Tag Archives: Collection of publishers’ prospectuses catalogs and other materials

Spotlight Exhibit on French pamphlets opens!

We are pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibition highlighting the French pamphlet collections cataloged as part of our project: the French Revolution Collection (FRC), Louis XVI Trial and Execution Collection, Saint-Sulpice Collection, and Collection of publishers’ prospectuses, catalogs, and other materials.  Politics, Piety, and Poison: French Pamphlets, 1600-1800 is one in a series of Spotlight Exhibits curated by Newberry Library staff that highlight a diverse range of items in the Library’s collection.  The exhibition closes April 13, 2013.  For those who are unable to visit, an online version of the exhibition is in the works.

Politics, Piety, and Poison: French Pamphlets, 1600–1800

Case FRC 16228, La guillotinne
Case FRC 16228, La guillotinne
Monday, January 28, 2013 to Saturday, April 13, 2013

Hermon Dunlap Smith Gallery

This exhibition displays French pamphlets published during the transitional period from the Ancien Régime to the French Revolution. They served as modes of dissemination and diversion, teaching tools and educational models, and the foundation for current and future scholarly projects. The exhibition focuses on the ways in which these pamphlets complement and enhance the Newberry’s other vast collections of primary sources documenting early modern European culture and the history of printing. The Newberry’s outstanding collection of French pamphlets was recently cataloged through a grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources.

Spreading the word: connecting scholars with primary sources

On Saturday I had the great privilege of speaking about our French pamphlet cataloging project at the annual Center for Renaissance Studies Consortium representative meeting at the Newberry Library.  The Center for Renaissance Studies develops and facilitates programming that connects scholars with the Newberry’s vast collections of late medieval, Renaissance, and early modern materials.

I briefly described the four core collections of French pamphlets that are part of our cataloging project and showed images of many representative examples.  I heard an audible gasp when I mentioned how many items we have cataloged in fewer than three years: 22,300 (and still counting!).  The collections in aggregate span the 16th to the early 19th centuries and cross many different genres including funeral orations, political discourses, broadsides, plays, songs, and satires.  Because of the breadth and volume of these pamphlet collections, scholars have a deep and rich treasure trove of primary source documents with which they can approach research from a variety of perspectives, including social and political history, biography, and  literary criticism.

Several representatives approached me or contacted me after the meeting to share their enthusiasm for the research potential of our pamphlet collections, whether for their own research or for that of their colleagues.  To view records for all of the cataloged items within a particular collection, click the links below.  Bonnes recherches!

French Revolution Collection (FRC)

Louis XVI Trials and Execution Collection

Saint-Sulpice Collection

Collection of publishers’ prospectuses, catalogs, and other materials

Reference sources for French printing and publishing

One of the Newberry Library‘s core collection strengths is the history of printing and the books arts.  Notable among the Newberry’s core collections is the John M. Wing Foundation on the History of Printing, which includes more than 100,000 volumes of technical literature and periodicals, 600 cubic feet of archival material, 650 calligraphic manuscripts and 2,100 printed volumes on calligraphy, 68,000 volumes of printing samples, and more than 15,000 items of printed ephemera.

One of the four pamphlet collections that we are cataloging for this project–the Collection of publishers’ prospectuses, catalogs, and other materials–forms part of the Wing collection.  Our other French pamphlet collections complement the printing history materials in the Wing collection and contain examples of engraving and relief printing, provincial imprints, and examples of printers’ devices and type ornaments from the 16th to 19th centuries.  We have used many bibliographies, dictionaries, and other reference sources to research printers, booksellers, and publishers in France, and I would like to share those resources with anyone who may be interested in French printing history.

Arbour, Roméo. Dictionnaire des femmes libraires en France, 1470-1870. Genève: Droz, 2003. (Newberry Library call number: Wing Z305 .A67 2003)

Women printers, booksellers, and bookbinders.  A limited preview is also available online via Google Books.

Barbier, Frédéric. Lumières du nord: imprimeurs, libraires et “gens du livre” dans le nord au XVIIIe siècle (1701-1789). Genève: Droz, 2002. (Newberry Library call number: Wing Z305 .B37 2002)

Printers, booksellers, and other involved in the book trade in northern France.  A limited preview is available online via Google Books.

Baudrier, Henri-Louis. Bibliographie lyonnaise: recherches sur les imprimeurs, libraires, relieurs et fondeurs de lettres de Lyon au XVIe siècle. Lyon: Librairie ancienne d’Auguste Brun, 1895-1921. (Newberry Library call number: Case Wing Z 3239 .L994)

Delalain, P. L’imprimerie et la librairie à Paris de 1789 à 1813. Paris:  Delalain frères, 1900. (Newberry Library call number: Wing Z 3239 .P2131)

A great resource for researching printers active during the French Revolution and the First French Empire.  It is also available online in full via Google Books.

Delalain, P. Les libraires & imprimeurs de l’Académie française de 1634 à 1793. Paris: A. Picard et fils, 1907. (Neberry Library call number: Wing Z 3108 .223)

Desgraves, Louis. Dictionnaire des imprimeurs, libraires et relieurs de la Dordogne, des Landes, du Lot-et-Garonne et des Pyrénées-Atlantiques (XVe-XVIIIe siècles). Baden-Baden;  Bouxwiller: Editions V. Koerner, 2005. (Newberry Library call number: Z145.D67 D47 2005)

Desgraves, Louis. Répertoire bibliographique des livres imprimés en France au XVIIIe siècle. Baden-Baden; Bouxwiller: V. Koerner, 1988- (Newberry Library call number: Z1016 .D48 1988)

Dictionnaire des imprimeurs, libraires et gens du livre à Paris, 1701-1789. Genève: Droz, 2007- (Newberry Library call number: Wing Z305 .D53 2007)

Detailed biographical entries for numerous Parisian printers of the 18th century prior to the Revolution.  A limited preview of the first volume is also available online via Google Books.

Forestié, Emerand. Histoire de l’imprimerie et de la librairie à Montauban. Montauban: É. Forestié, 1898. (Newberry Library call number: Wing Z 3239 .M76)

Printing and bookselling in Montauban, Tarn-et-Garonne, 1518-1874.  Also freely available online via Google Books.

Labadie, Ernest. Notices biographiques sur les imprimeurs et libraires bordelais des XVI., XVII. et XVIII. siècles. Bordeaux: M. Mounastre-Picamilh, 1900. (Newberry Library call number: Wing Z 3239 .B645)

Printers and booksellers in the Bordeaux region, 16th-18th century; in Bordeaux and Gironde, 19th century.  Freely available online via Google Books.

Lepreux, Georges. Gallia typographica, ou, Répertoire biographique et chronologique de tous les imprimeurs de France depuis les origines de l’imprimerie jusqu’à la Révolution. Paris: H. Champion, 1909-14. (Newberry Library call number: Wing Z 3239 .5)

Lhote, Amédée. Histoire de l’imprimerie à Châlons-sur-Marne. Chalons-sur-Marne: Martin frères; Paris: A. Claudin, 1894. (Newberry Library call number: Wing Z 3239 .C355)

Biographical and bibliographical notices on booksellers, printers, publishers, and binders of Châlons-sur-Marne, 1488-1894.   Also available online in full via Google Books.

Lottin, Augustin-Martin. Catalogue chronologique des libraires et des libraires-imprimeurs de Paris, depuis l’an 1470, époque de l’établissement de l’imprimerie dans cette capitale, jusqu’à présent. Paris: Chez Jean-Roch Lottin de St. Germain, 1789. (Newberry Library call number: Wing Z 46739 .523)

Directory of Parisian booksellers and printers, 1470-1788.  Freely available online via Google Books.

Moreau, Brigitte. Inventaire chronologique des éditions parisiennes du XVIe siècle. Paris: Service des travaux historiques de la ville de Paris, 1972- (Newberry Library call number: Ref Z145.P3 M67 1972)

Les Presses grises: la contrefaçon du livre (XVIe-XIXe siècles). Paris: Aux Amateurs de livres, 1988. (Newberry Library call number: Wing Z584 .P74 1988)

Pirated editions in France.

Renouard, Philippe. Imprimeurs & librairies parisiens du XVIe siècle. Paris: Service des travaux historiques de la ville de Paris, 1964- (Newberry Library call number: Ref Z305 .R45)

Répertoire bibliographique des livres imprimés en France au seizième siècle. Baden-Baden: Heitz, 1968-1980. (Newberry Library call number: Ref Z2162 .R4)

Répertoire bibliographique des livres imprimés en France au XVIIe siècle. Baden-Baden: V. Koerner, 1978- (Newberry Library call number: Z2162 .D47)

Thoinan, Er. Les relieurs français (1500-1800). Paris: E. Paul, L. Huard et Guillemin,  1893. (Newberry Library call number: Wing Z 4339 .755)

Biographical notices on French bookbinders.  Also available online in full via Google Books.

Copyright law, contract disputes, and just a little bit of public intoxication

The Collection of publishers’ prospectuses, catalogs, and other materials contains many different types of source material for the study of 18th-century publishing history in France, from book prospectuses and booksellers’ catalogs to laws and legal opinions related to the activities of the book trade.  The third series of this collection is comprised of 25 lawsuits and legal opinions involving publishers, booksellers, and others involved in the French book trade.

Most of the documents address copyright disputes between publishers or booksellers.  In Mémoire pour le sieur Pillot, libraire juré de l’Université de Paris, contre le sieur Le Boucher, aussi libraire en la même université (Case Wing Z 45 .18 ser. 3 no. 24), for example, bookseller Jean-Pierre Pillot brings a lawsuit against his brother-in-law Louis Le Boucher after their joint bookselling arrangement dissolved, alleging that Le Boucher took over the copyright of materials which rightly belong to Pillot.

Case Wing Z 45 .18 ser. 3 no. 13

Devillelles and Balze bring a similar suit against printer Jean-Joseph Niel on behalf of their client Joachim Leblanc in Question a décider pour le sieur Joachim Leblanc, contre le sieur Jean-Joseph Niel, son imprimeur (Case Wing Z 45 .18 ser. 3 no. 13) regarding a contract dispute over the publication of the Courrier of Avignon.  Typical in this series are lawsuits between publishers or booksellers in which one party alleges that the other has published a pirated edition of a book to which the former holds the exclusive copyright.  Premier mémoire et consultations pour le citoyen Leroy, imprimeur-libraire à Lyon, propriétaire d’une édition du Cours d’agriculture, par Rozier (Case Wing Z 45 .18 ser. 3 no. 16) and Question de propriété littéraire (Case Wing Z 45 .18 ser. 3 no. 12) illustrate one such example, in which booksellers Antoine Jeudy Du Gour of Paris and Amable and Michel Le Roy of Lyon dispute who has the right to publish the abbot François Rozier’s Cours complet d’agriculture, théorique, pratique, économique, et de médecine rurale et vétérinaire.

One particularly infamous copyright trial of the early 19th century was the “affaire du Dictionnaire de l’Académie françoise,” in which publisher Bossange, Masson et Besson accused booksellers Nicolas Moutardier and François-Augustin Leclère of pirating the fifth edition of the Dictionnaire de l’Académie française, to which the plaintiff held the copyright.  Bossange, Masson et Besson provide evidence of the defendants’ crime of contrefaçon in Réponse au mémoire des cens. Moutardier et Leclere, contrefacteurs de l’édition du Dictionnaire de l’Académie françoise, acquise de la Convention par les libraires Smits et compagnie, contre les libraires Bossange, Masson et Besson, acquéreurs de la susdite édition (Case Wing Z 45 .18 ser. 3 no. 22).

Case Wing Z 45 .18 ser. 3 no. 8

Delafleutrie debates in Discours prononcé par le citoyen Delafleutrie, substitut du commissaire du gouvernement près le Tribunal criminel, à l’audience du 15 frimaire, dans l’affaire du Dictionnaire de l’Académie françoise (Case Wing Z 45 .18 ser. 3 no. 8) and Second discours prononcé par le cen. Delafleutrie, substitut du commissaire du gouvernement près le Tribunal criminel, à l’audience du 24 frimaire, dans l’affaire du Dictionnaire de l’Académie françoise (Case Wing Z 45 .18 ser. 3 no. 9) whether the French government actually holds the copyright for the dictionary, considering that the Académie française works in service of the government.  Finally, legal scholar Emmanuel Brosselard offers his opinion of the trial in Observations sur le jugement du Tribunal criminel du département de la Seine, dans l’affaire du Dictionnaire de l’Académie françoise (Case Wing Z 45 .18 ser. 3 no. 4), agreeing with the judgment of the Tribunal criminel of the Seine department that Moutardier and Leclère are guilty of copyright infringement.

Case Wing Z 45 .18 ser. 3 no. 17

In addition to such disputes between publishers or booksellers are contract disputes between authors and publishers.  One such notable example is Mémoire pour le sr Augustin-Martin Lottin, l’aîné, libraire & imprimeur de M. le duc de Berry, intervenant & demandeur, contre M. l’evêque de Noyon, le chapitre de Noyon, & le sr Cuquigny, chanoine, défendeurs (Case Wing Z 45 .18 ser. 3 no. 17).  Bookseller Augustin-Martin Lottin seeks damages from the bishop and other religious officials of Noyon for the loss of income he sustained from the suspension of the printing of a new Breviary for Noyon.

More intriguing is a 1764 legal dispute between engraver and type founder Pierre François Loiseau and printer Christophe Ballard, outlined in Mémoire pour le sieur Loyseau, graveur & fondeur de caractères d’imprimerie, contre le sieur Ballard, imprimeur du roi, & noteur de la chapelle de Sa Majesté (Case Wing Z 45 .18 ser. 3 no. 18).  A frustrated Loiseau is incensed that Ballard, who has a long standing, royally sanctioned patent on musical type characters, has accused the former of copying the latter’s characters.  Loiseau includes in his defense a rather tartly worded affidavit signed by several masters of music in praise of Loiseau’s superior music printing, stating, “la musique dudit sr Loyseau imitant parfaitement les plus beaux manuscrits de musique, & étant aussi belle que celle gravée au burin, dont jusquà present nous avons été obligés de nous servir, le public s’étant dégouté depuis longtems de la musique du sieur Ballard, & nous pensons que la musique dudit sieur Loyseau doit d’autant plus mériter la protection des magistrats” (p. 4).

Case Wing Z 45 .18 ser. 3 no. 23

Last is a legal document covering a topic that is considerably less dry than those dealing with 18th-century copyright law: public intoxication.  While this document has nothing to do with publishing, printing, or any other aspect of the book trade, it places a master bookbinder in a starring role.   Sentence rendue en la Chambre criminelle du Châtelet de Paris, qui condamne Guillaume Maillet, maître relieur, à être blâmé, pour, étant ivre, avoir troublé par des grimaces et gestes indécens l’office divin, le jour de Pâques, dans l’église paroissiale de Saint Hilaire, avoir usé de violence envers le suisse de ladite paroisse, qui vouloit le faire sortir, avoir renversé ledit suisse & lui avoir occasioné la fracture de la rotule, de laquelle fracture ledit suisse restera estropié (Case Wing Z 45 .18 ser. 3 no. 23) fines master bookbinder Guillaume Maillet 600 livres in damages to doorman Claude Dunan, who sustained a fractured patella as he tried to eject a drunk and brawling Maillet from Easter Mass at the parish church of Saint Hilaire.  Apparently, his hand skills extended beyond the bookbinder’s bench.

Dictionnaire de Trévoux

While many book prospectuses, considering their ephemeral nature, are little more than simply printed single-sheet advertisements, some are rather lushly printed to showcase the beauty and importance of the book they are advertising.

Case Wing Z 45 .18 ser. 1a no. 109

One such example from the Newberry’s Collection of publishers’ prospectuses, catalogs, and other materials is a prospectus for the 1771 edition of the Dictionnaire universel françois et latin, commonly known as the Dictionnaire de Trévoux after the French city in which it was first published in 1704.

The Dictionnaire de Trévoux was a much-published encyclopedia during the Enlightenment, and precedes Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d’Alembert’s famous Encyclopédie, first published in 1751.  The title page of the prospectus more or less reproduces that of the 1771 Trévoux.  Measuring 36 cm. in height and printed in red and black ink, this prospectus was likely expensive to produce.

Case Wing Z 45 .18 ser. 1a no. 109 (title page verso)

On the verso of the title page is a list of 15 booksellers who comprise the Libraires associés, the publisher of Trévoux.  Considering the expense of printing an illustrated folio 8-volume work, it is likely that pooling resources among several booksellers was the only way to realize this undertaking.

This uncommonly beautiful piece of ephemera showcases the importance placed on reason, learning, and scholarship in 18th-century France and underscores the mounting interest in the encyclopedia as a literary genre during this time.

