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MELY, Fernand du Saussay de.

(1851 – 1935)

(Born: 12 October 1851; Died: 1935) French orientalist & historian.

Biographical references: ABF: II 457, 256. Internet search. Lorenz, Catalogue Général, 1869-1945. WBI.

Les Lapidaires, 1896

1. French & Latin, 1896-1902.
Histoire Des Sciences | [rule] | Les Lapidaires | De L'Antiquité Et Du Moyen Age | Ouvrage Publié | Sous Les Auspices Du Ministère De L'Instruction Publique | Et De L'Académie Des Sciences | Par F. De Mély | [rule] | Tome I | Les Lapidaires Chinois | [rule] | Introduction | Texte Et Traduction | Avec La Collaboration | De M.H.Courel | [ornate rule] | Paris | Ernest Leroux, Éditeur | 28, Rue Bonaparte, 28 | [rule] | 1896.

[Tome II, Fascicule 1:]

Tome II, Fasc 1 Histoire Des Sciences | ... | Par F.De Mély | [rule] | Tome II | Les Lapidaires Grecs | Premier Fascicule | [rule] | Texte | Avec La Collaboration | De M.Ch.-Ém.Ruelle | [ornament] | ... | 1898.

[Tome II, Fascicule 2:]

Histoire Des Sciences | ... | Par F.De Mely | [rule] | Tome II | Deuxième Fascicule | Les Lapidaires Grecs | [rule] | Texte | Avec La Collaboration | De M.Ch.-Em.Ruelle | ... | 1899.

[Tome III, Fascicule 1:]

Histoire Des Sciences | ... | Par F.De Mely | [rule] | Tome III | Premier Fascicule | Les Lapidaires Grecs | [rule] | Traduction | ... | 1902.

[Vol 1: 1896] 4°: [ [2], [i]-lxvi, [1]-300, [2], 144-1 (Chinese text in reverse page numbering), [2] p., many woodcuts in the Chinese text. [Vol 2, Fasc. 1: 1898] 4°: [i]-xvii, [1], [1]-225, [1] p., frontispiece, plate (p. xi). [Vol 2, Fasc. 2: 1899] 4°: [xix]-xxi, [1], [227]-318 p. [Vol 3, Fasc. 1: 1902] 4°: [4], [i]-lxxv, [1], [1]-140 p. Page size: 285 x 232 mm.

Contents: [Vol 1] [2 pgs], Blank, verso "Du Méme Auteur."; [i-ii], Half title page, "Histoire Des Sciences | Les Lapidaires Chinois," verso "Angers.-Imprimerie A. Burdin Et Cie, 4, Rue Garnier."; [iii-iv], Title page, verso blank.; [v], Dedication to M. Berthelot, signed F. De Mély, February 1896.; [vi], Blank.; [vii]-viii, "Avertissement."; [ix]-lxvi, "Introduction."; [1], Sectional title page, "Wa Kan San Tsai Dzou Ye."; [2], Blank.; [3]-252, Text.; [253]-264, "Identifications."; [265]-300, "Table."; [2 pgs], Blanks.; 144-1, Chinese text in reverse page numbering.; [1 pg], Blank.; [1 pg], Chinese title page.

[Vol 2, Fasc. 1] [i-ii], Blank, verso "Du Méme Auteur."; [Frontispiece, reproduction of Greek manuscript].; [iii-iv], Half title page, "Histoire Des Sciences | Les Lapidaires Grecs," verso printer's information.; [v-vi], Title page, verso blank.; [vii]-xvii, "Notice | Bibliographique Et Paléographique."-signed C.-E. Ruelle.; [1 pg], Blank.; [1]-212, Text.; [213]-225, "Index."; [1 pg], Blank.

[Vol 2, Fasc. 2] [xix]-xxi, "Note Additionnelle | Relative Aux Appendices." (=continuation of the previous `Notice Bibliographique et Paléographique').; [1 pg], Blank.; [227]-315, "Appendice I. Les Cyrianides."; [316], Blank.; [317]-318, "Table Des Matières | Des Appendices."

[Vol 3, Fasc. 1] [2 pgs], Half title page, "Histoire Des Sciences | Les Lapidaires Grecs," verso "Du Méme Auteur."; [2 pgs], Title page, verso blank.; [i]-lxxv, "Introduction."; [1 pg], Blank.; [1]-140, Text.

Very rare. A monumental and often cited study of the ancient lapidaries that in spite of never being brought to completion, has become the principal authority for any researcher interested in studying the lapidary tradition. According to the advertisement to the first volume, Mély originally proposed to publish his work in five volumes comprising the texts of the Chinese, Greek, Oriental (=Arabic, Armenian, Hebrew, and Sanskrit), Latin, and Western lapidaries, together with their French translations and authoritative commentaries. Unfortunately, only the first two volumes and the first Fascicle of the third ever appeared, which cover the Chinese and Greek lapidaries. Contemporary information suggests that other portions of the text were in at different stages of preparation so it is for unknown reasons the other volumes were never published. But based on the works rarity, especially in complete sets, it seems probably that there may not have been much demand from the public for such a large and expensive reference work of such an esoteric study.

Volume one, which covers the lapidary tradition of China, begins with a long and well referenced introduction citing sources, authorities, previous publications, the state of Chinese science and technology, medical uses of stones, and other pertinent historical information. Mély describes the main Chinese treatise on the subject as the Wa Kan San Tsai Dzou Te, an illustrated Sino-Japanese encyclopedia of which only the portions dealing with metals, gemstones and other stones are covered here. The original Chinese is reproduced at the end of the French translation. Then appears a large section called the "Diverse Textes" that extracts from the works of oriental and western authors information on stones and minerals. An annotated glossary of terms, a short table of weights and measures used in the Far East, and the index. Crude, but effective woodcuts of various minerals, stones, fossils, and ornamental objects made from them illustrate the text.

Volume two, which was issued in two parts, dedicates itself to the study of the ancient Greek lapidaries, including the Cyranides (or Kryanides), Damigeron, Socrates, Dionysius, pseudo-Dioscorides, pseudo-Hippocrates, "Astrampsychus" (a nautical lapidary), Epiphanius, Psellos, and the Méliténiotes poem. Additions and corrections then follow, together with a Greek index. The second fascicule contains three appendices that give variants from and additions from additional manuscripts. A short table of contents concludes the volume.

The third volume starts with a long introduction placing into context of its time the Greek lapidary, together with a very useful glossary of mineral terminology. The text provides French translations of Theophrastus' Peri Lithon, Strabo's Geography, Dioscorides' Materia Medica, α-Plutarch's Treatise on Rivers and Mountains, and finally the Cyranides. Sadly, publication of Les Lapidaires ceased before the accompanying Greek text and the commentaries were published. Never the less, if one is interested in the old stone books, Mély's compilation is essential for the study of Chinese and ancient Greek lapidaries even in its incomplete state.

Bibliographical references: BL. NUC. Sinkankas, Gemology Bibliography, 1993: no. 4369.