, Paris; their Catalogue 41: Livres anciens des XVème au XVIIIème siècles (Paris 1948), item 46 (“in-16, reliure de l’époque veau fauve, filet dore autour des plats, dos fleurdelisé, tranches dorées … Ce fer diffère légèrement de la marque B que reproduit Gruel, Manuel … II, p.119 … Le dos est refait; gardes modernes; le titre et le dernier f. sont doublés.”); Pierre Berès, Catalogue 49: Livres français des quinzième et seizième siècles (Paris [1956?]), item 53

(8) Marcus Tullius Cicero, Les epistres familiaires de Marc Tulle Cicero pere d'eloquence latine (Lyon: [François Gaillard for] Guillaume Rouillé, 1561)

● Mauriz Enk (Enck; 1538-1575), inscription (purchased ready-bound in 1566 in Paris, cost “8 ß”; Kyriss, op. cit., cols.855-856]
● St. Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek, NN rechts VII 20 (opac, [link])

Ernst Kyriss, “Pariser Einbände der 2. Hälfte des 16. Jahrhunderts” in Archiv für Geschichte des Buchwesens 10 (1969), cols.838-863 (col.847 Abb. 5d; col.853; col.855 nos. 11-12)

(9) Demosthenes, Ciceronis, ac Demosthenis sententiae selectae (Paris: Jérôme de Marnef & Guillaume Cavellat, 1566), bound with Aulus Gellius, Noctes Atticae. Cum indice locupletissimo (Paris: Jérôme de Marnef, 1564)

● Léon Gruel (1841-1923)
● Philippe et Jean-Paul Couturier & Pierre Chrétien, Beaux livres anciens, Paris, 27-28 November 1967, lot 247 (part lot, sold with no. 1 above)
● unidentified owner - bought in sale (FF 230)

Gruel, op. cit., II, p.119 & Fig. B (“Le cliché B représente la marque sans encadrement, avec cette particularité que, à l’inverse de l’autre et de la marque typographique, le pélican a la tête tournée à gauche; il décore un petit in-12: Ciceronis ac Demosthenis sententiae. Parisiis, 1566”, [footnote:] “Collection Leon Gruel” [link])
Colin, op. cit., p.104 no. B3

(10) Nicole Grenier, L’Espée de la foy, pour la deffence de l'Église Chrestienne contre les ennemis de verité extraicte de la saincte escriture, des saincts conciles, & des plus anciens peres & docteurs de l'eglise (Paris: Guillaume Cavellat, 1564)

● Mauriz Enk (Enck; 1538-1575), inscription (purchased ready-bound in 1566 in Paris, cost “viij ß”; Kyriss, op. cit., cols.855-856]
● St. Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek, FF rechts V 35 (opac, [link])

Kyriss, op. cit., col.847 Abb. 5d; col.853; col.855-856 nos. 11-12

(11) Decimus Junius Juvenalis, Iunii Iuuenalis, et Auli Persii Flacci Satyrae (Paris: Jérôme de Marnef, 1561)

● Jérôme de Marnef (1515?-1595), supralibros, his device on covers
● Jean Fürstenberg (1890-1982)
● Martin Breslauer Inc., New York; their Catalogue 104/II: Fine books in fine bindings from the fourteenth to the present century (New York 1981), item 173 ($4200; “only four of his display copies … appear to have survived, three of them with a stamp identical to the one displayed on our specimen, the fourth with an oval stamp”)
● T. Kimball Brooker, purchased from the above, 1989 [Bibliotheca Brookeriana #2317; to be offered by Sotheby's in 2024-2025]

Colin, p.104 no. B1

(12) Lucius Caelius Firmianus Lactantius, L. Coelii Lactantii Firmiani Divinarum institutionum libri VII (Paris: Jérôme de Marnef, 1561)

● Librairie Chamonal, Paris
● E.P. Goldschmidt & Co., London [purchased from Chamonal 21 October 1924, E.P. Goldschmidt & Co. stockbook #7187 (in Grolier Club, New York [link]); sold 27 June 1933 to Heilbrun, £3]
● Georges Heilbrun, Paris

E.P. Goldschmidt, Gothic & Renaissance bookbindings exemplified and illustrated from the author’s collection (London 1928), no. 230 & Pl. 108
Colin, op. cit., p.104 no. B2

(13) Suetonius, C. Suetonii Tranquilli XII. Caesares. Item, Io. Baptistæ Egnatij Veneti, de Romanis principibus, libri III (Paris: Jérôme de Marnef 1560)

● Bruce McKittrick, Narberth, PA; their Catalog 55 (Narberth [2009]). item 51 [link]

C. Uncertain version

(14) Marcus Tullius Cicero, Rhetoricorum ad Caium Herennium libri quattuor. De inventione libri duo. Animadversionibus illustrati (Lyon: Antoine Gryphe, 1570)

● F. Zisska & R. Kistner, Auktion 19/I: Inkunabeln, alte Drucke bis 1600, Munich, 4 May 1992, lot 511 (“Kalbldr. d. Zt. mit Rsch. und goldgepr. Marke von J. de Marnef auf beiden Deckeln”)
● unidentified owner - bought in sale (DM 800)