Flammarion and Messier's Personal Copy of his Catalog

Camille Flammarion was lucky to find and obtain Messier's personal copy of his catalog of nebulae and star clusters, together with personal observing notes, in 1877. He reports on this in introductory notes in his article on Messier's catalog of 1917 (Flammarion 1917):
"It is now about 40 of years ago - in 1877, precisely - when I published the first edition of Terres de Ciel at the academic Library of Didier, at the Quai Grand-Augustins, I still had time to sauter sometimes for half an hour along the quays, and notably to stop by in front of the boxes of the booksellers fully filled, opposite of the Institute, where I had been able to a long time before (1858 to 1862), the old yearbooks of the Bureau des Longitudes [Bureau of Longitudes], since their origin in 1795, at a price of about ten to twenty centimes; and I had the lucky chance to encounter, between the old antiques, the manuscript of the astronomer Messier, containing his cataloged discoveries of 103 nebulae and star clusters, destinated for the Connoissance des Temps of 1783 and 1784, with his detailed remarks on each observation."

These bouquinistes have well survived the roughly one-and-a-half centuries since Flammarion's buyings, and can still be found along the quays on the left bank of river Seine in Paris, ready to sell their wares from their green, padlocked boxes hooked onto the parapet of the "Quais."


Hartmut Frommert
Christine Kronberg

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Last Modification: May 17, 2010