Le bon temps viendra.

Montfaucon, Bernard de, 1655-1741.
Palæographia græca, sive De ortu et progressu literatum græcarium, et de variis omnium sæculorum scriptionis græcæ generibus: itemque de abbreviationibus & de notis variarum artium ac disciplinarum. Additis figuris & schematibus ad fidem manuscriptorum codicum. Opera & studio D. Bernardi de Montfaucon.
Parisiis, apud Ludovicum Guerin [etc.] 1708


There’s a bookplate in this volume that has raised a few questions.  I’m going to raise a few more!

Both Burke’s [1] and Fairbairn’s [1, 2] lead me to the name Harcourt.  Several members of the Harcourt family have used the peacock on a coronet as a crest—the top part of the armorial.  Adding to that, various Harcourts have used the motto “Le bon temps viendra,” which appears on this bookplate, so I think we’re likely dealing with a member of the Harcourt family.

The shield itself indicates two marriages; this is what’s called  a composite shield of arms.  On the left half (which, to make matters extra-confusing, is referred to as the dexter… because it would be on the right if you were standing behind it) there are the gold bars on a red background of the Harcourt family and the arms of another family; two sets of arms are divided in a manner that’s called “quarterly.”  Basically, the left half shows the arms of a son of a Harcourt.  On the right (the sinister.. I know, I know), we have the arms of this son’s wife.

So, which Harcourt are we dealing with and who is the wife?  This bookplate probably belonged to their child.

I’d describe the wife’s arms as: “azure on a fess dancetty argent between three griffins passant wings endorsed or three escallops gules.”  In non-heraldic language, that’s a blue background with three griffins, plus three red scallop shells on a silver jagged bar in the middle.  But I can’t find this family in the digital editions of the relevant reference books… so I have to keep poking around!

The bookplate itself doesn’t look super-old to my (admittedly non-expert) eye—possibly 19th century?

If you’re wondering how I’ve determined colors from the b/w image, check out this Wikipedia article on heraldic tinctures.

Also on Wikipedia, an article about the House of Harcourt, which had both English and French branches.

Which Harcourt was reading about Greek palaeography?  Any thoughts would be most welcome.  I’ll post this image in some other locations as well… let’s see what we learn.



8 Comments to “Le bon temps viendra.”

  1. The right half of these arms is the first quarter of the first baron of sheffields arms

    You traced this to harcourt, I believe you might want to look at holroyd

    • Franks 13675 has this description: (Harcourt), anonymous. (Arms. Harcourt impaling Holroyd. Edward William Harcourt married 1849 Susan Harriet, daughter of George, 2nd Earl of Sheffield.)
      Alas, Franks has no images or links to any reproductions, so we can’t be sure the entry refers to this plate, but a visit to the British Museum would presumably allow one to view the original on which the entry was based.

  2. I have a copy of of the 1712 edition of Grotius’s De jure belli ac pacis with this bookplate on the pastedown, along with the inscription “J [or G] Addenbrooke 1713” on the facing page. I am guessing that the inscription signifies its ownership by John Addenbrooke, a Fellow and later Bursar of St Catherine’s College Cambridge who is known to have donated a number of books to that College. Does this help identify the bookplate? Edward Gordon

  3. The bookplate appears in copies of two Greek editions printed by Robert Estienne, Paris, 1544, one of Eusebius, De evangelica praeparatione; the other with title Ekklēsiastikēs historias/Ecclesiasticae historiae, including works by Eusebius. They were earlier owned by Hieronymus de Varade (name stamped on covers; is this Jérôme de Varades, d. 1585, physician to several French kings?). The books are in the Mortimer Rare Book Room, Smith College (Northampton, Massachusetts, USA). They were rebacked, probably in the 19th century, and given spine labels reading “Eusebius” and “Tom. I.”/”Tom. II.”

  4. Yep, looks like it is Edward William Harcourt. And the Palæographia græca is listed in his 1883 catalog p. 195: http://books.google.com/books?id=UhAIAAAAQAAJ&&jtp=195#v=onepage&q&f=false

  5. Wonderful! Thanks so much to everyone who has chimed in on this provenance question–and special thanks to Mitch Fraas for solving it definitively. How splendid and satisfying a use of our collective knowledge.

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