The library of Alfred de Musset, auction catalogue with handwritten prices and remarks, 1881
CATALOGUE DES LIVRES COMPOSANT LA BIBLIOTHÈQUE DE MM. ALFRED ET PAUL DE MUSSET. [283 lots, all with handwritten results, some with notes or names of buyers at margins.] Paris: 1881.
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Alfred and Paul de MUSSET; Adolphe LABITTE, Librairie: CATALOGUE DES LIVRES COMPOSANT LA BIBLIOTHÈQUE DE MM. ALFRED ET PAUL DE MUSSET. La vente aura lieu les Vendredi 7 et Samedi 8 octobre 1881 (…) Hôtel des Commissaires-Priseurs, rue Drouot (…) [283 lots, all with handwritten results, some with notes or names of buyers at margins.] Paris: Adolphe Labitte (Chamerot) 1881.
8°. 39  pages. Letterpress and cliché. Private vellum with gilt title imprint, original wrappers incorporating publisher's emblem bound in.
Scarce original catalogue of a Paris book auction dedicated to the personal library of prominent French writer Alfred de Musset (died in 1857) and his older brother Paul, a writer on his own, who obviously inherited Alfred’s library and died himself in May 1880. About 1 ½ years after Paul's death the brother's personal libraries were offered for public auction at Hôtel Drouot.
The corresponding catalogue lists 283 positions of books, prints and manuscripts from the 16th, 17th and 18th century in the fields of theology, science and chess (!), the arts, history, biography and encyclopaedia. The biggest section of lots, where of many with exhaustive annotations (e.g. stating in numerous cases author's dedications to Alfred de Musset), regards the field of literature and linguistics (lots 45-228), including mostly first editions and luxury copies of the works of the Musset brothers themselves. Pos. 221 e.g. states an illustrated luxury edition of Alfred's »Œuvres Complètes« (1866), here the personal copy of Paul „sur grande PAPIER DE HOLLANDE et avec les figures AVANT LA LETTRE“ (315 Francs). The top lot of the auction was a Sammelband with Beaumarchais' trilogy of comedies »Le roman de la famille Almaviva« (1785 and 1793), sold for 400 Francs.
All lots have scrupulously noted results (incl. the few bought ins), written with black ink by the same hand. Additionally names of buyers or remarks concerning condition, completeness or bibliographical details are also noted in some cases. The Musset library also contained many items of personal or family relevance, e.g. a manuscript titled »Les Chats, recueil d'ouvrages en prose et en vers«, which, according to the notes, was bought by „Mme. Lardier, soeur d'A. de Musset« and was originally a „Recueil fait par le grand Pére maternel d'A. de Musset“.
Vellum cover minimally worn, paper wrapper with minor tear at bottom margin, otherwise very well preserved copy of this unique item, particularly interesting due to previously unknown information for Musset scholars.
WoldCat, KVK and viaLibri Librairies show only 13 holdings of this auction catalogue worldwide (BL, UCL, BnF (3 copies) and copies in 4 other French libraries, UB Passau, Kungliga biblioteket of Sweden, Princeton and Yale), however only one with hand-written price remarks (Institut de France, Paris).