Paris: L. Lorry, 1791. 12mo. Nineteenth-century half mottled calf; marbled-paper boards; 392; 39,  pp. Gilt-tooled spine label. Very good.
First and only edition of this Paris address book, which contains over sixteen thousand entries compiled on the eve of the French Revolution. It begins with two page featuring the addresses of French royalty at the Palais des Tuileries, including “Louis de Bourbon XVI” and “Marie-Antoinette-Josèphe-Jéanne, Archiduchesse d’Autriche, Reine,” and relatives at various other royal residences. The bulk of the work comprises an alphabetic directory of nobility, bourgeois, merchants, as well their various businesses, usually with detailed addresses as well as the occupation of branch of business listed, such as “Architecte,” “Chandelier,” “Epicier,” “Horloger,” “Libraire,” “Limonadier,” “Opticien,” “Papetier,” “Parfumier” etc. The final section contains information such as an index of embassies, the “Liste des députés de l’Assemblée Nationale Législative,” as well as the addresses of hotels and a table showing the postal schedule for domestic and international mail, the departures and routes of ships departing from Quai Saint-Bernard, as well as domestic and international travel connections.
The importance of the present work lies not only in the wealth of statistical and demographic information, which allows for reconstructing the population and societal makeup of Paris at the time. It must also be assumed that the book was a crucial tool for the Reign of Terror unleashed by Bertrand Barére, Georges Danton, and Maximilien Robespierre in 1793–1794. With its wealth of detail, it would have allowed the perpetrators not only to trace down individuals, but also to reconstruct genealogical lineages. It also lists most leading statesmen of the revolutionary period. Monsieur and Madame Danton themselves are listed as residing in the R. des Cordeliers. Page 166 lists the doctor Joseph Ignace Guillotin (1738–1814), who would lend his name to the brutal device that would become the preeminent symbol of revolutionary violence. Page 73 lists the French writer and poet André Chénier (1762–1794), defender of a constitutional monarchy, who was himself guillotined just two days before the arrest of Robespierre and the end of the Reign of Terror.
As of April 2020, we can trace only a photocopy of a text with matching pagination but a different publisher and somewhat different title; no paper copies of the present work are located via KVK, OCLC, including at the French National Library.
Book ID: 50710