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Forgery: Modus operandi (British History)
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Mick Harper
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I was just putting the final touches to my book and paused over this, I thought, routine passage. It is in an alphabetic list of contributors to the (I argue in the book, non-existent) Encyclopédie, the chief adornment of the (I argue in the book, non-existent) eighteenth century Enlightenment
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Our next expert was a specialist
Jean-Baptiste Bourguignon d’Anville (1697-1782) Geographer and cartographer

Most reassuring. A child prodigy in fact
Nominated royal geographer in 1718, aged 21

and with heavyweight supporters lobbying for his appointment

According to his memoirs, he was supported by the Duc d’Orleans. He worked with his brother, the engraver Hubert-François Gravelot “on a series of maps and wrote his eulogy in which he recalls his bibliomania”.

Haven’t read the memoirs myself so I cannot say why the Duc d’Orleans, the ‘king’ of France during Louis XV’s minority, was appointing a youthful printer to the prestigious position of Royal Geographer. They can be sticklers when it comes to people in trade. Hubert-François seems not to have been too put out at his brother getting the d’Anville title but no doubt he wanted to keep the family name of Gravelot which English printers will appreciate is such an excellent pun, (en)grave-a-lot.
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Anyway for reasons best known to myself (and I've forgotten what they were) I decided to check how common the surname Gravelot was in France. And to my surprise it is pretty much unknown (there are a few in England). I didn't really want to get involved in a major hue-and-cry at this late stage, but I'll see where it goes here and decide later.
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Wile E. Coyote


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An engraver called Gravelot (He...grave..lot.) Is this serious?
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Mick Harper
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Ya got it in one. But now for the other ninety-nine. We start with the ostensible hero of the piece

Jean-Baptiste Bourguignon d'Anville was born in Paris on 11 July 1697, in the Kingdom of France. His passion for geographical research displayed itself from early years: at age of twelve he was already amusing himself by drawing maps....

of what? You will recall one of our more unexplored terrains is the origins of Greek and Roman history. So not 'of what' but for whom

... for Latin authors. Later, his friendship with the antiquarian, Abbé Longuerue, greatly aided his studies.

Who he?

The abbé de Longuerue was an antiquarian, a linguist and historian, a child prodigy who became the protégé of Fénelon; in his turn Longuerue encouraged the Abbé Alary and the young cartographer-to-be, Jean Baptiste Bourguignon d'Anville (1697–1782), perhaps the greatest geographical author of the eighteenth century.

So many child prodigies. I wonder why. Well...

After his death in Paris a volume of Longueruana was published based on the recollections of a devoted amanuensis who had transcribed Longuerue's savant conversations. In 1769 a further selection of fugitive pieces from among his papers was published.

This is usually a signal that none of them existed. Or at any rate didn't do what they are supposed to have done. Oh no... and the book was this close to being finished.
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Wile E. Coyote


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There are a number of American and Quebec settlements Danville.

I found this interesting from https://danvillevthistorical.org/the-danville-name-is-not-what-it-seems/

D’Anville was famous in France for redrawing most of the world maps based only on reports from explorers he recieved at his office in Paris. He died in 1782 at the age of 85. The name was anglicized by removing the apostrophe and leaving the D in place at the front of the name.
Despite his working for the King of France, d’Anville did not have an aristocratic title, unlike that of Duc d’Anville, the son of a former Huguenot who became a vice-admiral in the French navy. Known as the Duke, this d’Anville tried to retake Acadia from the English in 1746 using an amarda of ships and a regiment of soldiers from France. But before he could attack the English in what is now Nova Scotia, the hapless aristocrat died of a mysterious poisoning at Cape Breton. The two d’Anvilles do not appear to have been related, given that the map maker was a Bourguignon and the vice-admiral was from the Rochefourauld family


A working guess from Wiley, after at least two minutes thought (I was working twice as hard, after having already been sacked twice), would be that... the two d'anvilles, Danvilles, might very well be related. Bit afraid to post but there you go, I can take the humiliation of being appointed.
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Mick Harper
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I may appoint you again to all offices because of the sheer satisfaction of sacking you. Meanwhile consider this in the light of inventing Greek history

His first serious map, that of Ancient Greece, was published when he was fifteen. D'Anville's studies embraced everything of geographical nature in the world's literature, as far as he could muster it: for this purpose, he not only searched ancient and modern historians, travelers and narrators of every description, but also poets, orators and philosophers.

rather than reforming cartography

One of his cherished subjects was to reform geography by putting an end to the blind copying of older maps, by testing the commonly accepted positions of places through a rigorous examination of all the descriptive authority, and by excluding from cartography every name inadequately supported. .

In other words, he substituted old moonshine with new moonshine. He never seems to get off his butt and do any actual cartography. Very familiar behaviour from French 'savants'. Another of their knavish tricks, we discovered, was pre-dating French work to make it seem original when really it was a later re-working of other people's work. Something like this (perhaps)

D'Anville's historical method was more successful in his 1743 map of Italy, which first indicated numerous errors in the mapping of that country .... A trigonometrical survey which Benedict XIV soon after had made in the papal states strikingly confirmed the French geographer's results.
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Mick Harper
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Danville is very important to (a) railway buffs and (b) Civil War buffs like (c) me. It was (a) the terminus of the highly strategic Richmond and Danville Railroad (b) the site of the most notorious (i.e. killed the most northerners) prisoner-of-war camps and (c) the last capital of the Confederacy (after the fall of Richmond).

