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Nineteenth-Century Bibliophile Hoax

Europe's bibliophiles descended on the small Belgian town of Binche, on 10 August 1840, intent on attending the sale at the offices of notary Maître Mourlon at 9, Rue d'Église. Not only did they fail to find his office, they failed to find a Rue d'Église. It did not exist! It was then that a broadsheet appeared informing the collectors that the auction was cancelled, and the lots had been donated to the local public library. As you may have guessed by now the town did not include a public library.

Chalon was later to fall out with his co-conspirator Emmanuel Hoyois and tried unsuccessfully to block publication of the latter's account of the story Documents et particularités historiques sur le catalogue du comte de Fortsas, [1857]. In addition to this wonderful work the Library of Trinity College also holds associated correspondence and reprints of the sale catalogue and newspaper articles covering the events.

Shelfmark: Gall.6.i.39

Shane Mawe

Shane Mawe is an Assistant Librarian in the Department of Early Printed Books and Special Collections. He is interested in the history of detective and mystery fiction as well as contributing to the Library's teaching and research programmes.