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COLOUR-RICH and full of rainbow refractions, too, is marble but available documentation is limited and lacks precise information as to exactly where it was extracted and what examples from a particular quarry looked like. Top cabinetmaker M. Dubarry de Lassale’s ambitious research project in systematically investigating quarries mentioned in early inventories has made it possible to include some that were “lost” – “as in Davillier’s (Davillère) inventory of Louis XlV” – or closed.

If size counts, then Identifying Marble is a biggie at 24.5 x 34.5cm (10 x 14ins deep) with 308 pages and 160-plus terrific full-page photographs of the most often used marble.

Identifying Marble is in two parts: the first offers a history of its use by cabinetmakers and wood workers plus a study of the formation of marble, with a history of its extraction and transport and contemporary extraction techniques – circular saw and millstone. The Greeks and Romans had perfected a variety of lifting machines capable of raising huge weights.

The second section, from page 56 to 296, gives us a full photographic record with rock description (petrography), usual names, trade names, examples of use, location of quarry and references with marbles photographed to scale. There is an index by colour and country.

M. Dubarry de Lassale spent four years on this book’s research, on the trail of lost quarries in the mountains, and for museum curators, cabinetmakers, antique dealers and auctioneers and all those who need to identify a particular marble, this is the book, and it is to be followed by a second featuring the use of marble in furniture and art.