• <b>Forum Auctions: Private Press, Illustrated Books and Modern First Editions. January 30, 2019</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jan 30:</b> Wilde (Oscar). <i>The Sphinx,</i> one of only 25 large paper copies, illustrations and original pictorial vellum, 1894. £10,000 to £15,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jan 30:</b> King (Jessie Marion, 1875-1949). The Lament, pen and black ink on vellum. £10,000 to £15,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jan 30:</b> Leger (Fernand). <i>Cirque,</i> one of 300 copies, Paris, Teriade, 1950. £10,000 to £15,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Private Press, Illustrated Books and Modern First Editions. January 30, 2019</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jan 30:</b> Picasso (Pablo).- Reverdy (Pierre). <i>Sable Mouvant,</i> one of 255 copies signed by the artist, Paris, Louis Broder, 1966. £8,000 to £12,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jan 30:</b> Joyce (James). <i>Ulysses,</i> one of only 250 copies signed by both the author and artist, 6 etchings by Matisse, New York, Limited Editions Club, 1935. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jan 30:</b> Golden Cockerel Press.- <i>Four Gospels of the Lord Jesus Christ (The),</i> one of 500 copies, wood-engravings by Eric Gill, Laurence Hodson's copy, 1931. £5,000 to £7,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Private Press, Illustrated Books and Modern First Editions. January 30, 2019</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jan 30:</b> Camus (Albert). <i>The Stranger,</i> first American edition, signed presentation inscription from the author, New York, 1946. £5,000 to £7,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jan 30:</b> Greenhill (Elizabeth, binder).- Flint (Sir William Russell). <i>In Pursuit: An Autobiography,</i> limited edition signed by Francis Russell Flint, 1969. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jan 30:</b> Cranach Press.- Shakespeare (William). <i>The Tragedie of Hamlet Prince of Denmarke,</i> one of 300 copies, Janet Leeper's copy signed by Edward Gordon Craig, 1930. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Private Press, Illustrated Books and Modern First Editions. January 30, 2019</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jan 30:</b> Gray (John). <i>Silverpoints,</i> first edition, one of 25 large paper copies, initials and original vellum bidning designed by Charles Ricketts, 1893. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jan 30:</b> Kelmscott Press.- Design for the frontispiece to 'A Dream of John Ball', pen & black ink over pencil and heightened with Chinese white, 1892. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jan 30:</b> Crowder (Henry). <i>Henry Music…</i> Poems by Nancy Cunard, Richard Aldington, Walter Lowenfels…, first and only edition, one of 100 copies signed by Crowder and additionally inscribed by him, 1930. £1,500 to £2,000
  • <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>
  • <b>Potter & Potter Auctions: Fine Books & Manuscripts. February 2, 2018</b>
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, Feb. 2:</b><br>Lot 230: Charles Bukowski. <i>South of No North.</i> Los Angeles, 1973. First edition. Signed. $1,500 to $2,000
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, Feb. 2:</b><br>Lot 244: Aldous Huxley. <i>Brave New World.</i> Garden City, 1932. First American edition. Signed. $2,500 to $3,500
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, Feb. 2:</b><br>Lot 10: Frank Lloyd Wright. “Fallingwater Side Elevation” Original Blueprint. $1,500 to $2,500
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions: Fine Books & Manuscripts. February 2, 2018</b>
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, Feb. 2:</b><br>Lot 169: <i>Chicago’s Progress: A Review of the World’s Fair City.</i> Chicago: Bishop Publishing, (1933). $150 to $250
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, Feb. 2:</b><br>Lot 299: [Tanguy, Yves] Benjamin Peret. <i>Dormir dans Les Pierres.</i> Paris: Editions Surrealistes, 1927. $2,500 to $3,500
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, Feb. 2:</b><br>Lot 276: Jean Hans Arp. <i>Arp: Eleven Configurations.</i> Zurich, 1945. $1,200 to $1,500
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions: Fine Books & Manuscripts. February 2, 2018</b>
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, Feb. 2:</b><br>Lot 235: Joseph Conrad. <i>Nostromo: A Tale of the Seaboard.</i> New York: 1904. First edition. $800 to $1,200
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, Feb. 2:</b><br>Lot 290: Umberto Brunelleschi. Louys, Pierre. <i>Les Aventures du Roi Pausole.</i> Paris: 1930. $1,200 to $1,500
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, Feb. 2:</b><br>Lot 700: X-Men No. 94. Marvel Comics, 1975. CGC 9.0. $800 to $1,200
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions: Fine Books & Manuscripts. February 2, 2018</b>
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, Feb. 2:</b><br>Lot 540: Travers, P.L. <i>Mary Poppins</i> [and] <i>Mary Poppins Comes Back.</i> Signed. New York: 1936. $1,000 to $1,500
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, Feb. 2:</b><br>Lot 576: Mickey Mouse. 17 Big Little Books. 1930s-40s. $300 to $500
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, Feb. 2:</b><br>Lot 429: Paracelsus. <i>Medicina Diastatica or Sympathecall Mumie.</i> London: 1653. $800 to $1,200
  • <b>Case Antiques: Historic Winter Fine Art and Antiques Auction.<br>January 26, 2019</b>
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan 26:</b> Archive of five items related to John Singleton Mosby, the Confederate “Gray Ghost,” including 3 ALS and 2 colored lithographs. $2,800 to $3,200
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan 26:</b> Defoe, Daniel. Double Fore-Edge Painted Robinson Crusoe, 2 Vols., 1820. $800 to $1,000
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan 26:</b> McCarthy, Cormac. <i>Blood Meridian or the Evening Redness in the West.</i> First edition, 1985. $1,000 to $1,200
    <b>Case Antiques: Historic Winter Fine Art and Antiques Auction.<br>January 26, 2019</b>
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan 26:</b> Chagall, Marc. “Le Bouquet Rouge,” limited edition color lithograph. October, 1969. $10,000 to $12,000
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan 26:</b> Stern, Bert. Marilyn Monroe’s “Last Sitting” for <i>Vogue,</i> signed photograph and two books. $1,800 to $2,200
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan 26:</b> Five single fore-edge painted Bibles. $1,000 to $1,200
    <b>Case Antiques: Historic Winter Fine Art and Antiques Auction.<br>January 26, 2019</b>
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan 26:</b> Sander, August. “Painter Brockmann” and “Courtyard Musicians” gelatin silver prints. $2,000 to $2,400
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan 26:</b> after Sheng Mou, Qing Dynasty scroll, landscape painting, ink and color on silk, signature of Wang Hui (Chinese, 1632-1717). $1,800 to $2,200
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan 26:</b> Russell, J. Map of Kentucky, London, 1794, showing Tennessee as a SW Territory. $1,200 to $1,800