Paleography Institute Brown Bag Lunch

Last week, the CLIR project staff met with students visiting the Newberry for  the Mellon Summer Institute in French Paleography.   The French Paleography course, directed this year by Marc Smith (École nationale des chartes, Paris)  is one of several Institutes funded by a major grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The summer institutes provide intensive practical training in reading late medieval, Renaissance, and early modern manuscripts in European vernacular hands: English, French, Italian and Spanish.

Even though most of the material we are cataloging through our project is published material rather than manuscripts, we knew that some of the researchers would be interested in our work and the material. Additionally, we do have some manuscript material in the collections and some of the pamphlets are annotated.

For the session, we put together a slide show of some of the (not yet cataloged) manuscripts and annotated items  from the French Revolution Collection (FRC), Saint-Sulpice Collection and Collection of publishers’ prospectuses, catalogs, and other materials.

IRLA show and tell

The Independent Research Libraries Association (IRLA) held a meeting for representatives from their member institutions at the Newberry today.  The final portion of their visit included a sort of show and tell with examples of recent acquisitions and projects from of our various collections, including the French pamphlet collections.  The setup was fun in that each Newberry staff member representing a particular collection or area was stationed at a table in one of the reading rooms, with each table containing some items for display and discussion.  Much like one would do at a poster session, the guests were able to simply walk from table to table in any order to see the examples from our collections and ask questions.  We had items representing the several pamphlet collections that officially comprise the work of the CLIR grant: the French Revolution Collection (FRC); Louis XVI Trial and Execution Collection; Saint-Sulpice Collection; and Collection of publishers’ prospectuses, catalogs, and other materials.  The visit provided a great opportunity to talk about the collections and the work we’ve done so far.

What is a book prospectus?

The Collection of publishers’ prospectuses, catalogs, and other materials at the Newberry Library contains, not unsurprisingly, a large number of book prospectuses.  A book prospectus is a description or advertisement with which a bookseller or publisher hopes to generate interest in a book that he or she proposes to publish.

The Newberry’s collection is comprised mostly of 18th-century French prospectuses, published during a time in which many booksellers and publishers offered books via subscription.  In some cases, the proposed work was never published, whether because of lack of interest or insufficient funds, or simply because it was never written.

Case Wing Z 45 .18 ser. 1a no. 6

Jean Bouillet’s Histoire generale des maladies, described in a 1737 prospectus entitled Plan d’une Histoire generale des maladies (Case Wing Z 45 .18 ser. 1a no. 6), is one such example of a work never completed by its author.  (Cf. Michaud, J.F. Biographie universelle ancienne et moderne (Nouv. éd), V, p. 216.)


Some prospectuses have become complete works in themselves.  French geologist, diplomat, and historian Jean-Louis Soulavie published his Histoire philosophique du progrès des sciences en France (Case Wing Z 45 .18 ser. 1c no. 69) in 1783.

Case Wing Z 45 .18 ser. 1c no. 69

Intended to be a somewhat lengthy (37 p.) prospectus for a work that was eventually never published, it contains an introduction and summaries of the three parts of the proposed work.  A cursory Google search reveals that this prospectus has been cited many times, both in bibliographies on the Enlightenment and in scholarly works on the history or science in 18th-century France.

Time to get ephemeral

This month I joined the French pamphlet project, where I will be principally responsible for cataloging the Newberry‘s Collection of publishers’ prospectuses, catalogs, and other materials.  I have worked as a Cataloging Project Librarian at the Newberry Library since 2008.  I am adding this collection to two others that I am currently working on, one mostly cartographic and the other mostly theological.

Case Wing Z 45 .18

This collection consists of several hundred pieces of ephemera (prospectuses, catalogs, manuscripts, etc.) related to bookselling and publishing, mostly in 18th-century France. Cataloging such ephemeral objects is a special challenge. Authorship and publication information are not always readily apparent. I have been investigating the online catalogs of a few special collections libraries like the American Antiquarian Society to see how other libraries handle the subject analysis of publishers’ catalogs and prospectuses.  Once I have drafted a workflow and template records for myself, I will meet with curatorial staff specializing in printing history to ensure that I’m capturing information that will be useful to users of our collections and online catalog.