Rare Books 101

The Secret Language of Rare Books: Doublures

  • Feb 4, 2015

Does the specialized vocabulary of rare book descriptions read like a secret language to you? In this series we will unveil the meanings behind a few of the more unusual and interesting terms that can read like a secret code to the uninitiated. Today: Doublures.


The Definition: When a book is bound elaborately, the binder will sometimes use leather to cover the interiors of the book’s boards, often with swoon-inducing designs. These leather interiors of the book’s binding are called doublures. In some cases, the term can be applied to other materials such as decorated silk.


The Context: The term is French, which will surprise no one who loves bindings. The French have long valued the art of book binding. Many stunning techniques were either developed or popularized by the French who, naturally, are known for their taste in beautiful things.


The Look:



Doublure from a volume of the “Bibliomaniac Edition” of Charles Paul de Kock, 1903-4 (BRB 87019)



Doublure from a volume of the “Bibliomaniac Edition” of Charles Paul de Kock, 1903-4 (BRB 87019)


Doublure from a set of the Works of Charles Dickens, 1902-8 (BRB 103272)


Doublure from a set of the Works of Charles Dickens (BRB 103272)


Doublure from a set of the Works of Charles Dickens (BRB 103272)


Doublures from a volume of Boswell’s Life of Johnson, 1848 (BRB 65497)


Let us know if you’re interested in collecting bindings with doublures and we’ll help you find them.


Have a term in mind you’d like to see in this series? Write it in the comments below.


Rebecca Romney joined Bauman Rare Books in the fall of 2007 to 2016. In 2011 Rebecca began appearing on the History Channel’s hit TV show Pawn Stars as the rare books expert. She has contributed several posts to our blog.

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5 Responses to “The Secret Language of Rare Books: Doublures”

  • Andrew Sims says:

    Beautiful doublures! How about a feature explaining the various leather types & their recognition especially decorated calf such as marbled calf, tree-calf etc. Or perhaps something on the various protective devices such as solander cases, slip-cases.

    • Rebecca Romney says:

      Funny you should say that; I have leather types planned for March. I won’t get into decorating styles just yet–distinguishing between calf and morocco comes before distinguishing between speckled calf and tree calf. But I’ll get to that eventually, too. Thanks for your input.

    • Jim Elwell says:

      I agree Andrew…that would be a very interesting subject.

  • Joe Weber says:

    I make suede and Morocco bound books in the style of Elbert Hubbard’s Print Shop from the years 1895-1915. We have a recreation of the shop in East Aurora, NY. I like to make fancy doublures.
    I am glad some people are interested in doublures. I can provide some pictures of ones I have made and some from my collection. The ones you showed are excellent.

    • Jessa Feiler says:

      Hi Joe! Your comment got misplaced while we were updating our internet here. What a fantastic vocation! We love the Arts & Crafts movement at Bauman–especially Roycroft books–and we’re happy that our doublures live up the standards of a professional binder like you.