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - June - 2018 Issue

Avec Privilège, or Death of A Pamphlet

A0051e56-2438-4b1e-a0e2-1f1536c4f9bb

This is both a very ordinary and extraordinary document! A four-page booklet printed on uncut paper in 1733. There are hundreds of those Arrêts de la Cour du Parlement—official publications emanating from the Parliament of Justice— in circulation, and they are almost worth nothing; this particular one cost 20 bucks. Some are sought-after though; those linked to some historical events or that regard the execution of a famous criminal such as Cartouche or Damiens. The one we’re talking here is about the execution not of a man but of a pamphlet—and boy, that was a serious business!

 

Our “Arrêt”, dated from March 30, 1733, “condemns a libel entitled Letter From Louis XIV to Louis XV, made of eighteen in-quarto pages, to be burnt and slashed by the Executioner of High Justice.” The first interesting detail lies at the top of the front page, and it is to be found inside the decorative cartouche: “Printed At Nantes, by Pierre Maréschal.” At the bottom of the last page, we also read: “On the copy printed in Paris by Pierre Simon, Printer for the Parliament, La Harpe Street, At L’Hercule’s, 1733.” These publications were spread all over the kingdom through a network of official printers: “Some copies of this “Arrêt”, reads the text, shall be sent to the (competent authorities) to be read, published, registered and exhibited if necessary.

