Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - February - 2012 Issue

French Books & Manuscripts from Justin Croft Antiquarian Books


French Books & Manuscripts.

Justin Croft Antiquarian Books has issued a catalogue of French Books & Manuscripts. Though Croft is an English bookseller, and France and England were either in hot or cold wars with each other through most of these antiquarian times, the hatchet has finally been buried (and not in each other's skull). The English can now appreciate the culture and language of their nearby neighbors as found in the items contained in this catalogue. Here are a few of them.

Item 10 offers an interesting proposition on how to increase the population of France. Declining population may not be an issue today, but at the time this work was published – 1768 – many were concerned. With all of the wars in Europe, that might seem a logical fear, though Croft points out that France's population actually increased by 30% during the 18th century. Nevertheless, the pseudonymous “Cerfvol,” in Memoire sur la population... decries the supposed declining French population and expresses the fear that eventually there will be no one left. While conceding there were various causes of the problem, from excessive taxation to women's corsets, he hones in on one – the absence of divorce laws. In 18th century France, one could not readily obtain a divorce, and this, he feels, has reduced the production of children. That may sound counterintuitive, but his theory was that in societies where divorce was permitted, men were more willing to marry and produce offspring. Where marriage is a lifetime commitment, happy or not, men avoid getting married and hence have fewer children. Of course, we have since learned that being married is not a prerequisite to having children. Priced at £600 (British pounds, or about $925 U.S. Dollars).

As long as we are looking at interesting French theories, here is one from Louis Antoine de Caraccioli, expressed in 1759 in Le livre a la mode. This book is printed in green ink, and with very good reason. Caraccioli's theory is that people will be more interested in learning if printers do away with the tyranny of black ink, substituting colors more in tune to their subject matter. While this edition was in green, the preface announces that the next edition would be in red ink (it was). While Cerfvol's theory about divorce and population decline was serious, Caraccioli's seems more tongue in cheek. While his precise aim is unclear, Croft believes this was a satire about French literary society's relentless search for novelty. Item 9. £350 (US $540).

Item 73 provides some interesting insight into 18th century French medicine. It is a group of manuscript bills, prescriptions, and other document pertaining to the illness of one Michel Soulavie. Soulavie was a valet in the household of the Marquise de Bregancon when he fell ill in the spring of 1752. The Marquise's late husband had played a role in the French court, but he was not in the upper echelons of important nobility. Nonetheless, Soulavie was provided with all kinds of medical treatment, some evidently intended to be curative, others likely for pain. He was prescribed teas of fern and violets, spermaceti from whales, and naturally enough, he was bled a couple of times. Laudanum and a syrup from poppies were probably intended to reduce his pain. It was to no avail. M. Soulavie expired within a few weeks, and the final bills pertain to his coffin, funeral mass, and burial. £250 (US $385).

Item 61 is a manuscript prison notebook kept by one Georges Piat, about whom little information seems readily available. Life was not pleasant for Piat, though the French people probably had little sympathy for his plight. He was imprisoned in 1944 for collaboration with the hated pro-German Vichy regime. When the allies liberated France, there was little sympathy for those who collaborated with Germany. Many were summarily executed, but Piat was at least spared that fate. However, conditions were very tough, Piat being moved among prisons, subjected at times to solitary confinement, chained to his bed, and enduring frequent beatings by guards and other prisoners. Along with accounts of his personal distress, Piat offers his thoughts on philosophy, politics, ethics and religion, copies extracts from other writers, offers opinions on physical exercise, and provides notes on a variety of topics from boxing to the atomic bomb. He remained in prison at least until 1948. £1,500 (US $2,315).

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Jenner (Rev. George Charles). <i>The Evidence at Large...Respecting Dr Jenner's Discovery of Vaccine Inoculation,</i> presentation copy from Edward Jenner to Rev. Rowland Hill, 1805. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Houdini (Harry).- Maggi (Girolamo). <i>De tintinnabulis liber postumus...de equuleo liber,</i> Harry Houdini's copy, Amsterdam, H. Wetstein, 1689. £600 to £800
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Meyer (Henry Leonard). Coloured Illustrations of British Birds, and their Eggs , 7 vol. in 2 plus Illustrations of British Birds, 4 vol., 1842-50 and [1835-51]. £5,000 to £7,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Dickens (Charles). <i>An Entirely New Romantic Drama, in Three Acts, by Mr. Wilkie Collins, called The Frozen Deep,</i> 1857. £3,000 to £4,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Lighthouses and Islands of Ireland, c. 125 drawings, 1867. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Shelley (Lady Jane). Diary, 1853 & 1860. £1,500 to £2,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Scottish Binding.- The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments, bound in contemporary brown polished calf decorated with the figure of a Chinese spearman, by ?James Scott of Edinburgh, 1778. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Greene (Graham). <i>The Man Within,</i> first edition, signed by the author, 1929. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Mellan (Claude, 1598-1688). The Holy Face, or the Veil of St Veronica, [c. 1649 and later]. £800 to £1,200
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Desaguliers (John Theophilus). <i>A Dissertation concerning Electricity,</i> W. Innys, and T. Longman, 1742. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Le Jeune (Paul). <i>Relation de se qui s'est passé en la Nouvelle France en l'anné 1636 enuoyée au R.Pere Provincial de la Compagnie de Iesus en la Province de France,</i> 1637. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Stumpf (Johann Rudolph). <i>Gemeiner loblicher Eydgnoschafft Stetten, Landen und Völckern Chronicwirdiger thaaten beschreibung, </i> Zurich, Froschauer, 1586. £3,000 to £4,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> George Washington, Letter Signed to General James Clinton, preparing for the Sullivan-Clinton Campaign, 1778. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Thomas Jefferson, Letter Signed, to Major-General Nathanael Greene, promising to send reinforcements against Cornwallis, 1781. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Thomas Edison, Autograph Letter Signed, to Western Union President William Orton, 1878. $10,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> William, Bishop of Coventry, vellum charter granting the church of Rochdale to the Cistercian Abbey of Stanlaw, in Latin, 1222. $3,500 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> FDR, Photograph Signed & Inscribed, framed with wood removed from the White House roof, 1927. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Jean Dubuffet, archive including many letters written while painting in NYC, 1951-72. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Mohandas K. Gandhi, Autograph Letter Signed, describing the source of his patience, 1939. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Lithograph portrait of Albert Einstein by Hermann Struck, signed by both, 1923. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Charles The Bold, Duke of Burgundy, Letter Signed to Johann IV of Nassau, in French, 1470. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Jean Cocteau, Autograph Letter Signed, in French, 1919. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Louis Armstrong, two Autograph Letters Signed to Erich Kauffmann, his lip salve purveyor, 1965-70. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Wernher von Braun, Autograph Letter Signed to Jonathan Cross, 1975. $5,000 to $7,500.
  • <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> BEETHOVEN, LUDWIG VAN. Autograph Manuscript sketch-leaf part of the score of the Scottish Songs, "Sunset" Op. 108 no 2. [Vienna, February 1818]. Inscribed by Alexander Wheelock Thayer. $80,000 to $120,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> EINSTEIN, ALBERT. Autograph Letter Signed ("Papa") to his son Hans Albert, discussing his involvement with the atomic bomb, September 2, 1945. $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> HAMILTON, ALEXANDER. Autograph Letter Signed, to Baron von Steuben, with extensive notes of Von Steuben's aide Benjamin Walker, June 12, 1780. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. $200,000 to 300,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. $80,000 to $120,000
  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>

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