Rare Book Monthly

Articles - March - 2020 Issue

Books in Weird Places

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Tell me where you were printed, I’ll tell you what kind of book you are. When printing required a “privilege from the King”, it wasn’t easy to print sulphurous works about politics or loose morals. Those were illegally printed abroad (often in Holland), and then smuggled back to France where they were illicitly sold. Of course, the names of the author and printers didn’t appear on the title page—many printers were sent to prison, some were killed over forbidden books. It was indeed a serious business. To send the police of books on wrong paths, some printers indicated a forged place of publication, usually some remote country populated with heretics—Pierre Marteau, in Cologne; Nourse, in London, Genève, etc. Of course, everyone knew about it. To print a book “At Pierre Marteau’s” was a sure way to attract the attention of the readers in search of uncensored ideas. Then, “places of printing” became a space of liberty and a way to pass some satirical comment. Here are a few examples of the weirdest places books have been printed.

 

Religion

 

Approbations were from a long religious tradition, as the Church couldn’t stand books challenging its authority. Thus, many pamphlets against religion were printed in strange places, including Hell—such was the case for the Almanach pour l’année du diable (The Devil’s Almanach), in 1737. This one had no privilege, but was duly approved by “Demogorgon, Belzebuth, Satan or Magog...” It was even registered in the “inferno’s library.”

 

Another book was printed in Hell in 1740, the anonymous Lettres infernales... (Inferno’s Letters...).

 

And when Pierre Sylvain Maréchal put out his Fragments d’un poème moral sur Dieu (Fragments of a moral poem about God), in 1781, he had it printed it at Atheopolis, the first year “of the reign of Reason”—which was yet to come.

 

Strange things were happening in the convents as well, as related in Les Gaillardises du Frère Maurice (Father Maurice’s bawdiness), the honourable member of the “the benevolent religious order of the defrocked monks”. Of course, this book was not printed in Paris, but “At their sisters’ parlours”—the most suited place, I guess.

 

Le Chien après les moines (Dogs Sent After Monks) was also approved by a “bunch of defrocked monks”, who had “just arrived in Holland”—a Protestant country, closest place to Hell on Earth. It was printed “At The Temple of Truth”, and sponsored by “The Quakers”—another bunch of heretics—in 1784. This anticlerical satire, sometimes attributed to Mirabeau, features a passage where a monk forces a young woman to precisely confess her sinful occupations. As Jesus would say: hate the sin, love the sinner.

 

Politics

 

What was going on at Court had to remain at Court—yet some bold authors told us about it, including about the way to “make it” (Moyen de Parvenir), or to reach your goals. And there was no better place to print this one but “No Where”—it was printed in 100070039.

 

As far as the satirical La Berlüe, ou nouvelles découvertes sur l’optique (Hallucinations, or new discoveries about optics) is concerned, it was printed in London, At the Lynx’—and it sure gives a good glimpse into the human heart.

 

La Musique du diable (The Devil’s Music) is another political pamphlet published in 1706. Where? At “Robert The Turk’s”, who then resided on “Inferno Street”, as expected from a Turk.

 

In 1773, writing a pamphlet against the painter Fragonard over what he considered an ill-deserved honour, Renou printed his Dialogues sur la peinture (Dialogues over Painting) at... Scrawl City.

 

Another author revisited the history of the French Kings in 1777. His L’Ombre Errante, ou Rêve historique... (The Roaming Shadow, of the Historical Dream...) was printed “In The Atmosphere”, on the printing machine of “The Spirits”—a dreamlike book, no doubt.

 

Some printers lacked imagination. La Vie de la duchesse de la Valière (The Life of Duchess de la Valière), was thus printed at “John Of Truth” in 1695—La Valière was Louis XIV’s favourite.

 

Others like the satirist François Gacon had more imagination. His Poète sans Fard (Poet With No Makeup) was thus published at “Freetown”, by “Paul Allegedly-Telling-True” at “The Antique Mirror that Flatters Not’s”.

 

And the Histoire Des Rats (The History of Rats) by Moncriff was duly printed At Ratopolis, in 1738.

 

 

Lewd Places

 

Sex, as always, was leading the march of progress! As curiosa went against good morals, they were forbidden. Les Privilèges du Cocuage... (Privileges of Getting Cheated On) was then published by “John Twit”, at “The Cuckoo’s”, in 1722.

 

Le Bordel, ou le Jean-Foutre puni (The Brothel, or the Loafer punished), was published at “Push-It Hard”—which is very close to “Oh Yes—I can feel it!”—, in 1773.

 

La Gazetier cuirassé, or the scandalous anecdotes of the French Court reminds us that this was a dangerous game to play, as it was published “A Hundred Miles from La Bastille” (La Bastille was the royal prison, in Paris), “At Liberty’s”, in 1777.

 

To publish his Autant en emporte le vent, Recueil de pièces un peu... un peu... on le verra bien (Gone With The Wind, a collection of works a little bit... a little bit... well, you’ll find out), Louis de Boissy went to “Bawdy City”—where else? Foretelling that people would travel there to buy his book, he told them exactly where to find some copies: “In the hands of those who’ll buy it.” We thereby approve his clear indication.

