DEBURE, Guillaume-François (1731-82). Museum Typographicum seu collectio in quâ, omnium ferè librorum in quâvis facultate ac linguâ rariorum, rarissimorum notatû que dignissim. accuratè recensentur. Paris: Debure le Jeune, [February] 1755.
8o and 12o (162 x 94 mm). Collation: \Kp\k1 (8o, title), A-D6 (12o, text, D5-6 blank). Complex type-ornament title-border, one type-ornament headpiece. (Short tear in several inner margins.) Contemporary gold-tooled citron morocco, perhaps by Derome le Jeune, triple fillet round sides, arms of Michel de Léon in the center (Olivier 1655), flat spine decorated by the repetition of a small tendril tool, black longitudinal lettering piece, roll-tooled turn-ins, marbled endpapers, gilt edges. Provenance: François Michel (1727-1800), who styled himself Michel de Léon from 1775 onwards, treasurer general of Provence; arms on binding and armorial bookplate. His finely bound books mainly relating to Provence were sold in 1834 -- Hans (Jean) Furstenberg (1890-1982), bookplate.
FINELY BOUND COPY OF ONE OF THE GREATEST RARITIES IN BIBLIOGRAPHICAL AND ANTIQUARIAN BOOKTRADE LITERATURE, signed and dated by the author "G.F. Debure mense Februario Perfecit" and priced by him in manuscript throughout. Traditionally the number of copies to which the edition was limited is given as twelve (Brunet, Bigmore and Wyman, Viardot, etc.). Whether or not this is precisely true, there can be no doubt that the booklet is virtually unobtainable on the open market. It is equally traditional to describe it as a forerunner or trial balloon, premier crayon, of Debure's landmark publication in the history of bibliophily, Bibliographie instructive, and as having been financed by that paragon of 'haute bibliophilie', Louis-Jean Gaignat. There appears to be no evidence for Gaignat's involvement other than that he became an important client of Debure's, who integrated the Gaignat sale catalogue of 1769 with his Bibliographie instructive (see following lot). No copy of Museum Typographicum was even offered in the Gaignat sale.
The most likely explanation of this intriguing and elusive short-title catalogue is that it was compiled by the young Debure as a highly exclusive advertisement of books that he could supply from his extended family stock and other sources. Although this alphabetical list of 510 books printed between 1457 (the first Mainz Psalter) and 1737 contains many rarities, including special issues on vellum and large paper, there seems to be little there that the Debures could not have found in the treasure house that was the 18th-century French book market. The figures marked in manuscript are therefore more probably concrete prices than theoretical estimates. There is some optimistic or careless cataloguing: what to think of the "1464" Sorbonne Press Latin Bible or a "1444" Basel Reformatorium Clericorum? Brunet II, 554; J. Viardot, "Livres rares et pratiques bibliophiliques," in: Histoire de l'édition française II, p. 459.