Paris: H.J. Jansen et Ce. 1794. Very Good. Item #14795
Paris: H.J. Jansen et Ce., troisième année de la République Françoise [ca. 1794 or 1795]. First Edition. Four volumes; octavos; 384; ,456; viii,447,; xi,,511,pp.; three folding plates; contemporary manuscript parchment sponge-painted red and green, green gilt-lettered spine labels.
Minor scuffing to extremities, boards a bit bowed as is often the case with stiff parchment, old stain to Vol. II upper cover, crack to Vol. IV spine label, all volumes lacking title pages while Vols. I and IV also lacking front free endpapers, otherwise collated and complete (collation available upon request). Contemporary ownership signature of an Auguste Drouart to each title page, small square neatly removed from Vol. IV leaf O1 affecting signature but no other text, discreet 19th century ownership rubber-stamps to one leaf in each volume, else a Very Good, quite attractive and unusual set.
Detailed handbook by the Parisian pharmacist and educator Edme-Jean Baptiste Bouillon-Lagrange (1764-1844), published in the early years of the French Republic. Though we find no evidence of an earlier edition, Vol. I opens with a note to the reader: "Ce premier volume...est imprimé depuis deux ans et il ne faut donc pas être surpris d'y trouver quelques dénominations et quelques qualifications qui ne sont plus reçues dans le système républicain sous lequel nous avons maintenant le bonheur de vivre" [This first volume...was published [written?] two years ago and one must therefore not be surprised to find some categories and some definitions that are no longer accepted in the republican system under which we now have the happiness of living (our translation).]
Around the time of publication Lagrange was employed as an instructor at the Ecole de Pharmacie in Paris where he caught the eye of a visitor who would one day become the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. Impressed by his instructor's knowledge and firm hand, the French leader enlisted Lagrange as military pharmacist during the Napoleonic campaigns. However, following the annulment of the Emperor's marriage to Josephine, Lagrange chose to leave the Maison Impérial in order to serve as her medical doctor. His later scientific investigations involved a mouthwatering array of subjects: truffles, willow bark, ambergris, garlic, starch, sea water, and milk. (See the Société d'Histoire de la Pharmacie website for further information.)
In keeping with the author's myriad scientific interests, the present set is divided by volume into four disparate subjects: Physique, Matière médicale, Botanique, and Chimie pharmaceutique. Of special note are the contents of Vol. II, which includes a lengthy dictionary of medicinal herbs (pp. 56-192) and concludes with a section on the "Instruction sur les moyens d'entretenir la salubrité et de purifier l'air des salles dans les hopitaux de la République" [Instructions on methods of maintaining the health and purifying the air in the halls of the hospitals of the Republic]. This section is accompanied by a folding plate bound in the rear of volume depicting an air-purifying boiler.
The present set bound in a unique contemporary binding using recycled manuscript parchment attractively sponge-painted red around a green spotted design unlike any we've seen before.