 

They were then printed “with privilege”. A “privilege” was the official authorization required to print any work in France. In fact, printing was not originally welcome. In the 15th century, the theologians of La Sorbonne perceived it as a threat to Catholicism. Fearing that pagan doctrines might contaminate Europe through this devilish invention, they asked King François 1st to put a ban on it, which he did, in 1535! Of course, he had to step back after a short while, yet appointing a limited amount of printers as well as some “censors”, who were to read every printed book to make sure they wouldn’t hurt the Catholic faith—hence the famous “privilège” that went along every official book in France until 1789. But it didn’t prevent people from using this powerful weapon in every “war” fought afterwards, from the rise of Protestantism to the destabilization of Cardinal Mazarin—the innumerable pamphlets published against him during the 17th century even gave their name to a sort of literary trend, the “mazarinades”. We know of the secret ways used by writers to send their forbidden works to Holland, where fictitious printers like Pierre Marteau—first an alias of the Elzeviers—would print them, before smuggling them back to France. Pamphlets have always been terrible tools and the government took terrible measures to fight them down—as far as treating them as people.

 

Our “Arrêt” starts with a short and lively introduction: “ Today, the Kingsmen entered (the court room) and Master Pierre Gilbert, lawyer of the said Lord King, (...) declared: Sirs, deeply shocked, etc.” The protocol is quite strict but the judgement shows no impartiality whatsoever. The document calls the incriminated libel “an insolent and seditious letter”, accusing it of committing a “double attempt”; “it dares compromise two holy names in the darkest and most atrocious ways.” The King—Louis XV—, was directly under attack, so he would probably be aware of this decision of Justice. Therefore, the magistrates gave all they had: “Shall we say it? A daring feather attacks the King in person, thus hurting his subjects.” Yet, “since the happy day he was born, the King has been the centre of our affection, of our attention and care; he is so dear to his people, and so worthy to be; and yet some would like to make people reconsider the love they have for him, and the way he inspires them to sacrifice up their lives to him.

 

The pamphlet itself is here despised, but not “the attempt it represents against His Majesty, the dignity and greatness of his state, against the reputation and the glory of our nation,” or “the pernicious example it sets, and that deserves the cruellest punishment.” In this dreadful writing, Louis XIV awakes from the grave to address his successor Louis XV: “Small noises, Sir, do not wake the dead...” But the matter was apparently of importance; even Voltaire quotes this pamphlet in his History of the Parliament of Paris, calling it a “despicable satire.” It is a very obscure text written to “back some ultramontanist claims”, Voltaire says. Of course, it came out anonymously. The author, today identified as Robert de Steuil, criticizes the main Minister of Louis XV, Cardinal de Fleury; but the topic doesn’t really matter. Suffice to say it was an illegal publishing aiming at the King—what is interesting is to see how seriously the authorities would deal with such works. Called a “criminal and heinous work” by the magistrates, the pamphlet was therefore sentenced to “expiate its crime through the fire.” Our document warns all booksellers, printers and peddlers not to distribute this libel in any way—or they should then be considered as lese-majesty criminals! The following day—March 21—, the seized copies of the pamphlet were taken to “the bottom of the great stairs of the Palace” at the court’s opening. One copy was spared and left at the Tribunal Registry. The rest, “in accordance with this “Arrêt”, were “slashed and thrown into the fire.” This was carried out in the presence of several magistrates, including the famous Ysabeau, who signed the “Arrêt”.

 

The operating executioner of High Justice was the same Sanson, who hanged or broke people alive on the wheel when necessary. Thus died pamphlets at the time—almost like men. This almost insignificant sheet of paper is an obituary that reminds us that publishing “sans privilège” (without privilege) was no laughing matter.

