27 March 2012

Original French Handwriting at Auction!

You've seen gorgeous interpretations of old French script printed onto silk, cotton and linen by designers like Carolyn Quartermaine. You've seen the look on painted furniture, in wrapping paper, and on countless blog headers. Even Target has jumped on the bandwagon with their French Laundry Pillows!

Here, though, are the real items... up for auction this May in France. Letters, documents, engravings and stamps dating from the time of Louis XV... when Marie Antoinette was still a young girl playing with her puppy in Austria, and Benjamin Franklin was toying around with electricity in America!

Since I live in the New World, I am always captivated by these fascinating artifacts of handwritten and handmade visual communications in a world long gone by. I would love to attend this auction and bring home a small piece of French history!

Quartermaine fabric.. I have interspersed some beautiful examples
of her fabrics with the original old letters and manuscripts

I recognize the word for "today" here, but other than L'Abbaye, little else


of course, I can read Dieu Roy de France... or God, King of France... but not much else in this wonderfully scripted piece from centuries back


this is also clearly from post-Revolutionary France.. note the date as " an 10 de la République Francaise" and the letter is addressed to "Citoyen" and NOT "Monsieur"


I love this one, written after the Revolution ... in the year "deux de l'ere de la République" (2nd year of the Republic, or 1791).. wish I knew what it says and whose signatures .. members of the "Comité révolutionnaire de l'arrondiffement (sic) de la Côte, premiere division".. appear at the bottom 


a missive from King Louis XV dated 1739 and signed by him at Versailles...
I'm not the best at translating 18th C. French Script... anyone?

portrait of Louis XV, King of France from 1714 until 1764..
not so well regarded for the most part


I love this very frame able page from a philatalest's book with
République Française stamps 
from the Art Nouveau era

post-Revolutionary letter addressed to "Citoyen" (Citizen) and
NOT to Monsieur (My Lord)

this stamp from the French Empire era depicts a bust of Napoleon III

an air mail stamp from the early twentieth century

and before there was Poste Aérienne, there
were Carrier Pigeons and Hot Air Balloons!


Carolyn Quatermaine's stunning designs rely heavily on the use of 
old French handwritten script and are shown above and 
below in a series taken from her own website to illustrate how 
closely they resemble the actual vintage
handwritings that are coming up for auction


the three prints above are from the same large print and
depict (I believe) life in the royal court at the very
end.. just as things began to get very tense before the Revolution in 1789

Carolyn Quatermaine captures the essence of the old French pre-Revolution era in her
design of Chateau Beloeil.. and in her gold printed grey silk fabric,  above


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thanks for visiting...  Kit


  1. Oh how I have always adored the French script--try to practice from time to time but alas, it never looks quite right. Thanks for this marvelous feature on it and the fabrics--so beautiful--I think my dining chairs could benefit from some loose small back cushions as they are quite deep for smaller people--will seek out this type of fabric which would go beautifully with the rest of the room.

  2. I love the grace and elegance of old French script! Thank you for posting this.


  3. You are sending me post-haste to my most outré fonts Kit! Though there is nothing like hand-penmanship. I have some calligraphy nibs, always use a fountain pen but would need many hours of practice ~

  4. Kit,

    Thanks so much for sharing. Being from Europe these cards, etc kind of instilled a big wave of homesickness. The little things make such a big difference.

    Have a very happy Easter week


  5. I love the Quartermaine fabrics and in fact any scripted fabric makes my heart beat faster! Love some of the colours here!


  6. Repub franc stamp looks so cool. This is a great blog.

  7. Great post. I'm a huge fan of Quartermaine and I even tried to 'copy' her style by painting on fabric. Needless to say the result was awful. There is only one Quartermaine and I'm definitely not it :)

  8. Thank you for such a well crafted interesting post. I find such beauty in scripts especially by "fine plumes" can't translate in english.... I actually collect books of scripts and calligraphy from all over the worls as I am very intrigued and love the writing art form


I would love to hear what you think! merci!


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