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Vizetelly and Company (1850-1855) letters and documents, 1785-1854 (bulk 1838-1854)

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Finding aid for the Vizetelly and Company letters and documents, 1785, 1838-1854

Scope and Content of Collection

The collection comprises letters and some accounts sent to James Vizetelly by ca. 40 correspondents over 14 years, between February 1838 and January 1854. Most of the letters are from 1840-1842 (36 items) and 1851-1853 (47 items). There are no letters from the years 1848-1850. Except for three letters in English, all items are in French. The collection includes a draft of a letter by Vizetelly to the Parisian publisher Pagnerre from 1852. Also included are four unrelated documents: a public announcement signed Étienne Mehrel, asking for a loan for his invention; the transcription of a letter from 1641 by the French courtesan Marion de Lorme; the transcript of a judicial settlement of a French nobleman's estate from 1785; and a request from an English traveler in Paris looking for families offering room and board.

Most of the letters are from business partners or collaborators. They reflect James Vizetelly's involvement in the growing demand for illustrated books from French and exotic literature, in genres ranging from fairy tales to romantic and historical novels, handbooks for fashionable hobbies, and treatises. Vizetelly's partners are among the leading Parisian publishers and editors, such as Béthune et Plon, Pagnerre Éditeur, Melchior Yvan, and Léon Curmer. A number of letters are from draftsmen and engravers about their work (always belated) or requesting payment (always delayed and often reduced). The correspondence communicates the tension involved in the creation of each book, often simultaneously in its original version in Paris and its translation in London. Also relevant for this period is a letter from a printing machine producer in Brussels about the new and faster machine he has invented and licensed that prints both text and engravings on both sides of a sheet of paper simultaneously.

The collection, formerly owned by Sir Thomas Phillips, comprises 108 items totaling 217 pages. The items were bound in two volumes at Sir Thomas Phillips' Middle Hill bindery, seemingly by size: vol. I in 8vo and vol. II in 4to. Three letters are detached and filed separately in a folder. All items have been numbered (1-108) to facilitate access, as there is no apparent order within the volumes. The information supplied by the cataloger is enclosed in square brackets.

Arrangement note

Organized in 2 bound volumes, described in the order within each volume.

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