Schuh’s Annotated Bio-Bibliography

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CALONNE, Charles Alexandre de.

(1734 – 1802)

(Born: Douai, France, 1734; Died: Paris, France?, 30 October 1802) French statesman & controller general of finances.

Faced with a huge public debt and a steadily deteriorating financial situation, Calonne adopted a spending policy to inspire confidence in the nation's financial position. He then proposed a direct land tax and the calling of provincial assemblies to apportion it, a stamp tax, and the reduction of some privileges of the nobles and clergy. To gain support, Calonne had King Louis XVI call an Assembly of Notables, but the Assembly (1787) refused to consider Calonne's proposals and criticized him bitterly. Dismissed and replaced by Étienne Charles Loménie de Brienne, Calonne fled (1787) to England, where he stayed until 1802. Many of Calonne's official papers have been published and two general works on politics have been translated into English, Considerations on the Present and Future State of France (1791) and The Political State of Europe (1796).

Biographical references: ABF: I 175, 85-86, 95-120; II 116, 146-147. Beauchamp, Biographie Moderne, 1816. Biographie Universelle. Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th edition. Feller, Biographie Universelle, 1851. Nouvelle Biographie Générale (Hoefer). WBI.

Museum Calonnianum, 1797

1. English, 1797 [Sale catalog].
Museum Calonnianum. | [tapered rule] | Specification | Of The | Various Articles | Which Compose The | Magnificent Museum | Of | Natural History | Collected By | M. De Calonne in France, | And lately his Property: | Consisting Of | An Assemblage | Of The Most | Beautiful And Rare Subjects | In | Entomology, Conchology, Ornithology, | Mineralogy, &c. | Among Which Are | The most elegant and finely-coloured of the Bird and Insect | Tribes, the most splendid and uncommon Shells, many of | them unique; the various Ores of Gold, Silver, and other | Metals, remarkable for Colour, Figure, or Richness; the | different Crystallizations of Spars, Fluors, &c. all the | high Gems, Agates, and other beautiful Stones; containing | many superb and valuable Specimens; together with some | curious Echini, Fish, Amphibia, matchless Ludi Naturæ, | being Portraits in Egyptian Pebbles, &c. and various | miscellaneous Subjects. | [wavy rule] | All which are now exhibiting at Saville House, on the North Side of | Leicester Square, previous to the Sale thereof. | [wavy rule] | London, May 1, 1797.

8°: viii, 84 p.

Rare. First and only part published of a proposed series describing Calonne's natural history cabinet. Prepared by the conchologist George Humphrey, Calonne's cabinet surely contained one of the largest and best known selection of shells in pre-Revolutionary France. This catalog is actually a pre-sale prospectus, providing detailed descriptions of 1,439 items. It is particularly rich in shell descriptions, but also contains particulars of other natual curiosities including some minerals. Being the finance minister of France, Calonne was in a position before his exile to obtain early information about the dispersal of other collector's cabinets, as well as the arrival of ships bringing home curiosities of the natural world from abroad. He had the means to pay premium prices, and in this way, Calonne built up a fine natural history collection that was world wide in scope. In fact, many of the objects were acquired by Calonne from major sales in France and England, particularly the dispersal of the cabinets of Prince Charles of Lorraine and the Dutchess of Portland. At Calonne's sale, many items subsequently passed into the collection of James Parkinson [see: Organic Remains of a former World, 3, 344]. A full sale catalog was subsequently published [which see next item] but with far less detail.

Bibliographical references: BL [956.d.31.]. Dance, Shell Collecting, 1966: 91. Laissus, Cabinets d'Histoire Naturelle, 1964: 678. Murray, Museums, 1904: 2, 156.

Catalogue, 1801

2. English, 1801 [Sale catalog].
A | Catalogue | Of the | Whole Contents of the Celebrated Museum | Formed by | M. De Calonne, | At Paris; and late his Property: | Consisting Of | Rare and Beautiful Subjects in Mineralogy, Conchology, | Entomology, and other Branches of | Natural History; | Including | Most of the Ores of Gold, Silver, Copper, Tin, &c. Diamonds, Opals, Rock | Crystal, Agates, Spars, and other beautiful Stones; as well in the Native | as Polished State; Curious Shells, Corals, and other Marine Productions, both in the Recent and Fossil state, from various parts of the Globe; | together with a great variety of uncommon works of Art, including | many Singular Household and Warlike Insturments; Cloth, Garments, | Fishing Tackle, and other Strange Inventions of the Natives of | Otaheite, New Zealand, New Caledonia, Nootka, and other newly discovered Countries in the South Sea; Glass Temples, Shell Work, |Elaborate Carvings in wood, Glass Cases, and other Articles too | numerous to mention. | [tapered rule] | Which Will Be Sold By Auction, | By Mr. King, | (On the Premises) | Leicester Square, | On Monday, May 25, 1801, and Twenty-four | following Days, At Twelve o'Clock. (Sundays excepted) | May be Viewed the 21st, when Catalogues will be delivered | at two shilligs each, entitling the Purchaser to a | View till the Sale commences, when each | Day's lots will be successive'y | exhibited, and the | Admittance | Gratis. | [rule] | Printed by Barker and Son, Great Russell-st. Coven Garden.

8°: 170 p.

Rare. Auctioned at a house sale by King, the 3,037 lots consisted of shells, corals, minerals, petrifications, birds, ethnographical objects, and "artificial rarities." The sale was held in 1801 across the dates, May 25-30, June 1-6, 8-13, 15-20 and 22. In addition, a much smaller selection of 59 lots, including minerals, was sold by Christie's on July 9, 1803.

Bibliographical references: BL. Chalmers-Hunt, Natural History Auctions, 1976: 67, 68 & 78. Murray, Museums, 1904: 2, 156. Wilson, History of Mineral Collecting, 1994: 207.