The connection with D'Anville is obscure though it certainty suggests, as you say, that the name is more English than French. We shall find it is the same story with Gravelot. But I am still none the wiser why. Press on! As your man Harry Maguire never says.
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Wile E. Coyote


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This was also interesting. It claims to be a working example with maps, on how "d'anville" produced maps (including those spaces) of the Amazon to support his current patron. This benefited, it is claimed, first Portugal and then later Spain as these countries negotiated which part of the Brazilain interior was whose.

https://silo.tips/download/mapping-mythical-and-imaginary-places-in-d-anville-s-carte-de-l-amerique-meridio
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Mick Harper
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It certainly is. Cartography had become a crucial national endeavour ever since the fifteenth century when the various European nations started competitively colonising the globe. This led to both secret and bogus mapmaking. This sounds as though by the eighteenth century there were bogus mapmakers-for-hire. Just before Captain Cook et al starting doing it for real. But I think it more likely that D'Anville had a different focus

In his later years d'Anville did yeoman service for ancient and medieval geography, accomplishing something like a revolution in the former; mapping afresh all the chief countries of the pre-Christian civilizations (especially Egypt), and by his Mémoire et abrégé de géographie ancienne et générale and his États formés en Europe après la chute de l'empire romain en occident (1771) rendering his labours still more generally useful.

There then followed another familiar pattern. An odd conflation of official and non-official.

His last employment consisted in arranging his collection of maps, plans and geographical materials. It was the most extensive in Europe, and had been purchased by the king, who, however, left him the use of it during his life.

Why is a private individual amassing such a collection, the biggest and best in the world? Do people pop round for a look-see? "Gee, it's even more extensive than old van der Blockhead's. Honestly, you cartographers."

Translation: this is a much later bogus provenance.
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Mick Harper
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For every bogus cartographer there has to be a a bogus engraver

Hubert-François Bourguignon, commonly known as Gravelot (26 March 1699 – 20 April 1773), was a French engraver, a famous book illustrator, designer and drawing-master. Born in Paris, he emigrated to London in 1732, where he quickly became a central figure in the introduction of the Rococo style in British design, which was disseminated from London in this period, through the media of book illustrations and engraved designs as well as by the examples of luxury goods in the "French taste" brought down from London to provincial towns and country houses.

How do we know that is not what he was doing? Well, scan that list and decide how, twelve years later

after the Battle of Fontenoy in 1745 forced Gravelot's return to Paris

this successful but humble artisan/teacher/style guru could bring with him

a fortune of 10,000 pounds sterling

That would make a dent in the national debt of both Britain and France. They should have called him Grabalot.
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Wile E. Coyote


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Mick Harper wrote:
They should have called him Grabalot.


Who would have ever rococoed it. I really am beginning to warm to Grabalot, selling his faux continental curves to the spire loving English.
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Mick Harper
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I have reluctantly decided not to pursue the Bourguignon Brothers for the purposes of the book (if for no other reason than I already have a Beef Stroganoff joke later on because several major museums have fakes that allegedly come from the Stroganoff Collection and I wouldn't be able to resist a Beef Bourguignon joke). But I could not entirely resist so the finished book (subject to Hatty veto) now reads

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...brother getting the d’Anville title but no doubt he wanted to keep the family name of Gravelot which English printers will appreciate is an excellent pun, (en)grave-a-lot.

Actually, Gravelot was not Hubert’s name, Jean was not given the d’Anville title and the Bourguignon bothers were operating a very sweet forgery racket – bogus maps for Euro-suckers and fake historical artefacts for the English gentry. You don’t leave England after twelve years as an engraver with ten thousand eighteenth century pounds in your pocket. [But don’t quote me, I only learned all this when, during the last run-through of the book, I idly googled Gravelot in pursuit of a less lame joke than the one I used.]

Our next alphabetic luminary contributed no less than five hundred and forty articles to the Encyclopédie. Count them! No, I forgot, we can’t, but they were in the general area of ‘hydraulics and gardening’

Antoine Joseph Dezallier d’Argenville, 1680 to 1765, naturalist, collector and art historian. His Theory and practice of gardening is very popular in France.

In Britain too, it was translated into English in 1712. Antoine may have got distracted by his work for the Encyclopédie (in addition to his work in the Court of Auditors where he was Master of Accounts) because his ‘more famous work on shells’ did not see the light of day until 1780. Those who thought it was a Swede that introduced the encyclopaedic classification of living things should think again. They should think French

In 1742 Dezallier d’Argenville used a binomial nomenclature which prefigures that of Linnaeus

In 1742 it would have, in 1780 it wouldn’t have. I don’t suppose priority of publication was important in those days but post-dated cheques are always a matter for concern.

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But I will casually pursue the Brothers Bourguignon here if anything further emerges.
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