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Item 231 - Franz Anton Mesmer Catalog 591 (Sep 2020)

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(we are no longer accepting bids on this item)
Minimum Bid: $300.00
Sold Price: $2,775.00 (includes buyer's premium)

Description


Excessively rare ALS in French, signed "Mesmer," one page, 6.75 x 8.25, October 3, 1795. Letter to Madame Cardon of Versaille, in full (translated): "I haven't been able to resist any longer my desire to travel and seek some asylum against the boredom caused by this huge city [Paris]. I will leave tomorrow morning for Lyon and will be back in 15 days. I have the honor of warning you about the situation in the hope that I will find you in good health, and continue to testify my affectionate attachment with which I greet you." He also adds a handwritten postscript, in full: "All my friendly remembrances to madame your mother." In fine condition, with scattered light foxing, and repaired seal-related paper loss to the integral address leaf.

Part of Mesmer's theory of 'animal magnetism' was its healing powers, and that he was able to cure people of their ailments by correcting the flow of their magnetism. He had arrived in Paris in February of 1778, which at the time was riddled with disease and epidemic, smallpox in particular. As patients and curiosity-seekers flocked to him desiring to be cured, the people of Paris divided into two factions-those who believed in his unorthodox treatment and those who considered him a charlatan. By 1784, his methods had become wildly popular but just as controversial-King Louis XVI arranged a Royal Commission, headed by Benjamin Franklin, to investigate Mesmer's claims, publishing their findings-essentially, that it was nonsense-shortly after and causing Mesmer to lose influence in the community at large. He lost all of his money during the French Revolution and withdrew from the public spotlight; very little is known about the final 20 years of his life-the period during which he wrote this letter, expressing his "boredom" with the city that no longer supported him. An exceptionally rare autograph that seldom enters the marketplace, this is the first we have ever offered.

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