Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - October - 2011 Issue

Antiquarian Catalogues from Bruce McKittrick Rare Books

Mckittrickcats10-11

A small catalogue of catalogues.

Here we have a new catalogue that is certainly atypical for the genre. It wouldn't quite qualify for status as a miniature book, but it is the smallest we have seen in eight years of reviewing booksellers' printed selections, roughly 5" x 5". Variety is the spice of cataloguing. It comes from Bruce McKittrick Rare Books, and it is titled Catalogs. Art, Books & Museums. It consists of 15 numbered selections and two unnumbered assemblies of catalogues, and as the title says, they are catalogues of artworks, books and museums. Some are auction catalogues, others simply presentations of collections. Of the auction catalogues, most have prices added by hand. Their dates range from the 17th through the 19th century. These are quite old for auctions and catalogued collections. As one would expect for such older catalogues, they are European in origin, even if McKittrick is located just outside of the city where America declared its independence from the Old World - Philadelphia. Here are some of the items McKittrick is offering in what could fairly be described as a "catalogue of catalogues."

Item 6 is a very early and important catalogue, Bibliotheca Telleriana, published in 1693. It is a catalogue of the library of Charles Maurice Le Tellier, Archbishop of Rheims. Le Tellier's father had served King Louis XIV, but Charles chose an ecclesiastic route. Nonetheless, he was supportive of the state in various disputes with the Church, evidently enabling him to earn the support of the state while remaining in the good graces of the Church. As Le Tellier traveled around Europe, he collected books, very many of them, and the best editions available. Eventually, rather than selling his collection, Le Tellier decided to give it to the library of Sainte-Geneviève, a Parisian abbey even then well over a millennium old. His collection more than doubled the size of the ancient library. Due to the extensiveness and importance of Le Tellier's collection, his catalogue was long used as a bibliography. Offered is a first and only edition of this important presentation. Priced at $8,800.

Item 1 is the Catalogue Des Livres (Catalogue of Books) of Joseph Antoine Crozat, Marquis of Thugny. Crozat obtained his fortune the old-fashioned way - he inherited it. His father and uncle, born of a peasant family, became enormously wealthy merchants. His father found favor in the court of King Louis XIV, and at one time he had exclusive trade rights in Louisiana (one of the few things he did not make money from). Joseph Antoine held various government posts, though it appears his primary avocation was collecting things with the money provided by his father and uncle. While this catalogue of the auction of his books contains 7,000 titles, his major collections were of paintings, engraved stones, and other works of art. Crozat died in 1751, and his books were put up for auction through this catalogue in the same year. Prices have been added by hand. Joseph Antoine, having no children, left much of the remainder of his collection to his brother, and through the latter's will, much of those proceeds were used to benefit the poor of Paris. $5,500.

One of the collections of catalogues offered consists of 20 auction catalogues from Brussels, dated 1754-1770. Sixteen are dated 1760-1765. These are primarily art catalogues, with over 14,000 lots offered. Nine are devoted to paintings, seven to prints, and there is one of books. Five have price annotations in contemporary manuscript. $18,000.

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