Richard Margolis submitted this interesting query about an enigmatic numismatic catalogue. Can anyone help?
Can the catalogue of a highly important numismatic collection, the publication date and other details of which are known from other sources, disappear off the face of the earth? This seems to be the case with a catalogue of the great Tiolier collection.
Pierre Joseph Tiolier was Engraver-General of France from 1803 to 1816, his son, Nicolas Pierre, succeeding him in this position until 1845. Occupying this privileged position at the Paris Mint for so many years they were in a unique position to put together a marvelous collection of essays and special strikings by themselves and preceding French engravers.
Based on information appearing primarily in Conbrouse’s Maison de France (1845) and a few fleeting references elsewhere, this is exactly what they did. In 1840, according to Conbrouse, a small catalogue of the Tioliers’ collection was printed by H. Fournier (a well-known Paris publisher), "petit in 8o de vingt-quatre pages".
It is known from other references by Conbrouse to the catalogue that it contained at least 320 numbers. I think it highly unlikely, however, that the catalogue would have borne the Tioliers’ name as owners of the collection, which was sold in 1841 to Rousseau, one of the two leading Paris dealers of the period.
Unfortunately, despite having fairly exhaustively researched
the French commercial numismatic literature of the 19th century (primarily in the library of the Paris Mint, and even more extensively in the library of the Cabinet des Medailles of the Bibliothèque Nationale), I have been unable to locate a single copy of this catalogue, nor any reference to it anywhere, other than Conbrouse’s mention of it.
Apart from the small number of coins and essays that I know from other evidence were included in this catalogue, it must have listed a great many of the greatest rarities of the period that interests me (the French Revolution and Napoleon). It therefore goes without saying that I would give my right arm or any other appropriate part of my anatomy for even a glimpse of it. Any thoughts as to how or where to search further for this numismatic will-o’-the wisp would be most welcome.
Perhaps the catalogue can be found in the town library of Binche, Belgium. See the item below about the library of Count Jean Nepomucene Auguste Pichauld, Comte de Fortsas.
The image above is the Portrait of Nicolas-Pierre Tiolier Standing in the Gardens at the Villa Medici painted by Louis-Vincent-Léon Pallière
Bordeaux (1787 - 1820). I found the image online in a 2004 Sotheby's catalog. The 1818 portrait was estimated at 45,000—55,000 USD. What's up with that? It sounds like an absolute bargain to me. I wonder if the painting sold, and where it is today? -Editor
In the present painting, Nicolas-Pierre Tiolier (1781-1843) is captured with pen and pad in hand in the gardens at the Villa Medici. Tolier was, in fact, another pensionnaire at the Villa Medici from 1806 to 1811. He had the distinction of being the only person to have ever received an award for engraving on hard stone. After his sojourn in Rome, he returned to Paris where he was named Vérificateur des monnaies de la garantie. He also exhibited medals in the Salon from 1812-1831.
To view the complete catalog entry, see:
Important Old Master Paintings Sale: N07965 Lot 96
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