1 p.l., v-xliv, 543 pp.; 1 p.l., -829 pp. Two vols. 8vo, cont. sheep (corners worn, head of spine of Vol. II a bit chipped), spines gilt, red morocco lettering pieces on spines, a.e.g. Paris: Barrois, 1763.
The sale catalogue of one of the most important and largest of all private book collections, especially strong in medicine and natural history; Peignot states (p. 97) “ce catalogue est un des plus considérables qui existent.” Falconet (1671-1762), French court physician, was a book collector for more than seventy years and this catalogue contains 19,798 lots (the library comprised about 60,000 books; many of the lots are bundles) of which over 6000 lots are of medical, natural historical, or scientific interest. Falconet came from a long line of physicians and he himself was consulted during the last illness of Louis XIV, and became “médecin consultant” to Louis XV. The catalogue is preceded by a biographical sketch of the collector (including a list of his publications) and bibliographical notes. At the end of Vol. II is a most useful author index of 698 columns.
Falconet presented to the Bibliothèque du Roi (today’s Bibliothèque Nationale) some 11,000 volumes not contained in that library, but reserved their use for his lifetime. They are indicated in the catalogue by brackets (an absolutely unique feature in an auction catalogue). This was one of the largest donations ever made to the B.N. Clearly, Falconet’s gratitude for his appointment as court physician prompted his bequest, one of the largest on record, to the Royal Library.
Diderot felt that the love of books was only pardonable in two cases: 1) “lorsqu’on sait les estimer… 2) lorsqu’on les possède pour les autres autant que pour soi… On peut sur ces deux points proposer M. Falconet pour modèle.”
Very good set. Priced throughout in a contemporary hand. Priced copies are very uncommon.
❧ Gustave Brunet, Dictionnaire de Bibliologie Catholique, col. 457. Grolier Club, Printed Catalogues of French Book Auctions...1643-1830, 169. Peignot, p. 97–“Ce catalogue est un des plus considérables qui existent.” Taylor, Book Catalogues, pp. 55, 114, 132, 190, 228, 240-41.
Item ID: 2562