COURT, de GEBELIN Antoine.

COURT, de GEBELIN Antoine. Histoire Naturelle de la Parole ou Prècis de l’origine du Langage et de la Grammaire Universelle. Extrait du Monde Primitif.


Paris: Boucher, Boudet, Valleyre…, MDCCLXXVI [1776]



£ 1,000





FIRST EDITION. 8vo (20 x 12.5 cm); (4), 400 pp. Half title and t-page with illustrated frontis. by Romanet (Allegorical engraving of Mercury and Cupid titled: “Mercure conduit par l’amour, ou invention du langage et de l’ecriture.”). Double page fold-out table with so-called primitive alphabets and fold-out engraving in colour by Jacques-Fabien Gautier D’Agoty depicting the tongue, larynx and the organ of the voice described in all its parts. Slight foxing and minor water-staining, not affecting the readability of the text. Overall clean and crisp pages. Marbled endpapers. A.e.r. Bumped and some wear to the covers. Contemporary quarter calf;  gilt and blind-stamped spine with gilt title on label. Slight wear at head and foot of spine. Overall, a very good copy.


This book contains the first separate edition of a treatise on the universal origin of speech and language, extracted from the third volume of ” Monde primitif, analysé et comparé avec le monde modern”. The author, Antoine Court de Gebelin, a former Protestant pastor born in Nimes, was initiated into Freemasonry in the Parisian lodge Les Amis Réunis in 1771 and later in the Le Neuf Soeurs lodge where, in 1778, he also witnessed the initiation of Voltaire and other notable personalities such as the astronomer Lalande, the sculptor Houdon, the naturalist Lacépède, and the American ambassador to France, Benjamin Franklin. He founded the Sociéte Apollonienne, and was among the founding members of the Filalete, an esoteric fraternity with links to Freemasonry and the mystical Elus Coen sect.



The importance of this fine, rare and sought-after first edition is due to the presence of the large folded colour plate engraved by Gautier-Dagoty – one of the first to be ever printed in four colour.



Brunet, II, col. 1516; Caillet 2664 and Graesse, III, p. 40 (for the second edition of 1816).