Rare Book Monthly

Articles - August - 2012 Issue

Sandras De Courtilz and His Little Book of Lies

Courtilz1

LOUIS DE MONTFORT CHEZ PIERRE MARTEAU

Amongst the Courtilz’ titles of the auction sale of Poitiers were some quite hard to find ones like Mémoires de Jean-Baptiste de la Fontaine, a pirate edition of Mémoires de Madame la Marquise de Fresne (printed cette année présente, the present year – a pirate edition of a forbidden book, what a « galimatia »!), Mémoires de Mr.L.C.D.R and Mémoires de Mr D’Artagnan (partly original). The appraisals were low, from 50 to 60 euros, no title went under 180 euros (the D’Artagnan went above 300). It was still a good deal as professional booksellers tend to ask 300 euros for a nice copy. On eBay.fr, only three Courtilz are currently available : Nouveaux Intérêts des Princes de l’Europe (chez Pierre Marteau, 1688) at 385 euros, Mémoires de la Marquise de Fresne (Amsterdam, 1714) at 300 euros and Annales de la Cour de Paris (chez Pierre Marteau, 1739) at 1,000 euros - the latter bearing the coat of arms of the Colbert family.

Not every book lover is looking for Courtilz’ works - but those who do, rate them, for their lively contents but also for the mythology surrounding the books and their author. Courtilz was walking on a tight rope, going to and from his property of Montargis in France and Holland, smuggling banned books for a living. Under the pseudonym of Louis de Monfort, he became an active figure of the forbidden literature of the time. “ He frequently intervened in favour of some colleagues harassed by the police of books, writes Jean Lombard in L’Aventure dans le roman à la fin du Grand Siècle (Congress of Amiens, 1987). (...) [In the early 1690’s], Courtilz had three different addresses in Paris, plus a PO box and a post house. He received lettres, sometimes under his own name, sometimes under the name of Monfort. But police were at work.”

According to this author, Courtilz was sent to prison a first time, and released soon after. He came back to Paris despite being banned by the authorities, arguing of medical obligations. “ Police established more and more precise reports about him, but he was protected by a Commissioner of police – we do not dare to risk any hypothesis regarding this protection.” The market for banned books was huge, and Holland had become a centre of counterfeit and forbidden books. A lot of booksellers would also legally print their books there, it was cheaper – but the readers did not trust those copies, often ill printed and full of mistakes, hence the often met mention “ D’après la copie de Paris” (According to the copy of Paris). Booksellers who did not want their business affiliation to some Protestants to be acknowledged, mentioned a fictive address or a fictive printer on the title page.

Courtilz sure did not want anyone to know what he was printing – nor where. So he published his book anonymously and most of the time “ chez Pierre Marteau”, the famous fictive Dutch printer. Pierre Marteau, alias Pierre du Marteau, alias Willhelm Marteau or Peter Hammer in Germany, or Pierre l’Enclume, has never existed. He was invented in 1660 by the powerful Elzevier dynasty of Dutch printers to safely put out a scandalous book in French. Marteau soon became very fashionable amongst printers – he made friends with “ people ” like Pierre Van Dyck (who put out Mr de la Rochefoucauld’s memoirs), Pierre Mortier, Simon l’Africain, Jacques le Curieux or Robert le Turcq – when he “ passed away ”, his heirs and his widow took over! His most famous publication is Les Lettres Persanes by Montesquieu (1721). Courtilz knew Pierre Marteau very well, he gave “ him ” several works to put out like Mémoires de Mr D’Artagnan (1700), Annales de la Cour et de Paris pour les années 1697 et 1698 (1701), Mémoires de messire Jean-Baptiste de la Fontaine (1699) or La vie de Gaspard de Coligny (no date) – all of these were to be found at the auction sale of Poitiers. Let us specify here that not all the Marteau printings come from the Elzevier’s press, far from that. The name was picked up by any printer, and thus made even more efficient in blurring the truth.  

