LA VALLIÈRE, Louis César de La Baume-Le-Blanc, duc de (1708-80) -- Guillaume DEBURE (1734-1820) [and Joseph Basile Bernard VAN PRAET (1754-1837)]. Catalogue des livres de la bibliothèque de feu M. le duc de La Vallière. Première partie. 3 volumes. Paris: G. Debure the elder, 1783. -- Jean-Luc NYON (d. before 1803). Catalogue des livres de la bibliothèque de feu M. le duc de La Vallière. Seconde partie. 6 volumes. Paris: Clousier for J.L. Nyon the elder, 1784.
8o (198 x 125 mm): vols. 1-3, (220 x 135 mm): vols. 4-9. Part 1 ruled in red, with MANUSCRIPT PRICES AND BUYERS' NAMES; part 2 on BLUE-TINTED LARGE PAPER. With all supplements, errata, tables, price list, and notifications of dates and order of sale in part 1. The index promised for part 2 was not issued, nor was the price list as the auction never took place. One engraved portrait of the collector by C.N. Cochin the younger, five facsimile plates in part 1; engraved portrait of the collector by the same artist, dated 1757, in part 2.
Binding: contemporary French gold-tooled blond calf (part 1 slightly lighter than part 2), triple fillet on sides, flat spines decorated in compartments with small tools, including a small bird and olive lettering pieces, gilt edges, by Derome le Jeune (part 1, unsigned); roll-tooled floral border on sides, spines with raised bands, with massed repetition of a single tool in the compartments and olive lettering pieces, gilt edges, (part 2). Bindings on part 1 somewhat more worn than on part 2. Provenance: Baron du Charmel (bookplates) -- Henri Bonnasse (bookplates) -- Michael Wittock (bookplates).
COMPLETE SET of the sale catalogues of one of the finest private libraries ever formed, whose descriptions influenced French and English collectors (and bibliographers such as Brunet) for many decades to come. Debure's notes on incunables and their formats were especially competent, and the catalogue's treatment of medieval manuscripts presaged Van Praet's great career as expert and successively royal, national, imperial and again royal librarian. For La Vallière's importance as collector and the partial dispersal of his library, see D. Coq, "Le parangon du bibliophile français" in Histoire des bibliothèques françaises I, pp. 317-331. Part 1, containing the most valuable books, was sold at auction from 12 January - 5 May 1784. Hardly less important, Part 2 was sold en-bloc to the marquis de Paulmy, who almost immediately resold it to the comte d'Artois (the future Charles X); since the Revolution, it is preserved in the Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal.
The library had been inherited by the Duke's only child, the Duchesse de Châtillon, who turned to the leading libraire-expert in Paris, Guillaume Debure, for its dispersal and cataloguing. The executor, a M. Bourdot, however insisted that Nyon be involved in the huge task. Mme de Châtillon then divided the library between the two booksellers. The Breslauer set of the catalogue contains a two-page contemporary document, bound into the first volume of the second part, which throws light on this arrangement. It appears to be composed on behalf of Mme de Châtillon, who objected to the wording of the title of part 2, as well as to the claims of M. Nyon concerning his association and collaboration with M. Debure, the amount of time he had spent on the catalogue and his use of reference books and existing descriptions. She proposes an alternative title: Catalogue de la partie de livres de la Bibliothèque de feu M. le Duc de la Vallière, recueillis et destinés à être vendus pas M. Nyon l'ainé. Nyon, however, neither changed the title nor his preface. Taylor, p. 248.