In French. Famous first posthumous collected edition of Voltaire's [1694-1778] works known as the 'Kehl Voltaire', produced by Beaumarchais, who created a print foundry at Kehl to carry out this great work. Set contains 69 of the 70 Volume 8vo edition (smaller 12mo 90 volume edition was also produced). Volume 23 (Histoire de Charles XII) missing. Volumes 10 and 27 printed 1784, summary volume 70 printed 1789, all other volumes printed 1785. Uniform 18th century calf full brown leather. Spines decorated in gold floral designs, titles, volume numbers, within 6 boxed compartments. Boards have a natural brown mottled leather finish, slanted gold lines on the narrow board edges. All page ends stained a very light yellow finely bespeckled with green. Green silk reading ribbons. Moderate wear of leather at spine tops, light stress wear along exterior leather hinges, some boards show minor leather loss at edges. All interior hinges firm, untorn. Volume 20 upper rear board tip charred. Otherwise no volume damaged or repaired, uniform light general wear. Only endpapers show browned bands along margins from pasted endpaper glue chemistry. Volumes 1 to 69 containing all the works and massive correspondences of Voltaire. Volume 70 contains Condorcet's Life of Voltaire and Condorcet's 'Memoires' of Voltaire, index, and 'Additions et Corrections' to the 70 volumes. Volume 1 frontispiece engraving of Voltaire by Moreau.; Volume 10 frontispiece engraving of Henry IV; Volume 16 frontispiece portrait of Voltaire; Volume 24 frontispiece engraving military map camp plan; Volume 31 14 engraved plates of scientific diagrams. Provenance: Each volume has the small ink stamp 'William H. Floyd Collection No.' on the rear of the title page. Floyd was a late 19th century American antiquarian collector. The numbering sequence (5098-5166) shows that volume 23 was missing even when cataloged by Floyd. A major cultural event of the last decade of the ancien regime, a beautiful monument to Voltaire, the greatest man that literature had produced. Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais led a controversial life. Playwright (The Marriage of Figaro), politician, publisher, entrepreneur, spy, supplier of munitions for the American Revolution, and an early champion of the rights of artists and intellectual property. Shortly after the death of Voltaire in 1778, Beaumarchais set out to publish Voltaire's complete works, many of which were banned in France, and vehemently condemned by the Church. Royal letters would be censored by Frederick II of Germany, Catharine II of Russia, and others. He bought the rights to most of Voltaire's many manuscripts from publisher Charles-Joseph Panckoucke in 1779. To evade censorship, printing presses were set up in the small, neutral, independant state of Baden, at Kehl. Beaumarchais bought, with exclusivity, the complete foundry of the famous English type designer John Baskerville, for the Societe Litteraire Typographique, an organization he established to produce editions in which he was interested. Three paper mills were purchased. Seventy volumes were published between 1783 to 1790. While the venture proved a financial failure, Beaumarchais was instrumental in preserving many of Voltaire's later works which otherwise might have been lost. The Kehl edition was banned on French territory until 1789. Baskerville font was revived by Americans in the 20th century.
Voltaire Kehl Condorcet Pierre Beaumarchais Charles-Joseph Panckoucke