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers, Jan 20.<br>Mrs S. C. Belnos.</b> <i>The Sundhya or the Daily Prayers of the Brahmins,</i> 1st edition, 1851. £2,000 to £3,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers, Jan 20.<br>Sir Harry Darell.</b> <i>China, India, Cape of Good Hope and Vicinity,</i> 1st edition, 1852. £2,000 to £3,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers, Jan 20.<br><i>Scots Magazine,</i></b> 61 volumes, 1739-1800. With important maps of North America. £1,500 to £2,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers, Jan 21.<br>Ian Fleming.</b> <i>Casino Royale,</i> 1st edition, 1953. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers, Jan 21.<br>Virginia Woolf.</b> <i>Really and Truly,</i> 1915. Autograph confessions book. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers, Jan 21.<br>Evelyn Waugh.</b> <i>Vile Bodies,</i> 1st edition, 1930. £3,000 to £4,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers, Jan 21.<br>J. R. R. Tolkien.</b> Autograph letter signed on Old English, with corrected typescript. £2,000 to £3,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers, Jan 21.<br>Lewis Carroll.</b> <i>The Hunting of the Snark,</i> 1st edition, 1876. Presentation copy. £2,000 to £3,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers, Jan 21.<br>Essex House Press.</b> <i>Poems of William Shakespeare,</i> 1899. One of 450 copies. £1,000 to £1,500.
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers, Jan 21.<br>Lafcadio Hearn.</b> <i>A Japanese Miscellany,</i> 1st edition, 1901. Presentation copy. £1,000 to £1,500.
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers, Jan 21.<br>Jules Verne.</b> <i>Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas,</i> 1st UK edition, 1873. £2,000 to £3,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers, Jan 21.<br>Charles Dickens.</b> <i>The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit,</i> 1st edition, 1844. Original cloth binding. £800 to £1,200.
  • <center><b>Arader Galleries<br>January Auction<br>January 23, 2021</b>
    <b>Arader Galleries, Jan. 23:</b> AUDUBON, John James. <i>Carolina Parrot, Plate 26.</i> London: Robert Havell, 1827-1838. $125,000 to $175,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Jan. 23:</b> AUDUBON, John James. <i>Fish Hawk or Osprey, Plate 81.</i> London: Robert Havell, 1827-1838. $145,000 to $175,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Jan. 23:</b> AUDUBON, John James. <i>Brown Pelican, Plate 421.</i> London: Robert Havell, 1827-1838. $75,000 to $100,000.
    <center><b>Arader Galleries<br>January Auction<br>January 23, 2021</b>
    <b>Arader Galleries, Jan. 23:</b> DE BRY, Johann Theodore, attributed to. Pair of Watercolor studies of Tulips. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Jan. 23:</b> FUERTES, Louis Agassiz. <i>Alaskan Brown Bear.</i> Watercolor and gouache on board. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Jan. 23:</b> HILL, Thomas. <i>Big Trees.</i> Oil on canvas. c. 1903. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <center><b>Arader Galleries<br>January Auction<br>January 23, 2021</b>
    <b>Arader Galleries, Jan. 23:</b> GOULD, John. <i>A Monograph of the Macropodidae or Family of Kangaroos.</i> London: by the author, August 1st 1841-May 1st 1842. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Jan. 23:</b> GOULD, John. <i>A Monograph of the Odontophorinae, or Partridges of America.</i> London: Richard and John E. Taylor for the Author, [1844]-1850. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Jan. 23:</b> JANSSONIUS, Joannes. <i>Atlantis majoris quinta pars, orbem maritimum seu omnium marium…</i> Amsterdam: Joannes Janssonius, 1652. $50,000 to $80,000.
    <center><b>Arader Galleries<br>January Auction<br>January 23, 2021</b>
    <b>Arader Galleries, Jan. 23:</b> DONCKER, Hendrik. <i>De Zee-Atlas ofte Water-Waereld, vertoonende alle de Zee-Kusten van het bekende deel des Aerd-Bodems.</i> Amsterdam: Henrick Doncker, [1658-1665]. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Jan. 23:</b> BURR, David. <i>Map of the City and County of New York with the Adjacent Country.</i> Engraved map with original hand color. Ithaca, NY: Stone & Clark, 1839. $9,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Jan. 23:</b> CURRIER, Nathaniel and IVES, James Merritt. <i>The City of New York.</i> Lithograph with original hand color. New York: Currier & Ives, 1884. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jan 28:</b> Joseph F. Kernan, <i>College Football,</i> oil on canvas, <i>The Saturday Evening Post</i> cover, 1932. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jan 28:</b> Joseph C. Leyendecker, <i>Golfer Lighting a Cigarette,</i> oil on canvas, c.1920. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jan 28:</b> Howard Chandler Christy, <i>In the Field,</i> charcoal & watercolor, published in <i>Scribner’s,</i> 1902. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jan 28:</b> N.C. Wyeth, <i>Standish Reading,</i> pen & ink, for <i>The Courtship of Miles Standish,</i> 1920. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jan 28:</b> Johnanna Stewart Mapes, <i>A Fairy Book,</i> conté crayon, for <i>St. Nicholas Magazine,</i> 1907. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jan 28:</b> Arnold Lobel, pen & ink, for <i>The Frog & Toad Coloring Book,</i> 1981. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jan 28:</b> Antonio Lopez, <i>Today’s Fashions,</i> study for <i>The New York Times,</i> 1981. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jan 28:</b> Charles Schulz, <i>“I’ll have to go back to the house…I forgot my rubbers…”</i> pen & ink, original 4-panel <i>Peanuts comic,</i> 1960. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jan 28:</b> Constantin Alajalov, <i>Family Tree,</i> watercolor and gouache, cover for <i>The New Yorker,</i> 1938. Estimate $3,000 to $4,000.
  • <center><b>Il Ponte Casa d'Aste<br>Books and Manuscripts<br>26 January 2021</b>
    <center><b>Il Ponte Casa d'Aste<br>Books and Manuscripts<br>26 January 2021</b>
    <center><b>Il Ponte Casa d'Aste<br>Books and Manuscripts<br>26 January 2021</b>

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