• <b><center>Aste Bolaffi<br>Rare Books and Autographs<br>December 14-15, 2022</b>
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, Dec. 14-15:</b> Two first editions by Adrian Spigelius in a Sammelband: <i>De humani corporis fabrica</i> from 1627 and <i>De formato foetu</i> from 1626. €15,000 to €20,000.
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, Dec. 14-15:</b> Splendid coloured copy by Frederick De Wit, <i>Atlas maior,</i> Amsterdam, 1705. €20,000 to €30,000.
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, Dec. 14-15:</b> First edition by Marco Ricci, <i>Varia Marci Ricci Pictoris prestantissimi Experimenta,</i> Venice, Orsolini, 1723-1730. €20,000 to €25,000.
    <b><center>Aste Bolaffi<br>Rare Books and Autographs<br>December 14-15, 2022</b>
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, Dec. 14-15:</b> First edition by MicheleMarieschi, <i>Magnificentiores selectioresque Urbis Venetiarum prospectus,</i> Venice, 1741. €30,000 to €40,000.
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, Dec. 14-15:</b> Magnificent album by Louis-Leopold Boilly, Collection de dessins, calques et acquerelles, 1822. €20,000 to €25,000.
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, Dec. 14-15:</b> Rare musical score by Gioachino Rossini from 1858. €6,500 to €7,500.
  • <b><center>Maison Bibelot<br>Online Only Auction<br>The Bucciarelli Collection:<br>Ancient Books and Incunabula<br>Dec. 6-14, 2022</b>
    <b>Maison Bibelot, Dec. 6-14:</b> Plato. <i>Platonis Opera,</i> Venetiis: a Philippo Pincio Mantuano hoc opus Impressum fuit, Anno d[omi]ni. M.cccccxvii. Die.xxii. Aprilis (22 aprile 1517). €800 to €1,000.
    <b>Maison Bibelot, Dec. 6-14:</b> Francesco Robortello. <i>In librum Aristotelis de arte Poetica, explicationes,</i> Basileae: per Ioannem Heruagium iuniorem, 1555. In folio. €500 to €800.
    <b>Maison Bibelot, Dec. 6-14:</b> <i>Instrumento della compra del Ducato di Terra Nova.</i> Atto notarile cinquecentesco, manoscritto pergamenaceo, con bella miniatura iniziale, composto da 5 bifolio (300x225 mm) scritti recto e verso. €300 to €400.
    <b><center>Maison Bibelot<br>Online Only Auction<br>The Bucciarelli Collection:<br>Ancient Books and Incunabula<br>Dec. 6-14, 2022</b>
    <b>Maison Bibelot, Dec. 6-14:</b> Giovanni Bertachini. <i>Repertorii Bertachini,</i> Venetiis: 1507, 2 voll. (di 3). In folio. Importante post incunabolo. €1,800 to €2,200.
    <b>Maison Bibelot, Dec. 6-14:</b> Paulus de Middelburgo. <i>Pavlina De recta Paschae celebratione: et De die passionis Domini nostri Iesu Christi,</i> 1513. €1,500 to €2,000.
    <b>Maison Bibelot, Dec. 6-14:</b> Gaius Svetonius. <i>Suetonius Tranquillus cum Philippi Beroaldi, et Marci Antonii Sabellici commentariis,</i> Venetiis, 1500. €1,000 to €1,500.
    <b><center>Maison Bibelot<br>Online Only Auction<br>The Bucciarelli Collection:<br>Ancient Books and Incunabula<br>Dec. 6-14, 2022</b>