 

 

Thibault Ehrengardt

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Shapero Rare Books:</b> Fine Illustrated Books. 50 illustrated works across a range of subjects.
    <b>Shapero Rare Books:</b> Present Perfect. Books & works on paper including Literature, Children’s & Illustrated, Sports & Pastimes, Modern Prints and more.
    <b>Shapero Rare Books:</b> The House of Romanov, marking the centenary of the tragic demise of the Romanov dynasty.
    <b>Shapero Rare Books:</b> CHAGALL & GOGOL. Les âmes mortes, 1948. Chagall’s first major illustrated book.
    <b>Shapero Rare Books:</b> GUSTAV KLIMT, eine nachlese, 1931. An important early monograph on Klimt.
    <b>Shapero Rare Books:</b> ELLIOT. Birds of North America, 1866. One of 200 2 vols sets, folio.
    <b>Shapero Rare Books:</b> PURCHAS. His Pilgrimes/Pilgrimage, 1625-26. 5 vols. Probably the greatest collection of voyages ever published.
    <b>Shapero Rare Books:</b> HUXLEY. Brave New World, 1932. Exceptionally fine first edition.
    <b>Shapero Rare Books:</b> KELMSCOTT PRESS. Poems of Shakespeare, one of 500, publisher’s vellum.
    <b>Shapero Rare Books:</b> LEROUX. Phantom of the Opera, 1911. First UK edition in fine S&S binding.
    <b>Shapero Rare Books:</b> INDIANA, Robert. The American Dream, one of 30 AP copies, 30 screen prints.
    <b>Shapero Rare Books:</b> BENOIS. Tsarskoe Selo during the Reign of Elizaveta Petrovna, St Petersburg, 1910. Deluxe issue.
    <b>Shapero Rare Books:</b> CORONATION ALBUM. Description du sacre et du couronnement de leurs Majestés Impériales, 1883. One of 200.
    <b>Shapero Rare Books:</b> IMPERIAL FAMILY. Signed original photograph of Tsar Nicholas II’s 4 daughters.
    <b>Shapero Rare Books:</b> Souvenir du Couronnement de Leurs Majestés Imperiales a Moscou, 1896.
  • <b>Bonhams: The Medical & Scientific Library of W. Bruce Fye. New York, March 11, 2019</b>
    <b>Bonhams NY, Mar 11:</b> VESALIUS, ANDREAS. 1514-1564. <i>De humani corporis fabrica libri septem.</i> Basel: Johannes Oporinus, June 1543. $300,000 to $500,000
    <b>Bonhams NY, Mar 11:</b> HARVEY, WILLIAM. 1578-1657. <i>De motu cordis & sanguinis in animalibus Anatomica Exercitatio.</i> Leiden: Joannis Maire, 1639. $25,000 to $35,000
    <b>Bonhams NY, Mar 11:</b> BERENGARIO DA CARPI, GIACOMO. 1460-1530. <i>Isagogae breves perlucide ac uberrimae in Anatomiam humani corporis.</i> Bologna: Benedictus Hectoris, 15 July 1523. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams NY, Mar 11:</b> FRANKLIN, BENJAMIN. 1706-1790. <i>Experiments and Observations on Electricity, made at Philadelphia in America…</i> London, 1769. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams NY, Mar 11:</b> BENIVIENI, ANTONIO. 1443-1502. <i>De abditis nonnullis ac mirandis morborum et sanationum causis.</i>Florence: Filippo Giunta, 1507. $8,000 to $12,000
  • <b>Doyle, Americana from the Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson: Online Only Auction. Now thru January 29, 2019</b>
    <b>Doyle, Americana from the Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson, thru Jan 29:</b> HUBBARD, LUCIUS L. <i>Summer Vacations at Moosehead Lake and Vicinity...</i> $300 to $500
    <b>Doyle, Americana from the Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson, thru Jan 29:</b> HIND, HENRY YOULE. <i>Explorations in the Interior of the Labrador Peninsula, the Country of the Montagnais and Nasquapee Indians.</i> $700 to $1,000
    <b>Doyle, Americana from the Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson, thru Jan 29:</b> TOME, PHILIP. <i>Pioneer Life; Or, Thirty Years a Hunter...</i> $1,000 to $1,500
    <b>Doyle, Americana from the Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson, thru Jan 29:</b> CANOVA, ANDREW P. <i>Life and Adventures in South Florida.</i> $400 to $600
