A Collector's Portrait











""'**"">' '"'™'T

Le collectionneur.


3 1924 031 034 923

org/details/cu31924031034923 . the United States on the use of the http://www. There are no known copyright restrictions in text.archive.The tine original of tiiis book is in Cornell University Library.

A Collector's Portrait .




LB COLLBCTIONN^UR A Collector's Portrait Translated from the French of Louis Judicis. NEW YORK THE LITERARY COLLECTOR PRESS 1903 . Mar^nal Frank Illustrations by A. F. Nankivell. Kunz. by E.

copyrig-ht 1903 By The Literary Collector Press Mi^lS .

But do not bite off your beautiful moustache. s bleu . little it. who knows terrible temper. Madame M .! : To My Old Friend Colonel V Aegrotans aegrotanti. My dear Colonel Your your cate this I risk sister. caecus unoculo. has challenged me to dedi- book to you.


How One Becomes a III. Physical and Moral Portrait of the Collector. The Collector of Old Books. Collector. .: CONTENTS I. II. IV. V. Varieties of the Genus Collector. Antiquity of the Collecting Mania.


the ark a pair of Noah. I mention this patriarch. that in assembling in all known animals But no one will mania was if I he had as sole aim the creation of a zoological museum. dispute that the collecting the favorite passion. — of the Egyptians. however. the hobby. — may say so. only it has not been proved.A COLLECTOR'S PORTRAIT ANTIQUITY OF THE COLLECTING MANIA 'npHE first collector of whom is his- tory makes mention as a suggestion. Were . indeed.

who had loved. who had laughed. like those that were later to be found piled up in the patrician cabinets of Rome Galbam auriculis Huraeroque minorem Corvinuni. who w^ept.: they not given to the fad of ancestor collecting? Not only ugly dolls of wax. human beings had who had lived. in their cases of sycamore. sacred properly varnished. Herodotus affirms that in an urgent household case their proprietors did not hesitate to take them to a pawnshop. et nasoque carentem. passed on to the state goods and figured very properly in a legal stock-taking. And these relics. but real personages. swaddled and of tied up. Who knows but that we may find in the .

—these w^ere the dekalitres of the time. clever . also had the collecting mania. the Carthaginians.: tomb of some usurer contemporary with the Pharaohs a papyrus notebook bearing an item of this kind "Lent to surveyor Metmoses one thousand Theban shekels on the body of his grandfather. somewhat damaged. It is certain that after the knights battle of Cannee Hannibal gathered the gold rings of Roman left on the field and filled three Attic medimns with them. my friends. The glorious trophies were buried afterward under the ruins of Carthage. Now One of and then the Arabs find some of them and make ear-rings of them. a Turkish cavalryman." Another African people.

all the gods and goddesses. which the crushed to helmets. What a and was Verres! Pictures. marvels. bought one of these heroic relics from tine. a Jew of Constan- he will die in the persuasion that he possesses the signet-rings of v^milius Paulus and Terentius Varro. among the Romans but from the very beginning it manifested itself with remarkable furious collector statues. intensity. tripods candle-sticks. he piled up pell-mell in the . chalices. all the heroes and all the courtesans of Greece. their gold.in argument. It w^as only a little later that the love of collecting spread . all the divine works of art in and ivory. these treasures. silver soldiers of Mummius for make crests these creations these of genius.

