Rare Book Monthly

Articles - February - 2013 Issue

Cartouche & the Peddler’s Books


Cartouche met his fate on the wheel, a gruesome punishment.

The name of Cartouche became notorious. The government appointed more watchmen in Paris but, as the book reads, “the robbers would go out in groups at night to fight and defeat the watchmen.” We hardly imagine how dangerous Paris could have been! Bunches of criminals fighting hords of watchmen in the streets? Sounds like the aftermath of a regular football match...

Long run short catch, as the saying goes. Aware of a conspiracy within his troops, Cartouche assembled his men in the night of October 11, 1721, and asked a particular traitor to step forward. “They cut his throat," reads the book, "tore away his private parts and slashed his face so he could not be recognized.” The mutilated head was found in the Rue du Regard, Faubourg St Germain. Unfortunately for Cartouche, one of his main lieutenants who had participated in the murder, Mr. Du Châtelet, was soon identified and arrested. He had no choice but to give away his master who was soon arrested in a cabaret of La Courtille, and imprisoned. The event was so important, the King was informed as soon as he woke up. “Cartouche was put in the jail of Le Grand Châtelet, one hand tied on the belly and the other one in the back, with six bowmen guarding him at sight.” That did not prevent him from escaping. But he was caught a few hours later and was bound never to recover his freedom.

Lots of people went to visit him in his cell, including some distinguished ladies from Paris and “Mr. Legrand, the author of the comedy entitled Cartouche, desirous to share with him the profits of this work, and who gave him 100 écus.” Several engravers came to draw his portrait while the first stories of his life were printed. They sold extremely well all over the country and even in foreign countries.” According to the National Library of France (BNF), the first edition of the Life & Trial of Cartouche... was published by Machuel, in Paris, in 1722. It remained a best-seller for more than a century. The BNF thus lists 17 editions, most of which were printed in the first part of the 19th century, outside Paris. The text hardly differs, each book usually features 70 pages or so. The most sought-after editions are those featuring engravings – up to 4 for the most illustrated ones. A late 18th century edition features a woodcut on the title page, of Cartouche tied to the wheel where he was laid in Place de Grève, after he had endured the “extraordinary question” - he suffered the torture of the “brodequins”, which consisted in breaking the bones of one’s legs in a very painful way. He did not give away his accomplices, though – not until he realized they would never come to save him. That did not save him from being put to death, though – but as he had repented to God (as the story goes), the executioner, having broken his last intact bones, discreetly strangled him from under the wheel... they were Christians, after all.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b><center>Hindman Auctions<br>Literature from a Private New Orleans Collection<br>March 19, 2021</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Mar. 19:</b> STEINBECK, John (1902-1968). <i>The Pastures of Heaven.</i> New York: Brewer, Warren & Putnam, 1932. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Mar. 19:</b> FITZGERALD, F. Scott (1896-1940). <i>Tender is the Night.</i> New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1934. $6,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Mar. 19:</b> STOKER, Bram (1847-1912). <i>Dracula.</i> Westminster: Archibald Constable and Company, 1897. $5,000 to $7,000.
    <b><center>Hindman Auctions<br>Literature from a Private New Orleans Collection<br>March 19, 2021</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Mar. 19:</b> GOLDING, William (1911-1993). <i>Lord of the Flies.</i> London: Faber and Faber, 1954. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Mar. 19:</b> SALINGER, J. D. (1919-2010). The Catcher in the Rye. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1951. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Mar. 19:</b> HEMINGWAY, Ernest (1899-1961). <i>The Torrents of Spring.</i> New York: Scribner's, 1926. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b><center>Hindman Auctions<br>Literature from a Private New Orleans Collection<br>March 19, 2021</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Mar. 19:</b> HUXLEY, Aldous (1894-1963). <i>Brave New World.</i> London: Chatto & Windus, 1932. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Mar. 19:</b> WELLS, H.G. <i>The Time Machine, an Invention.</i> New York: Henry Holt, 1895. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Mar. 19:</b> DAHL, Roald (1916-1990). <i>Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.</i> New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1964. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b><center>Hindman Auctions<br>Literature from a Private New Orleans Collection<br>March 19, 2021</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Mar. 19:</b> HERBERT, Frank (1920-1986). Dune. Philadelphia: Chilton Books, 1965. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Mar. 19:</b> KESEY, Ken (1935-2001). <i>One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.</i> New York: The Viking Press, 1962. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Mar. 19:</b> VONNEGUT, Kurt, Jr. (1922-2007). <i>Slaughterhouse-Five or The Children's Crusade.</i> New York: Seymour Lawrence Delacorte Press, 1969. $2,000 to $3,000.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 11:</b> Dorothea Lange, <i>Migrant Mother (horizontal),</i> silver print, 1936. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 11:</b> Group of 32 WWII-era identification badges for manufacturing & military-related companies, 1940-50s. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 11:</b> Julia Margaret Cameron, <i>Alfred, Lord Tennyson,</i> albumen print, 1869. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 11:</b> Arnold Genthe, <i>Portrait of Theodore Roosevelt,</i> silver print, circa 1908. $1,000 to $1,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 11:</b> Edward Curtis, <I>Oasis in the Badlands,</I> toned platinum print, 1905. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 11:</b> Francis Frith, three volumes, approximately 140 photographs, 1860-70s. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 11:</b> Eugène Atget, <i>20 Photographs,</i> gold-toned silver prints by Berenice Abbott, 1898-1927. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 11:</b> Neil Leifer, <i>Muhammad Ali,</i> chromogenic print, 1965. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 11:</b><br>A group of approximately 50 Photomatic selfies of the same man taken over a period of time, 1940s. Estimate $1,500 to $2,500.

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