Woodcut device on title. Largely printed in black letter.  pp. Small 4to, early 20th-cent. calf (stains to the first six leaves, upper edge trimmed touching the first two words of title & headlines of several other leaves), triple gilt fillet round sides, a.e.g. London: J. Kyngston for M. Hennynges, 1580.
Second edition in English (first edition, in French: 1569; first edition in English: 1577), of this notable work: it presents the first business plan published in France. The work was very influential, with many French editions, two English editions, and a German edition of 1615.
The author, Prudent le Choyselast (1530-ca. 1577), a former soldier and royal prosecutor of Sézanne in Champagne, was familiar with the devastation of the French rural economy caused by the religious wars. In this book, Prudent proposes to an impoverished friend that he create a poultry-farming company to regain his lost fortune. The friend could raise hens and roosters and sell the eggs and excess chickens in Paris. Prudent presents the concept of management and a way of calculating the profitability of the planned company in a modern style. While not the first to include “profit” in the title, Prudent goes further than any other writer of the time in emphasizing the importance of the return on investment. He considers the necessary initial cash outlay, costs of feeding the chickens and the transport of the eggs to market, managing labor and logistics, price fluctuations, etc.
There is much on the care of poultry and veterinary medicine. Prudent describes the breeds of chickens, the importance of controlling and treating diseases so that the company will remain profitable, sanitary control, etc.
Fine copy and an extremely rare book; ESTC locates only the BL and Harvard copies in addition to this example. A note written in ca. 1906 on the free front endpaper by Williamson of Quaritch, who was instrumental in providing many of the early printed rarities to the Lawes Library, states, “Very scarce, the only copy I have known for sale, a very valuable book. HW.” Signature of “Will: Forsyth 1810“ on verso of title. Signature on second free front endpaper of Harrison Weir, Iddesleigh, Sevenoaks, Kent, June, 1890, an animal painter and author. Stamp on verso of title of the Rothamsted Experimental Station.
❧ Fussell, “The Classical Tradition in West European Farming: the Sixteenth Century” in The Economic History Review, Vol. 22, No. 3 (Dec. 1969), pp. 547 & 550). Huzard, Notice analytique et bibliographique de l’ouvrage de Prudent Le Choyselat sur les avantages que l’on peut retirer des poules (Paris: 1830). Marco & Noumen, The First Business Plan in France of Prudent le Choyselat 1569-1612 (Saint-Denis: 2015).
Item ID: 6550