He had collected. attacking with one blow the mania of Caesar and the . would dared to sweep the world as the simple proconsul had done. This a-brac. which resembled the Museum of Cluny in the Quartier des Carines. had the love of curiosities. though he was. too. The Romans ridiculed him and perpetrated many a joke on the subject. ventured to scribble on the . emperor not have rather doubtful reputation his father had left. and yet he. One day a mischievous wag. was the first and most bric- magnificent triumph of Roman Even Augustus.atrium of his palace. a splendid assortment of Corinthian vases but he confined himself to this specialty. in his little house on Mount Palatine.

it is are to be found in nature. however. which. He possessed What a custom- er for the Prince Eugene of that epoch Such a cloak-room one would expect to find in Bajazet's harem. tan. they by three thousand Cloak-room and harem no doubt contained more than one useless treasure. did not use for himself. ego Corintharius. Man- agers of pageants often borrowed his That was how they managed . willingly lent to his neighbor what he finery. Augustus was partial to Corinthian vases. more generous in these things than the sulsay. five LucuUus thousand cloaks. All tastes. said. LucuUus.: ! pedestal of one of the imperial statues this irreverent inscription Pater Argentarius . preferred old toggery. -was peopled houris.

to fit up those "wonderful scenes which alternated. w^ho himself a present of five tables. w^ood ? I And thuja wood! what is thuja it is . alas. the Stoic Seneca. do not know and prob- able that I never will I know all that do know is that thuja-wood grew in it the gorges of the Atlas and that cost the very eyes of your head. made hundred ! Five hundred tables less . Neither more nor w^hat Xiphilin says so. or a tearful drama of Pupius. All tables! of Perhaps you will ask. There was a philcellus osopher. These tables sold by weight. But do not be too hard on Lucullus with his trumpery. on the theatre of Mar- with bear and panther shows and occupied three or four hours in the entr'actes of a comedy of Rubrenus Lappa. You put the .

pan of the balance, silver by the bushel in the other side -when the scales balanced, the dealer took the money and the buyer the goods. Cicero one day indulged his fancy to the tune of one million sesterces But what, in heaven's name, did these people eat on their wonderful tables ?
table in one
: !

Parrots' brains,

I fancy,

gales' tongues, like

and nightinthe Emperor Helio-



one more example of the mania among the Romans. It is proved by the testimony of Dion Cassius and Suetonius that Domitian
I will cite








HOW ONE BECOMES A COLLECTOR A LL the modes which characterize

differentiate the




reader) have their simi-


M. Baudrillart

-would say, in

other species of the animal kingdom.

Thus, as there are animals,

Of the ravenous type, — as the shark;
Hysterical ones,

— as the jack-ass;


—as the monkey —as the trout Mathematicians, —as the crane





So there are animal collectors The ant collects seeds The field-mouse, filberts The dog, fleas The magpie, table silver. But the ant, the fieldmouse, the dog, and the magpie are beasts devoid of fi"ee will, and forced to obey their instinct, as a cuckoo, once wound, is
forced to

mark the

the condition of

Quite different



God has made him
he deliberates, he





he cannot exe-


action, even the




without being driven to


some determining motive.
not always easy to discover.

Only, for

the superficial observer, this motive

When you


one of your fellow-

well organized. Well. But if you should sur- some act which cannot be explained by any physical or mental necessity — like thrumming a guitar before the knave of diamonds—youw^ould torture your soul to divine the cause of what would seem to you a mental aberration. sound body and mmd.beings munching shrimps or spitting a hole. in These are manifestations proper to the sensual stomach and the melan- choly brain. you never think of asking him the reason of so simpk an action. this musical pastime to which a prise one in the perpetration of Spaniard of my acquaintance devoted himself (whose lamentable history w^ill I some day recount) is not more ex- traordinary in sight of a in my opinion than the man. w^eaned at the .

abandoning himself with all gaiety of right time heart. This problem has occupied me for a long time. discovered I have some of the causes which may produce this curious incarnation.and properly vaccinated. the collect- ing mania. it. My inquiry -was based tors. It would be more rational to ask what a man. I on ten collec- have discovered that they . a creature of a loving col- physical or moral catastrophes could lead God. to transform himself into a lector. A wag one day asked by what series of metamorphoses a human being could transform himself into a grocer. wthout being condemned to to this singular passion. and after a laborious and conscientious investigation.