 

These are, of course, but a very few examples. As we can see, reading will take you places you’d never even dreamed of.

 

T. Ehrengardt


Posted On: 2020-03-19 02:23
User Name: mairin

An interesting assemblage of information,
many thanks for this. Shall go through it at leisure.
Promises to be a rather different kind of resource.
(I had hoped to see more information on subversive,
atheistic texts, printed / published in Holland.)
Maureen E. Mulvihill.
__


Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries, May 12:</b> <i>Westvaco–Inspirations for Printers,</i> 3 volumes, 1938-61. $200 to $300.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, May 12:</b> Proef van Letteren, <i>Welk gegooten worden in de Nieuwe Haerlemsche Lettergietery,</i> 1768. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, May 12:</b> Paul Klee, <i>Bauhaus Ausstellung Juli – Sept.,</i> Weimar, 1923. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, May 12:</b> Michel Seuphor & Jozef Peeters, <i>Het Overzicht Nos.</i> 22-23-24, Antwerp, 1922. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, May 12:</b> Wolfrum & Co., <i>Modern Graphik, Serie I…,</i> complete portfolio, 1909. $1,200 to $1,800.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, May 12:</b> <i>Gravure et Fonderie deC. Derriey: Specimen-Album,</i> Paris, 1862. $5,000 to $7,500.
  • <b><center>Sotheby’s<br>Science: Books and Manuscripts<br>15-25 May 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, 15-25 May:</b> Mary Anning. Autograph letter signed, to William Buckland, 24 November 1834. £50,000 to £70,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 15-25 May:</b> Bolyai. <i>Scientiam spatii absolute veram exhibens,</i> Maros Vásárhelyi, 1832-1833, 2 volumes, half calf. £50,000 to £70,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 15-25 May:</b> Vesalius.<br><i>De humani corporis fabrica,</i> Basel, 1555, modern crushed burgundy morocco. £15,000 to £20,000.
    <b><center>Sotheby’s<br>Science: Books and Manuscripts<br>15-25 May 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, 15-25 May:</b> Copernicus.<br><i>De revolutionibus orbium coelestium,</i> Nuremberg, 1543, later boards, Rostock duplicate. £70,000 to £100,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 15-25 May:</b> Payan-Dumoulin. Profusely illustrated manuscript of fossils, France, c.1875-1979. £15,000 to £20,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 15-25 May:</b> Albert Einstein. Autograph letter signed, to his son Albert, 4 November [1915]. £10,000 to £15,000.
  • <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Images of Angling:<br>The David Beazley Collection<br>of Angling Prints<br>Online Sale<br>20th May 2021</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 20:</b> Alken (Henry), after. Salmon Fishing; Fishing in a Punt; Pike Fishing, three works, 1820. £600 to £800.
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 20:</b> Early Images of Angling.- Hollar (Wenceslaus) Angling; River Fishing; and Salmon Fishing, after Francis Barlow, 3 engravings, [c. 1671]. £500 to £700.
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 20:</b> Rolfe (Henry Leonidas). <i>Studies of Fresh Water Fish,</i> 1851. £500 to £700.
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Images of Angling:<br>The David Beazley Collection<br>of Angling Prints<br>Online Sale<br>20th May 2021</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 20:</b> Morland (George), After. A Party Angling; The Anglers' Repast, a pair, mezzotints, 1789. £400 to £600.
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 20:</b> Pollard (James), After. Bottom Fishing; Anglers Packing Up, etchings with aquatint, 1831. £400 to £600.
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 20:</b> Angling's Age of Romance.- Sayer (Robert, publisher) & J. Bennett. The Angelic Angler, mezzotint, 1781; and another. £300 to £400.
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Images of Angling:<br>The David Beazley Collection<br>of Angling Prints<br>Online Sale<br>20th May 2021</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 20:</b> Fishing Satire.- London.- Roberts (Piercy). Patience at Paddington or angling in the Junction Canal, etching after Woodward, 1807; together with Woodward's 'Angling at Sadler's Wells', and another, 1794. £300 to £400.
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 20:</b> Fishing Satire - Cats Fishing.- Seymour (Robert). Waltonizing or - Green-land Fisherman, [c. 1830s]; together with 3 lithographs of cats fishing, [c. 1830s]. £300 to £400.
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 20:</b> Fishing Portraits.- Zoffany (Johan), After. Master James Sayer, at the age of 13, mezzotint by Richard Houston, 1772. £300 to £400.
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Images of Angling:<br>The David Beazley Collection<br>of Angling Prints<br>Online Sale<br>20th May 2021</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 20:</b> Wilkinson (Norman). Come to Britain for Fishing, lithographic poster, [c. 1947]. £300 to £400.
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 20:</b> Scottish Fishing.- Heath (William). Sporting in the Scottish Isles no. III. Salmon Fishing, 1835; and another. £150 to £200.
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 20:</b> Simpson (Joseph). The Border Angler, drypoint, [c. 1927]. £150 to £200.

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