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Receueil d'Observations


Held at: University of Delaware Library Special Collections [Contact Us]181 South College Avenue, Newark, DE 19717-5267

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Delaware Library Special Collections. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Baron Jean-Pierre-Casimir Marcassus de Puymaurin (1757-1841) was a member of a wealthy and distinguished family from Languedoc. He had a lifelong interest in politics, rural economy, manufacturing, and chemical experiments, and was also a noted art collector.

In 1787, Puymaurin introduced into France the technique of engraving on glass using hydrofluoric acid. He was the director of the imperial factory at Albi, a manufacturing town near his home in Toulouse, that specialized in the manufacture of woad indigo and various textile products, including coarse linen clothes, sacking, cottons, tablecloths, and handkerchiefs. He was the first to demonstrate the viability of extracting a dye from woad that equaled the quality of indigo imported from Bengal and Guatemala. He managed to escape notice during the French Revolution, avoiding political involvement until the early nineteenth century. Among the political offices Puymaurin held after 1805, he was named director of the royal mint (la Monnaie Royale des Médailles) in Paris in 1816.

Biographical information derived from acquisition notes.

This bound nineteenth-century French manuscript is a sort of commonplace book, written in part and compiled by Jean-Pierre-Casimir Marcassus de Puymaurin, records his observations about many different subjects, including agriculture, rural economic concerns, manufacturing developments, scientific experiments, medical and pharmacological remedies and recipes, historical events, and political topics.

The manuscript contains passages, entries, and notes written by several hands that Puymaurin apparently gathered together and combined with his own contributions. The book appears to include observations written by his father, Nicolas Joseph Marcassus de Puymaurin (1718-1791), who was syndic-general of the state of Languedoc, and possibly his grandfather, whose baronage was created by Louis XV in 1724. Puymaurin divided the manuscript into four sections, each with a title page, and several of the topics Puymaurin included in this manuscript also appeared in published form.

Recueil d'Observations Historiques. The first section (pages 1-101) is devoted to an eclectic mix of historical and political matters that range in date from the seventeenth century to 1841, the year of Puymaurin's death. It includes topics ranging from the consumption of beer in London, to the desired qualities Italian and Spanish men search for in women, to an account of an aeronautical ascension in 1785. Puymaurin copied many letters on various political subjects, including a number of "letters to the editor," and a fascinating three-page "Vocabulaire des Voteurs" (p. 80) in which he detailed all sorts of French political slang. Among the historical notes he included is an account of a famine in France in 1693-1694 (p. 87), an extract entitled "Armement du vaisseau le Friedland en 1840" (p. 99) and entries recording activities and events from various periods in Puymaurin's life, from before the French Revolution to after the restoration of the monarchy.

Recueil de Faits, Observations, et Remedes, relatifs à la Médecine. The second section (pages 147-249) presents a wide-ranging collection of medical information. It contains a great many remedies and cures (how to whiten teeth, combat cancer, etc.) and includes many pharmacological recipes. Toward the end of section, Puymaurin added extracts of letters (pages 246-249) from various dates.

Recueil d'Observations et Procedés, relatifs aux Siences [sic] et aux Artes. Sciences and other arts were the topics included in the third section (pages 287-413). Puymaurin included chemical and metallurgical experiments, research into porcelain manufacture, development of many colors of dyes (including blue), techniques of painting enamel on metal, manufacturing glass, mineralogical researches, manufacturing cement, and even how to imitate the phosphorescence of the ocean.

Recueil d'Observations et Procedés, relatifs à l'Agriculture et à l'Economie Rurale. The final section (pages 431-94) deals with agriculture and rural economy. Here Puymaurin discussed how to make wine, how to preserve foods, along with recipes for many dishes, including consommé, cakes, and blanc mange. He offered more information on making dyes, detailed how to make paint from milk and the blood of cows, listed recipes for many kinds of varnish, and provided short descriptions on how to fabricate hats and other useful items. This section is followed by approximately 60 pages of monthly accounting, listing all expenditures and receipts for the maison de Puymaurin for the years 1838 and 1839.

  1. MSS 0095, Item 0032: Shelved in SPEC VAULT MSS

Purchase, September 2009.

Processed and encoded by Teresa K. Nevins, October 2009.

University of Delaware Library Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
Finding Aid Date
2009 October 2
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections, University of Delaware Library,

Collection Inventory

Receueil d'Observations, 1825-1841.
Item 0032
Physical Description

1 volume

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