: . One—^from having frozen his nose in Kabylie One from having missed the at Brussels. contracted the infirmity in the following ways Four—from despairing love Two —from political exasperation One—fr om chagrin at becoming bald One—in consequence of a disagreement with his curd. the determining reason of the collecting mania is always some deception or some misfortune.. As I expected. — train You see from these cases that the primary cause. . . .

a praetor named Cippus. sion left This astonishment on the part of the prEetor Cippus was no doubt very natural. what is less so is to find a .in PHYSICAL AND MORAL PORTRAIT OF THE COLLECTOR IV TONTAIGNE. w^as much surprised on awaking. reports that a Roman magistrate. to discover on his brow a triumphant pair of horns. having gone to bed with the impres- on him by the stirring spectacle of a bull-fight. following Valerius Maximus.

not to be denied. that an intense. but note this point. No.— skeptical philosopher like Montaigne It is attributing so strange a fact to the power of the imagination. also. as it that mirror of of the genall in- was called even before the deluge. w^hich serves faculties. question of the the soul. It does not take a very . incessant thought can. in time. pro- foundty modify our consequence. I eral am speaking economy of the body and of the physical organs which are the struments and servitors. and. in the material envelope here not a them as cage. however. Everybody know^s that certain professions imprint very distinctive marks on our bodies. — the interpreters of our passions. it is And please note that face.

: . who has ever seen them? And_ hoAV can habits peculiar to it model our body in hollows or in relief. skillful observer to recognize at a glance A tailor. by the convexity of his tibias A sailor. they are creases which the body acquires by the permanence or the very of certain atti- frequent repetition tudes. These marks are only the visible expression of purely physical causes. by the exaggeration of her soleus muscle. when their im- . by the roll of his shoulders and the balancing svv^ing of his arras A danseuse. A fire captain by the Olympic pose of his head.. But the attitudes of the soul.

admits of neither protrusion? soul. him who has learned to read from the shoulder. as William Flugge. but an optician. a modest manufacturer . How. not a physician or a philosopher. —I mean the entire body.material essence depression nor further. or in the spleen. as Euler has done. And yet it is not to be denied that for it. as you might think. — how can modify in any way the form of a tibia or of an elbow? Grave problem which I do not attempt to solve. or in the tip of the nose. shoulder to the right and from the heels to the — is a book very legible and head. left the human body. can the human it —whether you assign a residence in the brain. sometimes very indiscreet. as I it know not who. I know^ a man.

Show him any sieur. along twenty steps ahead.— pince-nez leisure and barometers. —this mon- who has just elbowed by you and is now jogging for example. the my optician will tell you whether individual in question a drunkard or a gambler. a . How^ do I know ? an impercepcarat or bezique. and in the latter case whether he has a preference for bac- Ask him by what index he forms his opinion and he will say. diagnose with absolute certainty the disposition. -who in his moments has made a profound of these study obscure is matters. tible swelling of the shoulder-blade. seen from the back. passer-by. the aptitudes of the first comer. able to This man. this savant. with nose in air and umbrella under is his arm. the tastes.

that the knee of a stingy man is very different from that of an ambitious one. deviation of the inner this.microscopic ankle. but they are subject. The original of my portrait was commubarometer- nicated to me by my maker. such as I shall present to you. Starting from explain he will readily to you his whole system and in ten minutes you will be convinced. as he is. whose judgment in such mat- . and that betw^een the calf of an entomologist and that of a melomaniac there veritable gulf. not really foreign to mj'- them indispensable to make you accept without opposition the physical portrait of the collector. is a These abstruse considerations may I seem rather consider irrelevant.

