Important acquisitions

Catalogue des objects d'art & de curiosite au Palais d'Hamilton

Author (Colbert), Hamilton, Alexander, 10th Duke of Hamilton
Title Catalogue des objects d'art & de curiosite au Palais d'Hamilton
Imprint
Date of Publication 1838
Language French
Notes A catalogue that never was. This is a quite remarkable curiosity that started life in France towards the end of the 17th Century, was bought in the early 18th Century by the 10th Duke of Hamilton and has now been purchased by the National Library of Scotland. Jean Baptiste Colbert (1619-1683) was Louis XIV's principal minister, an acknowledged financial wizard and an ardent book collector. At some date late in his career, he had made up for himself a volume of some 300 folio sheets of blank paper, watermarked with his own arms and bound in a striking red morocco armorial binding, showing a version of the Colbert arms. It is not clear what Colbert intended to do with this handsome volume but it is likely that he saw it as a manuscript catalogue of his extensive book collection. If that was the intention, then it never happened, for when Alexander Hamilton, 10th Duke of Hamilton and 7th Duke of Brandon purchased it sometime in the early decades of the 19th Century it was blank throughout. The 10th Duke was a committed Francophile and renewed a dormant family claim to the Dukedom of Chatelherault in the French peerage. His intention for the volume seems clear since there is a manuscript title leaf in pen and ink 'Catalogue des objects d'art & de curiosite au Palais d'Hamilton 1838' and there are manuscript headings for various rooms of the Palace such as 'Salle Appartenante a La Bibliotheque' and 'Bibliotheque' and 'Chambre de Toilette de Madame La Duchesse'. However these headings end half way through the volume as the Duke, like Colbert before him, grew bored or forgot this fine volume. The binding is late 17th Century full red morocco, gilt-panelled, with the arms of Jean Baptist Colbert in the centre panels of the upper and lower boards, surrounded by the collar s of the order of Saint-Michel and of the Saint-Esprit, and with coroneted monograms incorporating the letters JBC both at each of the central panels and in each of the seven compartments of the spine. From the library of the Dukes of Hamilton with the Hamilton's 19th Century armorial bookplate on the front pastedown.
Shelfmark Bdg.l.42
Acquired on 22/12/00
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