COLBERT, Jean-Baptiste (1619-1683); Jacques-Nicolas COLBERT (1655-1707); Charles-Eléonor COLBERT, Marquis de Seignelay (d.1717); and Jean-Baptiste COLBERT, Marquis de Seignelay (1651-1690) -- Bibliotheca Colbertina: seu catalogus librorum bibliothecae.... Paris: Gabriel Martin & François Montalant, 24 May 1728-1732?.
3 volumes, small 8o (165 x 94 mm). Bound by Antoine-Michel Padeloup (1685-1758) for Michel IV Larcher, Marquis d'Arcy in contemporary French mottled polished calf gilt, triple fillets on sides, the arms of the Marquis d'Arcy in gilt at center of each side, spines gilt "à la grotesque," red morocco lettering pieces, marbled endpapers (few repairs to joints).
Provenance: Michel IV Larcher, Marquis d'Arcy (1714-1772, binding); Baron du Charmel (bookplate); Jacques Millot (bookplate).
MANY PRICES in a contemporary hand. Colbert chose as his main theme the history of France. In 1661 he employed as librarian Pierre de Carcavy (d. 1684) who through him became the unofficial head of the Royal Library, and, from 1667 onwards, Étienne Baluze (1638-1718), the noted historian and book collector. Baluze remained in charge of the Colbertina until his retirement from that position in 1700. Colbert left his library to his eldest son, Jean-Baptist-Antoine who gained distinction in the war against Britain as Minister of the French Navy. After his early death the library was sold, for the benefit of his under-age children, to Colbert's second son, Jean-Nicolas, Archbishop of Rouen (1655-1707); under Baluze's guidance, both brothers made valuable additions to the library. The Archbishop left it to the son of his elder brother, Charles Eléonor. He diluted his grandfather's achievement by selling off by private treatise his 6,645 manuscripts, the first 600 of them for 12,000 livres to Meigret de Sérilly (bought by the Bibliothèque Royale in 1748), the bulk for 300,000 livres to Louis XV for his library, and the printed books by auction through the present catalogue.
Of the 18,219 lots, 17,000 were acquired by the Bibliothèque Royale, many apparently before the sale, judging by the absence of price results in manuscript of many lots in this copy. Part I of the catalogue lists the folios, Part II the quartos, Part III the octavos and duodecimos; each part is arranged under the subjects of the bibliographical system originally established by Baluze for the Colbertina and laid out in the "Index Facultatem" on pp. vi-xvi of Part I. According to the preface, the sale was to begin on Monday, 24 May 1728, but was greatly delayed by negotiations about sales en bloc or in parts by private treatise, and finally ended in 1732 after 111 days of public auction. VERY RARE, and unique in a contemporary French armorial binding: according to Olivier, pl. 299, the first owner, Marquis d'Arcy, was Maître des Requêtes. The decoration "à la grotesque" on the spines is characteristic of Padeloup (cf. Devauchelle, La Reliure Française, II, p. 24) and the curved tool employed on it was also used in the dentelle of a binding by him reproduced by Michon, Reliures mosaïquées, Plate XV. Blogie II, col. 2; Brunet III: 1497; Guigard II, p. 152-154; Horne, p.700; North 28 (recording the sale date as 24 May-21 October 1728); Olivier XIII, pp. 1296-98; Peignot, p.90; Pollard & Ehrman 270; Taylor, p.237. A VERY FINE COPY. (3)