. slightly outward. knotty. the bust. stands forth audaciously and forms with the bones of the pelvis an angle of about thirty-five to forty degrees. con- templative foot. and of doubtful neatness. medium. The upper part of his body. His hands are long. He has a turned large. The collector is then indifferently tall. So I begin The collecting-mania is not a bed of Procrustus. or small of stature. — an honest. A well-rounded collector would be a monstrosity. flat foot.: ters cannot be questioned any more than axioms. His neck is like his hands. hairy.

if one excludes is the passion of which he especially the slave. His nose is prominent an embarrassing. Yet this it. His eyebrows constantly raised. himself distinguishes by negative qualities. but simply properties. I heard of one secreted whose mucous membrane calcareous deposit. smooth and His eyes large. His ears are spreading and mobile. noisy. dull. . To speak frankly. he has neither vices nor virtues. a — a function of the flabby brain madrepore.His brow shiny. As to moral the collector qualities. like inanimate objects. ambitious nose. sluggish. has an irritable fibre running through it will Irritate that and start up . protruding. round. is bald.

— with such shrill. hissing. ungovernable passion. the fixed idea. . tinder the influence of his monomania transformed. — as it has been known to and the collector becomes capable of creature of a fanatic. Let his passion rise to a paroxysm. it is the fairy the idea Turlutaine. a demoniac. you see an enthusiast. tyrant. all heroisms as well as all crimes. Levaillant bivouacked in the midst of lions and faced death a hundred times in the hope of obtaining a spar- row lacking in his collection. a visionary. This fibre is the jealous. shoot forth such piercing sounds that think you have set foot in you will a nest of marmots. the hobby of Uncle Toby. tic the collector becomes Instead of the apathe- a moment ago. absolute.

. assassinated cus- tomers to keep his collection of jewels Give trinkets Levaillant the passion for and Rene Cardillac the hobby of humming-birds and each would no doubt do what the other did.Rene Cardillac complete. Conclusion: Do not cast stones at the collector of jewels. but be careful not to trust him w^ith your w^atch.

or trash-collectors. before The philosopher Damasippus also was a pacotilleur. he turned his house into a store-room for bric-a-brac and bartered his last mentioned. Pacotilleurs recognize as founder of their sect the pro-consul Verres. gold-piece for the foot-bath of the . divided into Pacotilleurs.. lY VARIETIES OF THE GENUS COLLECTOR /COLLECTORS may be ^^ two classes: Specialists.

its rarity or the oddness They are gourmands nirs. also for souve- By this sentimental all term they designate sorts of gew-gaws which have at some time belonged to some historic personage or have figured as accessories in some romantic adventure. they pile up w^ithout choice. everything that its arouses their cupidity. antiquity. so crazy. curiosity-col- There is nothing so freakish. without preference. robber Sisyphus. . without system. Collectors of this class are known by the general name of lectors. so anarchical. so extravagant. whether by of its form. They collect.The type of Yerres and Damasippus we now know by the hundred.

the inventions. meet. ostrich eggs. side you will find. laces. elbow. misshapen. stuffed with wood. all zones. . and frigates in ivory. the charming and the horrible. times. all cast in bronze. carved in a pandemonium where. If reliquaries. chiseled in iron. all dreams.as the museum of a pacotilleur. by side. bludgeons. in the cabinet of the pacotilleur. the beautiful and the Nile. nightmares. as in the den of the old antiquary. faiences crocodiles of the of Palissy. tankards. moccasins. all societies. It is hair. fossil bones. jostle. irritate and smother each other. zac's Have you ever read Bal"Peau de Chagrin?'' Have you ever penetrated with Raphael into the gloomy shop of Job ? Well. the serious and the ridiculous. of all reigns.

