A couple of months ago I went to the auctions with my friend Pete (who I got my perforator from) and came home with what I consider to be a little bargain.
It is two volumes of prints of paintings from the collection of Eugène Secrétan, the nineteenth century French industrialist who made his fortune in copper production. Unfortunately for him, his immense fortune did not last and his large collection of paintings , sculptures, furniture and objet d’art were sold at auction to pay off his debts – these books are, in effect, auction catalogues.
They are quite big (15⅞ x 11⅜” – 381 x 279mm) and are composed of loose sheets taped into pairs and sewn, covered with a light brown card jacket, folded over the front and back leaves. Essentially unbound, but I have since seen a few copies on the web that have been bound in leather.
The text is beautifully set in a variety of metal type and letterpressed throughout. The paper is a heavy smooth stock, which I estimate is about 220gsm and has some yellowing and foxing around the edges, as well as a little water damage here and there.
The first few text pages are quite heavily printed and wonderfully tactile. I know this will have the purists screaming, but I like it.
Each page has a tissue mask tipped in, covering the print beneath:
And followed with a description.
The prints are photogravure – hand printed from copper plates (how ironic) that had been coated with light sensitive chemicals and acid etched. This allows for good reproduction of fine detail and subtle continuous tones, perfect for art prints.
The majority of the prints clearly show the impression of the plate.
Each print is of a different size that follows the proportions of the originals, but to give you an idea of the scale, the image below measures 8⅝ x 6⅜” (203 x 152mm)
There are two volumes in all and they are missing a few prints each, but not many. And the price? £9. Bargain.
I’ll post another selection soon…