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Jacques Raveneau Issues the First Book on the Detection of Forged Documents

1665 to 1666

In 1665 and 1666 French forensic writing expert Jacques Raveneau published the first book on the detection of forged documents:Traité des inscriptions en faux et reconnoissances d'escritures & signatures par comparison & autrement. In the Bibliothèque nationale de France there is a copy published by Raveneau and dated 1665 (B. N., F. 42404). All other copies cited in OCLC when I searched in January 2016 were of the second, or permitted issue, issued in Paris by Thomas Jolly in 1666. According to Anne Sauvy, Livres saisis à Paris entre 1678 and 1701 (1972) No. 19, the 1665 edition bears a privilege dated July 1665. In that copy is a note indicating that this privilege was obtained improperly. Presumably Raveneau had to delay publication until he obtained an accepted privilege; the privilege in the 1666 edition is dated April 8, 1666. The edition includes a florid dedication to French magistrate Guillaume Ier de Lamoignon, marquis de Basville, who was first president of the Parliament of Paris. The dedication is prominently featured on the title page.

In spite of the political influence of the dedicatee, authorities suppressed publication of the 1666 edition, believing that the information it contained was as useful to forgers as it was to those who attempted to detect forgeries. Sauvy indicates that Raveneau may have been imprisoned for publishing this work. Whatever the case, its suppression in Paris did not prevent its publication elsewhere. An edition was published in Luxembourg, 1673, and another edition was issued in Paris, in 1691 by Jean Guignard.

(This entry was last revised on 01-08-2016.) 

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