The class of specialists includes all collectors w^ho. he capable of showing you the pole-ax of Charles Martel. and the gorget of Corbulon.: your friend —I suppose a pacotilleur might have a friend —makes is pretences in historical science. the tooth-pick of the Abbe Sugar. The reason for this is simple: as their collections include all objects known and unknown and recommend themselves only by the quantity and variety of specimens. It may be subdivided into two groups . are by taste or by a single interested in category of objects. either necessity. they are veritable gulfs which all the gold of California could not fill. The class of pacotilleurs is relatively small in number.

books. fantaisistes. faiences. or imitators. a mad lover of Chinese curios and old books done them. such as: Pictures. Routiniers are not corrupt by na.: ! The The ture routiniers. or vagarians. the spirit of imitation that has un- One might say of most of these unfortunates what Horace said of his contemporary Iccius. it is the contagion of example. and his ambition is satisfied in collectin the The ing those things that have been collected before by others. shells. There is a in series of collectible objects famed tradition. Pollicitus meliora routinier always trudges along path beaten by his predecessors. medals. You need not fear that a routinier .

pictures. a conchologist. seen beyond these oftNay. in the nosing about one matter of en-Vexin. even a fathom. have I not them condemn themselves to little comer.will ever venture explored regions. As for the faintaisistes. an acre. the rogues. has a passion only for the edible snail. . forever turning about in this narrow circle like a squirrel in his wheel ? I knew one collector who. a perch. It is almost unbelievable what extravagances of the imagination a monomaniac can indulge in when his mania has no other guide than caprice. valued only the canvases of painters born at MagnyAnother. they are the lost children. the zephyrs of curio-hunting.

musical snuff-boxes. have heard of one w^ho made a museum of mustard pots. my pearl of was it the master you served before me. almanacs.There has probably never been a single product of nature or of humap industry that has not been the object of a fantaisiste's search. Catherine. It is not unusual to find persons collecting pipes. buttons of tin and buttons of brass. I have a relative in one of our leading colleges —a grave professor —who life has passed twenty years of his collecting umbrellas. nut-crackers. buttons . the Dutch numismatist. who inspired you with this inordinate ? fondness for uniform buttons Flat buttons and round buttons. I And cooks. you. carp-fins.

if you choose. I suppose. with a hunting horn. No object that is fantaisistes are the only collectors is ever lacking in their collection . with an anchor. Pacotilleurs have really not the true manners and habits of the class.stamped with a simple number. which passed. reason of their excesses. what have I not found in that little chamois bag. from my loto box to the bottom of your trunk! And each one of these treasures calls up some memory for you. or. and routiniers. Because their mania is directed toward everything it is in reality directed toward nothing. with a star or a grenade. by very specialists. I don't know how. with two cannon crossed. worthy of the name. Catherine Despite ? of.

the indispensable the raison d'etre. him from his vows so that he might marry Laura. always in some tantalizing specimen. some image of Brutus or Cassius w^hich shines only by its absence from always search of his cabinet or his shelf. in short. the anguish. the itching of in who is expectation. fixed idea. this constant strain.. of the collector. So they know nothing of the specialist. the violent desire. moral tetanus of the motive. touched by the despair of Petrarch. It is said that Pope Clement VI. fact the necessary stimulus.because their collection can never be complete. but the poet refused because he still had a offered to release . But this is in this endless search for the un- found object.

growing dull and stupid sect in idleness and ennui. he will be like the insect that has spun its cocoon. . The collector belongs to the school of Petrarch. in this particular case. Only. love . For one. nothing more to discover. the grub. the besetis ting passion tions. a pretext for explorathe collector has no- When thing more to seek.great many sonnets to write. man it man to a . the in- has better sense than the changes to a butterfly. was only a pretext for sonnets for the other.

The bouquineur is distinquished . bibliomaniac. an individual of the genus. He shall be thermore. a bouquineur. and fura particular kind of a bibliomaniac. — a lover of old books.Y THE COLLECTOR OF OLD BOOKS TDERMIT me now to leave genand to complete this monograph by sketching. eralities I shall select my individual among a the class of specialists. if you please. in broad lines.

in the boxes sold encumber wharfs and heaps of scrap-iron by the Auvergnats.from others of traits. will while their other bibUomaniacs hunt game almost anylibraries where. economy. his genus by pecuHar Thus. at public sales. then. of their you w^ill never find a bouquineur rummaging anywhere except in some little comer display. or lack of . sometimes in the friends. You might think then that quineur's finest treasures the bou- are more often found in the second-hand shop than at the regular Is it dealer's ? Quite the contrary. in the dusty that bridges. in book-shops. in the w^aste paper under some butcher's or tobacconist's counter.

but this rabbit must be one with a white foot it must have been killed in this certain field and not in another in the morning and not in the evening. the w^oman has an intense a bite of rabbit. in fair w^eather and not in fog.. money that forces the old book lovers to exert themselves thus ? Not in the least I know one who is a lavish millionaire. You do not understand? Listen. then. the matter. and in both cases these cravings can be satisfied only under certain conditions. Both have strange cravings. The bouquineur has a peculiarity in common w^ith the w^oman enceinte. for now w^e come to the point of . . Thus. The bouquineur is equally definite desire for .

but it must be hedged about by restrictions. pay the marked price and then put the purchase tranquilly in your packet. But to tramp the pavement of the quays for explore. it must be a renard. to search. First of all. to a hundred musty. who does : not know the value of the book. to look through trick to no great the catalogue. . itself as the man- ner of acquiring walk into a well-arranged shop. choose an article. f Thus you see that the important point to the bouquineur is not so much the It is old book it. Nota Renard is the term applied to a rare and curious book unearthed by a collector in the display of a second-hand dealer. to ransack a whole week.and exacting in for his desires. He longs a certain old book.

waiting for ray of sun to come out and permit a a neighboring second-hand man to in . stained. that in order to gain such delights. that what may be called a streak of fortune. to fingers feel thrilling little under your some typographical jewel unappreciated by the bumpkin Aivho has shamelessly prostituted is it. a murderous draught. then finally in a jumble of worn. have seen one of them standing for a whole hour under shelter of a carriage-w^ay.— dirty boxes . the bou- quineur truly worthy of the name braves all public opinion and exposes the himself w^ith equal indifference to the raillery of men as well as to I inclemencies of the sky. a triumph. broken-backed trash. torn. It is not surprising. then.

they meet the seductions of a book display on their route. At the hospital of Dubois they sick tell of a bouquinomaniac. — the dilettanti of the genus. — seek editions that have been issued by celebrated typographi- . the rain.re-open his boxes which a double cloth oil- was protecting from serious business. Would you like to know. bedridden and unto death. who profited by the momentary absence the of his nurse to clothe himself hurriedly and rush to Quay Voltaire. now^. All are capable of forgetting their most their most sacred duties. w^hat books are so madly pursued by bouquineurs ? Some collectors. the birth-day of their wife. the if baptism of their first bom.

. Others again buy up indiscriminately all kinds of works of subjects which the seem curious or unusual. Considerations of the Causes of the Rise and Fall of the Limoges Marine. the Juntas. titles Here are some sample last class of collectors which seem to be specially tempting to this The Palm-Tree of the Oases. Others run after treatises of some special nature. the Cramoisys. the Estiennes. such as the Manual of the Ablette-Fisber. such as those of the Aldi. Guide-book of Justices of the Peace. followed by the Art of Identifying Dates. the Mam- ert-Patissons.: cal presses. The Art of Raising Glow-Worms. the Elzevirs.

— the The Inffuence of Military Music on Moral Sense of Wool-Bearing AniComparative Study ofIdioms of the mals. die of thirst but he would rather said to be the most cruel of all deaths read a single — than be condemned to one of his books. given to scholarly research in the specialty to which he denotes himself. the Dialect of From neur all the foregoing it would be natural to conclude that the bouquiis a profound student. . Comanche Indians and the Cbaillotians. The bouquineur is outdone the carp. A grave mistake. in ignor- ance only by the school-master and He possesses thousands of books.

Why. does he heap up these mountains of paper? No one has out. ever been able to find . then.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful