"CREDITORS HAVE BETTER MEMORIES THAN DEBTORS": RARE BILINGUAL EDITION OF THE WAY TO WEALTH, 1795, "THE MOST POPULAR OF ALL FRANKLIN'S WRITINGS"
FRANKLIN, Benj[amin]. The Way to Wealth, Or Poor Richard Improved. Paris: Renouard (Dijon: P. Causse), 1795. 12mo (4-1/2 by 6-3/4 inches), contemporary full mottled brown calf, marbled endpapers, elaborately gilt-decorated spine, all edges gilt; pp. (i-vi), (1-3) 4-181 (4). $6200.
Rare Paris printing of one of Franklin's most famous works, the first edition in English of Franklin's Way to Wealth to be published in France, featuring engraved frontispiece portrait of Franklin by Dupleisse, handsomely bound in contemporary calf.
In the 27th and last edition of Poor Richard's Almanack, Franklin included a preface consisting of "a long speech to a market-day audience by a character named Father Abraham. The speech blended maxims and aphorisms culled from previous almanacs into a promise that men who worked hard, were prudent and frugal, would become rich. The people listened attentively, but once Father Abraham had finished they 'immediately practiced the contrary, just as if it had been a common sermon,' Poor Richard remarked ruefully; 'for the vendue opened, and they began to buy extravagantly, notwithstanding all his cautions, and their own fear of taxes.' Under the title 'The Way to Wealth' the speech would become the most popular of all Franklin's writings" (Hawke, 162-3). First published separately in 1760, this later English/French edition, "the prettiest yet printed" (Ford 135), was issued in a very limited number, purportedly with only a handful of copies on large paper (Brunet II:1383); the present copy is from the still very scarce regular-paper issue. With French translations of La Science du Bonhomme Richard, Lettres du Franklin, Dialogue entre la Goutte et Franklin, and Quelques Mots sur l'Amerique. With half title; bound without publisher's catalogue at rear. Sabin 25596. With armorial bookplate attributed to the Italian noble family of princely rank, the Odescalchi family; three inked numbers above bookplate. Small inkstamps of Luigi Germany, Alessandria, to preliminary blank, half title and lower corner of title page.
Interior very fresh with trace of foxing, small rear marginal paper flaw not affecting text, minimal rubbing to joints. A splendid about-fine copy.