Roger Gaskell Rare Books

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THE ENLIGHTENMENT LIBRARY – THE BEST BOOKS.

FORMEY, Jean-Henri-Samuel (1711–1797); Bruzen de La Martinière, Antoine Augustin (1662–1746)

Conseils pour former une bibliothèque peu nombreuse mais choisie . Nouvelle édition, corrigée et augmentée. Suivie de l’introduction générale à l’etude des sciences & belles-lettres par M. de la Martiniere

Berlin: chez Haude et Spener, M.DCC.LVI. à la science, 1756
8vo: a8 b4 A–2A8, 204 leaves, pp. xxiv 380 4. Small woodcut device on title.
Condition: 164 x 103mm.
Binding: Contemporary mottled calf, gilt spine, marbled endleaves, red page edges. Womholes in joints, small chip to head of spine, corners worn.
Provenance: ‘Ex Libris Vicecomitis de la Maillardiére’, engraved armorial bookplate signed ‘L. Legrand fecit’ of Charles-François Lefèvre de la Maillardière (18th-century), member of the Acadèmie des Sciences et Arts de Dijon. From the collection of Giles Barber (1930–2012), no marks of provenance.
Fourth edition, edited by Abbé Nicolas-Charles-Joseph Trublet (1697–1770) (first edition 1746, second 1750, third 1755). There is an unauthorised reprint of this edition (pp. xx, 352) and a later edition, Amsterdam, 1764, has the title: Introduction générale aux sciences, avec les Conseils pour former une bibliothèque peu nombreuse mais choisie.
£450

The most complete edition of a popular work on the formation of an enlightenment library: not a grand library but a choice personal collection, five or six hundred volumes, enough to keep the owner occupied for a lifetime (p. 7). This was one of the earliest guides to recommend a small collection of ‘best books’. The books are introduced with brief comments, for example, in the Philosophy section, ‘Les Livres les plus agréables & les plus utiles sont sans contredit ceux qui roulent sur la physique; & plusierus excellens Auteurs se disputent ici l’entrée de notre Cabinet’ (p. 23).
Formey, secretary to the Royal Academy of Berlin is best known for the polemics exchanged with Diderot and Voltaire. A list of 58 of his works is printed at the end of the prelims. This edition of his Conseils includes for the first time a reprint of Bruzen de la Martinière’s Introduction générale à l'étude des sciences et des belles-lettres en faveur des personnes qui ne savent que le françois (The Hague, 1731).
In this copy the contemporary owner, a member of the Dijon Academy of Science and Belles Lettres, has marked-up the text, perhaps indicating the books he had purchased or intended to purchase.
Keywords:     bibliography    library history