    <b>Doyle, Americana from the Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson, thru Jan 29:</b> Photographically illustrated journal describing an 1890 hunting trip to Colorado. $700 to $1,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 29:</b> Leonard Baskin, <i>Diptera: A Book of Flies & Other Insects,</i> Gehenna Press, 1983. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 29:</b> Georg Heym, <i>Umbra Vitae,</i> illustrated by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, first edition, Munich, 1924. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 29:</b> Edgar Allan Poe, <i>The Raven,</i> special copy for illustrator Alan James Robinson, first book from Cheloniidae Press, 1980. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 29:</b><br>W.B. Yeats, <i>Poems,</i> illustrated by Richard Diebenkorn, accompanied by a suite of 6 etchings, 1990. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 29:</b> Georges Rouault, <i>Cirque de l’Étoile Filante,</i> Paris, 1938. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 29:</b> François-Louis Schmied, <i>Le Cantique des Cantiques,</i> Paris, 1925. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 29:</b> Frank Lloyd Wright, <i>Ausgeführte Bauten und Entwürfe,</i> Berlin, Ernst Wasmuth, 1910. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 29:</b> Hans Bellmer & Georges Hugnet, <i>Oeillades ciselées en branch,</i> Paris, 1939. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 29:</b> Wassily Kandinsky, <i>Klänge,</i> first edition, Munich, 1913. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 29:</b> Charles Dickens, <i>The Nonesuch Dickens,</i> limited edition, 1937-38. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 29:</b> Rudyard Kipling, <i>Le Livre de la Jungle,</i> plates by Paul Jouve, engraved by F.L. Schmied, Paris, 1919. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 29:</b> Georges Lepape, <i>Les Choses de Paul Poiret,</i> Paris, 1911. $3,500 to $5,000.
  • <b>Sotheby’s NY, Jan 24:</b> Kingsborough, Edward King. <i>Antiquities of Mexico: Comprising Facsimiles of Ancient Mexican Paintings and Hieroglyphics…</i> London, 1831-1848. $80,000 to $120,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Jan 24:</b> Paul Revere. <i>The Bloody Massacre perpetrated In King-Street Boston on March 5th 1770 by a party of the 29th Reg. Boston, 1770.</i> $150,000 to $200,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Jan 24:</b> Battle of the Alamo. <i>Suplemento al Diario del Gobierno de la Republica Mexicana.</i> (Núm. 326. Tom. IV.). Mexico City: Imprenta del Aguila, Dirigida por José Ximeno, 1836. $6,000 to $8,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Jan 24:</b> The Declaration of Independence. The first book-form printing of the Declaration of Independence. $300,000 to $500,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Jan 24:</b> Treaty of Paris, Ratification. By the United States in Congress Assembled, A Proclamation … Annapolis, [Ca. 16-17 January 1784]. $800,000 to $1,200,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Jan 24:</b> Declaration of Independence. The only known privately held copy of the celebrated William J. Stone facsimile for which provenance can be traced back to a direct ancestor who received it in 1824. $600,000 to $800,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Jan 24:</b> Crockett, David. Autograph letter signed ("David Crockett") to George Patton, announcing his intention to travel to Texas. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Jan 24:</b> Wytfliet, Cornelius. <i>Descriptionis Ptolemaicae Augmentum, Sive Occidentalis Notitia Brevi Commentario Illustrata.</i> Leuven: Johannes Bogaerts 1597. $35,000 to $50,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Jan 24:</b> Schedel, Hartmann. <i>Liber Cronicarum cum Figuris et Ymaginibus.</i> Nuremberg, Anton Koberger for Sebald Schreyer and Sebastian Kammermeister, 12 July 1493. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Jan 24:</b> New York Mets. Baseball from the first victory of the New York Mets. $25,000 to $35,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Jan 24:</b> Robert E. Lee. Autograph letter signed ("R E Lee") as Confederate commander, to Rabbi Max Michelbacher, declining to furlough Jewish Confederate troops for the high holy days. $150,000 to $250,000

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions