Paris: Chez Barrois, 1763. FIRST EDITION. Two volumes, 8vo. (197 x 136 mm). Ad I: [a]4, b-e4, f2, A-3Y4. 1 f., v-xliv, 543 pp. Ad II: A-5M4. 1 f., -829 pp. Contemporary vellum over pasteboard (worn). Vol. II recased, with some damage to head cap and old restorations to spine and lower board, both end bands somewhat worn. Interior: Scattered minor stains and soiling. Item #2132
This is very likely the first book auction catalogue to include a separate chapter of Americana (see Vol. II, 363-368).
19,798 lots, PRICED. ¶ The fruits of seven decades of assiduous and selective collecting, particularly in medicine, the arts and sciences—more than 5800 lots in all branches of science, and a further 1500 in economics, logic and politics. So strong were the offerings of medical books the catalogue is considered de rigueur in the Special Collections at the world's major medical libraries: the Wellcome Trust, the New York Academy of Medicine, Harvard Countway, the National Library of Medicine, others. There are 3,672 lots of medical books which encompasses 202 pages (pp. 249-451). This was tantamount to a bibliography of pre-1763 medicine and is still valuable.
Falconet had 4 Vesalius volumes, to wit: 7279: Examen Anatomicarum 1564 - sold for 1 livre 19 sols. 7280: De humani corporis fabrica, 1543 - bought by BnF before the sale (see below) 7281: Idem., 1568 - bought by BnF before the sale, but in the margin is the price of 10 livres 7282: Eiusdem, Epitome anatomica, 1616 - sold for 1 livre (together with lot 7283).
The Bibliothèque du roi (later the Bibliothèque Nationale) was given right of first refusal on the roughly 60,000 books (many were multi-volume lots), and indeed selected roughly 11,000 for their shelves before the auction; these lots are bracketed.* The catalogue, which was edited by Jacque-Marie Barrois and compiled by Jean Capperonnier, includes a life of Falconet,** a bibliography of his works, a eulogy by Jean le Thieullier, an "Eclaircissemens sur quelques articles de ce catalogue," a detailed table of contents, and a copious 348-page index of authors in two columns.
Falconet (1671-1762) was Medecin consultant du Roi to both Louis XIV and his son Louis XV, and was Doyen des medecins de la Faculte de Paris. Not surprisingly, during his long life Falconet also accumulated an extraordinary working collection of library catalogues and book auction catalogues, the latter numbering more than 150 lots, some as recent as the year preceding his death; included are many notorious rarities. The present copy is priced in a minuscule hand in red ink, with all prices being perfectly legible. The sale realized 39,062 livres, and, as the pricing reveals, there were few unsold lots.
¶ Taylor p. 240-1 (counting 19,179 lots); North 169 (bound in three volumes); Blogie II, Col. 9 (indicating s.m.n.j; other references state 6 March as starting date of sale); Peignot, p. 97 ("Ce catalogue est un des plus considérables qui existent."); Brunet (Dictionnaire de Bibliologie Catholique), Col. 457 (counting 39,962 livres as the aggregate price realized).
*Regnard, E. Nouvelle biographie universelle […] Vol. XVIII. Falconet, Camille. Paris: Firmin-Didot, 1852, Col 39-40.
**Le Beau, Charles. Eloge historique de M. Falconet, lu dans l'Assemblée publique de l'Académie Royale des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, le 12 novembre 1762. Paris: Durand, 1762.