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Tribute to Nicolas Gilbert, royal imperial purveyor


The full name of the school is Ecole des Malletiers Nicolas Gilbert of Belgium. It is a homage to the Brussels' malletier who supplied the King and Holy Roman Emperor Charles V to whom there were other Belgian purveyors still: Roberts, Lampsens, Van Nevele, Van Rossem, De Hofstadt,...


The blazon of Charles V, 

with the Order of the Golden Fleece


For example, in 1529-1530 the Nicolas Gilbert and Augustin De Hofstadt ateliers together produced some 70 luggage items for the emperor, of which 50 leather leather trunks for the casing of the monarch's tapestries. On travel the carpets were put unto the greens where the entire imperial party would have what we nowadays call a pick-nick, by all means a luxury one.


                 The 21st century, and the new école des malletiers


For Jean-Pierre Bal, the founder of the present-day malletier school, the 1530s decade is remarkably interesting, by amazing coincidences. For example, during that time-span there also was a medieval iron furnace and steel mill located precisely where the school's main atelier now stands. "At the EdM campus the soil in the garden of the atelier house still contains lots of smelting slag and dross pellets. One day I will use them in a malletier artwork".


In the 2000s Monsieur Bal revived the malletier profession in Belgium; it had disappeared sixty years ago. He invested thousands of leisure hours in bibliographical research and in mastering trunk-making techniques. He also rebuilt the 19th century evolution of the major trunkmakers in Brussels, and, created the country's sole and most unique collection of Belgian trunks, while garnering precious documentation about the malletier profession in Europe and around the world. The Ecole des Malletiers project is entirely his. In 2017 he transformed the small Belmal conservatory into the fully fledged school.


In 2018-2019 he also continues to work on the sister-school project in France: the Ecole des Malletiers homage to the malletier Jean Paré, a contemporary of Nicolas Gilbert. Paré had his atelier, at rue de la Huchette, near the Notre Dame cathedral. Historical research is still in progress, bein coordinated through units in Laval (Bourg Hersent, birthplace of the Paré family) and Paris, and under the aegis of OGISPES, the bi-national non-profit organisation based in Charleville-Mézières, France and Liège, Belgium. 



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© copyright 2018, OGISPES o.b.o. Ecole des Malletiers Nicolas Gilbert of Belgium and Jean Paré project France, formerly Belmal Conservatory. All rights reserved.  Reproduction of this website is not allowed | Update: 2018-09-17