Michel Bouvier has issued Catalogue 80. Livres en divers genres, quelque autographes (books in diverse subjects, some autographs). You may have already guessed most of these books are written in French. Good guess. The same is true of the catalogue. Bouvier is a Paris bookseller, but thanks to catalogues and the internet, their customers can come from anywhere, including your hometown. If antiquarian French books are your specialty, or any of the myriad subjects covered herein, there is likely something for you. This is a small sample of what is offered.
I don't think anyone has surpassed the caricatures of animals created by French illustrator Jean Grandville in the 19th century. His animals participated in distinctively human behaviors, often looked part animal and part human. It was an exceptional way of delivering observations on people through satire, made humorous by his exceptional drawings. In 1842, publisher P. J. Hetzel put out a compilation of many of Grandville's illustrations, adding text contributed by himself, under the pseudonym P. J. Stahl, and others. In the Preface, Hetzel explained, his objective was “to give word to Grandville's marvelous animals, and to join our pen with his pencil, thereby coming to his assistance in criticizing the aberration of our epoch, and by preference among these aberrations, those which are of every period and every country.” He had help in giving word to Grandville's art by names like Balzac, Lemoine, Nodier, Janin and George Sand. The book is Scenes de la Vie Privee et Publique des Animaux (Scenes from the Private and Public Lives of Animals), a first edition in two volumes published in 1842. Item 115. Priced at €950 (euros, or approximately $1,023 in U.S. dollars).
Jacques Ballexserd was an 18th century Geneva physician who had some pioneering ideas in terms of children's health. Item 12 is an obscure, posthumous book he wrote that was published in 1775: Dissertation sur cette question: Quelles sont les causes principales de la mort d'un aussi grand nombre d'enfans: & quels sont les préservatifs les plus efficaces & les plus simples pour leur conserver la vie? That translates to “Dissertation on this question: What are the main causes of the death of such a large number of children: & what are the most effective & simplest ways to preserve their lives?” Rather than cures, he focused on being healthy. He was a pioneer in what has become known as physical education for children, the teaching of various exercises, along with proper hygiene, a good diet and proper dress to build a healthy body. He is best known for a prize-winning essay published in 1762 on the importance of physical education for the young. €560 (US $604).
Next is Nouveau Voyage dans les États-Unis de l'Amérique septentrionale, fait en 1788 (New Voyage in the United States of North America, made in 1788), published in 1791. The author was Jacques-Pierre Brissot de Warville, a man of radical views for his time, before the French Revolution. He had already spent time in prison for those views when he founded an antislavery society. On their behalf, and with investment interests in mind as well, he traveled to America in 1788. He met Washington and Madison, returning several months later believing that, despite slavery, America had positive features to employ in the French Revolution. He was elected to the Assembly as a leader of the Girondists, at one point relatively radical, but as the Revolution spun out of control, he came under attack. Brissot came back from America thinking of emigrating there with his family. He should have. He was guillotined during the Reign of Terror. This book gives his earlier views of America. Item 44. €1,200 (US $1,296).
Here is the account of another French traveler who came to America. Fortunately, he returned home to a better situation, allowing Théodore Pavie to live for another 66 years after his return, or 62 years longer than did Brissot. He was only 18 when he visited, and later wrote about it in Souvenirs Atlantique. Voyage aux Etats-Unis et au Canada (Atlantic Memories. Voyage to the United States and Canada), published in 1833. He sailed to New York in 1829, later headed north to Canada, and then south to Louisiana and Texas. He visited Texas in the aftermath of the Fredonian Rebellion, an earlier attempt at independence involving Mexican national and Indian tribes more than American settlers. Nevertheless, there was tension as Mexico became concerned with the direction of its sometimes wayward province. Pavie met with a Cherokee Chief and hunted along the Mississippi. He returned home in 1830, but later would travel to South America, the Middle East, and India. He learned nine languages along the way. He also found time to become an accomplished sculptor. Item 176. €500 ($541).
Antoine Deparcieux was a French mathematician who is best known for his pioneering work in developing longevity tables, essential for such things as annuities. He gathered together much demographic information and lifetime records so as to compute the first reasonably accurate tables of life expectancy at various ages for different people. His book is Essai sur les Probabilités de la Durée de la Vie Humaine (Essay on the Probabilities of the Duration of Human Life), published in 1760. It contains 22 tables and includes a first edition of the supplement with four more tables. His work led to Deparcieux being named to the Royal Academy of Science. Item 81. €2,800 (US $3,030).