    <b>Maison Bibelot, Dec. 6-14:</b> Cicero Marco Tullio. <i>Rhetoricorum ad C. Herennium libri IV incerto auctore,</i> Venetiis: Aldus, 1569: €250 to €300.
    <b>Maison Bibelot, Dec. 6-14:</b> Rupertus Tuitiensis. <i>Ruperti abbatis monasterii Tuitiensis,</i> Apud foelicem Coloniam, 1526. Aeditio prima. In folio. €800 to €1,500.
    <b>Maison Bibelot, Dec. 6-14:</b> Agostino Nifo. <i>Destructiones destructionum Auerroys cum Augustini niphi de Suessa expositione,</i> Venetijs: Octauiani Scoti 1497, 1495, 2 pt. in 1 vol. €2,000 to €2,400.
    <b><center>Maison Bibelot<br>Online Only Auction<br>The Bucciarelli Collection:<br>Ancient Books and Incunabula<br>Dec. 6-14, 2022</b>
    <b>Maison Bibelot, Dec. 6-14:</b> Giorgio Vasari. <i>Le vite de' piu eccellenti pittori, scultori, e architettori... Primo Volume della Terza Parte,</i> Fiorenza: Appresso i Giunti, 1568. €600 to €800.
    <b>Maison Bibelot, Dec. 6-14:</b> Hieronymus (santo). <i>Epistole sancti Hieronymi,</i> Lugduni: Per Magistrum Iacobum Saccon, 1518. €1,000 to €1,500.
    <b>Maison Bibelot, Dec. 6-14:</b> Tommaso d'Aquino. <i>Incipiunt preclarissima opuscula diui Thome aquinatis,</i> Venetijs: ingenio ac impensa Hermanni Lichtenstein Coloniensis, 1497. €300 to €500.
  • <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books<br> December 8, 2022</b>
    <b>Swann December 8:</b> Friedrich Justin Bertuch, <i>Bilderbuch für Kinder,</i> Weimar, 1792, 1798, 1802, 1805, 1822. $1,200 to $1,800.
    <b>Swann December 8:</b> Sebastian Münster, <i>Novae Insulae XXVI Nova Tabula,</i> Basel, 1552. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann December 8:</b> Sebastian Münster & Hans Holbein, <i>Typus Cosmographicus Universales,</i> Basel, 1532. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann December 8:</b> Franz Unger, <i>Die Urwelt in Ihren Verschiedenen Bildungsperioden,</i> 16 tinted lithographed plates, Weigel, 1858. $1,000 to $1,500.
    <b>Swann December 8:</b> Charles Varle, Wiliam Warner & Andrew Hanna, <i>Plan of the City of Environs of Baltimore,</i> Baltimore, 1801. $8,000 to $12,000.
  • <center><b>19th Century Rare Book & Photograph Shop<br>Catalogue 195<br>Magnificent Books & Manuscripts<br>Free on request</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop, Catalogue 195:</b> Benjamin Franklin on Electricity. Inscribed presentation copy.
    <b>19th Century Shop, Catalogue 195:</b> Frederick Douglass. Letter on civil war and the end of slavery.
    <b>19th Century Shop, Catalogue 195:</b> Carleton Watkins. A major American West photo album.
    <b>19th Century Shop, Catalogue 195:</b> Einstein. General Theory of Relativity inscribed by Einstein.
    <b>19th Century Shop, Catalogue 195:</b> The Federalist. Rare deluxe thick-paper copy.
    <b>19th Century Shop, Catalogue 195:</b> Emma Johnston. Archive of 350 salt prints by a Victorian female photographer.

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - December - 2014 Issue

Cartouche’s skull, the ultimate trick?

895dd02a-5aaa-44ef-b45a-5eacfeda3164

Cartouche's skull, or is it?

The story of the most lovable French rascal Louis-Dominique Cartouche (1693-1721) became a personal obsession after I first wrote about him on this very website two years or so ago. I had bought an early 19th century copy of his classic biography that brought back childhood memories: the movie of Philippe de Brocca (1963), and especially my gorgeous Claudia Cardinale. But reading many informative and interesting books about the first Public Enemy No. 1 in French history, I felt frustrated by their overall poor literary quality. Indeed, the lives of petty criminals was yet a vulgar topic left to second-rate writers. But that was until I eventually came across Les Amours & la Vie de Cartouche, a fake anonymous autobiography printed at an unknown date (circa 1789), supposedly at London (a printer’s trick to tell the readers his book contained some sulphurous details), by an anonymous bookseller. At last, I could smell gunpowder, hear horses running away through the pages and the laughter of Claudia Cardinale in the background. Curiously, most historians and printers have overlooked this treasure for the past 150 years. That’s what determined me to reprint it a few days ago, adding historical notes and a few rare contemporary engravings (www.la-vie-de-cartouche.fr). Doing so, I led various and thorough investigations that led me to... the authentic skull of Cartouche! This silent and mysterious remain didn’t tell me much about Cartouche’s life, but it told about the incredible story of his death.

 

Cartouche’s ultimate trick

 

Philippe Mennecier, technical supervisor of the collections of anthropology of the Museum of Natural History in Paris, led me through the corridors of his office, just across the Jardin des Plantes. He stopped in front of a metal cupboard, smiling: “Here are our special guests,” he said. Inside, some piles of cardboard boxes, like shoeboxes. “We have several famous skulls here, including Descartes’, and... this one.” He slowly took a skull from its box, and then put it on the table in front of me. Just like that. I was mesmerized at the simplicity of the instant, of the meeting. I had expected—what? Some protocol, maybe? A sort of ritual—but none of that. I felt a bit uneasy in front of the empty stare; a brother’s skull, or Man reduced to his simplest expression. On the left side, a number written in black ink, 24.860; and a name, Cartouche. “So, this is... he?” I said. “Hum, most likely,” answered Mr Mennecier. “But I find André Plaisse’s demonstration quite convincing.” The late historian André Plaisse indeed questioned the authenticity of our skull in 1995: “Nothing, as an historian, predestined me to study this skull,” he wrote. “My work was more about the Hundred Years war, and more specifically the rebellion of Godefroy d’Harcourt and his partisans.” This story takes us to another scaffold, indeed; erected in Paris in 1344 for three rebels who were beheaded on the orders of King Philippe de Valois VI. Their heads were then sent to Saint-Lô to be exposed on the walls of the city where they remained for 27 months; they were put on an iron spit with a hook on the top and a sort of iron plate at the bottom. After all this time spent in the open air, there was probably not much flesh left when the rebels were eventually rehabilitated by the whimsical wheel of fortune in 1346. Their skulls were then buried in the church of Saint-Lô and left at peace until rediscovered in 1734. That’s when they were sent to the library of Sainte Geneviève in Paris, where, according to André Plaisse, one of them was probably mistaken for Cartouche’s skull; the latter having ended up in the same place at an unknown date, and by an unknown way—if it ever did. “We know little about several items that entered the cabinet de curiosités of the library in the 17th and 18th centuries,” confesses Yannick Nexon, head of the department of storage of the library. “It’s true that the abbey of Saint-Lô was a dependency of Sainte-Geneviève and that the priories outside Paris used to send some historical curiosities to the mother-abbey—so why not the skulls of these rebels, if they were in good condition? The skull was probably attributed to Cartouche through oral history. It is mentioned for the first time in an inventory of 1850.” Could our skull be nothing but a fraud—Cartouche’s ultimate trick?

 

Cartouche’s body was still warm

 

André Plaisse thought the authentic skull of Cartouche actually belonged to one of the three rebels of the 14th century, mainly because of the rusty stains left around the top orifice and alongside the jaw. He had them analysed, and the results were convincing. The concentration of rust even proved that “some iron object was stuck into the head shortly after death, when there was still some soft organic tissue around.” The iron stick would have left the stains on the top of the skull while the iron plate those on the jaw. About the confusion between the two skulls, André Plaisse hadn’t much to say: “Why was the skull attributed to Cartouche in the late 19th century? Probably because nobody knew where it came from.” It’s true that the skull left few—and contradictory—traces in its wake. Cartouche’s body was still warm when people started to exploit it: “His corpse was left with the executioner’s jack, who received the orders to bury him,” reads Histoire de la Vie et du procès du fameux Louis-Dominique Cartouche et de ses complices. “But he didn’t follow these instructions (...) For several days, he showed it to the curious. The amount of people who avidly rushed to the scene is unbelievable. The jack asked one sol per viewer.” The jack claimed to collect the money in order to buy the bandit a coffin. But he changed his mind, and sold the body to the surgeons of Saint Côme instead. The Mercure de France of December 1721 reads: “Cartouche’s corpse was carried to Saint Côme; and its dissection became the masterpiece of Meunier Callac, son of Meunier Callac, so expert in rare diseases.” The amphitheatre of Saint Côme, inaugurated in 1693, enabled the students to attend various surgical operations. But history recalls Meunier Callac for nothing but his celebrated miraculous infusion. What did Callac do with the body? Did he send it to the common grave? It disappeared all of a sudden at the time, and I could find no trace of it until 1865, when a peculiar article was published in the news stories section of the Confédéré du Valais: “On the Boulevard Saint-Martin, in Paris, is to be seen not the skeleton but the corpse itself of the famous Cartouche, who died in 1721.” The anonymous journalist claimed to have made some researches, but was probably only quoting the owner of the corpse. Meunier Callac, he wrote, had embalmed Cartouche’s body after the dissection. “The corpse then ended up with Professor Brallouet, who eventually gave it to the Athénée Royal in 1791. In 1793, it was stolen from the Athénée. In 1848, it was showed a third time, then bought by an antique dealer from the Faculty of Medicine, who sold it for 10,000 francs to the man who currently shows it.” The news was reprinted in England, Italy and even in the New York Times (November 12, 1865). But the skull was mentioned on the inventory of Sainte Geneviève as soon as 1850—at least the one we consider today as the authentic skull of Cartouche.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Christie’s<br> Valuable Books and Manuscripts<br> London, 14 December 2022</b>
    <center><b>Christie’s<br> Valuable Books and Manuscripts<br> London, 14 December 2022</b>
    <center><b>Christie’s<br> Valuable Books and Manuscripts<br> London, 14 December 2022</b>
    <center><b>Christie’s<br> Valuable Books and Manuscripts<br> London, 14 December 2022</b>
    <center><b>Christie’s<br> Valuable Books and Manuscripts<br> London, 14 December 2022</b>
  • <center><b>University Archives<br>Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books<br>December 14, 2022</b>
    <b>University Archives, Dec. 14:</b> Thomas Jefferson, Long ALS to Ronaldson "I consider Bonaparte as fighting our battles, and there I wish him success...” $35,000 to $45,000.
    <b>University Archives, Dec. 14:</b> G.A. Custer. PSA Mint 9 Brady CDV Signed with Rank, Best Signature/Pose We Have Ever Seen. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>University Archives, Dec. 14:</b> B. Franklin. 1733 Signed Philadelphia Partial Land Grant Dated Less Than 6 Months After Launch of "Poor Richard's Almanack". $12,000 to $15,000.
    <center><b>University Archives<br>Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books<br>December 14, 2022</b>
    <b>University Archives, Dec. 14:</b> Abraham Lincoln On Executive Mansion Stationery Replies to An Autograph Request! Fantastic Example. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>University Archives, Dec. 14:</b> G. Washington. Free Frank to Maj. Tallmadge Re: Culper Courier. $12,000 to $14,000.
    <b>University Archives, Dec. 14:</b> Albert Einstein ALS, “I am happy to see that a Jew is always 'en famille' wherever his steps lead him on this earth.” $5,000 to $6,000.
    <center><b>University Archives<br>Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books<br>December 14, 2022</b>
    <b>University Archives, Dec. 14:</b> Incredible Utah 1857 Mormon War Period Ft. Bridger Ledger: Afr. American Content, Mention of Armstead, Bernard Bee, RE Lee’s Son, 120pp! $10,000 to $12,000.
    <b>University Archives, Dec. 14:</b> Apollo XI. PSA Mint +9.5 Insurance Cover Signed by Armstrong, Aldrin & Collins, From Buzz Aldrin Family Space Collection. $8,000 to $10,000.
    <b>University Archives, Dec. 14:</b> Booker T. Washington, 17 Pages "Proud of Race...In & out of slavery...It is said that the strongest chain is no stronger than its weakest link." Handwritten Speech Notes. $8,000 to $9,000.
    <center><b>University Archives<br>Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books<br>December 14, 2022</b>
    <b>University Archives, Dec. 14:</b> R. Wallenberg. Signed Schutz-Pass Doc, With Rare Full Signature. $7,000 to $8,000.
    <b>University Archives, Dec. 14:</b> Freud & Jung Together, Most Famous Photo in Psychology History! September 1911, Weimar, Germany. $6,000 to $7,000.
    <b>University Archives, Dec. 14:</b> JFK Oversized Photo with Jackie & Caroline, Signed and Inscribed, Stunning! $3,500 to $4,500.
  • <b><center>Doyle<br>The Collection of a New York Surveyor<br>December 16, 2022</b>
    <b>Doyle, The Collection of a New York Surveyor:</b> Lot 3. Francis M. Maerschalk. Manuscript plan of Philip Minthorne's land in Bowery 3. $2,000-3,000
    <b>Doyle, The Collection of a New York Surveyor:</b> Lot 30. William Bridges. A Map of a Block of Ground situate in Water Street between Walnut and Fir Streets. $3,000-5,000
    <b>Doyle, The Collection of a New York Surveyor:</b> Lot 4. Francis M. Maerschalk. M. Barrack Street/Road from Spring Garden to Fresh Water. $5,000-8,000
    <b>Doyle, The Collection of a New York Surveyor:</b> Lot 46. Love Lane. Map of Land and Buildings the property of Samuel I Tobias Esqr. $2,000-3,000
    <center><b>Doyle<br>Rare Books, Autographs & Maps<br>December 16, 2022</b>
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 157. Stephen King. <i>Christine.</i> New York: Viking Press, 1983. First trade edition, inscribed by the author. $1,500-2,500
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 163. Charles Lindbergh. “We.” New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1927. First edition, Author’s Autograph Edition. $1,000-1,500
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 177. A.A. Milne. <i>Winnie-the-Pooh.</i> London: Methuen, 1926. First English trade edition, first impression. $1,000-1,500
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 196. William Shakespeare. <i>Othello, the Moor of Venice.</i> London: printed for W. Weak, 1681. $4,000-6,000
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 203. John Steinbeck. <i>The Grapes of Wrath.</i> New York: Viking, 1939. First edition. $1,000-1,500
  • <b>ALDE, Dec. 20:</b> VOLTAIRE. Œuvres complètes. [Kehl], Société littéraire et typographique, 1784-1789. 70 vol. €15,000 to €20,000.
    <b>ALDE, Dec. 20:</b> <i>ENCYCLOPÉDIE MÉTHODIQUE…</i> Paris, Panckoucke ; Liège, Plompteux, 1782-1832. 254 volumes in-4. €10,000 to €12,000.
    <b>ALDE, Dec. 20:</b> RUYSCH (FREDERIK). <i>Thesaurus anatomicus primus [–decimus]. Het eerste [–tiende] anatomisch cabinet.</i> Amsterdam, 1701-1716. €10,000 to €12,000.
    <b>ALDE, Dec. 20:</b> [MARCELLO (CRISTOFORO)]. <i>Sacrarum cæremoniarum sive rituum ecclesiasticorum S. Rom. Ecclesiæ libri tres.</i> Venise, Giunta, 1582. €2,000 to €3,000.
    <b>ALDE, Dec. 20:</b> [RABEL (DANIEL)]. <i>Theatrum Floræ, in quo ex toto orbe selecti mirabiles, venustiores, ac præcipui flores, tanquam ab ipsius deæ sinu proferuntur.</i> Paris, Pierre Firens, 1627. €3,000 to €4,000.
    <b>ALDE, Dec. 20:</b> VALERIANO (PIEIRIO). <i>[Hieroglyphica, sive de sacris Ægyptiorum aliarumque gentium literis, commentariorum libri LVIII]…</i> Francfort, 1613-[1614]. €2,000 to €3,000.
    <b>ALDE, Dec. 20:</b> BRUN (CLAUDE). [Cours manuscrit de Jérôme Dandini sur la Physique d'Aristote et disputes philosophiques des étudiants du collège jésuite de Bourges]. Conclusiones physic… 1579-1580. €2,000 to €3,000.
    <b>ALDE, Dec. 20:</b> CLERISSEAU (CHARLES-LOUIS). <i>Antiquités de la France. Première partie.</i> [Monuments de Nismes]. Paris, 1778. €1,000 to €1,200.
    <b>ALDE, Dec. 20:</b> LE FÈVRE (L.-C.). <i>Grand escalier du château de Versailles, dit escalier des ambassadeurs, ordonné et peint par Charles Le Brun.</i> Paris, s.d. €800 to €1,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> KEPLER INVESTIGATES PLANETARY MOTION. KEPLER, JOHANNES. 1571-1630. $400,000 to $600,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> THE FINAL ILLUSTRATION OF POOH AND PIGLET IN THE HUNDRED ACRE WOOD. $250,000 to $350,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> GUTENBERG BIBLE LEAF. $60,000 to $90,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> ORTELIUS, ABRAHAM. 1527-1598. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> KNIGHT, HILARY. "Christmas Dinner at Maxime de la Falaise's" $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> GERSHWIN WORKING MUSICAL MANUSCRIPT PAGE FROM <i>OF THEE I SING.</i> $3,000 to $5,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> GILBERT, W.S. Original typed manuscript for <i>The Story of the Mikado.</i> $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> FINAL TYPED MANUSCRIPT FOR V.C. ANDREWS CLASSIC <I>FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC.</I> $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> ANNOTATED TYPESCRIPT DRAFT FOR KIPLING'S FINAL MOWGLI STORY. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> PRESENTATION COPY OF GUYS AND DOLLS. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> CHARLES DICKENS' CHINA INKWELL FEATURING A BEE READING, FROM GAD'S HILL. $6,000 to $8,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> NELSON'S BATTLE PLAN FOR TRAFALGAR. $200,000 to $300,000
  • <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Age of Wonder<br>Nov. 25 – Dec. 9, 2022</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, Nov. 25-Dec. 9:</b> Darwin, Charles. His definitive statement on natural selection, and his legacy. $600,000 to $800,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Nov. 25-Dec. 9:</b> Darwin, Charles and Alfred Russel Wallace. Darwin announces the theory of natural selection. $250,000 to $350,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Nov. 25-Dec. 9:</b> Jenner, Edward. Autograph letter, addressed to Dr. Wollaston, dated 21 November 1800, discussing the possible ill-effects of vaccination. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Age of Wonder<br>Nov. 25 – Dec. 9, 2022</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, Nov. 25-Dec. 9:</b> De Quincey, Thomas. Autograph letter signed (Thos. De Quincey). "A conclusive experiment on the profit of leaving of leaving off opium.” $6,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Nov. 25-Dec. 9:</b> Melville, Herman. <i>Moby-Dick; or, The Whale.</i> New York: Harper & Brothers, 1851. “And God created great whales.” $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Nov. 25-Dec. 9:</b> Foote, Eunice Newton. "Circumstances affecting the heat of the sun's rays," [In:] <i>The American Journal of Science and Arts…</i> New York, 1856. $8,000 to $12,000.

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions