The falconer of King Henri IV

Arcussia, Charles d'. La fauconnerie. Divisee en trois livres. Avec une briefve instruction pour traitter les autours, sur la fin de l'oeuvre [...].

Paris, Jean Houzé, 1599.

8vo. 272, (8) pp. With 6 full-page engravings of birds of prey (125 x 85 mm) plus 3 (of 5) repeats, all on integral leaves. Red goatskin morocco, gilt edges, signed in the foot of the front turn-in by M[arcel] Godillot (active as bookbinder 1938-1975), with wide gold-tooled turn-ins and gold fillets on board edge.


Very rare second edition, one year after the equally rare first edition, of one of the earliest French treatises on falconry and hawking, by Charles d'Arcussia (1554-1628), falconer to King Henri IV (and later to Louis XIII), who dedicates it to the king. "The work is much esteemed on account of its originality and the amount of information it contains" (Harting), "the outcome of long practice and an astonishing amount of research work in every subject connected with [Arcussia's] favourite sport [hawking]" (Schwerdt).

Jean Tholosan published the first edition at Aix-en-Provence in 1598, but the USTC records only 3 copies of each, all in French libraries except for a copy of the present edition at the Wellcome Library in London.

The six birds of prey illustrated are described as: De l'espece du faucon premier de noz oyseaux, Du Lanier Nyais, Du sacre, Du Gerfaut, De l'Emerillon and De l'Autour Nyais. USTC oddly notes that D8 is cancelled, but it is certainly present here, with one of the 11 engravings. The book went through about a dozen editions before 1650.

With an 18th century endleaf, a monogram stamp (ca. 1800) on the title-page, and a modern armorial bookplate of the Verne d'Orcet family, whose great library on the subject of hunting was begun ca. 1900. Washed and lacking F8 (supplied in a lithographic [?] facsimile on 18th century [?] paper), but that leaf contains only repeats of 2 engravings plus their captions and a 4-line verse, with no other text. Three other plates are slightly shaved, affecting the tip of one bird's tail (present in the repeat plate), the beak of another and a small bit of foliage in a third plate, a corner torn off 1 leaf (affecting one shoulder note), a small hole in another, a worm hole in the foot margin of the last few leaves and a faint water stain in the fore-edge margin of a few leaves. Still generally in good condition, the binding fine. Very rare classic of falconry and hawking.


Harting 153 (note). Nissen, IVB 35. Ronsil 3120. Schwerdt 41. Souhart 16. Thiébaud 28 & Suppl. col. 1050. Wellcome I, 388. French vernacular books 1653 (3 copies). USTC 20901 (same 3 copies). Cf. Lindner 11.0077.01 (1617 ed.); Sotheby's (Marcel Jeanson coll.) 28 Feb. to 1 March 1987, lot 31 (1598 ed.). Not in Adams. For the binder see Godillot: Fléty, p. 82.

Stock Code: BN#51162 Tags: , ,