Trafficking in Foreign Languages and Their Alphabets


François Colletet (1628-1680), Traittez des langues estrangeres, de leurs alphabets, et des chiffres (Paris: Iean Promé, marchand libraire, en sa boutique proche des Augustins, à l’enseigne du Cheual de Bronze, 1660). Cover signed: Charles Miton à Tours, no. 13. GAX copy is from the printing collection of Elmer Adler. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) 2004-3777N

Spine title: Unusual alphabets, Paris, 1660

1660 was a busy year for the poet and journalist François Colletet. He had a disagreement with his publisher, Jean Baptiste Loyson, who filed a lawsuit against the writer. This was either before or after Colletet left the firm, depending on whose version you read. Then, Colletet copied and republished a text on ciphers and the use of “foreign alphabets,” which may or may not have even been copied correctly. (No one seems to have cared enough to file a lawsuit against this.)

Why he ventured into this area of study is unclear. Later biographies mention only his shortcomings, such as The Saturday Review (July 1, 1871): “All readers of Bolleau, of instance, remember that unfortunate François Colletet, whose wretched poetry could not bring him in enough to buy his daily bread, and who used to wonder about from kitchen to kitchen in quest of a dinner.”



Later, Colletet decided to self-publish a journal about Paris but after only one issue had been released, he was arrested and sent to prison. See also: François Colletet (1628-1680), Le Journal de Colletet, premier petit journal parisien (1676) (Paris: Moniteur du bibliophile, 1878). RECAP: 0904.262

Special thanks go to Steve Ferguson for finding this lost book.