La Charrue D’Érable (The Maplewood Plough)

by Camille Pissarro and Emile Moselly
Published by Eragny Press for Le Livre Contemporain, London, 1913
Book dimensions: H 217 x W 159 x D 21mm
Box dimensions: H 241 x W 175 x D 55mm
Sample board #55
Bound in 2020
Private Collection, France

About the book:
Wood engraved title page border in 3 colours, 12 illustrations each printed from 4 blocks designed by Camille Pissarro and engraved on wood by Lucien Pissarro, historiated initials, headpieces and tailpieces designed by Lucien Pissarro and engraved by Lucien and Esther Pissarro. One of 116 copies. Printed in Brook type on Arches paper with watermarks of Le Livre Contemporain and the Eragny Press. 8vo., original inside covers retained and rebound into the new binding in cream calf, stamped in gilt with apple motifs and the monogram of Le Livre Contemporain.

Le Charrue d’Erable or The Maplewood Plough comprised 12 short chapters on a rural theme written by Emile Moselly to match drawings by Camille Pissarro. Pissarro matched the beauty of his father’s drawing with his skill as an engraver and printer, producing outstanding four block printing.

About the binding:

  • The book is bound in pistachio-coloured bull skin with apple, and leaf-shaped onlays on the front cover, and apple blossom and leaf-shaped onlays on the back cover, all hand-cut from vellum, suede and leather. 
  • Each of the flowers, apples and leaves are embroidered in a variety of coloured cotton and metallic threads using stem stitches and French knots.
  • The book is blind-tooled over the whole cover using hand-made finishing tools.
  • The endpapers and doublures are printed onto peach-coloured paper in black ink using a hand-cut lino block. 
  • The front endpapers and doublures have apple shapes pierced out (to match the front cover) and backed with gold leaf. The back endpapers and doublures have apple blossom shapes pierced out (to match the back cover) and backed with gold leaf.
  • The centre detail of all the apples and the apple blossom was added using acrylic ink.
  • Thinly pared pistachio-coloured bull leather shapes are stuck randomly across both the endpapers and doublures.
  • The top edge of the text block was sanded and coloured using acrylic paints in colours to match the cover design, the foredge and bottom edge were left deckled.
  • The original gilt natural calf doublures were saved and rebound into the front and back of the new binding.
  • The box is made from Maple wood and is lined with peach-coloured felt. The wood was book-matched on the lid and base, meaning that the two adjoining surfaces match each other giving the impression of an opened book.

Binder’s Statement:

The design of this binding was based on a repeat pattern inspired by the apple branches on the title page of the text block.

Rather than having apples on the branches over the whole book, I divided the design in two to depict apples on the branches one side and apple blossom on the other – this design carried through to the corresponding endpapers and doublures. 

I chose to pattern the paper endpapers and doublures using a lino print so that they had an appearance similar to the hand-cut wood block prints within the text block. The prints within the book also inspired the muted colours of greens, oranges, peaches and creams I used throughout the design.

The title of the book, “La Charrue d’Erable”, meaning “The Maple-wood Plough”, led to my choice of material for the box. The wooden box is housed in a conservation outer box, with a map dating from 1910, showing the area of “St. Denis-Pontoise” in France, including the town of “Eragny”, glued inside the lid.

More details about this binding can be read over five blog posts, starting here.

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