Lot 11: [Auction, booksellers' and library catalogues].
November 27, 2012
Haarlem, NetherlandsLive Auction
Description: [Auction, booksellers' and library catalogues]. Fortsas, J.-N.-A. de. Catalogue d'une très-riche mais peu nombreuse collection de livres. provenant de la bibliothèque de feu M. le comte J.-N.-A. de Fortsas. Brussels, G.A. van Trigt, n.d. (±1863), 2nd ed., 28,(3)p., contemp. marbled boards, orig. wr. pres. - Spine dam. = The authorized 2nd edition of the famous catalogue of the library of le Comte de Fortsas, which contained a small number of books which were to be sold at Binche in Belgium. The books were collected by the Comte de Fortsas who had died in 1839 and whose lifetime was spent collecting unique copies of famous works. Each time that he discovered that one of his books was not unique, he would exclude it from his collection, so that in the end he had only 52 books left, each of them unique. When the sale catalogue was published in 1840, all the major bookdealers and collectors of the world were flabbergasted by the existence of the collection and hastened to get a copy of the catalogue. On the day of the sale, the village of Binche was apparently flooded by bibliophiles searching for the stated address of the sale. But all was in vain, the location could not be found and the collection was said to have been bought in its entirety by the municipality of Binche. Gradually it dawned on the dealers and collectors that they were the victim of what would become one of the biggest bibliographical hoaxes of all time. Each of them had been deliberately misled by the author of the catalogue, Renier Hubert Ghislain Chalon, who had written the catalogue entries with the specific tastes of all these collectors in mind and each of them had thought that he was about to make the most spectacular purchase of the century. When the dust had settled on the village of Binche, the original catalogue of the Fortsas collection proved to be a good investment and was reprinted (partly illegally) several times. Klinefelter, W. The Fortsas Bibliohoax. With a Reprint of the Fortsas Catalogue and Bibliographical Notes and Comment by Weber DeVore. New York, Press of the Woolly Whale, 1942, (6),71,(2)p., printed in 200 copies, orig. clothbacked boards (fine).