Sunday, November 10, 2013

Mr. Roubo at Ecole Boulle

Mr. Roubo's Book
From time to time I find myself actually reading posts from my own blog.  Some times I am impressed with what I wrote and often I realize I left something important out or what I was trying to say was not as clear as I would like.

Today I put down my English copy of Roubo, which I have read twice, and went back to the computer to read my last post.  That was when I remembered my early conversations with Christopher Schwartz about writing the Preface to the new edition.  My post on "Roubo Redux" left out one of the most important events in my life as it related to Mr. Roubo.  So I went back to my email conversation and pulled up these photos to share.

I Love Libraries
As I spent several years at ecole Boulle as a student, it was my pleasure to explore the school and meet other professors and their workshops.  At some point, I opened a door and found myself in a library.  What a pleasant surprise!  It somehow had not occurred to me that ecole Boulle would have a library, but as soon as I discovered its existence I began to spend a lot of time searching its stacks.  It was full of some amazing books, mostly in French, but still exciting.

Title Page with Inscription
The first book I asked for was Roubo.  The librarian smiled and returned with an original first edition of the same.  I carefully placed it on the table and opened the cover.  I still remember, as I sat quietly in the center of the library, with the sunlight raking across the desk from the 19th century windows,  how I stopped breathing when I saw the inscription.

"A Camille Pouplin affectueux souvenir de la petite fille de Roubo.  Adele Margolle"

Handwritten in ink was the dedication: "To Camille Poupin friendly souvenir from the grand daughter of Roubo. Adele Margolle."
Roubo's Grand Daughter's hand

Not only was this particular copy of Roubo's work directly from the family but it is entirely possible that it was a copy that Mr. Roubo himself owned!  I imagined his hands turning the pages exactly as I was doing.  It struck me that I was sitting in a French school, named after the greatest cabinetmaker of France, reading a book written by one of the most famous authors of the trade.

It just doesn't get any more real than that.

How could I have not included this little story in my post?


Chuck said...

I can only imagine the thrill of being in the presence of such an important figure as M. Roubo. My only such experience was once standing in the presence of John Harrison's marine chronometers at the Royal Museum Greenwich. They were built for the competition for solving the problem of determining longitude while at sea. I could feel the presence and trials of this man who labored to solve this problem. I think that your experience being in l'Ecole Boulle and turning the pages of an original edition must have been overwhelming.

Your preface to the new translation from Lost Art Press more than does justice to this seminal work.

Anonymous said...

I believe Schwartz should be spelled Schwarz

W. Patrick Edwards said...

Thank you! My bad.