Shepherds' Almanac

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Almanach des Bergers (Shepherd’s Almanac) pour l’année M.DCC.LIX (Liège: V. G. Barnabe, 1759). Graphic Arts GAX 2011- in process

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According to the Cambridge History of English and American Literature (v. 18), the first Shepherds’ Calendar was printed in 1491 by Guyot Marchant, whose workshop was in the Latin Quarter of Paris. The work was entitled Kalendrier des Bergiers and it was the first illustrated French almanac.

In Honoré de Balzac’s 1843 novel Illusions Perdues (Lost Illusions), the Shepherds’ almanac plays a small role: “After rummaging round the workshop Eve discovered a collection of figures required for the printing of a so-called Shepherds’ Almanac, in which objects are represented by signs, pictures, and symbols in red, black, and blue. Old Séchard, illiterate as he was, had formerly made a lot of money by printing this little book intended for equally illiterate people. An almanac of this kind costs only a penny and comprises a hundred and twenty-eight pages of very small format. Delighted at the success of her broadsheets—the sort of production which is a specialty with small provincial presses—Madame Séchard decided to print the Shepherds’ Almanac on a large scale by putting her profits into it.” (translated by Herbert James Hunt).

This book comes bound with Almanach pour cette Année M. DCC. LIX. Supputé par Mtte Mathieu Laensbergh Mathematicien (Liege: G. Barnabe, 1759); and Pronostication particuliere pour l’an de notre Seigneur 1759. Par M. Mathieu Laensbergh, Mathematicien (Liege: Guil. Barnabe, 1759); and Continuation des choses les plus remarquables arrivées par toute l’Europe & autres parties du monde, depuis le mois de Septembre de l’An 1757. jusqu’audit mois de l’An 1758 (Liege: V. G. Barnabe, 1759).