Bosse 1645, first rolling press manual, large paper copy


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BOSSE, Abraham (1602–1676)

Traicté des manières de graver en taille douce sur l’airin. Par le moyen des eaux fortes et des vernix durs et mols. Ensemble de la façon d’en imprimer les planches & d’en construire la presse, & autres choses concernans lesdits arts.

Paris: chez ledit Bosse en l’Isle du Palais, à la Roze rouge, devant la Magisserie, 1645.

4to: π2 (π1 blank) 2π2 A–I4 K2, 41 leaves, pp. [vi] 75 [1] (last page blank). Full page engraved dedication on 2π1 recto.

18 engravings printed on 13 leaves: engraved pictorial title bound after the printed titlepage, engraved sectional title after A4 and 16 engravings numbered 1–16 printed on 11 leaves, some repeated on versos; the 11 leaves have the following engravings: 1/2, 3/[blank], 4/[blank], 5/5, 6/6, 7/[blank], 8/[blank], 9/10, 11/12, 13/14, 15/16) (bound interspersed with the text).  

Condition: 136 x 206mm. Abrasion to foot of title page where a pencil (?) inscription has been erased; worm tracks in inner margins of sigs G and H with small worm holes in preceeding and following pages; some light soilding and foxing throughout. 

Binding: Contemporary calf, gilt spine in compartments, head and tail of spine restored. 

Provenance: ‘Demontille’; ‘Henry Belluris’, early signatues on titlepage. 

First edition, large paper issue, this copy, 136 x 2060mm (compared with c. 100 x 165mm for the ordinary issue), re-imposed with gutter margins 17mm compared with 10mm in the ordinary issue. Second state of p. 3 with reading ‘que je ne les tienne’ in l. 3 (’ne’ is omitted in the first state). References. Stijnman 042.2; Bigmore and Wyman I, p. 72; En français dans le texte 92; Cicognara 251; A. S. Blum, L’oeuvre gravé d’Abraham Bosse 403–421; G. Duplessis, Catalogue de l’oeuvre de A. Bosse… Extrait de la Revue Universelle des arts, etc. (Paris, 1859) 534–552; A. Weigert, Inventaire du fonds français. Graveurs du XVIIe siècle (Paris, 1939), vol. 1, 534–552.

The first manual of engraving and etching and the first manual for the rolling press; a rare large paper copy. Aimed at professional engravers as well as amateurs and through numerous adaptations Bosse’s manual remained in use until the end of the eighteenth century and is still of value to etchers and engravers today.

The engraving manual deals with the hard etching-ground, the soft etching-ground (not to be confused with soft-ground etching) and engraving. There are recipes for preparing the different grounds and acids, descriptions and illustrations of etching tools and burins – and the method of sharpening the latter – and systems of hatching and laying parallel lines.

The second part, the printing manual, provides a detailed description and measured drawings of the press, the preparation of ink, dampening the paper, inking and wiping the plate and taking the impression. This is the most detailed description of a wooden rolling press ever published, no other accounts have given full measured drawings. The description of printing intaglio plates was not superseded until the publication of Berthiau and Boitard’s manual in 1836. At the end there are two short sections on ways of making coloured prints from two plates (see Florian Rodari, Anatomie de la couleur: l’invention de l’estampe en couleurs, Paris, 1996, p. 41 and fig. 35).

For later editions (1701 and later) the plates were re-worked and are poorly printed compared to the rich impressions in the first edition printed under Bosse’s supervision.