The only known copy of a compelling illustrated Caen almanac, published by the little-known printer Jean Briard. No other almanacs are known from this series, though Briard printed an unrelated almanac the year prior. Authorship of our almanac is vague: Hermitte solitaire could be the sobriquet of Anthoine Maginus, an imaginary astrologer whose name is attached to several French almanacs and prognostications of the early seventeenth century, then revived in the 1670s, but it could also refer to Abel Quené, doyen de Thérouané, who was the supposed author of an astrological work printed at Paris by Claude Percheron in 1618, titled Discours excellent de l'hermitte solitaire sur la grande conjonction des deux hautes et supérieures planètes Saturne et Jupiter, puis une vieille. In that work, Quené is described as an astrologer active in the year 1477 in the court of Louis XII, and made uncanny predictions about the Wars of Religion in the following century. It was a common practice in the almanac industry in France in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries to elevate the predictive authority of a text by assigning authorship to an imaginary sage of yore, and retrofitting their prophecies to fit tidily with events that had already taken place. Our almanac, printed in red and black, suggests the best times to plant and sow, and even the best times to shave. It is illustrated with twelve naive woodcuts for the signs of the zodiac, some monogrammed with an unidentified LD or DL. At end are two woodcuts illustrating a man, one from the back, one from the front, with arrows pointing to bloodletting loci, and accompanying text on the best astrological schedule for phlebotomizing the infirm. The last page is a schedule of fairs in lower Normandy and Brittany. But most compelling are the beautifully preserved contemporary woodcut retail wraps, evidently printed from a single block cut with a design of volutes, mandorlas, and florets. The wrap, also in octavo, appear to be a quarter of a full sheet, from either the bottom right or top left corner, as borders are evident at tail and fore-edges. At the tail gutter margin is a slit through the covers and entire text block, and was probably used by an almanac peddlar to string his stock for easy transport. A remarkable Caen almanac in entirely original condition.
Full title: ALMANAC | POVR L'AN DE GRACE, Mil ſoixante & dix-neuf. | Auquel l'on connoiſtra la diversité & change- | ment du temps & des Saiſons. || AVEC LA FIGVRE TANT | du devant, que du derrier du Corps humain, & les vertus qui procedent des Saignées, les | Foires tant de baſſe Normandie, que Breta- | gne; enſemble la maniere de planter & ſe- | mer en temps & ſaiſon, &c. || Supputé par L'Hermite Solitaire, | grand Aſtrologue. || [Woodcut of an astrologer with hourglass and armillary sphere] || A CAEN, Chez Iean Briard, à Froideruë
Caen: Jean Briard, 1678.
Octavo, 175 x 110 x 3 mm; A4 B8,  pp. Stab-stitched in contemporary woodblock-printed wraps. Dated in a modern hand in ink on upper cover "1679;" some wear to extremities; pale damp. Interior: Light damp; leaves a trifle toned; minor foxing; text block pierced with a slit at tail gutter margin, not near text.
Acquired by W. S. Cotter Rare Books from Eric Grangeon of Paris. Once in the stock of Librairie Ancienne Ormara, Paris (see Cantamessa).
Cantamessa 3693 bis (mentioning a copy shown to him by Michel Saporta, owner of the Librairie Ancienne Ormara; that copy was the same as ours). Not in Grand-Carteret or any other salient bibliography. No copies of our book—or any from the series—recorded in institutional libraries.